Having survived a buffeting Southern electrical storm en route from Los Angeles to Baton Rouge, this writer touched down in Louisiana on December 14 of 2009 and, following a rather eerie stroll through a seemingly abandoned airport and a ride with a cabbie whose previous fare had been arrested, arrived unscathed to the set of the then-shooting feature Mirrors 2.
With the written-by Matt Venne (White Noise 2) and directed-by Victor Garcia (Return to House on Haunted Hill) flick to debut this Tuesday, October 12th, at Screamfest LA (you can purchase tickets here) and set for a DTV release October 19 through Twentieth Century Fox, we thought it high time to bring you our chat with Garcia and co. as well as some stills from the set.
A sequel to the 2008 Alexandre Aja-helmed film Mirrors, the sequel stars Nick Stahl, William Katt, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Lawrence Turner, Stephanie Honore, Christy Charlson Romano, Jon Michael Davis, Evan Jones, Wayne Pere, Lance E. Nichols, Ann McKenzie, and Jennifer Sipes and revolves around the character of ‘Max Matheson’ (lead Stahl), a recovering addict, who takes a job as a night-time security guard job at his father’s department store and then begins to see visions of a young woman in the store’s mirrors. Unsure whether his visions are side effects of his prescription sleeping pills or actual reality, he begins to look deeper into the source of the images in the mirrors, and when employees of the store turn up dead and he subsequently becomes a suspect in those murders, he must expose the ghostly girl’s connection to a scandal within the department store’s walls in order to prove his innocence and put a stop to the supernatural rampage.
Filming at Boudreaux & Thibodeaux in the heart of Baton Rouge (a mixed-used space, part jazz club, part apartment housing), Mirrors 2 at the time was knee-deep in F/X shots (severed legs and heads were in abundance with KNB’s Kevin Wasner and Alex Diaz on hand to bring the grue, returning from the first Mirrors to again provide the gore).
“I think this one has a lot of good gags in it,” Wasner told us during a balmy 2AM rainstorm from a second-story gallery, “but what’s different about this one is there are a lot of gags where we are mirroring visual effects with our effects, which I think is the way to go nowadays. We feel like with just practical that a lot of times it can be limiting, in hiding blood tubes and morphing heads onto things, and so in this film in particular we’ve been mixing in a lot of digital (with the practical), and it’s been working out really well. A lot of the time makeup effects guys are all, ‘Man, it’s gotta’ be only makeup effects,’ and digital guys are all, ‘Man, digital is the only way to go,’ but I think digital and makeup guys really need to learn to work together (in order) to make it happen, and that’s what we are doing here.”
“We had only three weeks to prep for this one, which wasn’t much,” said Diaz of their time for practical FX pre-production, “but we got everything here, and we have a couple of great decapitations!”
Dread accompanied Wasner and Diaz to set (that particular sequence involved some horrific shenanigans in the cramped quarters of one of the building’s apartments above), and sure enough, the blood flew, with actor Jon Michael Davis suffering a particularly gory slash of his Achilles tendons. Other grisly shots followed, although we’ll keep those on the down-low so as to not spoil Mirrors 2’s ‘money shots.’
While we chatted with director Garcia, the man proved to be not only open, honest and affable but also very much a fan of the genre he was directing (the filmmaker is currently in post-production on Hellraiser: Revelations as well as in pre-production on the ‘home invasion’ film Torn Apart).
“I got the script from my agent, and I was pretty familiar with the original Korean movie (on which Mirrors 2 is based) and the previous Aja movie so I wanted to take a look at it to see what we could do with it,” director Garcia told us of how he was signed to the project. “It was one of those weird jobs that you get through a Skype conference call with the studio. Normally it doesn’t work like this – you have to really sell your idea, but (with this they) apparently already liked my work, and it was really cool. I wasn’t expecting much to happen, but it did.”
Having received the script only four months prior to the shoot (Mirrors 2 filmed for a total of twenty-three days commencing in November of 2009), Garcia said of his thoughts pertaining to the material, “It’s brilliant, and the project was moving forward and they were looking at other directors, too, so everything happened really fast. Within a month I found myself in Baton Rouge prepping the movie. Prep actually didn’t get started until I arrived here.”
With the budget much lower than the original, “It was hard to fit all of our ideas into the script in such a short (pre-production) time and budget. It’s kind of a stylized film. I’m trying to veer a little bit away from the look of the previous one. It was shot in Romania; they had all that great architecture, and it was really moody and Gothic and hardcore, and with Mirrors 2 I kind of wanted to do something new. One of our locations was a museum with different architecture, and it’s kind of shiny and new and looks completely different (from the locations in the previous). The original stands alone and that’s great, but we are making our own Mirrors (with this one).”
As for the casting of Nick Stahl (known to genre fans for his turns in Disturbing Behavior, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and the series “Carnivale”), Garcia said, “He was the first to sign on! It happened within forty-eight hours (of going out to him), and that was great! Then it was time for the whole process of trying to bring more names, and my casting director did a great job. I’m really happy with the cast, and it makes things exciting.”
Garcia was as equally thrilled with the acquisition of the talents of KNB FX.
“I was trying to get them from the beginning,” stated Garcia. “I met Greg Nicotero (he of the ‘n’ in KNB) a few years ago, and they worked on the previous Mirrors, and I just wanted them to be involved. I knew that whatever (effect) they were going to deliver, that I could make it a close-up, and it would work, and so far that’s what they have been delivering. My background is as a FX technician so you want to have people in the effects department (as a director) that you can really trust. It’s like with my director of photography, Lorenzo (Senatore). I met him three years ago, and he was the DP on my first film (Return to House on Haunted Hill), and I know exactly what I can expect and can really trust him. It’s the same thing with KNB. I don’t have to worry about anything when it comes to them.”
It took a while for the blood to run, however.
“Because of time issues and pre-production, we’ve had to push most of the gore to the very end,” said the director, who at the time had merely four days of principal photography remaining, “so the first day we were shooting with prosthetics, Lorenzo came to me after the first take of that effects shot and said, ‘We are finally making a horror movie!’ It was so exciting! I was like, ‘I know, dude. I need more blood here!’”
“It’s been a really intense shoot,” mused Garcia of Mirrors 2, which has been nominated in the category of ‘Most Anticipated Non-Theatrical Coming to Disc’ by the Reaper Awards, which takes place this coming Tuesday, October 12, at the historic Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood, CA. “It’s going to be weird going back home when we wrap, kind of like it was all a dream. It’s been like a family – people working like a family, all day and night and just really having fun. Everyone’s been enjoying the process. I mean, we aren’t saving lives; we are making movies, and we are lucky to get paid to make movies. Just enjoy it!”
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