AP: That brings up an interesting point about the character of Ray in that at first he seems really professional, but over the course of the film you start to get all these little clues that something isn’t quite right there. Is it harder to play someone with such an arc or is it easier to play someone who is fully fleshed out as being “good” or “bad”?
MR: You know, I have never really played anyone who was ever all good or all bad. You can talk all you want about arcs and stuff like that, but no matter that direction it’s all equally challenging. It’s really great to have a character like Ray that goes the way that he does because you can do something really special to it, but it’s also there in really basic terms right there on the page. The trick with it, like with everything else, is that you’ve got to find the humanity in it. That’s the most important part.
AP: Cell 213 is definitely more of a psychological horror film than it is an “in your face” type of film. Are you guys generally drawn more to psychological thrillers or the more visceral ones?
DV: I would say psychological, definitely. The psychological aspects of a scary movie are always a lot more interesting to deal with and play with. There is a lot more to do on a psychological level and a lot more you can infer from the material than from just the words on the page. There are more gaps that you can personally fill in with your performance and as a director.
MR: I agree, but you know there are definitely merits to both sides of it.
On the first movie I did, Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, we wanted to make it as real as possible. Then when it came out after all the delays a lot of people thought it was psychologically scary because they felt that reality. I mean, there are things in the real world that are infinitely scarier than what we see on screen. That’s the truth and they happen every day. On a psychological level, if you tap into that then you’ve got something special.
But there is also something to be said for the more in your face type stuff. Like the jump scare. People always go on and on about how much of a cliche it is, but I think it can be a GOOD cliche and it’s always been there. If you have something pop up out of nowhere or something comes up out of the shadows and you do it right, it’s effective with an audience 100% of the time. Cell 213 has a lot of the psychological elements, but it also has those moments that actually work. It’s even got those psychological jump scares where you think one thing is going to happen and then all of a sudden it goes in a different direction. I mean, you watch this in the dark of a theatre with a bunch of people and this movie really cooks.
But, you know, it was like Deb was saying, sometimes with both kinds of movies it adds that whole element of it being a new learning experience. I have done some movies that have some pretty in your face scares and you read and think they are going to be easy to shoot and you get there and realize that for every movie I make there is a different camera angle and set-up. With all this new technology and new cameras you can do so much more, but this is also the kind of stuff you could never get out of an acting class. So in that respect, I’m kind of always learning, myself.
AP: Deborah, you are a local girl and Michael, you have worked in Canada plenty of times before. What is it like for both of you to make this film here?
DV: It’s always great to be home and working at home and to be in a familiar setting. I’m really proud of what we’ve done and I’m proud that we were able to do it here.
MR: I honestly don’t see that much of a difference and I mean, this is a question that has come up before and I am surprised that it has. I’m not going to pretend to know what goes on over on the business side of things here, so I can’t speak to that, but I go where the work is and the work is certainly here. But when you’ve done as many films as I have you just don’t feel the difference if you are in the States, Canada, Budapest, Turkey, Thailand, whatever. It’s not really that different. Same kind of work, different location. Same cameras, sometimes the same faces and really meeting new people is the only thing that really changes. But in the end there is always a camera, some actors, and some guy running around trying to tell people what to do.
Cell 213 opens in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Halifax, and Ottawa on Friday, June 10.
Top image: Michael Rooker in a scene from Cell 213. Courtesy Cinesavvy.