RT Interviews Death Sentence Director James Wan

We chat with the director about his upcoming movie.

by | August 27, 2007 | Comments

Modest yet gregarious,
James Wan
appears more like a fan of the movies than someone who directs them. And as the
instigator of the modern torture porn genre, he fits the bill even less.  Shot
for $1.2 million and grossing over $100 million globally in 2004, Wan’s
Saw
paved the way for its
increasingly grisly sequels and a host of splatter flicks like
Turistas
,
Captivity
, and the
Hostel franchise.

Wan’s subsequent movies, like
his straight-forward horror
Dead Silence
,
have calmed significantly.  His latest,
Death Sentence
,
opens this Friday and stars
Kevin Bacon
as a father protecting his family from brutes. Rotten Tomatoes caught up with
Wan in San Diego, broaching the topics of action films during the American New
Wave, directing Bacon, and growing up in suburbia.

Rotten Tomatoes: Death
Sentence
‘s action scenes are shot very matter-of-factly, with low-key music.

James Wan: One of my
influences was the action films of the 1970s. Today’s action movies, when the
action scene kicks in, they’re so bombastic.  I didn’t really want that. I
wanted to create [something] realistic and gritty.  I want the violence to be
really shocking, really hellish in that it’s not supposed to be fun.

RT: How much CG did you
use?

JW: Very
little. Mostly for cleanup. Maybe we’d paint up a wire for safety.

Look at this summer.  If
people want to watch a CG movie, there’s plenty out there.  If people want an
action movie that is realistic, that harks back to the old-school — you know,
stunt work, choreography — then that’s what I was going for. I wanted to make
an action movie that was [also] scary.

RT: It reminded me of
Straw Dogs
.

JW: I love
Sam Peckinpah.
So Straw Dogs is about an oppressed man, who’s unconfrontational on the
surface level but gets pushed too far. Death Sentence has shades of that. It
kind of goes the extra step.  We get stories like [that] all the time:
mild-mannered man goes on some crazy rampage. And you go, "How did they do
this?"

I guess, deep down, there’s a
dark side to us. I guess that’s why movie fans really love the revenge drama. 
We like to go into dark movie theaters and fantasize.  Do what Kevin Bacon does!
It’s a very cathartic experience. And you come out of the theater, and think, "I
got that out of my system.  I don’t need to do that for real." [laughs]

But [Death Sentence]
really is a drama before the action starts. This movie is a tearjerker. I think
people are going to be surprised.  People are going to be crying.  Hopefully
because of the story, and the strong performances. [laughs]



Kevin Bacon in Death Sentence.

RT: Did you consult the
book by
Brian
Garfield
?

JW: No, I didn’t want
to be influenced by the book.  The book is very different from the script, and
it was the script that I fell in love with.  [But I love] the title!  It’s a
very commercial title. Has a B-movie slant to it.

RT: In your movies, a
little in Saw but especially in Death Sentence, there are elements
of suburbia as a place of safety and complacency.

JW: I come from a very
straight and adjusted suburban background.  Very middle class while growing up in
the suburbs of Australia. With Asian parents [laughs]. So it was, "You must
study hard, you must work hard so you can go to a good school and get a good
job," and all that stuff.  So, yeah, I do find that theme creeping into my
films a bit.

RT: Kevin Bacon is also a
director.  Did he specifically contribute that experience while shooting?

JW: At first I was a
bit apprehensive knowing that he’s directed a few things. But he was a true
professional.  He treated me like I was
Clint Eastwood,
like Ron Howard,
or some of the bigger directors he’s worked with. I can’t believe he would
listen to this punk kid telling him what to do. But he did, and I respect him
for that.

RT: You worked with
animation while studying film. How far did you get?

JW: I don’t do it much
anymore.  I’m a big fan of cel animation, I’m a big fan of computer animation,
and, most of all, I’m a big fan of stop-motion animation.

RT: Would you consider
doing an animated movie?

JW: Yeah, definitely. 
I’m a big fan of anime and manga and all that. I would love to.  Stop-motion
animation mixed with 2D.

