Australian screenwriter, producer and director Leigh Whannell, of horror-flick ‘SAW’ franchise fame and writer of Insidious and Insidious Chapter 2, is back at it with Insidious 3 ‘Into the Further’. Whannell promises audiences that the third installment, Insidious 3, is darker, scarier and more emotional than the previous two films.
Press Pass Latino caught up with 38-year-old Whannell and picked his brain about what makes Insidious 3 all the more frightening, what scares him down to his core and what’s his favorite scary movie of all time.
PPL: How do you up the ante and make each film scarier than the last? What’s the creative process like to accomplish that?
Leigh Whannell: It’s a real tough one, I mean, I guess that’s the first rule of sequels it’s that you have to be, bigger, and badder and scarier and funnier than the previous film. That’s the idea anyway, [laughs], but usually it works in reverse where it’s diminishing returns but for me the process is kind of sitting back with a note pad, I don’t like to sit in front of a computer. I just like to go somewhere quiet with a pad and pencil and just sit there and think ‘ok, what haven’t we done yet?’ ‘what haven’t we seen yet?’ ‘what would be a fresh angle for which we could come at this material?’ you know, and I think that’s what we did with this film and I think we succeeded and we got a film that’s true to the Insidious universe but feels like a new family, a new set of problems and a new world.
PPL: Without any spoiler alerts! What makes Insidious 3 ‘Into the further’ so much scarier than the past two films? What’s going to knock the socks off audiences this time that didn’t do so in the other movies?
Leigh Whannell: You know, I think this film really has a villain that is terrifying. He’s like the physical embodiment of cancer. He’s like this sickly creature, almost like a gollum you know and he really violently attacks the young girl in this film and it’s really intense in that way. I’m happy we got away with it in a PG-13 film and I also think there’s a real emotional sense to this film. As the writer of the first two films, I can say that this film is I can say a lot more emotional. This main character Quin, she’s lost her mother, she’s grieving, she doesn’t have a mother figure in her life and I think that’s going to be a surprise for horror fans to see such an emotional story.
PPL: What’s your personal fascination with fright, gore and the occult? Why this love for scary movies?
Leigh Whannell: I’ve just always loved scary movies. I mean, I guess when I was a kid my version of a scary movie was like a Spider Man cartoon with a particularly nasty villain but as I got older I just kept upping the…[motions with arms] raising the bar and finally somewhere in the university years, I think the bar got raised a little too high and I was watching these movies that were just soooo gory. But I’ve just always been attracted to it [the horror genre] and I think it’s never gonna go away.
PPL: You’re a man, who through your work in the movies in the SAW franchise and later the Insidious franchise, has scared millions of viewers across the world. What scares YOU down to your core?
Leigh Whannell: Well, spiders first of all. I mean, I come from Australia and we have spiders there the size of King Crabs. And they’re just like huge and they’re in your kitchen too. It’s not like you have to go exploring the jungle to find one. You’ll come home and they’re just like right on the wall. Um…that scares me and sharks. I think “JAWS” did something to me. It damaged something in my brain when I was younger so sharks definitely.
PPL: What about ghosts, spirits and the supernatural? Do you believe?
Leigh Whannell: I am. My imagination runs away with me late at night but I’ve never actually seen a ghost. A lot of people I know have had experiences with ghosts but I never have. The people that tell me about their ghostly experiences, I believe THEM. And also people have told me ghost stories that don’t have a reason to lie to me, like my mother. My mother doesn’t have a reason to lie to me. She wouldn’t do that and so when she tells me that she’s talked to a ghost before I believe that she believes and I’m envious of that experience.
PPL: So, you want that experience? You want to talk to ghosts?
Leigh Whannell: [Laughs] I do! As terrifying as that would be.
PPL: What’s your favorite scary movie of all time?
Leigh Whannell: Well, it changes but I’m gonna go with “JAWS”, if we say that’s a horror film. You know, sometimes I’ll say “The Shining” or “The Exorcist” but with you, it’s “JAWS”.