We sat down with The Final Destination Director David R. Ellis to chat about death, 3-D, killing teenagers and going up against Rob Zombie's Halloween II in one of the greatest horror franchise showdowns ever.
FEARnet: After taking a break from Part 3, how does it feel to be back in the series?
David R. Ellis: Great, especially with 3-D. I'm a big fan of the series [and a] big fan of New Line. When I had the opportunity to come back and do this one knowing it was a full live action 3-D movie I jumped on it.
What's different with 3-D in this film compared to other recent 3-D horror releases like My Bloody Valentine 3-D?
I don't think that My Bloody Valentine shot the whole film in 3-D. What I think they did was [shoot] a lot of 3-D scenes and in post they have a technology where they can convert film to 3-D. We were the first ones to use the brand new PACE cameras that Jim Cameron and Vince Pace developed, and we even had the newer model than Cameron was using on Avatar. So we had the latest technology. Pretty much everyone's doing the same thing because right now 3-D is all about the gimmicks, and for this genre it works really well, but I think one of my favorite things about 3-D is just the depth you get in every shot.
Did you have any trouble with the MPAA?
Pretty seamless, very subtle changes, nothing that hurt the film at all. We got to keep all the stuff we wanted to for the gore and violence so we're in good shape.
No skimping on the deaths huh?
We know the demographic we're going after and we know they wanna see that kind of stuff. There's only so much you can do practical on the set and you come back in and go through with the producers and visual effects supervisors and say 'ok, this is how we can enhance this shot and here's how we can give you more than on the day we shot it.' It's always fun to add in extra stuff that you never had before. You can make a scene have bigger 3-D elements than you ever thought you would when you started shooting it.
Do you think the element of 3-D helps or hurts with the MPAA's rating decision?
Probably hurts because it's more graphic and in your face and it's more interactive and you feel it more than you would if it wasn’t coming into your seat. So I definitely think it's more startling to the MPAA.
It's good that you didn't have to make many changes though.
Yeah, it's like when we did Snakes on a Plane and we signed on to make an R-Rated film, and we had to make a lot of changes to make it PG-13. When we showed it to the studio, they agreed that it needed to be R but at that point we had already made a PG-13 film so we had to go back for a week and add stuff to it to help the R-Rating.
Do you find it's tough to top yourself with each Final Destination film?
Harder to do in the next one if they do it.
They're saying this is the final, Final Destination, but if they asked would you come back?
Oh absolutely, in a heartbeat.
How are you feeling about going up against Rob Zombie’s Halloween II on Friday?
I'm scared. Rob Zombie is great, he has a huge fan base, Halloween has a huge fan base. It's unfortunate that we're both going up against each other on the same weekend. We both have our fans and we're both gonna cannibalize each other. It's sad that it happened. Originally we were targeted to open the weekend before which would have been this weekend against Inglorious Basterds. They've got a lot of our demographic too, but they're two totally different kinds of films.
Next weekend we still have to worry about Inglorious Basterds and Tarantino of course, and we have to worry about Rob Zombie too. Our problem was we couldn't move. We're dictated on the chances we have to open based on the 3-D theater count and what other 3-D films are in line, so unless we moved way back we had no chance, we were stuck on that weekend. We were hoping maybe that, there was a rumor that Halloween may move closer to Halloween, so our hope was always that they would move off the date. And the Weinstein’s were hoping to have two big opening weekends in a row would help their company and what's going on with them. They were very successful this weekend with Inglorious and I'm glad for Quentin that happened but now we're both stuck, and we're gonna go at each other which is too bad, I think the same demographic is gonna want to see both movies. So it's just which one they decide to see first, depends on who's gonna have the better weekend. Whatever choice they make, hopefully the next weekend will be good for the other film.
What's your biggest fear?
Not being able to pay my bills.