Tag Cloud

Crunchyroll 2017 Image Comics docudrama social media international Trophy Talk The Witch BET Awards The Academy Exclusive Video serial killer Trailer Character Guide adventure satire Starz diversity robots A&E Amazon Studios Star Wars vampires dramedy breaking bad TBS king arthur Stephen King mob Arrowverse Musical Holiday TruTV spinoff Western what to watch MCU Pacific Islander Sci-Fi Nickelodeon Heroines American Society of Cinematographers supernatural book adaptation best Tumblr documentary Sundance slasher comedies gangster criterion asian-american Television Academy 72 Emmy Awards Nat Geo action-comedy quibi dexter rt labs Musicals New York Comic Con TV movies Spike wonder woman TLC cooking Grammys zero dark thirty See It Skip It RT21 Travel Channel X-Men nbcuniversal TV YouTube Premium hidden camera witnail live event SundanceTV Alien Teen blaxploitation facebook know your critic Baby Yoda Women's History Month Election series Black Mirror Apple indiana jones composers directors 99% dceu Tarantino Best and Worst 73rd Emmy Awards Dark Horse Comics dark Amazon HBO Go adaptation The Walt Disney Company Tomatazos 24 frames Apple TV Plus Fall TV cancelled TV series indie news Crackle Brie Larson Universal Pictures IFC Films streaming movies Comics on TV royal family festivals toronto Turner Classic Movies LGBT golden globes chucky 93rd Oscars boxoffice comic books The CW Disney Channel video on demand PaleyFest new star wars movies Apple TV+ travel batman godzilla dc CNN halloween Sundance Now 2021 theme song 21st Century Fox TV renewals Funimation Esquire fast and furious canceled superhero FOX crime thriller Disney Plus Disney+ Disney Plus doctor who binge RT History free movies Pixar movies Tubi El Rey Photos Emmys king kong talk show Mystery cars Pop TV Mindy Kaling Adult Swim Netflix Christmas movies comic book movie mutant concert Food Network Marvel Studios natural history Hulu Disney Rom-Com Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt australia OneApp historical drama Discovery Channel mission: impossible sitcom rt labs critics edition festival movie hist Bravo spider-man Marvel Television TIFF TCA Winter 2020 Creative Arts Emmys nature reboot Turner finale vs. rt archives heist movie 4/20 2016 marvel comics Holidays Trivia psycho MSNBC spy thriller Comic Book TV Land Hallmark OWN live action Chernobyl Song of Ice and Fire black comedy kong dragons Comedy Central ABC stop motion dogs crossover crime drama emmy awards IMDb TV genre Red Carpet Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Winners GoT canceled TV shows Captain marvel boxing Extras History critic resources Sony Pictures Instagram Live The Walking Dead italian unscripted Sundance TV Reality Competition all-time spider-verse CBS All Access Hallmark Christmas movies Mary Poppins Returns suspense spain Mary Tyler Moore comic new york biopic Interview hispanic worst scary movies Summer Oscars latino japanese Neflix biography 2019 razzies mcc black VICE name the review Masterpiece Netflix zombie BAFTA YouTube Red sag awards 90s worst movies Winter TV Spring TV Countdown Country ABC Family werewolf french SDCC Endgame Christmas Ovation First Reviews screen actors guild south america book sequel hispanic heritage month Reality Rocketman telelvision football Action slashers archives Universal animated Television Critics Association Set visit Fargo cancelled TV shows YA spanish TV One USA harry potter CBS comics Warner Bros. die hard ViacomCBS The Purge marvel cinematic universe spanish language Classic Film christmas movies debate elevated horror documentaries Biopics reviews feel good monster movies independent award winner Spectrum Originals scary revenge GLAAD sports FX First Look teaser Infographic ghosts VOD Film Festival DC Universe Martial Arts prank 1990s Mary poppins DGA E! james bond critics Elton John period drama WGN Lifetime remakes PBS target USA Network Podcast cancelled television BBC rom-coms VH1 The Arrangement SXSW zombies E3 game of thrones stand-up comedy hollywood Box Office jurassic park Film casting San Diego Comic-Con jamie lee curtis Opinion 71st Emmy Awards Marvel space twilight anime venice Schedule versus Amazon Prime Video ESPN cults Paramount cops Legendary Black History Month Comic-Con@Home 2021 TCM 2015 stoner films BBC America Nominations Premiere Dates Cosplay scene in color NYCC Valentine's Day psychological thriller TCA 2017 Cannes aapi Awards Tour DC streaming service nfl cancelled japan TCA obituary DC Comics Drama 20th Century Fox children's TV a nightmare on elm street Hear Us Out laika TCA Awards screenings based on movie renewed TV shows ID Animation streaming HBO Max GIFs Family HBO BBC One Syfy discovery Fox Searchlight transformers golden globe awards strong female leads cartoon Britbox Shudder BET IFC Polls and Games miniseries National Geographic child's play anthology Tokyo Olympics Emmy Nominations 2018 cinemax 45 Wes Anderson Walt Disney Pictures franchise scorecard Avengers Disney streaming service thriller classics Pop olympics comiccon YouTube parents medical drama blockbusters Lucasfilm PlayStation Music rotten movies we love Watching Series Amazon Prime Super Bowl trailers romance television ratings Thanksgiving comic book movies Writers Guild of America Calendar Toys Star Trek science fiction President Quiz ITV universal monsters video Broadway Pirates deadpool green book Marathons foreign Academy Awards LGBTQ Kids & Family new zealand Mudbound sequels Certified Fresh young adult TNT adenture Rock Cartoon Network women halloween tv superman Superheroes docuseries Epix true crime high school Vudu Binge Guide CW Seed romantic comedy Acorn TV Fantasy police drama war technology Fox News Lionsgate AMC Plus AMC richard e. Grant MTV blockbuster NBA Shondaland singing competition Anna Paquin aliens justice league 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards saw political drama 007 fresh APB DirecTV rotten game show Year in Review sopranos cats pirates of the caribbean Video Games Freeform politics legend CMT joker mockumentary A24 Lifetime Christmas movies dreamworks Comedy crime Rocky Superheroe tv talk popular Logo Horror Columbia Pictures Sneak Peek Pet Sematary basketball toy story art house disaster 2020 kids posters Peacock Paramount Network FX on Hulu NBC lord of the rings FXX Paramount Plus Ellie Kemper WarnerMedia Awards Pride Month Showtime Ghostbusters ABC Signature kaiju