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“We tried to keep it simple,” he explains. “We have that scene where the

guy’s face is messed up and you think that he’s dead. All that happens is that his eyes blink and audiences jump. When you think about it in the scheme of these movies, it’s nothing. It’s a pretty small thing, but it seems to have a bigger impact because of how we use it.” Creating the isopods required Levinson to delve into special effects that

were well beyond his comfort zone, but in the end he found that transition a relatively easy one. He credits this in part to the decision to do the effects en- tirely via CGI. “You just need to find the right people who can make it credible,” he points

out. “We kept saying, ‘If this thing looks fake in any way, we’re fucked.’ We didn’t show the isopods a lot, so we put all our effort into a handful of shots to make sure that the audience would believe them. It also helps that we used fairly low definition cameras so you can’t see too much detail.” Shooting the movie on consumer grade equipment not only enhanced the

believability of the effects, it was a crucial production choice in that it kept the budget low enough for the filmmaker to work with complete freedom. Though choosing to adopt the now-overplayed found-footage format to tell his story, Levinson knew that he needed to approach the subgenre differently. “We decided to tell this story through multiple sources because during any

event like this, people are filming on a variety of sources these days. So if you play on that, you can make the shooting style expansive rather than inclusive like most of these movies,” he explains. “We had 21 different digital platforms in the movie with no high-end digital work. We’re out on the water, we’re un- derwater, and we shot it in eighteen days. We shot it for a little over $2 million, so no one could get hurt financially and there were no [producer’s] notes. It’s not that kind of movie.” The vérité aesthetic also required the veteran filmmaker to change the way

he approached blocking, shooting and directing his talent. “You’re always saying, ‘How do we shoot this scene?’ There’s no over-the-

shoulder, there’s no two-shot. So how do we do this? If there are two people, then one has to hold the camera. How do we show both characters?” As it turns out, the style proved to be liberating, as Levinson was able

to abandon his usual techniques and find a new way of working, often staging single takes that travelled several city blocks. “You have certain obligations to realism and if you break the form, con-

sciously, or unconsciously, the audience says, ‘Well, that doesn’t seem right,’” he notes. “So you have to find the right techniques.” If nothing else, The Bay offered Levinson a chance to experiment with

a new form of storytelling. “As a director, it’s definitely fun when you suddenly see the whole front

of the theatre jump out of their seats,” he says, with a smile. “I mean, we don’t show that much. I watched a few new horror films in preparation and thought, ‘Holy shit, that’s way past where we are.’ But I think because we seem to have more credibility, when we use scares or violence and tie it to fully developed characters, that gives it more of an effect and really seems to hit home.” As our time with Levinson wrapped, we pressed him on whether he



USA/New Zealand

Alamo Drafthouse main man Tim League and Kiwi film fanatic Ant Timp- son drafted 26 horror directors from around the world to make short films about death, inspired by the letters of the alphabet. It’s a cool idea, but the re- ality of anthology films is that they are invariably hit or miss. That’s true here, though the short run times mean that for every WTF? moment (I’m looking at you, “G for Gravity”), you get Amer di- rectors Bruno Forzani and Hélène Cat- tet’s stunning “O for Orgasm” and Frontière(s) director Xavier Gens’ very wet “X for XXL.” Uneven but entertain- ing nonetheless. SP


would ever return to horror after creating such an effective entry on his first try. “Most likely not,” he admitted. “However, I did like it and had a lot of

fun. If someone came up with a concept that would fit like this one, then maybe. I have no objections to doing horror.”



My expectations for Aftershock were lifted significantly when a fellow jour- nalist went on a tirade about the film’s misogyny, tastelessness and general in- competence, to the extent that he can- celled his interview with co-writer/ producer/star Eli Roth. I was expecting a certain amount of douchebagginess in this tale of an American tourist (Hostel director Roth) and two locals trying to hook up with a trio of beautiful foreign- ers before an earthquake devastates the Chilean coastal city in which they are partying, and Aftershock delivers, although its scenes of murderous may- hem align it more with ’70s disaster movies than torture porn. SP




Squishy-faced actor Toby Jones stars as Gilderoy, a middle-aged, mild-man- nered British sound engineer who trav- els to Italy to work on The Equestrian Vortex. Sounds like a nice little movie about a girl and a horse, doesn’t it? Yeah, that’s what Gilderoy thought too. Turns out it’s an extremely violent giallo by an eccentric director named Santini (think Dario Argento minus the creative genius). Eventually, the-film-within-the- film collides with Gilderoy’s real life in increasingly disorienting ways, even though we never actually see a frame of The Equestrian Vortex; we just hear the sound effects that accompany it. It’s an amazing conceit and a loving tribute to ’70s-style analog moviemaking. SFA



Neil Jordan, director of 1994’s Interview with the Vampire returns to the red stuff with this stylish, seductive adaptation of a stage play about two unusual “sis- ters” (actually a mother and daughter) who arrive in a seaside tourist town and hide out in abandoned hotel while struggling to keep their secret from both friends and pursuers. No garlic, stakes or fangs, but enough brutal kill scenes to please the bloodthirsty. There’s a cat- and-mouse plot but not that much hap- pens in the present. Rather, it’s more of an origin story, with flashbacks and journal entries gradually revealing just


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