Horror Movies and Stuff talked recently with Filmmaker/Writer/Producer Gregory Levasseur! No stranger to the Horror Genre, Levasseur has penned some of the last decades most talked about Horror Pictures. Including "The Hills Have Eyes" (2006), "Mirrors" (2008), and the French Cult Horror Hit, "High Tension" (2003)! His latest offering, the Claustrophobic driven Creature Feature "The Pyramid" (2014). Marks his Directorial Debut to American audiences. The flick, about a group of ambitious Archaeologists who trek inside an uncharted and unexplored Pyramid. Only to be set upon by a strange and deadly Beast... arrives to DVD and BluRay about a week from now on May 5th! Read on below for the Interview!
Horrormoviesandstuff:For those out there who are still not familiar with your work, what films have you previously Directed prior to The Pyramid (2014)?
Gregory:The pyramid is my first feature but I used to work on all of Alex Aja's movies as Screenwriter, producer, or second unit director.
Horrormoviesandstuff:When were you first approached with the opportunity to direct "The Pyramid", and what was it about Daniel and Nick's script that sold you on project?
Gregory:It's been a long time now! The first time I read the script was in 2011. Chady Mattar and Scott Silver sent the script to Alex and I, and asked if we were interested to produce it with them. I was immediately attracted by this simple idea of archeologists getting trap inside a pyramid. Alex asked me if I wanted to direct it and we jumped on it right away. I saw the opportunity to direct my first movie in perfect conditions with great people and being able to control production. That was very important for Alex and I.
Horrormoviesandstuff:I personally am always fascinated with films about exploration of underground caves, tombs, etc... as I think there is so many things hidden within them that hold secrets to long forgotten times. Have you ever had a fascination with what some would call, the worlds... 'hidden places' at any point in your life?
Gregory:I just like the idea about exploration of unknown underground. There are many untold stories about "hidden places" that could be great to see on screen. But I don't have a particular place that I'm attracted to. I'm attracted by places where history is not clear and is subject to reinterpretation.
Horrormoviesandstuff:You personally are no stranger to the horror genre as a whole, having penned "High Tension" (2003), "The Hills Have Eyes" (2006), "P2" (2007), "Mirrors" (2008), and more recently "Maniac" (2012), which starred Elijah Wood. While you didn't pen "The Pyramid", do you see any maybe accidental or purposeful connections "The Pyramid" shares with the previously mentioned 4 films?
Gregory:Actually there is lots of connections. There is a kind of survival aspect in each of them. The action is limited in time. There is only few characters and they are separated from their world. Trying to get back to it. Violent death at every corner. Tension and suspense play a big part. And strong female lead. And I'm sure we can find others.
Horrormoviesandstuff:With "The Pyramid" hitting Digital HD this month, and then arriving to home disc on the 5th of May. What are Genre fans in for when they pick this up at their local retailer? What can they expect?
Gregory:I hope they will see a suspenseful archaeological survival flick. There is scary moments but don't expect a bloodbath. I tried to focus more on the adventure and the fantasy with a horror sauce. I think different ages/audiences can enjoy it. I have to be honest, I made this movie to be PG-13. That's why you will only find one "F-word" in it. Unfortunately the MPAA refused to give us this rating and we end up with a R-rated. I didn't want to change the movie so I was a bit disappointed that young teenagers couldn't go in the theater to watch it. It's exactly the kind of movie that I would have loved to discover at 13 years old.
Horrormoviesandstuff:The basis of "The Pyramid" is that a group of archaeological explorers decide to journey inside a lost pyramid, and end up running afoul of a very wicked, hungry creature which lurks within. Are you personally a believer in the idea or theory that some unexplored or untouched parts of the world hold physical or metaphysical beings, who remain unbeknownst to us?
Gregory:I found those theories fascinating and intriguing although I don't want believe in them. When we don't know our first instinct wants to believe in supernatural or metaphysical beings but most of the time it comes from our ignorance. Anyway I still love stories about it. I'm a big fan of "Prometheus" by example, the way they used the drawings in the cave at the beginning to set-up the story is brilliant. I just watch "Noah" recently and was also very surprised to see how they reinterpreted this ancient myth. I don't understand why people panned this movie ["Noah"] so much. I found it awesome.
Horrormoviesandstuff:Outside of Veteran American actor Denis O'Hare, most of the actors who appear in "The Pyramid" are not really that well known to American audiences. What was it like working with this group which includes James Buckley, Ashley Hinshaw, Christa Nicola, and others? And will we be seeing more of them in the future in any new projects of yours?
Gregory:All of them were fantastic and different at the same time. Ashley was the first one to be cast and had a a little bit of prep but all the other ones came on board pretty late. We couldn't delay the shooting and most of them were cast one week before principal photography. Christa Nicola by example came from Australia, she has a huge stage experience but that was her first feature, James Buckley who is very famous in UK for the In-betweeners comes from comedies movies. Amir K who does stand-up at the laugh factory was his first experience too. The soldier is one of the stunt and the other small parts are just people from the crew. It was great to have this group of actors coming from different horizons, getting along very well and being totally dedicated to the movie. I think all us kept great souvenirs from the movie.
Horrormoviesandstuff:Without giving too much away because again, many still have not seen this film yet. What were your opinions of the creature effects, and how they were handled in the film? Were you happy with how the Monster turned out, and what you guys were able to accomplish by bringing it to life on screen?
Gregory:I'm very happy with the end result. We can always do better but it requires time and money and we couldn't afford it. When you're dealing with visual effects, it's always a surprise at the end and you never know if it's going to be good or not. You're trying to reassure every one that it's going to be awesome but it's up to the CGI company to do a good job. I had the chance to work with Derek Wentworth who was the VFX supervisor on "Piranha". Knowing him, I was confident that he could do something great with the small amount of money. It was tough but we designed the creature and the numbers of shots very precisely so we managed to end-up with a great creature for a great cost.
Horrormoviesandstuff:What were the pros and cons of shooting a film like this? Which is set so much inside what is imagined to be an enclosed, often dark, space? How did you plan to tackle shooting this movie, what was your overall day 1 approach?
Gregory:The movie is very ambitious and the low budget was a first challenge to make it happens. Most of the movie takes place in a pyramid so we had to build all the tunnels, rooms, shafts, chambers and the exterior of the pyramid site. It was a huge construction set and most of it was also rigged by the SFX or stunt crew. Then we had to deal with a pretty short schedule considering the amount of action scenes and visual effects described in the script. So my goal was to handle all those elements and be sure to understand everything because audience can quickly be lost in this place where everything looks the same. It's difficult to find some points of reference to organize the scenography. The chambers by example were empty and actors didn't have anything to rely on so it was complicated to direct them and organize their movements in this empty space. In fact it was much easier in small corridors because they were literally trapped and could barely move.
Horrormoviesandstuff:Will we see a sequel to "The Pyramid" in the future, and even though sequels to "Mirrors" and "The Hills Have Eyes" did eventually happen (under different writers), did you ever have your own ideas for any potential sequels to those two films?
Gregory:We will see what happens with "The Pyramid". We never thought about a sequel for Mirrors but you know with Alex we had a great take for a third Hills have eyes unfortunately it seems that this movie will never happen. It's a shame because Wes Craven was very excited by the idea and it's something that I would have loved to direct!
Get ready for a Terror-Filled Thrill Ride... "The Pyramid" is now available in Digital HD on Google Play, Amazon Instant, VUDU, and other online streaming outlets! And don't forget to pick it up on DVD & BluRay Tuesday May 5th!