segments from an Ain't it Cool News Interview with Pascal Laugier, director of Martyrs
"The Northlander: Yeah, I know exactly. Do you think that's something that's missing too often from horror movies, that they're just too tame, [that] they don't affect you?
Pascal Laugier: Well yeah once again as a fan you know, I watch more or less everything - theatrically released films and direct-to-DVD stuff, and I haven't been challenged by a horror film for a long time, you know? It doesn't mean that there aren't good films, I see a lot of good films, but I'm talking more about the very, very low budget you know? And I'm talking more about the direct to DVD community. Because these films are shot more and more on DV for a VERY very low budget so the guy who does the film is totally free because he deals with such a low amount of money he could do what he wants and nine films out of ten are pale copies of the classics. Another fun, you know - supposedly funny - horror zombie horror trick, another TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, another slasher with a masked killer, and nobody believes in it anymore you know? It's like a ghetto, it's like belonging to a community that is absolutely unable to surprise itself, you know what I mean?
The Northlander: Yeah.
Pascal Laugier: So we pay to watch films that we already know in advance what it's gonna be and we are not challenged anymore and I think the very reason for the horror film genre's existence is to break some rules - to be free, to be wild, you know like the 70's. In the 70's you paid for a ticket and you sat in a theater and you didn't have ANY kind of idea of the film you were going to see. It was really energetic and really experimental. Can you imagine the guys in '75 who first saw TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE? In the markets, at midnight? Or THE EXORCIST? It's impossible to realize now what these people must have felt before the films turned into classics, you know? So... and that's the kind of feeling I very rarely feel by watching horror films. And it's very sad, in a certain way actually, a lot of actual horror films are absolutely as safe as any family film produced by Hollywood. You know? There is no chance, no breakings.
The Northlander: Do you think it's also difficult for people to make horror films because they don't know sort of where the line is drawn or how to cross it, or they won't allow themselves to?
Pascal Laugier: No, I think it's more [got] something to do with the post-modernism of our time. I am talking about the entire time we are living in right now I would say for one or two decades. The problem is that we have lost something [of] our faith, [our] primitive innocence. Everything in the world has become so self conscious, and it goes with politics, ideology, you know? the lost of illusions. Now, to be cool, is to be cynical. You can't be surprised because you're [a] cool guy. And everybody is always the same, you know it's the 'cool attitude' and cynicism that kills everything because it's the opposite of the faith we need to be told some stories, you know? We have lost the faith in narrators, to the people who [told us] what the world is, to make us believe in other worlds, to [tell us] stories. Now it's the opposite - it's the post-modern world we are living in, and we are very aware of everything. And I hate that. As... I hate that as a director. And I hate that as a member of the audience. Any time I feel like the director wants to be clever, wants to tell me very precisely that he is more intelligent than the film he is doing, you know by pretending being funny, being... I hate that. For me, it's a betrayal. I want to be like a child and I need some primitive feelings facing a work of art. You know, when you're in a museum, watching a painting or listening to music you know?
The Northlander: Do you think that's also why horror movies are going more and more meta?
Pascal Laugier: More and more what?
The Northlander: Like they're the film within the film like...
Pascal Laugier: Absolutely...
The Northlander: ...THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, REC, CLOVERFIELD.
Pascal Laugier: ...[they're] self-referential. Very aware of where they come from and who they are made for. You know like, you... how do you say that? You do a blink...
The Northlander: "Nudge-nudge, wink-wink"
Pascal Laugier: Absolutely, "I love the same films that you do, guys. We all know where it comes from, isn't it fun?" Some people find it fun, [but] I don't. I know it makes me sound like an asshole - very arrogant, very pretentious - but who cares? I don't. I pay... I go to see movies to be amazed. I go to see movies to believe in what I see."