Magazine article Screen International

Gareth Evans, V/H/S/2 and the Raid 2

Magazine article Screen International

Gareth Evans, V/H/S/2 and the Raid 2

Article excerpt

The Welsh director speaks to Ian Sandwell about his segment in V/H/S/2 and the eagerly anticipated sequel to The Raid.

For a filmmaker who splashed the screen with blood in The Raid and whose V/H/S/2 segment, Safe Haven, features someone who explodes, Gareth Evans isn't as one with violence as you'd expect.

"When it comes to real life violence, I get really squeamish, I can't handle it," Evans tell ScreenDaily. "Fake stuff, anything goes. I know it's not real.

"Timo [Tjahjanto, Evans' co-director on Safe Haven] knows everything about horror but not just in films, in real life too. He's got a morbid fascination. The amount of times I have to tell him 'Don't send me photographs of that crime scene'."

This morbid fascination proved the duo's way into Safe Haven segment of sequel V/H/S/2. Safe Haven sees a group of journalists investigate a mass cult suicide group, without realising they're visiting on the day of reckoning.

Pain and suffering

Having listened to an audio recording of cult leader Jim Jones conducting his last sermon at the Jonestown Massacre, Evans and Tjahjanto set about developing a segment that avoided being "entirely focused on pain and suffering".

"We tried to turn it into a rollercoaster ride and I hate saying the word, but we had to make it entertaining," explains Evans.

"It's not trying to be derogatory to the real life situation of these cults, but we needed to find a way into these cults where we could still tell that story without being dark and nasty."

The solution? Amp up the audience's disbelief by including satanic elements, the idea of Hell and a few demons. "Now you have this idea of journalists going into a cult, but what if that whackjob who's telling you he can open the gates of Hell, actually can?" says Evans.

Playing with the audience

One issue the duo faced was ensuring that the audience knew exactly what was going on, in spite of the found footage aesthetic and a climax where all Hell literally breaks loose.

They achieve it by making the cult compound as much of a "character" as the tower block in Evans' breakthrough feature, The Raid. The audience get a guided tour of the compound at the start of Safe Haven, meaning Evans and Tjahjanto had free reign to make the climax as "messed up" as they liked.

It also allowed them to play with the audience.

Evans explains: "You know the path, you know the geography and you know what's behind each door. You can then start to play games with the audience. You remember that nice couple at the beginning? …

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