Sound of a murder
Director-cinematographer John Leonetti, in this conversation with Cinema Express, spills the beans on his upcoming film, Wish Upon
John R Leonetti, who’s been the cinematographer of horror films like Insidious and The Conjuring, resumes directorial duties with the upcoming Wish Upon. In this quick chat, he talks about his love for horror, and the power of coincidences.
The Conjuring that you were the cinematographer for -- and later, its prequel, Annabelle, that you directed – features a haunted music box. Was that the inspiration to come up with this film which has at its heart, a music box that grants wishes?
Actually, what you have pointed out is purely coincidental. Sherryl Clark, the producer of this film, approached me to direct Wish Upon after seeing Annabelle. That’s probably the only connection.
Jump scares have become rather uninventive in modern horror films. What’s your take?
Let me just clarify that Wish Upon isn’t what can be thought of as a ‘jump scare’ film, even if there are a couple of them in it. I think of it as a tense and suspenseful ‘mouse trap’ film. I think audiences love being teased with suspense.
Musicians, Tomandandy (musical duo Thomas Hajdu and Andy Milburn) are known for their work in horror films like Sinister 2, The Covenant and The Hills Have Eyes. Given that this film revolves around a music box, was there something special they had to conceive of, musically, for this film?
Yes. They had to come up with the Music Box Jingle. The brief given to them was to come up with a creepy, yet enticing melody that the box plays. This music is twisted each time from one kill to another.
After Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, almost all the films you’ve worked on have been under the horror genre. What about this genre keeps you hooked?
I think the fun of it all. Crafting horror, suspense and thrills is so much fun. You have to build the suspense and tension, and use tools carefully to build tension in the viewer’s head. You have to know that less is more in such films.
You were the cinematographer for Mortal Kombat and you ended up directing its sequel, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. Similarly, The Conjuring happened and then, you directed Annabelle. Any other films that you were a cinematographer for that you'd love to direct a sequel of?
(Laughs) To be honest, I really can’t think of any such film. But in this field, there’s always a surprise in store. As directors, you never know what may come your way.