Exclusive Interview: Vincenzo Natali on Haunter

Vincenzo Natali discusses the Groundhog Day parallels with Haunter and says the screenplay for Neuromancer "has been ready for years."

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

Splice Vincenzo Natali

CraveOnline: I was a big fan of Splice, but when Splice didn’t do huge business, was it difficult to get your next film made?

Vincenzo Natali: It’s funny, not really. I mean, it’s always difficult and maybe that’s because none of my films have really made that much money, so it wasn’t any harder than it’s ever been. I’m sort of convinced that even if Splice had made a lot of money that wouldn’t have necessarily made it easier to make the movies I want to get made, made. It would make it easier for me to get certain kinds of movies but I find if you try to do anything that’s really original and that’s therefore a little bit risky, there’s going to be resistance, even if you’re quite successful. Somehow it always seems to happen.
 

Was another studio film ever an option?

I’ve never done a studio movie. Splice was released by Warner Brothers but it was actually a Canadian-French co-production so it was made completely independently. So I’ve never really had a studio experience. I don’t even know what that’s like. I’d like to. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to do a big studio movie. Just no one will let me.
 

How did you respond to the experiment of ABCs of Death 2?

Well, I haven’t shot mine yet but I’m getting ready to pretty soon so I’m looking forward to that.
 

Do you know your letter?

I do. I’m probably not allowed to say.
 

I know you’re not, but on the first one they switched some of the letters around. I guess some of them were flexible. Is yours dependent on the letter so there’s no way it can be anything else?

I would think it would be pretty hard. It’s very specific, yes.
 

Does it have one of those Vincenzo Natali hooks?

I feel it’s very me, but what do I know?
 

Guillermo del Toro was obsessed with the availability of Nothing. Any progress on making that film available?

My movie Nothing? I didn’t know about this.
 

When Guillermo did press for Splice he asked us all to write about Nothing and insist it become available.

[Laughs] I had never heard about that. I’m really flattered. That’s great. I didn’t even know he had seen it. Yeah, poor old Nothing. You know, never title your film Nothing because it kind of lived up to its title. It’s vanished into the ether.
 

At this point, would VOD or streaming be an option?

I think so and you know, I own the rights to it. At least a good portion. I’ve had fantasies about rereleasing it somehow but it’s one of those things. It takes a lot of time and we’re always sort of looking ahead rather than behind, but one day. One day, nothing will find its rightful place.
 

I would love to see it because I like the concept.

Oh, thank you. I haven’t seen it myself in many years but it’s very near and dear to me.
 

What’s the latest progress on Neuromancer?

It continues. It seems to be indomitable. It’s a long haul, like all good things and all things like it that are audacious and challenging. It’s not on the fast track but it’s very much alive and I’m hopeful.
 

How close do you think the script is to a final draft?

Oh, the script has been ready for years. That’s not the holdup. The challenging part of this is putting the money together. It’s big movie.
 

So you cracked the script?

I think I have, yes. Strangely, that wasn’t the hard part. I benefited, first of all, from developing the script very much with the influence of William Gibson, which was tremendously helpful. Then I also had, frankly, the benefit of looking at all the versions previous to mine and learning from their mistakes. I had a lot of beta testing before I went in and did my version. Actually, I’m quite faithful to the book. I basically went back to the book and made some alterations to contemporize it but it’s in there. The book is very dense, but the trick is just kind of knowing what strands to follow. In fact, it wasn’t all that difficult.
 

I guess at this point we can talk about Splice spoilers because people have either seen it or they won’t, but here is a SPOILER warning for Splice… Did you ever get the note: “Does he have to fuck her?”

Yes, but that was long before I made the movie. Of course that was the thing that prevented me from making the film for a long time. I was very lucky because a French company, the oldest and most famous French studio, Gaumont, got their hands on it and in French they were like, “Pourquoi pas?” “Why not?” They didn’t have any issue with that whatsoever. It made perfect sense to them, so thank God for France.
 

Were you ever interested in making your own sequels to Cube?

No. And I probably foolishly stepped away from that because I didn’t think they were going to make a good sequel. I just didn’t know what to do with it. To me, Cube is like Jaws in that when you have a story about a shark and the people in the water, there only seemed to be one story to tell, that I could think of. In fact, I think the third Cube has a really smart premise and they kind of found a way to get into it without it becoming repetitive, but I didn’t know how to do that myself. That’s why I didn’t do any others.
 

I thought the time travel in Hypercube was an interesting take. If you’ve already done the physical space, now you can do the temporal space.

Yeah, exactly. Haunter definitely echoes Cube in some ways for sure. It’s definitely in its own peculiar way treading on similar territory. 


Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and Shelf Space Weekly. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.