Alexandre Aja‘s Haute Tension, aka Switchblade Romance, made one heck of a big, red, sticky splash when it started hacking into the horror festival circuit in 2003. As a result, Aja was heralded as the saviour of splatter cinema, the first Frenchman in a long line to have that mantle thrust upon him in just the last five years. The others, I think, all benefitted from a French film industry more willing to embrace gory fare as a direct result of Aja’s success, not to mention a kind of hype fallout. By now it seems to my cynical side that horror buffs worldwide are just looking for an excuse to laud every single horror film to come out of France and keep the chain unbroken, even when the film is as downright hopeless as Xavier Gens’ Frontière(s).
Aja’s American follow ups, The Hills Have Eyes and Mirrors, have proven to be at once underdeveloped and under appreciated, so I’m left wondering if, perhaps, the reputation of Switchblade Romance was encouraged as much by the film’s supposedly exotic nature as it was by it’s edge-of-seat efficacy.
For his next trick, Aja is going ahead with his a remake of Joe Dante’s Piranha, this time in 3D. Some concept art surfaced at the American Film Market last Autumn – excerpted at the top of this post – but Aja has now revealed there’s more to this design work than meets the eye…
Apparently, there will be several piranha designs featured in the film, not just the one in the illustration. Aja has said “Visually, they’ll be different. Like Gremlins not all of the piranha will be the same.”
It doesn’t seem from his comment that the piranha types will in any way act differently – there won’t be a flying one, a three foot long one, ones that glow in the dark, one that talks about the Geneva Convention and Susan Sontag with the voice of Tony Randall – just that they’ll look different. I suppose there’s a plot mechanic in place to justify this, though it does still strike me as a rather meaningless conceit. Just giving them all little fishy quirks, something like the Hellboy 2 Tooth Fairies, might have been a more effective plan.
Just a note before this post is done: though Aja is the sole credited director on his films, he does work very closely with Gregory Lavasseur, a man that I believe deserves a large portion of the credit, or blame, for their films. It might be an exaggeration to call him Ethan to Alexandre’s Joel, but it illustrates the point quite clearly.
Piranha 3D is set to shoot in the summer, with polish-ups now going on in the script department. Aja says “I’m finishing storyboards now and using the time to improve the script to get the best action and story gags as possible”.
I doubt this will surpass the original in my affections, but I’m still looking forward to some underwater 3D cinematography. All of the stuff floating about on multiple planes can work brilliantly.