“INSIDIOUS” WEEK CONCLUDES: JAMES WAN & LEIGH WHANNELL DISCUSS THE FILM’S SCARY SCORE AND OREN PELI
Insidious is out in theatres now so go support it or never complain again about the lack of original horror films. Got it? Good. Anyway…
Here is the final part of the DLB’s interview with filmmakers James Wan and Leigh Whannell. Here we discuss the film’s scary score, courtesy of Joseph Bishara (Repo! The Genetic Opera) and the involvement of their producers, including Paranormal Activity director Oren Peli.
How important is sound design and Joseph Bishara’s music to making Insidious as scary as it is?
James: Because Insidious is all about me hearkening back to my love of classic haunted house movies, very old school horror, old school ghost story here, and the best way to represent that is not just through the visuals, not just through the camera work and production design but the score is such an important part.
I wanted to give the film a very old school feel to it. You go back and watch a lot of the classic haunted house movies like The Haunting, classic piano. Or even further back with Universal – duh duh duh, duh duh duh! I wanted to do that, but I wanted to approach it with a very avant-garde approach.
Because I would say one of the biggest influence for me on this film is the score for a very obscure, not many people would know but I imagine you would know very well was Bob Clark’s… Dead of Night [also known as Deathdream]. If you go back and listen to the score from Deathdream that was truly my inspiration. All of it was just [makes discordant sounds]. They literally opened up the grand piano and just started hitting strings, and I really loved the fact that it was so unmelodic, very avant-garde in its approach but yet it really sets a very unsettling tone, and that’s what I really wanted for this film. I didn’t want anything melodic at all. The only melodic stuff in this film is for more of the emotional stuff, like the family and so on. But for the scare moments and all the creep and all that, I really wanted very unsettling pieces of writing that gives you anxiety. If you listen to it you feel like you need to pop a Xanax.
To what extent did Oren Peli’s involvement shape the material, especially in light of Paranormal Activity’s success? Leigh, did you write Insidious before Paranormal Activity came out?
Leigh: No, it was after. It was actually the producers of Paranormal Activity – Oren Peli, Jason Blum and Steven Schneider – in the wake of Paranormal Activity’s success they were given the greenlight to fund, I think, five or six low budget horror films; it’s like a slate of films. And they formed a production company, and we’re the first guys they came to. They’re making one with Rob Zombie [Lords of Salem] and Barry Levinson, but we’re the first ones out of the gate. So it was them who actually kick-started this whole idea and said, ‘We’ve got this amount of cash in place. Can you write a film to fit this model?’
James: Right, but the story, the concept came from the two of us. It was an idea that we’ve had for awhile, and when they came along we’d just got ‘hey, let’s take this film that we’ve been wanting to make for a long time and put it into their slate.’
But then I have to say Jason Blum was so instrumental in helping me put this film together. He was such a strong producer that I don’t think I could have pulled this film off without his help.
Leigh: The question they asked us was ‘do you have something that will fit this model?’ and we were like ‘yeah, we have this idea.’