Christophe Gans

Christophe Gans

Christophe Gans grew up in the Mediterranean resort town of Antibes, France. His early love of science-fiction, genre films, and Japanese culture all proved to be accurate barometers for the young man's future endeavors. As a boy, he and his friends made several samurai and kung fu movies on a Super-8 camera; by his teens, he was self-publishing the fanzine Rhesus Zero as a platform through which he could share his niche interests. Gans went on to attend France's prestigious film school, the Institut des Hautes Etudes Cinematopraphiques, where his graduate project - a horror short titled "Silver Slime" (1981) - was well-received by audiences, but garnered little interest from the genre-averse French film industry. In a return to his fanzine days, he founded and edited Starfix, a magazine devoted to espousing the virtues of movies by filmmakers like Sam Raimi, Dario Argento, John Carpenter and David Cronenberg.Gans' association with producer Samuel Hadida, with whom Gans would work throughout his career, eventually led to his being asked to direct one segment of the horror anthology, "Necronomicon: Book of the Dead" (1993). Comprised of three tales inspired by the works of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft, Gans also wrote the screenplay for his macabre offering, entitled "The Drowned," in which a distraught widower (Bruce Payne) inadvisably attempts to revive his dead wife with the help of the titular cursed tome. Noticed for his work on the film and informed by his love of Asian pop-culture, Gans was hired to direct his first feature film, a live-action adaptation of the popular Japanese manga "Crying Freeman" (1995). Co-scripted by Gans, the action-adventure told the story of a highly-skilled assassin (Mark Dacascos) who sheds tears of regret over each of his victims. Despite its failure to gain a theatrical release in the U.S., Gans' visual flare and adept handling of the martial arts action further elevated his growing reputation as an emerging genre filmmaker.Gans' next project as a writer-director was the historical-horror-martial arts hybrid "Brotherhood of the Wolf" (2001). Based in part on a French legend, it followed the exploits of two 18th-Century adventurers (Samuel Le Bihan and Dacascos) as they attempt to capture or kill a monstrous wolf, supposedly responsible for the deaths of dozens of local villagers. Highly stylized and featuring a multi-national cast that included Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, "Brotherhood of the Wolf" became a substantial international hit, as well as the second-highest grossing French-language film in more than two decades. Widely praised by critics and genre fans, the movie earned several nominations, as well as a win for Best Fantasy Film for Gans at the Sitges International Film Festival that year. As an established filmmaker, Gans was now in a position to assist other aspiring directors, such as Pascal Laugier, whose gothic horror film "Saint Ange" (2004) he produced.Gans next tackled his most ambitious project to date, a big-budget adaptation of the video game series "Silent Hill" (2006). It was a labor of love for Gans, a self-described devoted fan of the game franchise, who lobbied extensively to land the director's job. A visually enthralling gothic-horror story about a mother (Radha Mitchell) desperately searching for her missing daughter (Jodelle Ferland) amidst the nightmarish dreamscape of the eponymous town, it was praised for its mind-boggling imagery, although most reviewers found the story to be nearly incomprehensible and needlessly drawn out. Nonetheless, "Silent Hill" performed relatively well in theaters and plans were underway for Gans to direct a sequel, until various delays and scheduling conflicts caused him to leave the project. Unfortunately, this scenario would become a near constant refrain in Gans' career over the next several years, as project after project was begun, put on hold and, ultimately, abandoned.In 2008, Gans was set to film yet another high-profile video game adaptation, the samurai-horror mash-up "Onimusha," until scheduling conflicts created delays that forced Gans to leave the project. The director then shifted his attentions to helming an adaptation of "Fantômas," an iconic French pulp novel series about a devilish master thief who will stop at nothing to win his prize or have his revenge. However, as had happened so frequently in the recent past, Gans was forced to suspend production once again in 2011 after his previously committed star, Vincent Cassel, departed due to scheduling conflicts. Five years after he had directed his last film, it began to appear as if Gans' notably deliberate working pace and admirable quest for perfection were beginning to work against him.By Bryce Coleman