Interview: Eli Roth on Aftershock, The Last Exorcism II and Green Inferno
Modern master of horror and busy year acting, directing and producing
‘Once you’ve acted for Quentin Tarantino alongside Christoph Waltz, Brad Pitt and Diane Kruger, you’re like “Ok, I can do this,”’ says Eli Roth with a mischievous grin. Best known for his work behind the camera creating and directing groundbreaking titles such as Hostel and Cabin Fever, he’s recently added another string to his bow, acting, referring to his role as Donny Donowitz ‘The Jew Bear’ in Tarantino’s World War II romp Inglourious Basterds. Roth was is Glasgow in February as guest of honour at this year’s FrightFest, promoting his first lead role in brutal and bloody disaster movie Aftershock.
As co-star Lorenza Izzo explains, ‘Aftershock is about an American tourist [Roth] who goes down to Chile, meets up with some friends and they go to this really cool club when this insanely huge earthquake hits, so they go from having fun in a club to being in survival mode.’
The film is loosely based on the earthquake that hit Chile in 2010, but, as Izzo continues, ‘It’s certainly not a documentary film, but it does include actual stories that happened to friends of mine.’
‘The first half of the movie is like a comedy, then you turn everything into a more harrowing experience,’ adds director Nicolás López. Given that López is most well-known for rom-coms in his native Chile, the film’s structure shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, and it’s this first act that makes you care about the characters before the tremor destroys the local town. ‘Most disaster movies focus on the pornography of disaster, all the effects, rather than showing what happens to people in those circumstances,’ says López. It’s a wild ride filled with splatter and shock effects as man turns on man in a bid for survival.
Roth has become a one-man horror empire. ‘I’m proud to be part of a wave of filmmakers – with James Wan, Rob Zombie, Alex Aja and Neil Marshall – that helped bring horror back to its former glory.’ And beyond directing, writing and acting, he’s also turned his hand to producing a string of movies, including The Last Exorcism II. ‘We really wanted to continue the story. TThe director, wanted to shoot it like Rosemary’s Baby and watch this girl trying to get on with her life being haunted by this thing that is slowly creeping in and unravelling everything. We made a really fun scary movie.’
Alongside Saw, Hostel was one of the films that ushered in the wave of so called ‘torture porn’, a subgenre dominated by graphic depictions of gore and violence. ‘It’s very flattering to have started a subgenre but I think the term is ridiculous,’ says Roth, ‘Now when I see the term “torture porn” it says more about the critic than the movie. Anyone who uses that term comes across like a parent complaining about their kids liking rock’n’roll music.’
Roth enjoyed working in Chile so much that his next feature, Green Inferno, was also shot in the country, with López as producer and starring Izzo. ‘It was one of the most crazy experiences in my life,’ says Roth, ‘we went further into the Amazon than anyone making a film ever has before. We found a village so off the grid that there was no electricity. They lived in grass huts, no running water, and so out of contact with the outside world they didn’t even know what a movie was: we had to explain conceptually to them what a movie was. We bought a generator and a television and we showed them Cannibal Holocaust and they thought it was hilarious and they all signed up to be in the film.’
Aftershock (Studiocanal) is available on DVD and Blu-Ray now; The Last Exorcism II (Studiocanal) is released on DVD and Blu-Ray on 30 Sep.