Following a similar path with “Paranormal Actvity" start at a film festival, the movie “Inner Demons” revives the found footage horror films at the Los Angeles Film Festival this year.
The truly scary movie takes a different tact with an intervention reality television show trying to save a young girl from drug abuse. Unbeknownst to the production crew, family and rehab center, the girl is actually possessed by an evil spirit trying to get out.
The film marks the first starring role in a feature film for Lara Vosburgh. It is directed by Seth Grossman (“The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations”).
Latino-Review had an exclusive sit down interview with Vosburgh and Grossman after their screening at the film festival. We discussed the idea of found footage, horror movies in general and the challenges in acting and makeup.
Read the full transcript of the interview below.
Latino-Review: What attracted you to this story?
Seth Grossman: For me, I had a history with the TV show “Intervention.” So when my manager told me that there was a script going around called “Untitled Intervention Exorcism Movie.” I felt like it was an obvious choice for me to direct it. I was really interested in exploring the subject matter of addiction, reality television, illness and possession.
Lara Vosburgh: The writing was fantastic. The subject matter was very interesting. It’s also the fact that in the industry nowadays, there aren’t many roles out there for young women who are this challenging. You have to be very vulnerable in this role. [This movie] would challenge me a lot.
Latino-Review: This film was shot nearly like a found footage style, but lately some audiences and critics are just sick and tired of found footage in the past couple of years. What makes this movie going to be different from the rest?
Seth Grossman: Actually, I think found footage is an amazing opportunity to explore what storytelling is. You’re telling a story about storytellers and the way how we approach stories. It’s how some storytellers can exploit their subjects or engage their subjects. I felt like a lot of the problems with found footage is that the footage is made by people who don’t know how to tell a story. But, in this movie, the footage is being made by a professional reality television crew. It’s a little bit more seamless and well made.
I think the relationship between the crew of this movie and Carson, the addict of the family, is the most important relationship of the film. The fact that it’s found footage makes it intrinsic in telling that story.
Latino-Review: Your character sometimes is portrayed as crazy in one moment and happy in another moment. It’s like she had a wide-range bi-polar disorder. How did you mentally prepare for a role like this?
Lara Vosburgh: First of all, by working with Seth, he created this circle when we were rehearsing. We had a lot of time to rehearse and get to know each other as actors and with Seth. Seth opened up about his emotional past and experiences that he had. He set an example for us to feel free to put our experiences on the table. Afterwards, he allowed us on the day of performance to feel free to be there and to feel safe if we are going to go crazy.
Also, as an actor, you are afraid to overact. It easily could be like that. As a demon, you have to overact and be animalistic. That was a lot of fun. You usually get to do that in theater. And to get to do this in film—what a treat.
Latino-Review: Obviously you worked on the show “Intervention,” which talks about addicts, did you have do extra research, watched more episodes or talk to people in real life?
Seth Grossman: My research was working on the show for a year with eight different addicts and their families. But, Lara…..
Lara Vosburgh: First of all, if you’re dealing with this subject matter—you couldn’t pick a better director to do it. He actually worked with real addicts. He sent to me parts of episodes of the different intervention scenes that were going on. Then we went to meet people with drug abuse, narcotics anonymous and alcoholic anonymous. Also, I watched other films like “Candy” with Heath Ledger, “Trainspotting” and especially watching YouTube. Nowadays, you can get information from everywhere.
Seth Grossman: Yeah, you can see those addicts withdrawing on YouTube. There are a lot of people put videos of their detox on YouTube to document [the experience].
Lara Vosburgh: And it was pretty scary considering twelve-year-olds watching Justin Bieber on YouTube and then could also watch [detox] videos on that too. So watch out parents!
Latino-Review: [Laughter] How were the cameras set up? Obviously, the actors themselves were not holding the cameras during the shoot. It looked pretty genuine.
Seth Grossman: We went with maximum verisimilitude in both performance and camera positions. We wanted to play it as if this could really be found footage. We shot it on a Red Scarlett [camera] and used a 2K sensor with 16 millimeter zoom lenses. The cameras on screen were just prop cameras. They were non-functioning prop cameras that the characters held. None of the characters shot anything since everything was shot by our cinematographer, Chapin Hall.
Latino-Review: You had to go through many different changes especially with all that make up. Talk about those experiences going from goth to demon and everything else in between.
