Spanish filmmaker Ignacio 'Nacho' Vigalondo burst onto the cult horror scene in 2007 with the exciting and inventive Timecrimes, before returning in 2012 with THE ABCS OF DEATH segment ‘A For Apocalypse’. Vigalondo returns in full this year with his lurid techno-thriller OPEN WINDOWS, alien invasion romcom EXTRATERRESTRIAL and a slice of the found footage pie in V/H/S: VIRAL.
As all three films premièred at this year's Film 4 FrightFest, STARBURST MAGAZINE was lucky enough to catch up with Mr. Vigalondo over a cup of coffee. Given recent events concerning stolen celebrity nudes and #GamerGate, his answers regarding the cult of celebrity and troublesome online behaviour seem particularly prescient.
How are you enjoying FrightFest so far?
It's great. I would never have guessed to be so in the centre of London. It's like a horror festival in Times New Square. It's so exciting. This is one of my best experiences as a filmmaker, because I have three movies here. I always dream of myself as one of those Japanese filmmakers who makes three movies every year.
Do you feel a lot of pressure, having three films premièring here in one weekend?
At the end of the day, the movie I'm really releasing is Open Windows. Extraterrestrial is an opportunity for an older movie of mine to be shown. And I directed parts of V/H/S: Viral, so I'm not actually making three. But let me live into this fantasy!
How would you describe Open Windows?
A fantastic thriller! In the ‘70s and early ‘80s, thrillers would work as fantasy – I wanted to make a movie that way.
The multi-platform style of filming is very distinctive. How did you come up with that idea?
The thing is, the producers wrote to me with the idea of making an Internet movie that had a lot of people on the screen. The proposal I gave them back was pushing things to the edge, making a movie that happened in real time on a computer screen. They proposed me to do something interesting, and I proposed them to do something insane.
So what's your opinion of the Internet? A force for good, or something a bit more sinister?
It's interesting because it creates a lot of moral products. I'm not interested in the celebrities; I'm interested in us, watching celebrities. We are worried about what is legal and what is illegal but if they tell us they have leaked information from these celebrities, we want to be the first opening this file. I'm interested in us, as part of this culture.
Are you a big Internet user yourself?
I am the average sort of guy. I am not so into social media. I love to communicate through Twitter, but that's all. I spend a lot of time in front of the Internet, but I wish I spent less time.
What's the scariest thing you've ever seen online?
The scariest thing is us! Sometimes people talk about the good and the bad of the Internet – in both cases, it's absolutely the same: us. It's scary when someone you know, one of your friends, shows a way of thinking that is the opposite of what you feel is okay. Thanks to social media, people react almost instantly when they read the news. When you read their reactions, sometimes you are scared. Or the thing that is really scary is the comments section of the newspapers. It doesn't matter if you are from the left or the right, every comments section in every newspaper from all political sides, is very scary.
Very extreme, yes!
It's worrying, because where are these people? People on the street? Are they my neighbours?
So, moving on, Open Windows is your first full English language feature. How did you find that experience?
I've been travelling to English language parts of the world often, so I can defend myself. Shooting a movie is difficult whatever the language is, so the English element increases the difficulty a little more. But just a bit.
How did Elijah Wood come to be involved with the film?
He read the script and he liked it. I knew him from years ago, and this was an amazing chance to work with him. I didn't want to show him the script until it was final and ready to shoot. I didn't want to exploit his friendship. As with any other movie, the script was the key.
What's it like working with Elijah?
It's a piece of cake. He's such a talented guy. He's like an android in terms of being able to interpret instructions in ways that make sense on screen. He's one of the most talented guys I've ever seen.
You also have Extraterrestrial playing at FrightFest. How would you describe that film?
It's my favourite movie of mine. It's a movie I made during the post-production of Open Windows, and I wanted to make a movie about ourselves. It's about how big things can happen around you and, at the end of the day, you're not part of it. You make an alien invasion movie and the main character is always the hero that stops the invasion or confronts the alien Prime Minister or something. I wanted to make an experiment and put a main character that wouldn't do anything related to the invasion. He would have another different story, trying to carry himself in a situation that has nothing to do with the aliens.
You've worked within a lot of subgenres, from romantic comedy to sci-fi and thriller. Is there something you'd still like to try?
I want to stick with sci-fi and horror all my life. I think I will never make a time travel movie or another alien invasion movie, but I have a lot of architecture, so let's see what happens. It's time for me to make a monster movie.
What monster movies do you like?
My favourite horror film is Aliens. I don't know if I could make a movie like it – it's too awesome to pay tribute to – but I'll think of something. I lie to you – I've already made the script. It involves a big monster, like Godzilla.
How did you come to be involved with V/H/S: Viral?
They asked me, and I felt so honoured and so lucky, because that is a series I like. I think all of these instalments have at least one masterpiece. I love the fact that, in this anthology, it's basically about taking a language device – found footage – to a different territory. Yes, we're all making found footage movies, but we tend to push things in different directions. I love to work in that way.
What can viewers expect from your segment?
It's a sci-fi story that quickly translates into horror and involves things like hedonism and kinky sex.
With this, The ABCs of Death and The Profane Exhibit, you've made a lot of short films. Do prefer making short or longer films?
I have never stopped doing short films. They are going to distribute a compilation of my short films in the United States. I can't be happier. I love the format. I think that some stories are just short and deserve to be short.
What films and filmmakers do you like? What inspires Nacho Vigalondo?
Doctor Who! He is one of my heroes. You can say that filmmakers like Hitchcock and Brian DePalma influenced Open Windows a lot, but at the same time, I find big influences from people close to me. I think that is the honest way of approaching it. When filmmakers talk about influences, they only reference the people in the background. I think that the people who influence you the most are the people who are closest.
What are you working on next?
Hopefully, the monster movie!
OPEN WINDOWS is released in the UK on October 17th (review here), and EXTRATERRESTRIAL is out now on DVD.