Wednesday March 26, 2008
James Wan, who is a fan of revenge movies, now gets to direct one himself.
By RIZAL JOHAN
KUCHING-born director James Wan struck gold when he wrote and directed the splatter horror film, Saw, in 2004. It turned out to be one of the most lucrative horror franchises in Hollywood as a fifth sequel is now already in the works.
The 30-year-old director, however, is not riding on the wave of horror alone as he revisited old territory with 2007’s Death Sentence.
The film is a classic tale of revenge and it stars Kevin Bacon as Nick Hume, a family man and executive who turns into a bloodthirsty vigilante after the brutal death of his son by a gang of criminals.
Wan revealed in an interview that he had always been a fan of revenge movies, which came out in the 1970s and 80s and could not resist directing Death Sentence when he came across the script.
“It’s a classic revenge movie but with a twist, it’s a story about two completely different worlds colliding. I’m a big fan of the classic revenge films of the 70s and early 80s.
“I’ve always kept an eye out for a movie in the vein of Rolling Thunder, Death Wish, and even Mad Max. So when this project came across my desk, I went for it,” said Wan in an interview transcript provided by film distributors Cathay Keris Films.
More than the story, Wan also borrowed heavily from the aforementioned films in terms of production design. Bacon’s character, for example, undergoes a tremendous change not just with his need for revenge but fashion sense as well.
“We have a theatrical approach to design, pushing it into a hyper-reality. It’s our intention to transport the audience to the same dark and unsettling world that the characters are experiencing through the production design. We wanted the gang to be tough but have a mysterious edge.
“Everything is interconnected. Like the tribal art used on the actors, the sets, the cars and the wardrobe. It’s very beautiful, curling itself around the limbs of characters and the bodies of the cars, like vines around everything, squeezing the life out,” said Wan.
Actor Bacon was attracted to Death Sentence and in particular the protagonist Nick Hume, who he says does not fall in the realm of typical hero-type roles.
“Death Sentence is different from your straight up good-guy-gets-the-bad-guys flick. Stylistically, there’s an element to the gang that feels like a Western. The last chapter of the film has an OK Corral kind of vibe.
“The difference though is that for the first part of the film, Nick Hume is not a traditionally heroic character. He doesn’t start out as a bad guy, he transforms into that throughout the course of the film,” said Bacon.
And like classic tales of revenge and the characters who undertake such positions, like for instance Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Captain Ahab, Bacon sees similar traits of destructiveness in Nick Hume.
“There’s a horrible price that my character has to pay because he makes the choice to take the law into his own hands in order to protect and defend his family.
“There’s this strange moment when he thinks that maybe it has concluded, that it has been an eye for an eye and that he is now cleansed – that they’re going to be able to go on with their lives.
“But the fact is you can’t wash that blood off your hands. That blood is there (and) it comes back to haunt him,” said Bacon.
Death Sentence opens in theatres tomorrow.