Caught in a lethal loop with Melissa George
Shock Till You Drop: The last time we talked you were just scripting Triangle. You had mentioned what a task it was and now having seen the film, I know why. It’s a labyrinthine narrative to keep track of.
Christopher Smith: I got everything I wanted to get across in terms of the emotional effect. I think what I was telling you about was the conundrum, the riddle of everything. I didn’t really have a hunch of what the story would be like to tell until the last part, but it was always about “what’s the emotional feeling here?” And I was always striving, with Melissa, to find that. I want you to be baffled but I want you to be emotionally satisfied. The feelings you get, “the fact that I’m still thinking about the film” is amazing.
Shock: From a filmmaking standpoint, you’re moving about the genre map tackling various subjects. You’re not consistent by any meansâ¦
Smith: Wait until you see Black Death. [laughs]
Shock: That’s what I’m sayingâ¦
Smith: It’s not really planned. As I grow, I try to find stories that will keep me excited. I’m not trying to go off on tangents. I’m trying to challenge myself. I do read the internet and magazines and I watch lots of movies. The more you do this, the more you feel you have to do something different. You can’t keep making slasher movies, you have to try other things. I love slasher films, and in Triangle there is certainly a sense of a slasher element in there.
Shock: Well, you can see that in the mysterious attacker with the shotgun and the mask.
Smith: Yeah, a little Friday the 13th Part 2. That’s the Jason that really freaks me out. What I tried to do, in the original writing process, I could have had that killer stalk her with a knife. Can you have the killer be the girl and can you feel sorry for her? I wouldn’t have been able to do that had she used a knife, be a classical stalker, so I had her use a shotgun. But then you have the girl who’s been through the loop a bit and is more barbaric with blood on her face.
Shock: Was this a larger production for you? Severance was larger in terms of the ensemble cast, here things are a bit more intimate because you’re following Melissa.
Smith: It wasn’t any smaller in scale. We had a bigger budget on Triangle. We were doing much bigger things with the money than we were in terms of Severance. It’s more claustrophobic, certainly. Of the nine-week shoot, I think a few were in the stage. We spent a lot of time on the yacht and a lot of time on the ocean liner set. By the nature and the claustrophobia, it is a bigger production, yes. It was certainly less fun to make though. [laughs]
Shock: How did you push Melissa through the emotional rigors? She’s got some good moments in this. In one particular scene that impressed me, she’s facing herself in the mirror and just snaps.
Smith: You just keep pushing and pushing until her character hits rock bottom. I always said to her in that scene that it was like the start of Apocalypse Now with the mirror, you can do pretty much anything, put hatred in there – where we’re at in the story, where we’re at seven weeks into the shoot. There was a lot crammed into that five minute scene for her.
Shock: One of the things I noticed about the film is for all that you do put your stamp on the material, but you don’t mind throwing in a few loving nods to other films. Like the presence of a room 237…
Smith: [laughs] I know the references and the room is designed like The Shining as well. It’s a bit fanboy-ish, but this film was influenced by The Shining, not just because it has long corridors. I asked myself, “what did Kubrick do when he wanted to do a horror movie?” And what he did was he read Freud’s essay called “The Uncanny” and it has loads of things in it including fear of doubles, fear of twins, human frustration by not having all of the answers. All these things then got stuck into the Stephen King idea which is the reason the book and the film are so different. I realized, loads of what I was doing organically, this idea of doppelgangers, has similarities with The Shining so I looked at it again to see what worked and the tricks Kubrick does so brilliantly in that.
Source: Ryan Rotten, Managing Editor