Buzz has steadily been building around Wes Craven's upcoming horror thriller "My Soul to Take." The film, which opens October 8, marks the first writer/director efforts from the beloved genre filmmaker since his segment in 2006's "Paris je t'aime."
When MTV News caught up with Craven during a brief-yet-miraculous window of downtime recently — he's currently in the middle of shooting "Scream 4" — he revealed his unique inspiration for "My Soul to Take," why it's more than "Stand by Me" with a knife, and how his use of post-production 3-D conversion differs from the way in which other films have used it.
MTV: It's been a while since you've written and directed a film. How did that come about?
Wes Craven: I guess it was just the happy circumstance of having a conversation with [executive producer] Andrew Rona, who at that time was running Rogue Pictures, and him saying, "Got any ideas? I'd love to do another picture with you," and I had just had an idea, and so I pitched him over coffee, and he gave me a green light for the script, and off we went.
MTV: How and when did the inspiration for the story strike you?
Craven: I know exactly when it came; I have no idea what inspired it. Sometimes I have these strange thoughts I'm almost embarrassed to say I have, but I was thinking about what it would be like to be a man — maybe it was because I was afraid I was enjoying too much happiness in my life — but I was thinking what it would be like to be a man who is leading a normal life at the time a series of serial killings taking place in the area where he and his wife live. ... He discovers in his workshop a hiding place. He stumbles upon the tools of a serial killer that fit the description on TV that the police had captured in a security-camera recording, and he realizes that he is the killer and had a hidden personality. It sort of began there.
MTV: It seems like the trailer does a great job of setting up the story without spoiling anything.
Craven: It's a great trailer. We were very happy. I kept saying it's kind of "Stand by Me" with a knife. It's not really a grisly gore-fest in any way. It's as much a family story and coming-of-age story as anything else, but it does have murders in it and it does take place among 16-year-olds, so it does fall into that genre. But I really tried to reinvent that genre by doing something that had a humanistic story to it and kind of a psychological and even spiritual story to it, so depending on how you look at it, it's either a story about personality or about souls.
MTV: The cast is relatively unknown and young. What do you enjoy about working with younger, lesser-known actors?
Craven: The truth of the matter is that, at that age, there are very few actors who are seasoned or well-known. Some of these actors had worked, or at least one had worked in Disney films. These were all of their first starring roles. I really enjoy working with young kids. They have great spirit and energy and are just kind of beautiful to watch and direct. I guess if I could have, I would have worked with really experienced actors so I wouldn't have had to be kind of a schoolteacher too, but they gave great performances. I'm delighted with the way they delivered onscreen.
MTV: When you say schoolteacher, do you mean telling them to be quiet and get to work?
Craven: It's more just teaching them the technical stuff of acting, hitting your marks, finding your light and saying things so they're pronounced enough so people can understand what you're saying. Most teenagers kind of mumble and say things too fast for most people to understand. It's just the minor things like that, but it's actually a pleasure to be helping pass on the craft a bit. ... I directed Johnny Depp in his first film ["A Nightmare on Elm Street"], and I look back and say, "Wow, I'm really happy to be part of that gift to the world that he is."
MTV: Is this a standalone film, or is there potential for sequels?
Craven: I would say that I certainly did not design it to be that, but it does have an element to it that actually could make it as easily a franchise as the "Scream" franchise, where you have different killers in each film. The central character, I think, would be very interesting to follow through a few more films, but it depends on how the film does.
MTV: What can you say about the 3-D conversion?
Craven: It was not shot in 3-D, but the studio offered to do that, and I thought it would be interesting to explore — not as the gimmicky 3-D of some films, but to use it as a natural enhancement. You can experience it the way you experience the rest of your life in 3-D. ... For a narrative film, rather than spears coming at you in your face in the theater, [we used it] subtly to warp reality for a character that has schizophrenia or some of the kids when they're going through their extreme events, breaking those forward from the screen rather than keeping them at the screen or behind the screen and yet doing them in a subtle way so the audience won't be aware we're doing it. We're able to manipulate the mind in a way we weren't able to before. I'm quite fascinated by it. We might be one of the first films to treat it that way. ... It's not a film that puts it in your face. You'll be aware, but in general, it's using it very, very subtly. ... It's been a very interesting education for me.
From the saucy Jessica Alba in "Little Fockers" to James Franco's grueling journey in "127 Hours," the MTV Movies team is delving into the hottest flicks of fall 2010. Check back daily for exclusive clips, photos and interviews with the films' biggest stars.
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