Exclusive: Eli Roth on The Last Exorcism Part II, The Green Inferno and More
Dread Central: Talk a bit about Ed (Gass-Donnelly) and what he brought to the table for The Last Exorcism Part II.
Eli Roth: Well, Daniel Stamm, who directed the first movie, got very busy right after the first Last Exorcism came out so we knew when we started on the sequel he wouldn’t be able to come back unfortunately. Daniel was great about it, though- he said he wanted the sequel to be an opportunity for another talented filmmaker who needed their shot (like he got his on the original) so eventually we met Ed and realized he was going to approach this with a lot of style and sophistication but still wanted to terrify audiences, too. There's a lot of this movie that really feels like a Polanski film at times, and that's all due to Ed; he really made a beautiful looking horror movie. We needed a guy like Daniel for the first movie, and for this Part II we needed a guy like Ed to bring in a completely different approach, and so the two movies feel very different but still feel like they're both part of this same world.
Dread Central: How hard is it to create a satisfying follow-up when you have a movie that finds the kind of success that The Last Exorcism did? Is there more pressure on you for a movie like this than, say, something original you're working on?
Eli Roth: In some ways, absolutely. The greatest challenge with a sequel is balancing the expectations that the fans have but also giving them the unexpected without alienating them at all. Even though Part II is its own story, it still has to hit a lot of those notes from the original that you go in expecting so we had to find a way to hit those notes but give them a bit of a twist so that you're still getting something new in the sequel. You don't want to end up making Jaws 2 (laughs) or anything.
Dread Central: Not that you don't already have enough projects on your plate, but have you guys considered a third Last Exorcism at all yet, or do you just want to focus on Part II for now?
Eli Roth: Right now I’m just focusing on making this one as great as possible and getting it out there, and if it’s a hit, we do have a great idea for the third one already set to go but no script. We took our time making a sequel to the first movie - three years in fact - so we'd probably take our time again if we get to make another one in the future.
Dread Central: Since this is my last question, I wanted to ask about The Green Inferno- I know you went down and filmed with real cannibals, which is just insane to me. What can you tell us about the project so far?
Eli Roth: I really think this is going to be a terrifying film. It follows this group of students who just think they're smarter than everyone else who head off into this jungle and of course, bad things happen. Very, very bad things. It was just incredible to go from modern civilization to this untouched place each and every day to shoot. It was hard, too- we drove four hours to set every day to this small village that didn't have running water or electricity. They had no idea what movies were so we showed them Cannibal Holocaust, which they all thought was really funny.
But making Green Inferno was an incredible life experience; we dealt with over 100-degree days, driving for hours on these tiny dirt paths, going up the Amazon and just losing our minds. It was incredible- you can't fake that kind of stuff, and I think it's going to make for a great movie.
Ed Gass-Donnelly directs The Last Exorcism Part II from a screenplay by Gass-Donnelly and Damien Chazelle. Ashley Bell stars. Look for The Last Exorcism Part II in US theaters on March 1st and in the UK on March 15th.
Continuing where the first film left off, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found terrified and alone in rural Louisiana. Back in the relative safety of New Orleans, Nell realizes that she can't remember entire portions of the previous months only that she is the last surviving member of her family. Just as Nell begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean her last exorcism was just the beginning.
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