Last night I had a chance to talk with Alexander Aja, the director The Hills Have Eyes – a movie I liked so much that you can look for my pull quotes on TV commercials right now. We’ll run the full interview – where he discusses what the MPAA cut, why rape scenes should be brutal, and the political subtext of the film – next week, but in the meantime here’s an interesting bit I thought you might like to read. I asked Aja about the twist ending of his last film, High Tension, and his answer surprised me. He also talks about his vision for the upcoming film adaptation of Charles Burns’ amazing graphic novel, Black Hole.
Q: Whenever High Tension comes up, people split into two camps, and one of those camps is filled with people who hated the twist ending. What do you have to say to those people?
Aja: It’s kind of funny because the first draft of the script, the script we wanted to do, had the same twist but just in the final minutes. You started the movie in the hospital room and she’s telling the story and then you come back to the hospital room in the end, so you have the feeling that the killer was the killer, but then the doctor brought a VCR into the room, watching the security video from the gas station and you realize she axes the guy. That was the final twist, and the twist was only saying, ‘OK what you saw was her vision of the story and the truth is another movie.’
The producer, unfortunately, asked us to give up the last scene in the last reel, and I think that’s where everything became more fragile. I understand the question of the viewers with the twist coming that way, which is not like the perfect way to bring it. I regret that we didn’t have the time or the budget to shoot the two different endings and be able to, at least on the DVD, have the two different endings.
Q: Is Charles Burns’ Black Hole the next project for you?
Aja: Right now we are working on the script.
Q: And that’s Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary.
Aja: Yeah. It won’t be the next project, it will be, I think, the project following that one.
Q: What is the next project?
Aja: The next project is a supernatural ghost story we are working on right now. Depending on the casting, in the next couple of weeks we’ll know if we have the casting or no, and if that’s the case we’re going to shoot right away, like in the next couple months.
Q: And this is an original or a remake or an adaptation?
Aja: It’s an original film.
Q: With Black Hole, it seems like the book will be tough to adapt because there are so many characters and stories involved, and it doesn’t follow a very conventional narrative structure.
Aja: We are trying to stay as faithful as possible to the graphic novel, which I have to say is the best thing I have read since like so long… It’s just amazing, it’s like someone managed to get a very accurate picture of what it’s like to be a teenager. We’re going to respect that spirit and try to make, as the graphic novel is, a very true description of adolescence and what it is to feel as a monster when you are 15, 16 years old.
Q: And you think you’ll be able to have the characters look as ugly as they do in the comic? One of the things I’m curious about is whether a studio is going to want to put out a movie where all the leads look like monsters.
Aja: You know, I really hope they let us do that. And I think that if we manage to write a script which is not too expensive, they will let us make the movie under the radar and make the movie as fucked up as the graphic novel.