Exclusive: Marcus Dunstan on The Collection and God of War
Do you ever think about doing a short film that’s just about The Collector building this stuff? Ordering the materials, putting it together, almost like a documentary about his process?
Well there is. We already have written a little origin, and the origin – if we ever are so fortunate as to make that – really kind of answers everything in about five minutes. So I think that would be fun, to see it. And then you just understand, oh, here are some of the iconic visuals that we’ve anchored around this villain, [and] where they all stem from, how that became part of his DNA.
Would that part of the third movie, if you get a chance?
If we get a chance. It’s already written, it’s good to go, but I think that a lot of people have to see and enjoy The Collection to justify going out into the trenches one more time, but man, it’s a brutal tale and I think, once again, it tries to reinvent how we approach a sequel so that it doesn’t feel like one. You know, so it feels like it earns a place, [it’s] its own original movie and a satisfying film that just happens to have characters that we have grown to appreciate from a previous entry.
Would that follow the title scheme? Would that be The Collective?
It is Collected right now. The first movie sets up The Collector, the second movie is about The Collector’s collection, and the third movie is about a couple of people he has collected.
You’re a screenwriter as well, and you co-wrote the final four Saw movies.
I am endlessly fascinated by the Saw franchise, specifically from a screenwriting standpoint. We ran a series of articles at CraveOnline called The Series Project, in which we attempted to unlock the chronology of the Saw movies, because they all intertwine together. Was there one giant board covered in string keeping this all together? I imagine it’s like A Beautiful Mind.
It was a red wall, and the wall was in my apartment at the time. It took about seven coats of red paint for the paint to really stick and commit the wall shade to an even crimson, and on that wall – gosh, it would have been 2004, maybe 2005 – we began to shingle it with Saw ideas. Not just for a Saw 4, but for a Saw 4, 5, 6. A future chronology to add up and enhance the previous trilogy. There was also another separate document which was a huge Post-It. That is, a Post-It that goes from the floor all the way up to my hip, and it’s wide. It’s like three-and-a-half feet wide. And on that we did the timeline, and we wrote out every single fractured scene in time for the entire series. And then we learned from that point, okay, here are the gaps in history, here’s where intend to fill those gaps, here are the questions that have been left, here are morsels we wish to answer, and here’s how you give it fuel so it doesn’t all feel like backtracking, but moreso it’s charging forth. It’s now creating new destinies. That’s what I think, and what I hope, will be the legacy of that franchise, was how it inspired an article like yours. In Friday the 13th, is there ever any question what’s going on?
No. There’s no mystery as to who’s doing it. There’s not even a mystery as to who’s next. [Laughs] It’s just a machine, and the machine gets turned off. So, what I loved about Saw was, Saw could be about fractured adults. Saw could be about detectives. Saw could have a murder mystery structure. It could also have a broken time structure. It could also have a byzantine puzzle piece, in and of itself. So the bloodletting was there and it satisfied the horror quota, but there was also something to reward those fascinated with the mystery, with the puzzle, with the engineering of the structure of that story itself. I thought, okay, this was a movie that absolutely, from the brilliance of James Wan and Leigh Whannell, spun into a universe that was consistently complex and rewarding. I think that raises horror’s game.
That seems to be something you’re very interested in as a whole.
Absolutely. I love it! I mean, I cherish horror. There are some types of horror I don’t particularly appreciate, because I think it’s a bit dim, or I think it’s too repetitive, and that’s coming from a gentleman who’s participated in a number of sequels. I still look at those patterns and portray them as often as possible, while respecting the opportunity to continue a storyline. But the movies that I fall in love with are bold. Even in their mistakes, they’re bold. They’re taking a chance.
Tourist Trap. Great horror movie! And so bizarre, and so just willing to be outrageous. And Chuck Connors, a stoic screen presence, what he does and how he demoralizes these innocent victims is so startling, and yet I think it’s rated PG. It’s just one of those things that creeps up on you like a shadow and won’t leave. It’s just marvelous.
And then Tobe Hooper’s Funhouse. The one time a savage horror director and a studio joined hands and said, “Alright, you just go as nasty and hard as you want, and we’re going to give you all the toys.” I was watching Funhouse again for I think the seventh time, in beautiful widescreen with all of those Technicolors popping, beautiful camerawork, and the savagery was still there but it was beautiful this time. The gentleman from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre who took advantage of the grit and the desolation of Texas, now took full advantage of the spectacle of this funhouse and the colors and the romance that cinema adds, and charged right in there with that savage mind and gave us a wonderful film.
Do you have the same freedom to take those chances for something like… Are you still doing God of War?
God of War was turned in last week, and by god, the reason I cannot wait for you guys to see that is because yes. Yes, the door was left wide open to be bold, and that is why that movie… I really hope it sees the light of day and comes out charging, because it’s a lightning strike.
In what capacity is it bold? Are you taking chances with the structure, or how dark you can go? I know you have to be vague.
Well, I have to be absolutely vague because I’m gag ordered on it, but the best way to maybe answer that is… It has been allowed to be a terrific film. It does not just have to be a faithful game. Because video games are built for, I think a different…
I should stop right there. It’s been allowed to be a fantastic film, which is sometimes a different paradigm than engineering a game. It just is. I just cannot wait for someone to get their eyes on it and see, because it was a wonderful experience.
What else are you working on right now, if I can ask?
Well, we just turned in a script in called Rise for Warner Bros., and that is a robot uprising film, which is a complete stretch for us. It’s an emotionally charged sci-fi tale set in the not-too-distant future. And then we’ve engaged in, we’ve just cracked the nut on a story called Waterproof for Legendary, which we’re also really pumped about. So that’s been fun to work on as well.
William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel, co-host of The B-Movies Podcast, co-star of The Trailer Hitch, and the writer of The Test of Time. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.