Continuing where the first film left off, Nell Sweetzer (Ashley Bell) is found terrified and alone in rural Louisiana. Back in the relative safety of New Orleans, Nell realizes that she can’t remember entire portions of the previous months only that she is the last surviving member of her family. Just as Nell begins the difficult process of starting a new life, the evil force that once possessed her is back with other, unimaginably horrific plans that mean her last exorcism was just the beginning.
Speaking with Eli Roth we weren’t able to get too much information on his latest top secret project but just enough to keep audiences on their feet. We spoke to Eli about, the different look the sequel will have, if it’s going to be a bit more graphic then the first one, getting a whole new writer and directing team, and why it took three years to get the sequel on the big screen.
Latino Review: How’s it going Eli?
Eli Roth: I’m here in Santiago, Chile editing ‘The Green Inferno’.
Latino Review: That’s the latest film you just finished directing. Did you learn any Spanish while you’re down there?
Eli Roth: You know what’s weird is that now I really, really understand it more then after I did ‘Aftershock’. In ‘Aftershock’ my character was super gringo so I said alright I’m going to stay in character but now after being in the jungles of Peru, in the amazon for three months and in Santiago, they can’t talk shit about me anymore because I understand it. I had the most amazing time, I spent the last year in Latin America and they just have an amazing, amazing film community down here. My editor is also a director but right now he’s editing ‘Green Inferno’ and we’re having a fun time.
Latino Review: Will the film be release later on this year?
Eli Roth: There is no release date yet because we literally just wrapped it so we shall see.
Latino Review: Lets talk about ‘The Last Exorcism Part II’.
Eli Roth: I’m really, really, excited about it, it’s really, really fun. We had a great time making the movie, we spent three years on it. After the first one was done everyone was asking us about a sequel and we thought we only want to do one if we can really, really, create and tell a fun story and make it a story worthy of being a sequel. We spent a year working on the script and thought alright lets not do a docu style film but a straight narrative, but within the world of the sequel the first film exist as a viral video. That way if you’re walking down the street people would be saying hey you’re the girl that was breaking her fingers or do the backwards thing and she absolutely has no memory of any of it. She hasn’t even seen the video. Then slowly things begin to happen to her and she begins to realize that this was all her.
Latino Review: Why did you decided to make the sequel have a theatrical take opposed to having the found footage vibe?
Eli Roth: Well it was after the release of the first one, we just started talking about every possible story line and we thought we are only going to make what excites us the most, what’s the most fun version of this movie. We don’t just want to do another documentary crew goes and finds out what happened in this one, no one really wanted to see that in the movies. We thought if we shoot this as a beautiful looking narrative movie, like a classic horror movie and following the girl and see what happened to her, that’s what people wanted to see. We loved the idea of what is this thing inside you and you start to embrace it, now what possibility will that take you. The director wanted to shoot it like a Roman Polanski film and have it really, really look beautiful but just as fun and scary. Ashley Bell is such a terrific actress with so much range and can say so much with just her face but can also do these incredible creations and backends and we just wrote scene after scene so she can really shine with incredible shots.
Latino Review: The first film was rated PG-13 will this one be rated R?
Eli Roth: No, no, no, this one is PG-13. The first one really worked well with that and the second one we wanted to continue the same series in the same tone and have it be very fun, very creepy, and very scary. Also there is a huge portion of our audience that are teenagers, there are gangs of 14 to 15 year olds coming out to see the last film and got completely freaked out by the movie. We want a movie where high school kids are going to go but we also wanted to make a movie that would scare everyone.
Latino Review: In the first film we went into it thinking it was going to go in a certain direction but then we see it take a turn, will the sequel have a twist?
Eli Roth: Well I don’t want to give anything away but I think the trailer that’s out now is really fun and very, very, represented of the movie. You have to have twist and turns in order to make a scary movie, that’s part of the fun of it is taking the audiences expectations and then taking them in a different direction. The first film was a psychological documentary about a girl who’s having a mental break down or is she in fact possessed and we answer that question. Now that we have answered that question lets have fun knowing what the answer is.
Latino Review: We also saw the struggle of faith and the mixing of religion with science in the first film, can we expect to see those themes in the sequel?
Eli Roth: Yes, definitely. I loved in the first one, the debate of science versus religion and how something was in her body. Now we can continue that debate and say was that something that was forced upon her, is it something that she really believes in. The first one is about the thing that won’t leave you alone and it’s slowly unraveling her life around her but yea the theme is definitely there in the sequel.
Latino Review: You have a change is writer and director in this film, did you purposely go for someone new?
Eli Roth: We went with someone with enthusiasm, ideas, and creativity. After the first one everyone was asking the original director Daniel Stamm to direct movies and he got busy very fast and Huck and Andrew (screenplay) signed up to direct a movie so they were unavailable. So we started meeting with writers and looking at the story and we found a terrific writer Damien Chazelle, he’s a really, really, smart writer with great ideas and wrote a terrific draft. Then we started looking for directors and we saw Ed’s (Gass-Donnelly) movie ‘Small Town Murder Songs’ and thought it was really beautifully shot and well done and he did it for almost no money. It’s great when someone can be that creative on a super low budget. Daniel loves Roman Polanski and we wanted to make something really beautiful and elegant but also something that a modern audience would love.
Latino Review: Ashley Bell had a pretty physical role in the first film. Are you putting her in different positions this time around?
Eli Roth: Oh yea, look what Ashley did for the poster, that sequel poster is actually Ashley in a backend and she hurt her back and went into physical therapy after that poster shoot. She strained one of her vertebra, she literally will bend over backwards for the movie. What other actor do you know that can do this sort of thing and craft all sorts of sequences where we can push you to the limit. Ashley is such a great actress, physically and emotionally. That was part of the fun of the movie writing all these incredible things for her.
Latino Review: Why the choice to produce this and not direct this film?
Eli Roth: Basically I was busy on ‘Aftershock’, shooting that in South America and then I was prepping ‘Hemlock Grove’ to direct, so my schedule would not allow it. It’s also fun to find these filmmakers and give them a break. It’s fun to be a part of it but I also have other films I want to direct. There are directors out there like Ed Gass-Connelly that made a film that’s critically acclaimed and played at festivals and who realy want to get out there and show they can make a mainstream hit movie. I like working with new directors and helping foster talent. When you find someone that brings new life and the movie turns out better then you expected,it’s great.
Latino Review: Is ‘Hemlock Grove’ going to be a TV Series?
Eli Roth: Yeah a TV series premiering on Netfilx and it premiers April 19th.
Latino Review: Are you an executive producer and did you just direct one episode?
Eli Roth: Yes, I’m executive producer of the show and I directed the first episode, the pilot.
Latino Review: If this film does well will you be around for a third one?
Eli Roth: Never say never, but I find that you get into trouble when you start thinking about part three before part two is done and out there. I’m just focusing on making this one as great as possible and getting it out there. If it’s a hit, we have a great idea for the third one. You can always continue it but only if you have a great idea. The first one came out three years ago so we took our time with this one to get it right. If we ever continue it will only happen if we have a great script.
The Last Exorcism Part II is in theaters March 1, 2013.