Interview: 'You're Next' Writer Simon Barrett & Director Adam Wingard On Sequel Ideas, Inspiration & The 'V/H/S' Franchise

Interviews
by Drew Taylor
August 26, 2013 2:56 PM
2 Comments
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When Lionsgate picked it up, there was a certain amount of speculation that it was going to be geared towards a franchise, given the success of "Saw." Have they talked to you at all about that? 
AW: Well, it’s all going to be contingent on how the movie plays theatrically. Simon and I internally with our producers, Keith Calder and Jess Wu, all have I think a very clear idea of where we would take a series. I think we even know how we would do a trilogy really. But we definitely know how we would do a sequel. But we don’t want to do a sequel unless there’s a demand for it. But we’re prepared for it even though it’s a film that doesn’t have an obvious sequel. But somehow it wasn’t that hard to realize what to do without repeating ourselves. 

SB: Yeah, I think in some ideal world where we do end up making more “You’re Next” films, I think we would take it not in an obvious direction hopefully. I don’t think it would be what anyone’s necessarily expecting, but I think that’s also kind of the fun of “You’re Next” is that hopefully there are some surprises for even the most jaded horror viewer. It might be a less obvious film to make a sequel to that than a “Saw” or a “Paranormal Activity,” but we’re definitely open to that. 

AW: There’s aspects of it that you can work with, but that’s the interesting thing about it. Like the "Saw" movies had definite sequels because you just throw in more traps. And “You’re Next” is a very complicated tonal piece in terms of it shifts from being a very creepy suspenseful thing to an action thing…

SB: The killers have motives that are specific to their victims in some way. 

AW: And so it’s a matter of making that story make sense and also finding a version of that story in a sequel that would encapsulate the feel of the first film without doing the same thing at all and the most important thing I think about “You’re Next” is kind of being unpredictable and while at the same time feeling somewhat familiar in a way that gets you more involved and comfortable with what you’re seeing. 

" 'You’re Next' may not be the shortest script I’ve ever written, but it’s definitely the tightest. We definitely took that as the challenge to really entertain people."

During the editing, was there a certain objective? This thing seems like it was cut done to all killer, no filler. 
AW: Oh yeah. That’s what we wanted to do from the get go. We shot with two cameras and every time we were doing a scene, I mean I shoot a lot of coverage and I wanted to make sure going into this that this movie felt like a real movie. I sat down with my DP and we watched a lot of big-budget Hollywood movies. We watched movies like “Face/Off” and movies that we don’t really even like that much, like “Blood Diamond,” just movies that we knew were really expensive and it’s like, what makes this feel bigger? And a lot of it comes down to the tightness of it and really having no fat. It just turns out that like even beyond me and Simon, working with Keith Calder and Jess Wu, they’re great collaborators because they feel very story oriented and they want things to be tight. And likewise, I think we all came together at the exact right time where we said, "You know what we’re tired of? Doing movies with fat on them." We wanted to do something that just moves by and it’s like there’s not a second to waste. 

SB: Yeah, I think we’ve always said, just to each other, if there’s a scene that can be cut, or a moment that can be cut, then it should. Because if it’s not serving a purpose that’s essential, then just get rid of it. “You’re Next” may not be the shortest script I’ve ever written, but it’s definitely the tightest. We definitely took that as the challenge to really entertain people and Keith and Jess are perfect creative partners for that. 

You guys were also involved in “V/H/S 2.” right? How did you end up coming back? Are there going to be more of those? 
SB: We ended up doing “V/H/S 2” kind of just because we had a window in our schedules to do it.  We know Gareth [Evans] and Timo [Tjahjanto] and everyone. 

AW: For the sequels, we’ll still be on as a producing capacity. I’m sure they’re still going to do more sequels and stuff. 

SB: We created that mythology, but I don’t think we’d want to keep creatively advising. But I don’t think we’d be able to be as involved because our schedules are filling up. Because we ended up doing a lot of the post-work on those movies. If there’s a third film, we’d probably just step back and executive produce. 

Is there any possibility of the future movies being more international?
SB: We’d love to. There’s certain logistical challenges as you may or may not imagine. Just shipping drives back and forth so you could see high-res versions of the film becomes a challenge on a film that low-budget. 

AW: Those "V/H/S" movies are not expensive movies, if you know what I mean. The challenge is actually trying to find directors who can work under those kind of constraints. So it’s not as easy as just saying, “Let’s get some great directors in here.” It’s also kind of like, “Let’s find some guys who can actually do this and we’ll do it.” … And that’s the thing about shooting a movie in Jakarta, where if everybody had the same budget, whereas in America that buys you three or four days, in Jakarta they can shoot for almost two weeks. 

So what’s next for you guys?
SB: We have a film called “The Guest” that we’re again working with Keith Calder and Jess Wu on, that’s more of an action thriller and that’s another independent project. That’s hopefully going in a couple months. And then we also have a project set up by Warner Bros., we’re adapting the British spy novel, “Dead Spy Running.” McG and Kevin McCormack are producers on that. But that’s a big studio film, so the development process is something we’re kind of not used to. 

AW: So in the meantime, we’re going to go and shoot another indie with our whole “You’re Next” crew. It’s definitely going to be much bigger budget then “You’re Next,” but…

SB: It’s still something we can put together. 

"You're Next" is in theaters now. Bring some plastic sheeting; it's a bloody one!

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2 Comments

  • phoebezeitgeist | October 19, 2013 12:17 AMReply

    on the commentary track for a horrible way to die, wingard said he was 6'4".

  • Simon | August 27, 2013 10:37 AMReply

    Is one of them huge, or the other one just very small?

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