Exclusive Interview With Eric Heisserer

Exclusive Interview With Eric Heisserer

Static Mass Rating: 4/5
New Line Cinema / Warner Bros.

Release Date (US): August 12th, 2011
Release date (UK): August 26th, 2011

Certificate (US): R
Certificate (UK): 15

Running time: 91 minutes

Director: Steven Quale
Writer: Eric Heisserer
Composer: Brian Tyler

Cast: Nicholas D’Agosto, David Koechner, Tony Todd, Emma Bell, Courtney B. Vance, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, P.J. Byrne, Miles Fisher, Arlen Escarpeta, Ellen Wroe

Final Destination 5 Review

Los Angeles based screenwriter Eric Heisserer has been on the up since 2004 when he wrote The Dionaea House, a supernatural thriller story so gripping that when it was launched online, readers weren’t sure if it was real or a hoax. Since then he’s been involved in television pilots for Paramount and CBS, but it was Platinum Dunes’ re-imagining of A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010) that brought him to my attention.

The new take on Wes Craven’s original story was something I welcomed; it’s always interesting to see things from a different perspective and the edge that Heisserer added, along with the idea of mirco-naps, made it a compelling and scary story.

Final Destination 5

With his latest film, Final Destination 5, just when it seemed like another franchise had exhausted all possibilities, Heisserer gave it a new spin. After seeing it I knew I had to get in touch with him and was delighted that he took some time from his busy schedule to share with us his thoughts on the Final Destination Films, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Thing and his next project!

Were you a fan of the Final Destination films before you wrote part 5?

“I was a big fan of the first movie, and I had favorite moments in many of the sequels, so yes.”

What kind of ideas did you toy around with before settling on the suspension bridge for the opening sequence?

Final Destination 5

“We looked at a number of possibilities, but none of them had the same effect on everyone at the table as the bridge collapse. We watched video of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse and it stuck with us, so much that I can’t really remember the other ideas we had.”

This one sees the series returning to a story that’s more rooted in the mythology of the first one than the previous sequels were, was it clear from the beginning that you wanted bring the story full circle or was it something that happened naturally as the writing progressed?

“I really wanted to make this movie work like the first two, with a few new elements to keep it a separate film from the others. I was also bothered by the fact that the fourth movie was called THE FINAL DESTINATION, and following up another movie sequentially after it felt wrong. So the producers and studio agreed to let me write a script that took place before the events of that movie.”

Final Destination 5

Part 5 also sees the return of William Bludworth played by Tony Todd. He’s the most mysterious character of the entire series but hasn’t been seen in the last two movies. Were you excited about bringing him back?

“Completely. I pushed hard to bring Bludworth back. I see him as part of the mythology of the franchise. A Final Destination movie without him feels awkward somehow. I had long talks with Craig Perry about who and what I believe Bludworth is — all of it theoretical, of course. For now…”

You also wrote the script for the recent Nightmare On Elm Street so I was wondering which killer is perhaps harder to writer for in terms of death sequences, Freddy Krueger or Death?

A Nightmare On Elm Street

“They are both quite difficult in their own way. But I think Death wins out. With Freddy, you can create whatever scenario you wish and toss your characters into it. The dreamworld is his playground. But with Death, as it pertains to the FD universe, there are a number of rules involved in each sequence. It’s much more of an orchestration than a Krueger kill. But it’s also more rewarding when it’s done right, in my opinion.”

The idea of killing someone and then living out their remaining time is something that’s worked into this story to supersede the notion of pre-determinism. Do you think in real life it’s possible to cheat fate or that all events follow a set path?

Final Destination 5

“I’m a big believer in the fate we make ourselves, so the only way we cheat fate is if we’re cheating our own potential. In that regard, I think the ones who doom themselves on a set path right for Death’s door are the ones who are too afraid to do anything, and would rather let life happen to them.”

What you think we can learn from Final Destination?

“Well, on a practical level, we can learn that everything is potentially fatal! But in terms of a thematic or moral message, Death is brutal. Even those who who’ve done the morally right thing can’t escape Death. Just like life, you know how the Final Destination movies are all going to end.”

Of all of Final Destination’s death sequences, which one has had the most impact on you?

Final Destination 5

“Oh, that’s a bit of a trick question. I came up with most of the sequences in FD5 because those situations scared me the most. The laser eye correction surgery in particular terrifies me to this day. But it didn’t bother my wife at all. In fact, when I was writing the screenplay, she read an early draft and said to me, “I think I’m going to get that surgery myself!” She called me when I was in a story meeting with New Line and the producers afterward to give me some more details about her procedure. Everyone at the studio thought she was crazy. But that’s where we got the detail of the stuffed animals. That’s really part of the process at some LASIK labs.”

Where would you like the see the series go next?

Final Destination

“I’d love to see it taken in a new direction, and explore parts of the mythology that have been roped off all this time, like the nature of the premonitions, Bludworth’s backstory, and rules that let the characters have as much impact on the story as Death does. It’s a delicate maneuver, because the movie would still need to feel like it’s in the family of the others, but I feel like we’re ready for a departure from the original formula.”

After this will be The Thing, what can fans of you and your writing expect from this story?

The Thing

The Thing is radically different from FD5 and Nightmare. That movie is in a space all its own. You can’t compare my writing on Final Destination 5 to The Thing, about the only thing those stories share is a genre. So, I guess I’m saying: You won’t know what to expect from The Thing, unless you’re a fan of the Bill Lancaster/John Carpenter version, in which case, you’ll know to look for a few key similarities.”

Any more projects lined up for the future? What are you working on now?

“I will be directing a feature I wrote, called Hours, based on a short story you can find at Popcorn Fiction. I’ll be shooting that in January in New Orleans. It’s quite a departure from horror writing, but I like to work new muscles, as it were. It helps me improve my craft as a storyteller.”
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