UPGRADE – Leigh Whannell Interview

The name Leigh Whannell needs no introduction to horror and cult film fans. As a writer he created the Saw and Insidious universes and in recent times has also begun his directing career – first of all with Insidious: Chapter 3 and now with the brilliant Upgrade which has just become available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Upgrade is nothing short of a modern day cult masterpiece and recently HEAVY Mag caught up with Whannell to chat about the film that has every cult cinema lover talking.

“It was something that just popped into my head one day,” says Whannell as we ask him about the fact that Upgrade with its 80s sci-fi feel is very different to anything he has done in the past. “I had this image of a quadriplegic  being controlled by a computer. I had this idea that technology could cure paralysis and I just couldn’t let go of it… I kept thinking about it. Simultaneously I had been thinking about doing this movie with Blumhouse that was a bit more of a sci-fi world building film. I’ve done a lot of horror films with them and they are very contained… I wanted to do something a little more expansive, so I thought that idea would be perfect for that, so I started working on it. I went through many drafts but now I am sitting here and talking to you about it.”

“A lot of times my ideas are very random,” replies Whannell when we ask where the initial concept for the film came from. “It will normally just be an image that comes into my head, it is not like I am investigating or something. It’s not like I will be reading a newspaper article about bounty hunters and then suddenly I think ‘oh a bounty hunter movie would be great.’ It is always kind of random, it is almost frustrating in its randomness because I can’t control the flow of ideas. My life would be a lot easier if I could press a button and have an idea pop into my mind but unfortunately the way my brain works the ideas just come when they want at very random moments and a lot of them are bad, so they get scrapped, but probably once a year I get a film idea that I really like. One out of every hundred, and this was one of those. The idea of someone who couldn’t walk being controlled by a computer was just really fascinating to me. The idea that the computer could talk to the person’s nerve endings and cure their paralysis was just… I mean it is something that scientists are trying to do… it is a real thing, so to engineer a sci-fi thriller around it was kind of fun.”

 

Upgrade is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray.

 

Written by Dave Griffiths

Dave has worked as a music & film journalist for over 20 years now. Aside from Heavy he does radio and various podcasts as well. He is the proud owner of Metal Cat.

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