TIFF 2012: No One Lives - Interview With Director Ryuhei Kitamura
It has been four years since admired Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura unleashed Midnight Meat Train to audiences, and aficionados of his work showed their support for his latest American horror flick, No One Lives, by attending the lively Midnight Madness premiere during TIFF 2012.
Known for his cheeky style of humor as well as his unrelenting and creative kill sequences, Kitamura gave hard-core fans what they were waiting for, and although the film has garnered very mixed reviews in the horror community, it’s difficult to deny the fact that Kitamura is one the horror genre’s crème de la crème when it comes to brutality.
Dread Central had the chance to talk to Kitamura while promoting No One Lives (review) at the film festival and chatted about the challenges of working on the film, the incredible talent he assembled and details on the possibility of the sequel to Versus.
When asked what drew him to directing No One Lives as his next American film, Kitamura had no problem candidly admitting that the script at first wasn’t necessarily an easy sell.
“The producers found me and gave me this script that was written a couple years ago, and the title says it all. Everybody dies. At first when I started reading the first ten pages, I wasn’t too impressed. I thought it was going to be another torture porn film. I actually didn’t want to do it. Although, when I kept reading, I discovered that in the first fifteen minutes there was a big twist and the movie turned into a completely different movie. After I finished reading the script, I thought it was pure fun. It was very different from the last movie I did, Midnight Meat Train. This film is a very simple movie, and I felt like I wanted to do it.“
One of the biggest questions after the premiere of the film was whether No One Lives was supposed to be taken seriously or if it was a comedy in disguise. We asked Kitamura to give us his interpretation of what he wanted audiences to experience while watching the film.
“I did have some control when it came to the script. I always love the fun moments. From the moment I first read the script, my goal was to just make it fun. I don’t want to make a movie that depresses the audience. My movies are always full of mixed sentiments. Yes, I want my audience to scream, but I want to make them laugh, too,” he revealed.
The film’s biggest strength that most critics have collectively agreed on was the use of bloody and practical special effects that were created by popular special effects artist/director Robert Hall. Kitamura then dished on how it was to work with the man who is becoming a legend in his field.
”Robert Hall is great. He’s also a director so he really understands from different directors’ point of views. He understood what I wanted. I told him I was tired of CGI blood. It’s cheesy and it never looks great. He agreed and was there for every step of the way, and it was really fun working with him.”
With a lower budget than he had for Midnight Meat Train, Kitamura also talked about the many challenges he had to work with on set.
“For some reason the producers decided to shoot in June and July in Louisiana. It was hot, and those months had the shortest nights of the year and 90 percent of the movie takes place at night. Every movie I have worked on, doesn’t matter how big or low the budget is, it’s always a race against time and money. We shot the film in 25 days. It was almost like ‘mission impossible.’ It took me a while to convince the financiers that we could do this. I survived worse, though, with making independent Japanese films. My record is 46 hours non-stop shooting without lunch breaks. “
Kitamura then went on to discuss his decision to cast up and coming actor Luke Evans and why he thought he was the perfect candidate to take on the important role of the anti-hero, Driver, in the film.
“I love Luke Evans. He’s a class act actor. The character Driver and his twisted relationship with his female victims was something that I knew was going to be challenging to shoot. I really needed someone to do the role justice because the movie is not just about blood and guts. Luke is good looking, can be scary and exudes a mysterious aura and is very intelligent. He was the perfect choice.“
Considering the film has already garnered a backlash of negative reviews from the online world, we asked Kitamura if there was anything he would change after witnessing the movie with a massive crowd.
“Of course, there are hundreds of things I want to change. There are always continuity errors and actors throwing tantrums that I wish I could have resolved earlier. It’s difficult when you are the one who is left responsible for the errors when the movie is done. But I set up to the best I could do, and that’s what really matters.”
To conclude our interview, Kitamura talked about the possibilities of a future installment and if fans will indeed get the Versus sequel they have been patiently waiting for all these years.
“I hope so. It depends how the movie plays. The Driver character is great, and the relationship between Emma and Driver could definitely be explored because you never know what’s going to happen. I’ve never done a sequel before. The only thing I’m thinking of doing as a sequel is Versus 2. If I’m going to do a sequel, it will be that one since I’m sick of people asking me when I will do another Versus," he joked.
We would like to thank Ryuhei Kitamura for taking the time to talk to us during the very busy Toronto International Film Festival. Make sure to check our site for any news of the status of No One Lives.
A ruthless criminal gang takes a young couple hostage and goes to ground in an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. When the captive girl is killed, the tables are unexpectedly turned. The gang finds itself outsmarted by an urbane and seasoned killer determined to ensure that no one lives.
No One Lives, written by David Cohen and directed by Ryuhei Kitamura, is a smart and original horror movie with at its heart a killer in the grip of a dark and twisted love affair.
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