Our "White Noise 2" set coverage continues with RT’s conversation with director Patrick Lussier, as the horror editor-director talks about working with Wes Craven and promises twists and turns in the upcoming thriller sequel.
Patrick Lussier‘s career in horror films has included an extensive editing collaboration with fright master Wes Craven (chopping the "Scream" trilogy, "Red Eye," and more), as well as helming his own "Dracula 2000" movie series. Now Lussier’s inherited the reins to "White Noise 2: The Light," along with all the (not-so-positive) expectations that job brings. RT’s Senh Duong and Phu Bui-Quang sat down with Lussier to learn more about the "White Noise" sequel, Lussier’s career segue, and the current state of horror cinema.
Rotten Tomatoes: So Patrick, have you seen the first "White Noise" film?
Patrick Lussier: Yeah. I’ve worked for Geoff Sax — I edited his "Doctor Who," so it was kind of funny to follow in his footsteps with the sequel to his film.
RT: The first movie dealt with EVP while the second one is more about premonitions.
PL: We definitely leap away from EVP pretty quickly, you know. There are elements of it, but it’s more about one man’s adventure as he goes on this journey and what happens to him after this near-death experience. He kind of becomes his own EVP receiver; he can see things other people can’t see.
RT: What is it about the script of the sequel that attracted you?
PL: When I read it I was completely surprised. It starts out being one kind of movie, and halfway through it becomes very different. It has twists and turns and things that aren’t expected, and ends in a way that is completely shocking. You can’t imagine that you would ever end this movie in the way it does.
RT: Katee [Sackhoff] said this takes a more realistic approach to horror films.
PL: Yes. It’s very character driven. The best horror movies are about people you care about, as opposed to just cannon fodder that gets killed. So it’s not that kind of movie, it’s very much about characters that you can fall in love with, be passionate about as an audience member, and then watch their journey to a very frightening environment.
RT: Did the audience and critical reaction to the first film cause you to approach the second film in a different way?
PL: I think when they were talking sequel, they wanted to do something different — they didn’t want to just leave off the first film. They realized that what they had was an incredibly strong concept, so they wanted a sequel to the concept. That’s why ["White Noise 2"] is a stand-alone adventure — it doesn’t really play on the events of the first film, except for a few tiny connections. The thematics in the world are very similar, but everything else becomes different, and it’s very much its own adventure.
RT: In your previous films you worked as an editor. Now you’ve started directing. When did you decide to make that transition?
PL: I was very fortunate to work for Andrew Ronin and everyone at Dimension Films. After cutting "Scream," "Mimic," "Scream 2," and "Halloween: H20," they offered me the chance to direct the third "Prophecy" movie with Christopher Walken and Vincent Spano, which was great. They said, "Hey, do you want to do this?" I said, "Sure!" So it kind of came up like that.
RT: Has your editing experience affected your directing style at all?
PL: Yeah, [as an editor-director] you can shoot less. You know which parts work and which parts don’t…you can be very specific with the actors, very specific about construction, how the scenes will work, how they’ll play out, how they’ll be fabricated, so that you’re not having to guess and say, "well somebody will figure it out later." You can figure it out before you do it.
RT: Are you editing "White Noise 2" as you go along?
PL: Yeah, Tom Elkins, my editing sidekick, is cutting right now, and I’ll join him and we’ll both cut the film together once we finish production.
Because of my editing experience, sooner or later you always want to sit in the chair and start hacking away at the material. I love editing; it’s a great thing to do. It’s also great to do it with a partner, because they will see things that you didn’t. You’ve shot it in a very specific way and sometimes they see different things in the footage. So it’s great to have an extra set of eyes. It’s a good partnership.
RT: You’ve worked with Wes Craven too. How is your relationship with him, and did he influence your work?
PL: I cut for Wes for years, since ’91; the "Nightmare" movies, and all the "Scream" movies, and "Music of the Heart," "Red Eye," so it can’t help but influence you. He’s got such a keen sense of horror and how it works and such specific thoughts about it. It becomes ingrained with you. Wes is a master with that stuff. For Wes it’s not about style, it’s about performances and story and character. That’s what is key to making everything else work.
RT: Horror films have been doing well lately, with Japanese horror remakes and other remakes. Since you’ve been through the whole trend from the 80’s up to now, what do you think is the state of horror films?
PL: It seems to be changing. It seems to me like the PG-13 ghost stories are working out well, and then there’s the R-horrors which are "how extreme can you go?" like "Hostel" and "Saw." It’s about how far you can push the ratings.
But horror is cyclical…different things repeat themselves. ‘"Emily Rose" worked, let’s go with more of that. "The Grudge" worked, so let’s make more of that.’ If "The Omen" works, we’ll see more spooky kid stories. And if it doesn’t, we won’t.
RT: Lastly, do you believe in EVP and premonitions?
PL: Sure. I believe people are balls of energy — it’s gotta go somewhere, it can’t just evaporate.