Leigh Whannell on Insidious: The Last Key - "Writing is Messy and Abstract" - Dread Central
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Leigh Whannell on Insidious: The Last Key – “Writing is Messy and Abstract”

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Leigh Whannell burst onto the horror scene as a writer and actor in his friend James Wan’s twisty thriller, Saw. A franchise was born. Then then team spawned two more: Insidious in 2010 and The Conjuring a few years later.

Insidious is especially close to Whannell’s heart, as the series always features him as an actor and the writer. In Chapter Four, fans will be treated to a prequel—we get to see how it all began for psychic Elise (Lin Shaye) and her lovable but bumbling sidekicks, Specs and Tucker (Whannel and Angus Sampson).

Appropriately enough, we caught up with Whannell at the famously haunted Hollywood Hotel, The Roosevelt—where Marilyn Monroe, Montgomery Clift, and Carole Lombard are said to wander the halls. The Blossom Room—where the very first Oscars were held—houses two smartly-dressed male ghosts. We didn’t see any apparitions, but we talked about them.

Dread Central: What is it like to continue writing Elise?

Leigh Whannell: I know Lin’s voice. I can actually write to her voice. Which is such a gift because a lot of times when you’re screenwriting, you’re inventing a human being from the ground up. An adult person is a compendium of thousands of memories and days and experiences, nature and nurture and all the rest of it, so to invent that from the ground up is kind of tough. It’s a real gift to be writing dialogue and know this person would say it like this. At this point I don’t know where the character stops and Lin starts. They’re one and the same to me. That was one aspect of writing this film that I really enjoyed. Writing even more for Lin, since this is all Elise’s story.

DC: And she is the bad-ass!

LW: Lin and I talk about that all the time. The fact that a woman her age – her vintage as she would say – can be the lead of a movie. And not only the lead but the bad-ass. The hero. She’s not some doddering grandmother who’s wandering around dispensing advice to the younguns, she’s is the Jason Bourne! She’s the James Bond of this franchise. And it’s a really unique situation. I think Lin’s aware of how rare that is and so she doesn’t take it for granted as well.

DC: Did you also write the role for Bruce Davison?

LW: He plays Elise’s brother in the film, and Adam Robitel the director cast him. As an actor, it was awesome to work with him. I really love character actors. Journeymen actors who are not celebrities they’re not trading on any celebrity but they’re faces you see all the time. You know, you meet these people and – that’s a tough thing to do – to sustain it over a lifetime. Looking out over this street now [Hollywood Boulevard], you get a sense of how many people come here with stars in their eyes, looking to be the next Brad Pitt or the next Meryl Streep or whoever when really the life blood of the acting industry and the journeymen actors, the men and women who just keep playing characters. You know, there can only be so many Brad Pitts and so many Jennifer Lawrences – you need these actors to build a foundation around them. And they’re always the best story tellers. I remember getting a role in a little film that I will leave nameless, but I went out to Shreveport Louisiana in 2007, and I had a supporting role in this movie (The Pardon) and we’re staying at this Motel Six or something on the side of a freeway. Not glamorous accommodation or anything, not a big budget movie. I remember sitting around one night and talking with Tim Guinee, John Hawkes who is now Oscar winning John Hawkes, but at the time he was a character actor and M. C. Gainey. And I was just sitting around listening to them and tell stories about the different movies they’ve worked on, different people they’ve worked with. It was just one of the most fun experiences of my life I swear. And Lin has been that character actor for a long time and now the fact that she’s getting to play the lead is so fun. And Bruce is one of those actors. He’s a guy who has been in a lot of stuff. He probably gets a lot of those “Did we go to school together??” or “where do I know you from?”. And so I had a similar experience with Bruce between takes on the set. Any innocuous thing I would bring up would instigate a story from him. And I love that. I really do love the travelling salesman aspect. I think there’s a real nobility in being a journeymen actor, a working actor. Because it’s so hard to do that’s where I think the nobility comes from – the fact that you’re not a movie star – but you’re making a living from acting.

DC: They’ve got gravitas. Like they’ve been through stuff.

LW: Exactly. And even the other actors we got for different roles in the film – they were all the same. Kirk Avecedo and these people like that – they have that gravitas, they have this real quality to them. They don’t glow from within. It sounds like a real insult – but I don’t see it in those terms. Character actors are more interesting. They’ve lived fuller lives. They have more lived in faces and you believe them when they come into the room. They don’t bring any baggage with them into the room, they’re just the character.

DC: Fourth time out—How do you keep the Insidious world familiar, yet interesting?

