We first met him as a (most excellent) film critic on ABC-TV’s youth programme, Recovery, and Leigh Whannell then took us all by surprise when he wrote and starred in the epochal, franchise-starting horror film, Saw, which was directed by his friend, James Wan. After more cool scripts and acting appearances (Whannell pulled double duty in films like Cooties and The Mule), the Melbourne-born multitasker turned director with the impressive Insidious: Chapter 3 (the third in the series that he co-created with James Wan), and he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
“I’m curious to see where this directing path takes me at the moment,” Whannell told FilmInk upon the release of Insidious: Chapter 3. “I want to see how long I go before I crash and burn on the side of the road in a mangled car, or make late night video confessions, David Hasselhoff style! When that happens, I’ll go crawling back to James [Wan], but in the meantime, I’m curious to see if I can keep doing this. I’ve definitely been bitten by the directing bug, and I really want to direct something else.”
Well, thankfully, it’s happening. Whannell will next helm the sci-fi thriller, Stem, from his own script, and in good news for local crews and actors, he’ll be shooting it in Melbourne. Stem is set in a near-future where technology controls everything. The film tells the story of a technophobe driven to avenge his wife’s murder with the help of an experimental computer chip implant called “Stem.” US actor, Logan Marshall Green (Prometheus, Spider-Man: Homecoming, TV’s Quarry), will star. In association with Goalpost Pictures Australia and US horror/genre titans, Blumhouse Productions, the film will be shot largely at Docklands Studios Melbourne and surrounding locations, and is slated for a US release in 2017.
“Creativity forms a huge part of what makes Victoria such an attractive global city,” says Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. “We’re proud to see our talent recognised internationally, and we welcome Leigh’s return to Melbourne. It demonstrates the confidence Goalpost Pictures and Blumhouse Productions have in Victoria’s creative talent, crews, world class studios and great locations.”