Alexandre Aja is cited as one of modern horror’s master filmmakers, with titles such as The Hills Have Eyes and Piranha 3D under his belt. The French director made his directional debut at just 18 with his short film, Over The Rainbow, earning him a Cannes Film Festival Golden Palm Award.
Aja’s 2003 effort, Haute Tension, recieved so much praised it earned the director a seat among the top and most creative horror filmmakers. Aja’s vision was so strong it attracted one of the greatest, Wes Craven, who asked him to re-invent his 1970s horror classic The Hills Have Eyes.
Aja’s horror pushes the boundaries of tension and gore, implying his film pallette features some traditional scares he aims to vamp up. To delve a little deeper into his thinking, Rotten Tomatoes asked the director to name some of the films he feels are the best examples of visuals and storytelling, as well as inspiring his own artistry in film.
Aja opens his list with a classic, stating: “The most obvious for me – The Shining – it was my first real cinematic shock when I was a kid”. Aja credits Kubrick’s classic as “the most traumatic experience and maybe one of the reasons why I’m doing what I’m doing today. Then, year after year, it’s that movie that I can watch again and again”.
Explaining why Ridley Scott’s Alien earned its spot, Aja adds: “That first film may be the best survival film of all”. He also praises the beloved final girl Ripley with “her character, Ripley, for me is that one character that I always go back to in every movie. She represents everything I feel as a human being”.
Aja continues to explain how he drew inspiration from the film when directing Crawl, stating: “That crawlspace for me was like somehow I was thinking about an alien spaceship. It is not, it’s just a crawlspace. There is always an exploration”.
Check out Aja’s full list below.
Alexandre Aja’s five favourite films
- The Shining (Stanlek Kubrick, 1980)
- Sunset Blvd (Billy Wilder, 1950)
- Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
- Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone, 1969)
- Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975)
Aja completes his list with Jaws, explaining its spot for both the film’s groundbreaking terror in the horror genre and the infamous behind the scenes trivia. “It’s obvious what effect it has had on my cinema,” he explained. “I think Jaws, at the same time, from the behind-the-scenes, from the creativeness that’s behind-the-scenes, it’s almost like a cautionary tale for every filmmaker”.
He also takes the time to praise Spielberg “from his storytelling to his use of every tool in the toolbox to create the perfect grammatical syntax of images”. Aja expresses his never ending awe at the director’s ability to place the camera anywhere and find new ways to tell his stories.