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Exclusive: Which Horror Maestro Advised Leigh Whannell on “INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3”?

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When it comes to next year’s surprisingly sparse horror slate, few films are as highly anticipated as Leigh Whannell’s directorial debut, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3. With Whannell’s prolific slate as a scribe and actor in the horror genre, it was only a matter of time before he found his way into the director’s chair, and what better chance than to take over on the terrifying franchise he has personally guided? And with James Wan’s very specific cinematic vision, fans of the franchise are excited to see what Whannell can bring to the table both narratively and stylistically.

What exactly will influence Whannell’s voice as a filmmaker, outside of the influences Wan brought to the franchise? During a twitter exchange with this writer over the summer, Whannell stated he was going to go “Full Friedkin” as opposed to the Argento-esque leanings of CHAPTER 2. And during press rounds for the dark comedy crime film THE MULE (which FANGORIA will be screening this Monday in NYC), written and starring Whannell as well as directed by Whannell’s INSIDIOUS co-star Angus Sampson, Whannell elaborated on this statement.

“What I meant when I said that was that I really wanted to ground the film, or at least try to ground the film, in that level of reality,” said Whannell. “I love what William Friedkin did with THE EXORCIST; he made it an almost documentary-like horror film. That’s what makes [THE EXORCIST] retain its power over all these years. And, actually, speaking of Twitter, I reached out to William Friedkin on Twitter and he got back to me, so I messaged him to see if he could meet me for lunch before I shot the film. I just thought it was amazing to sit down and have lunch with this director I admired for so long, whose films I adore and love and watched countless times. I actually got to sit with him and get advice [on INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3] first hand.”

“So, for me, James’ style has so many different influences in it, including his own unique style and a combination of Dario Argento and so many other different things,” Whannell continued. “But I sat back and wondered my contribution to the INSIDIOUS films, and what I can offer that hasn’t been offered yet, since I wanted CHAPTER 3 to be an INSIDIOUS film with my own stamp without being a flagrant imitator of the other films. I came to the conclusion that I wanted to offer a more grounded film in the way that Friedkin would do it. Not that it’s documentary-like in the sense of there being handheld cameras, but I think the characters and the situation have very much been influenced by William Friedkin’s work on THE EXORCIST, as well as his other films, too.”

Whannell also updated FANGORIA on the status of his upcoming horror comedy COOTIES, which was pulled from schedules earlier this year for reshoots.

“I’m glad you asked! As you know, COOTIES was bought by Lionsgate at Sundance in January of this year, and since then, we’ve done a little work on it,” adds Whannell. “We’ve actually reshot the ending, and now we have a new ending from the one we had in Sundance. I’m actually so happy with where the film is at now, and Lionsgate will be announcing the release plan for it any week now. Right now, they’re all caught up in the release of THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1, but I’ve definitely been keeping in touch with the guys at Lionsgate and I think you guys will be hearing something official in the coming weeks, for sure.”

Obviously, COOTIES has been a long awaited film for genre fans as well, although we hope Lionsgate may give it a stronger push now that the film has a new ending than they have with their last two horror releases, JESSABELLE and YOU’RE NEXT. In the meantime, you can catch Whannell in THE MULE, in select theaters and VOD this Friday, November 21st from XLrator media, and NYC/NJ residents can still RSVP for FANGORIA’s free screening at the link above; luckily, the film is funny as Whannell’s genre work is scary, and features a whole different kind of body horror.

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About the author
Ken W. Hanley

Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel “THE I IN EVIL”, and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.

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