'V/H/S/2': Gareth Huw Evans and Timo Tjahjanto talk 'Safe Haven'
Aliens. Zombies. Ghosts. Yes, there’s craziness aplenty to be found in horror-anthology sequel V/H/S/2, as you might expect from a project whose directors include Eduardo Sanchez (The Blair Witch Project), Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun), and Adam Wingard (the forthcoming, not-to-be-missed You’re Next). But for this writers’ money, the hands-down loopiest tale arrives courtesy of Timo Tjahjanto (Macabre) and Gareth Huw Evans (much-admired action flick The Raid). Entitled Safe Haven, the Indonesia-set short movie concerns a documentary crew and its horribly doomed attempt to interview an apocalypse-cult leader at his compound. We’ll reveal no more plot-wise — except to add that you’ve never seen anything like it.
Tjahjanto and Evans called EW from Jakarta to talk about their segment of V/H/S/2 which is now available on VOD and will hit cinemas July 12. You can read what the terrible twosome had to say below.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’d just like to start by saying that your section of V/H/S/2 is the craziest thing I have seen in years.
Gareth Huw Evans: Thank you very much.
Timo Tjahjanto: That’s an honor.
How did you come up with the idea?
GHE: The storyline came from Timo. We both got contacted separately about V/H/S/2 and me and Timo have been friends for about 5, 6 years since I moved here, to Jakarta. I was telling him, I’ve been contacted about this project, I don’t know if I want to do it by myself. And he was saying…
TT: I was saying, don’t worry about it, Gareth, I’ll guide you into disaster. [Laughs]
GHE: Timo had his own concept about what he wanted to do for his and we’d been talking about working together for a while. Ever since our first movies we’ve always spitballed ideas together and read each other scripts. It just seemed like the perfect opportunity for us to collaborate.
TT: Plus, secretly I just want to really learn some s— from this Dude. I mean, after The Raid, everybody wants to steal some of his formula.
Did you do a lot of research into cults?
TT: Yeah, actually. Way before we got offered this project, I had this rough idea of trying to do a film about the Jonestown Massacre. But I thought to do it this way would be better. Because if you do a film about a serious cult it won’t be called V/H/S, it would be called 60 Minutes.
What kind of reaction did you get from actors, especially the extras? Because you asked them to do some fairly insane stuff in this movie.
GHE: I don’t think we really paid any attention to how they were reacting.
TT: We hired about 20 extras and they came in having no clue what the film is all about and they came very dandy and all made-up. They had designer hair and all that s—. We thought, “S— man, this isn’t going to work.” So we lined them up against the wall and we just f—ing splashed blood all over them.
GHE: I thought Timo was going to tell a slightly story. In the original script, we were going to get through the whole escape-from-the-compound sequence pretty quickly. But when we were on set, we were like, “This isn’t going to work, this is too straightforward, too easy.” So we just started piling on these ideas. We remembered that in one of the rooms, we had a couple having a tender moment at the beginning of the movie. They came in as extras and all they thought they were doing was just that. That was the plan: “Yeah, you just stroke her face.” Later on, we were starting to trump each other’s ideas, me and Timo bounced off each other a lot…
TT: To be honest, this was almost purely Gareth’s idea. [Laughs]
GHE: So then this couple, this guy and this woman extra that came in to do this role for us, suddenly had to go from being just a couple that stroked each other’s face on the bed to f—ing each other’s brains out with blood going everywhere.
Did you quarrel over anything while codirecting?
GHE: We had one tense moment together. Both of us wanted to push this film so hard and so much. But there was one moment where there was something that Timo really wanted which became really difficult to be able to…
TT: This guy’s a p—y, man.
TT: I was going to have a kid kill an adult and Gareth said, “I’m not going to have a child kill a guy…”
GHE: It wasn’t just that. We had scheduling issues as well! I think Timo went off and sulked and bitched around for about an hour and then afterwards we were all good to go.
TT: I was planning your downfall!
There are parts of the film which are actually quite funny, such as when the doofus-iest member of the camera crew is left to interview the cult leader by himself.
GHE: Yeah, that was our goal. We knew that what we were doing — if we had f—ed up tonally with it — could be construed as too serious and too dark and too bloody. We just wanted to bring a little bit of fun to it.
TT: A sense of “macabre,” right?
GHE: Nice plug!
In retrospect, do you regret not making this a feature-length movie?
GHE: Personally speaking, I can see how it would work as a full movie. But the experiences of doing this and being able to collaborate with Timo was such a f—ing blast. It was always something we were going to do on a short scale. And, to be honest, we wouldn’t get away with the punchline that we have in ours if it was a feature length. That punchline on a feature would just p— everyone off.
I believe Ti West, who directed one of the segments in the original V/H/S, is currently working on a movie about a Jonestown-type cult. Has he sent you any hate mail?
GHE: [Laughs] No, no, no, no. We’re fans of his. We’re all good there.
You can check out the gory, violent, foul-mouthed, and nudity-laced red band trailer for V/H/S/2 below.