LW: It’s always tough to come up with this stuff. I wish I had a method for creativity. In some ways I wish I could approach it like maths and there was a formula – like following a recipe. This ingredient plus this ingredient, a sprinkling of this, should equal this. But it’s not like that. Writing is messy and abstract and there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I can sit there for three days staring out the window and not type a word then all of sudden in a quick burst I’ll write twenty pages. So that aspect of it can be frustrating and great and the writing of the demon in this film very much came from that place. I don’t remember how I even got to those ideas. I know that I like the idea of this demon having keys for fingers, in many ways. I think it played well off the themes of the film, sort of unlocking these secrets of our past. It’s also a cinematic image that maybe you haven’t seen before which is, you’re always trying to do, offer up something that sticks in the audience’s mind. And the best way to stick in an audience’s mind is to show them something unique. If you show them something you’ve seen before it will just get mixed in with the laundry! It just gets mixed in with every other horror film they’ve seen, so that’s the challenge.

Insidious: The Last Key hits theaters January 5, 2018.

Synopsis:
Parapsychologist Elise Rainier and her team travel to Five Keys, N.M., to investigate a man’s claim of a haunting. Terror soon strikes when Rainier realizes that the house he lives in was her family’s old home.

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Which Comes Next THE CONJURING 3 or THE CROOKED MAN?

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This September we will finally see the release of director Corin Hardy’s The Conjuring spin-off, The Nun. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, today we have word via Warner Bros. that another entry in The Conjuring Universe will hit July 3, 2019.

There’s no word on which film this might be, but it’s safe to assume it will be either the recently announced The Crooked Man spin-off, or the long-awaited third entry in the mothership franchise The Conjuring 3.

Last year, Wan spoke about both films saying, “We’ve been working hard on Conjuring 3. Of course, that is something that I am not neglecting. The Conjuring films are still the mothership and the mothership needs to be strong. The mothership needs to be strong for all these other jet fighters to shoot out of. So, we’re in the midst of working on the script, and still hashing [it] out. We want to make sure that the script is in a really good place. With how much people have loved the first two Conjuring, I don’t want to rush into the third one if possible.”

Speaking about The Crooked Man spin-off, Wan explains that the film is in, “…early stages, kind of like cooking away. But we think we have a really exciting story. What we want to do, with The Conjuring universe, is we want each of our little offshoots to have a very different flavor, right? So, for example, Annabelle is the classic sort-of haunted doll subgenre. And with The Crooked Man, I would love to push it more down somewhat of that dark fairytale, and more whimsical, subgenre. I love the idea that, within the Conjuring universe, each of our little movies all have their own flavor, so that way they don’t feel like they’re the same films.”

Which film do you HOPE is next up in The Conjuring Universe? Personally, I really want to see more of this crooked fellow before diving into the further adventures of the Warrens. But all the same, make sure to hit us up and let us know what YOU think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

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Will There Be STRANGER THINGS 4?

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Yesterday we brought you guys the news that Netflix’s Stranger Things 3 began filming and today we already have word on whether or not there will be a Stranger Things 4.

Producer Shawn Levy spoke with Collider about the upcoming third season and eventually, the conversation moved to a possible fourth season.

I mean I will say we have a good sense of stuff that happens in Season Four,” Levy replied. “Season Four is definitely happening. There’s very much the possibility of a season beyond that one, that’s currently undecided.”

Nice! Are you excited to hear there will be a fourth (and possibly fifth) season of the Netflix original series? Make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

Synopsis:

This thrilling Netflix original drama stars Golden Globe-winning actress Winona Ryder as Joyce Byers, who lives in a small Indiana town in 1983 — inspired by a time when tales of science fiction captivated audiences. When Joyce’s 12-year-old son, Will, goes missing, she launches a terrifying investigation into his disappearance with local authorities. As they search for answers, they unravel a series of extraordinary mysteries involving secret government experiments, unnerving supernatural forces, and a very unusual little girl.

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Entertaining Gorefest DOWNRANGE Gets Brutal New Trailer

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This Thursday Ryuhei Kitamura’s new horror-thriller Downrange hits Sudder exclusively and today we have the film’s brutal new trailer and poster.

I’m counting down the days until I can check the film out myself, especially after our own Jonathan Barkan called the film an Entertaining Gorefest in his TIFF review earlier this year.

You can check out the new poster to the right and the trailer below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

The film is directed Ryuhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train) from a screenplay written by Joey O’Bryan, with a story by O’Bryan and Kitamura. It stars newcomer Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, Rod Hernandez-Farella, Anthony Kirlew, Alexa Yeames, and Jason Tobias and is produced by Kitamura and Ko Mori, with Taro Maki executive producing.

It lands exclusively on Shudder April 26th. See it theatrically in NYC on April 27 and 28,
with director Ryuhei Kitamura in attendance!

Synopsis:

Six college students are carpooling cross-country when one of their tires blows out on a desolate stretch of country road. Getting out to fix the flat, they quickly discover that this was no accident. The tire was shot out. With their vehicle incapacitated, the group is pinned down and mercilessly attacked by an unseen assailant as they desperately attempt to find a way to escape.

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