Lara Vosburgh: A lot of times when I approach characters—I really go from the inside to outside. This performance was great, because the outside really helped my inside. I understood the value of that. For some of the scenes, I have to sit quite a while in the chair. At times, it felt a bit claustrophobic. It was intense. It was very, very helpful.
Nowadays, you can do everything on the computer, but we have Vincent Gustani who did a fantastic job with the makeup. It helped the actor. We’re so technology oriented that we forget to have things and craft done with the hands is exciting. We need to make sure this is happening.
Of course, use the amazing cameras. Of course, use the technology when you need it.
Seth Grossman: It was a huge challenge for continuity to have Carson when she got to rehab to see her decline—her skin got bad and her lips got white. We weren’t shooting in sequence so we had a great supervisor, Nicole Rivera, who made sure we had the right makeup on the right day for the right scene.
I agree with what Lara was saying—sitting in that chair with an hour of people touching your face and putting scars.
Lara Vosburgh: Two-and-a-half hours!
Seth Grossman: [Laughter] Two-and-a-half hours sometimes. So we’re in a dusty attic with a bunch of people hanging around. It’s a way to get isolated and into a state.
Lara Vosburgh: Definitely. Isolation is something that I tried to experience while working on that film. I’m a very social person. It’s nice that sometimes as an actor you can go off and not be social for a while. You’ll be fine and it’s worth it. It really helps your performance. You’ll feel great with your integrity as a performer.
Latino-Review: When you saw yourself in the mirror at different times—did it freak you out?
Lara Vosburgh: There was one time we had to do this one bloody scene. It was especially scary. We filmed it towards the end and I was really emotionally and physically tired. I loved being pushed to my limits. I formerly a dancer and that’s what my Russian ballet instructors do. But, I was like, “Okay. Okay. We have to finish this and have a touchdown.” But, you feel like you can lose it due to exhaustion.
Latino-Review: This film so intense and so serious. Did you guys even have fun during this production?
Seth Grossman: We had so much fun. That’s the great thing about making horror movies. It taps into that thirteen-year-old boy mentality of fun. You got a tube full of blood that will spray out of the back of somebody’s head. I grew up watching horror films like “Friday the 13,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “April Fool’s Day” and other slasher movies. I grew up terrified of this stuff.
So to go behind the scenes, raise the curtains and see how the sausage is made—is just incredibly fun. There were moments like Lara had her puke scenes.
Lara Vosburgh: That was tough. Listen, it was the toughest scenes that I’ve done so far in my career. It was emotionally challenging, but you had to have the liquid come out of the tube at the right time. You have to be crafty when you’re making horror films like this because you have to get that money shot.
Latino-Review: Would you like to do this again if there’s another horror film?
Lara Vosburgh: You know, that is a good question. I would think I have to read the script first. If it’s a fantastic script, I’m not going to say no. It used to be that if I heard of the word “horror” film—immediately I would say, “No way!” [Horror films] are usually very sexual and creates a certain type for the female character. This taught me that you have to read the script. You have to see what it’s about and give everything a chance.
Latino-Review: Well, this is a good chance to get noticed. “Paranormal Activity” was noticed at a film festival. Look at where that franchise actually took off. Just to wrap this up, can you talk about any future projects you are doing or thinking about doing?
Seth Grossman: I have a script that I’ve been working on for about a year now called, “Rock Bottom.” It’s another story of addiction. It’s a crime drama, which I would love to get it off the ground soon.
Lara Vosburgh: I’m currently working in theater. I’m in this play and it’s actually a dark comedy. I love comedies and would love to continue doing that. I’m playing a psychologist in an Elaine May play. This time I’m taking care of people instead of taking care of my character. It’s a lot of fun.
Seth Grossman: Isn’t it in Tel Aviv?
Lara Vosburgh: It’s in Tel Aviv and it’s in English. It just shows how much this world has become. It’s very random that I’m doing theater in English. It’s just because in Israel there are a lot of minorities who don’t know Hebrew. So we’re doing it for them and the Anglo-Saxon crowd.
Latino-Review: Terrific. Thanks for the chance for me to interview with you. I would’ve love to talk to you a lot more about this film. But, you know what? This movie scared the bejeezers out of me.
Seth Grossman: I’m so glad. That’s great. Thank you.
Lara Vosburgh: Yes, thank you.