Alex Aja Talks ‘Mirrors’, MPAA Problems

The other day we sent SpookyDan to hit up the editing bay where Alex Aja was hard at work on his latest feature film, Mirrors, which arrives in theaters August 15. Not only did he get to see the opening of the film, but he chatted with the French director about the film, the MPAA and gore. Read on for the skinny.
Today we got to sit down with Director Alex Aja and talk about a bunch of his projects including the highly anticipated release of MIRRORS, a supernatural horror thriller that stars Amy Smart and Keifer Sutherland (who also Executive Produced). In the remake of the Korean horror film, Keifer plays an security guard of a haunted building that was burnt to a crisp five years ago. It is here where he is being tormented by the lost souls that inhabit the mirrors throughout the creepy setting.

Set for release in theaters everywhere on August 15th, audiences will be happy to find that this is no ordinary ghost film. We were shown a few clips, and what I can tell you about it is that it is a dark, gritty and has Aja’s signature bloodletting that will please even the most hardcore gore hound. Aja showed us the beginning of the film, which depicts a dude running away from his reflections, until the reflections finally catch up with him. Without giving it away, the blood begins to flow, and flow, and flow, splattering the camera and opening up the film with very violent and visceral imagery. Just the way we like it!

Aja explained to us that he has had many problems with the MPAA in the past, only this time around the (super awful) MPAA made (surprisingly) very minor changes. He talked a bit about this and why he doesn’t like PG-13 horror films. “In a PG-13 movie it’s very comfortable and not truly scary, and it’s very easy for a studio to make a supernatural themed movie PG-13. One of the reasons we wanted to make this movie is that my favorite film is THE SHINING, going to that place where it’s about people, with a lot of background story and a lot of fear and suspense, while still being in your face and graphic violent,” he explains. “At the same time; we wanted to do something really outrageous yet still staying supernatural. We are not into the urban legends like BLOODY MARY or a CANDYMAN kind of movie, but to use the great device of the mirror holding your reflection and it having it’s own identity,” Aja reveals.

Aja went into more detail on why the MPAA causes problems, and makes a realistic film unbelievable. “We try as much as we can to take a very realistic approach, even if it is supernatural. The PG-13 rules goes directly against the reality of life. You can only say ‘fuck’ once and a few ‘shits’, but in the first five minutes we blow that rule. This MPAA system is not working properly. You cannot put a film like THE HILLS HAVE EYES against BEVERLY HILLS COP on the same rating.” He continues, “That’s always our approach since HIGH TENSION, we don’t want the gore for gores sake. For us the gore is good when it’s there to immerse you into a nightmare. If you just watch butchery, its tough to defend.

Even though the film is clearly a remake of a Korean horror film Aja says it’s different enough to avoid the stigma. “This is not a remake of the Korean film at all! After HILLS HAVE EYES we were approached by New Regency with a script called MIRRORS. We didn’t know at all about the Korean film at the time. We read the script and we didn’t connect with it at all, not the story, the character or the scares, anything! We did however read something that was really interesting, and that was the concept of the mirrors, and this is when we realized that at any time of the day people are seeing their reflections in glass water and mirrors. Everyone has a different relationship with mirrors, some people are upset by their reflection some people cant stand it and not just today, since forever ago back to Narcissist to now. That was really interesting because people have a fear of loosing their identity; you may look at your reflection to make sure that you are still yourself. We realized that it was a great field to explore, its here it’s universal. For me, what makes a great movie is when it reveals something inside you and it follows you, we all have a fear of death or darkness or water, but this is more of the relationship with yourself.

Taking a look at the Korean film, Aja had different ideas. “We didn’t like the idea of ghosts trying to find justice, or getting revenge… the opening scene establishes that your reflection may have an identity of its own – and that is where the similarities stop.

Even though it’s based off the Korean horror film, Aja explains that he came on board with the stipulation that he could change everything. “We wanted to do this, so we called up New Regency and said ‘yes, we love the concept but we want to do it all on our own, our script and our story.’ And here we are.

KNB is handling the blood and practical FX, and Revolution (?) is handling the 400 VFX shots- but it’s not a VFX film, they are mainly invisible effects of composites inside the mirrors. “We did our own version of a homemade motion control, to accomplish a bunch of the effects, we actually only used green screens for the final sequence of the film!” But forget the green screens, I personally wanted to know if this will be as intense and gory as the past films! Aja explains, “I think we are on the same level of gore as we were with HIGH TENSION, but it’s different because one is based in a sort of reality and one is supernatural. It’s really about giving you another perspective on what is surrounding you everyday. When you leave the screening room I want people to cover the mirrors in their rooms and look at things differently.” He continues, “As a French filmmaker I feel we have a much more instinctual way of showing things. You have to live the experience with the protagonist and to do that effectively you need to show (the audience) what they are supposed to see. Not holding back, that’s why I am so frustrated with the recent batch of PG-13 horror films, they are not showing you suspense.