By ANDREA SUBISSATI
With DEAD RINGERS now streaming on Amazon Prime and our cover story for issue 212 on stands, the word is out – and horror fans are clearly responding to Alice Birch and Rachel Weisz’s novel take on the Cronenberg classic. Perhaps best described as a dark psychological drama series, the show boasts some horror cred by way of guest director Karyn Kusama (Jennifer’s Body, The Invitation). RUE MORGUE spoke to the filmmaker about adapting Cronenberg, the challenging camera trickery, and bringing the story from film to TV.
How did you become attached to the series, and what compels you about it?
I knew that Rachel was adapting the film into a series and have been dying to work with her for many years.
Describe your own history with the original DEAD RINGERS film and David Cronenberg’s cinema in general.
Cronenberg is one of cinema’s giant lights, and DEAD RINGERS ranks in his top-five greatest films, in my humble opinion. I’ve loved the film and its groundbreaking technical achievements and have squirmed in my seat watching it ever since its release.
Camera trickery has come a long way since Cronenberg’s original film. What were some of the challenges inherent in doubling Rachel Weisz for the show?
It would seem obvious, but I think the thing that’s easiest to forget with doubling-for-twins is that we’re doing all of the scenes twice if the twins are present in them. Once you shoot all of the dialogue for one character, it’s easy to forget that you have the whole other side of the scene to do! It takes twice the time to achieve those scenes on the day, and it’s important to keep an eye on the clock. And it’s important to keep track of the shape and dynamics of the scene from both of the twins’ perspectives while also trying to preserve Rachel’s energy, as no one is working harder than she is each day.
What are the major differences between directing a feature film and a TV series? Which do you prefer?
I prefer feature filmmaking, as there’s more prep, more time to shoot, and most crucially, more time in the cutting room to shape and refine the material. That said, working in TV is like sprint training; You work certain muscles in service to the form, and those muscles come in handy when you’re directing features.
Do you consider this DEAD RINGERS to be firmly in the horror genre or someplace else?
I think of this DEAD RINGERS as psychological horror – a gloriously deep dive into the most extreme outcomes of severe emotional co-dependency.
Were you satisfied with how far they let you push the horror element for your episodes?
I loved every minute of directing my episode and couldn’t be happier to have collaborated with such incredibly gifted writers and actors!