Aja, Alexander: French Extremity Cinema (Splat Pack, Cinema of the Body, Horor) (Jewish)

Alexandre Jouan-Arcady, known professionally as Alexandre Aja, (born August 7, 1978) is a French director best known for his work in the horror genre.

Aja rose to international stardom for his 2003 horror film Haute Tension (High Tension in US and Switchblade Romance in UK).

He has also directed The Hills Have Eyes (2006), Mirrors (2008), Piranha 3D (2010), Horns (2013) and Crawl (2019).

His pseudonymous surname is formed from the initial letter of each of the three parts of his real name.

He was born in Paris, France, and is the son of Jewish French Pied-Noir director Alexandre Arcady and French cinema critic Marie-Jo Jouan.

He acted at a very young age in minor roles in his father’s films such as Le Grand Carnaval, and the two Le Grand Pardon films.

Debut at 18

He made his directorial debut at the age of 18 with the short film Over the Rainbow, which received a Cannes Fest Golden Palm Award nomination for best short film.

In 1999 he directed Furia, a film based on Julio Cortázar’s short story Graffiti.

From Furia onwards, he frequently works with Grégory Levasseur as writer: The Hills Have Eyes, Mirrors, P2, Piranha 3D. Levasseur also made his works as production designer.

Aja directed High Tension, which released in 2003 in France and in 2005 in the US, and placed him on the map of the horror movie genre.

The French slasher, though sticking to horror conventions, pushed the envelope of gore and tension. The film is unauthorized reinterpretation of the novel “Intensity,” by Dean Koontz.

Favoring make-up effects over computer-generated imagery, the film found respect among horror fans. It was released in the US as High Tension, after some editing. The film was nominated for grand prize at the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Fest, and earned Aja awards for Best Direction and Best Fantasy Film at the Sitges–Catalan Film Festival.

After seeing High Tension, director Wes Craven asked Aja to come up with a concept for the remake of his 1977 film The Hills Have Eyes. Craven then asked Aja to direct the movie, which was released with R rating in the US after extensive editing.

His next was horror film Mirrors, about mysterious mirror that brings out the worst aspects of people whenever they look at themselves in it. The film is remake of the K-Horror film, Into the Mirror.

Piranha 3D

Aja directed Piranha 3D, horror movie about prehistoric piranhas in Arizona, which is remake of the 1978 film Piranha.

Aja was working on Mirrors, so he did not direct the sequel to The Hills Have Eyes, which was released on March 10, 2007.

In 2004, Aja was named by Variety on 10 Directors to Watch list.

Splat Pack

He is member of the so-called Splat Pack, term coined by film historian Alan Jones in Total Film magazine for new wave of directors making brutally violent horror films.

The other Splat Pack members are Darren Lynn Bousman, Neil Marshall, Greg McLean, Eli Roth, James Wan, Leigh Whannell, Rob Zombie.

Aja has been associated with the New French Extremity Film movement.

Aja produced a remake of the 1980 horror slasher Maniac, starring Elijah Wood. The film was released in 2012.

In 2013, he directed the dark fantasy thriller Horns, starring Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Joe Anderson, James Remar, Kelli Garner and Max Minghella.

He also produced the 2014 horror film The Pyramid directed by Grégory Levasseur and starring Ashley Hinshaw, Denis O’Hare, and James Buckley.

Aja produced and directed the 2016 psychological thriller The 9th Life of Louis Drax, based on a novel by Liz Jensen.

Aja is set to direct live action adaptation of the manga series Space Adventure Cobra, and the Mice & Mystics film for Dreamworks Animation.

In 2019, Aja directed his highest grossing and best reviewed film yet, Crawl.

Filmography, 1999-Present (14 Films)

1999 Furia Yes Yes

2002 Entre chiens et loups, Yes, Also second ass director

2003 High Tension, Yes Yes

2006 The Hills Have Eyes, Yes Yes

2007 P2 Yes Yes Also story author

2008 Mirrors Yes Yes

2010 Piranha 3D Yes Yes

2012 Maniac Yes Yes

2013 Horns Yes Yes

2014 The Pyramid Yes


The Other Side of the Door Yes

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Yes Yes

2019 Crawl, Yes Yes 

2021 Oxygen Yes Yes


Other Credits:

2004 Mariage mixte Second unit director

2005 Marock, Artistic advisor, technical advisor

2013 Rock the Casbah, Associate producer

2017 La Rage du démon, as Himself