Those of you that like a provocative and creepily-effective look into the mind of a psycho-killer, you owe it to yourselves to check out the new flick Girl In Woods — you can check out what we thought of it here!
We had the good fortune to be able to ask a few questions of the writer/director of the film, Jeremy London, and the fantastic lead actress, Juliet Reeves-London.
LEGLESSCORPSE: First off, thank you both so much for taking time out of your schedules to speak to us! I won’t beat around the bush: Jeremy, the concept of Girl In Woods is a very interesting one, rich in potential. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed what you did with it — as a writer, I’m jealous. 🙂 Can you tell us how it evolved in your mind?
JEREMY BENSON: It started as a short story and then once it looked like it could be the next movie, I took what little bit of the short story I had and started writing the script. As I was writing the screenplay, the story got denser and I found myself really getting into Grace’s story, and the back-story. It’s like there’s the “what would happen if” story on top—girl with some mental problems gets lost in the woods — but it’s her story that kept me interested. I don’t wanna give anything away . . . but it was that personal story that made this a passion project for me. I knew we were lucky to have funding for something that wasn’t as “marketable” as other things. It’s really crazy how often in this business you hear the words, “can you do something like (insert last successful movie)” and you wanna scream. So I just kept the end goal in mind and tried to tell Grace’s story best I could.
LC: What were some of your inspirations for the story? Any particular old films or urban legends that stuck in your mind?
JB: Not consciously. But influences always creep in whether we are aware of it or not. For me, writing is always about the “What if” that gets it going and the world the characters spin from there. It isn’t until later that I start seeing the influences like Repulsion or whatnot that has crept into the story.
LC: What about your directorial style? You showed a real mastery of shooting both the outdoor footage and the intimate, shadowy interiors…have any heroes in that respect?
JB: Again, I think we steal from the people we watch and all those stolen moments become something . . . what it becomes, I don’t know. I’ve always been a huge Carpenter and Craven fan. I’ve really liked Ti West’s films. And of course, Spielberg, Hitchcock, Scorsese . . . I’ve really enjoyed Scott Derrickson’s movies (Emily Rose scared the shit out of my producer, Mark). I could go on and on.
LC: Juliet, I have to say that your transformation in the film is remarkable! You were able to evoke both sympathy and inspire fear with Grace — tell us your process for finding that kind of visceral primality in yourself, yet still maintaining such vulnerability.
JULIET REEVES-LONDON: Wow! Thank you! I was so concerned during the shoot my performance was getting lost due to the taxing issue of all the physical work out in the elements — it is nice to hear you could see those layers. Playing Grace for me was often like playing a very amplified version of myself. I had to first figure out how much of myself aligned with Grace — our commonalities. Then, I also needed to know where we differed. I would see myself in the make up looking so savage and that certainly helped me get into that mode, but I had to emotionally maintain her vulnerability. She has so many issues, I just kept them relevant to the character, always. For me, I try my hardest to move and heal, but Grace carries things with her and had been through so much heavy stuff — it was important to me to try and express this consistently, somehow.
LC: Well, in my opinion, you did a great job of that! Playing off of Grace’s personality in a multi-role had to have been both fun and challenging — how did you prepare for that?
JRL: I think we all have so many sides to our personalities, I just brought different parts of me to the forefront. I think the mean version of myself was the most fun to play — I’m actually a big goofball most of the time, and I try to never be intentionally mean, so playing someone so different than myself was actually a good outlet. My friends, upon seeing me play Grace, could not believe I had that in me!
LC: You have quite a few horror films under your belt; is it a favorite genre for you to work in?
JRL: I was a huge horror movie fan as a skid! Read a lot of Stephen King, loved all the good classic horror films, so of course I love working in this genre! I also love comedy — it’s a close second! I just wrapped a short comedy film my husband, Jeremy London (who also plays a important role in Girl In Woods) directed called Monsters Anonymous; it’s about the classic monsters worried aobut being washed-up and not scary anymore. Such a blast! I play the Blair Witch.
LC: So from both of your perspectives, tell us about the production — I know that outdoor filming always presents its own unique challenges; how did it all go?
JB: We’d shot outside before. But shooting in the mountains was harder than I thought it would be. There would be slopes that to the eye looked as if they wouldn’t be hard at all to stand on, but then when you start walking on them you see differently. The lower creeks would flood, fast, after rains. We all learned a lot. I had a great team to work with, so coming up with alternate shooting plans, and thinking on our feet helped out. They started laughing at me because apparently when there was a problem I would start rubbing my chin and walk off. I didn’t know I was doing this. A friend working on the shoot later told me that as long as I started rubbing my chin before I walked off, they weren’t worried, there would be a plan, but if I just walked off, then they got a little concerned. I don’t know, I thought it was funny when he told me. Maybe you had to be there.
JRL: The elements were rough! I was warned going into the project that it would be a difficult shoot, but I had no idea what I was getting into! It rained on us nearly every single day, so I was drenched most of the shoot. Laid on the ground and had spiders crawling on me. Chigger bites, nearly got bitten by a rattlesnake. It was an adventure, but certainly toughened me up!
LC: Horror films have the best reputation for being the most fun to work on; did you have this experience with Girl In Woods? Do either of you have any particular memories or funny stories to tell?
JB: This was a hard movie to make. I love the horror genre and love telling stories inside that genre. It just seems to fit me well. There were moments, like the hand, that were really fun to shoot. But this was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
JRL: Our first stretch of the shoot, we stayed at a cabin way up in the Smoky Mountains with no internet or phone service. Everyone was like a little family — it somehow felt like a strange summer camp! Yeah…I agree it was a tough shoot, but so much fun, too.
LC: Is there a “sequel” of sorts in the works for what havoc Grace may be about to wreak on the hiking/camping populace? If not that (at least not yet), what other projects are you both working on that we can be looking forward to?
JB: I have an outline, or treatment, whatever you want to call it. It’s like three pages of what I think a sequel to Girl In Woods should be. But as of now, I don’t know. Right now, I’m making revisions on some novels I wrote. Ones a vampire story that we had planned to do as a movie before Girl in Woods but it didn’t happen. Kinda glad, I think it makes a better book. I have a couple movie ideas that would be really fun to do. My wife and I actually outlined one on the way home from a long road trip, just batting the plot back and forth, and it’s really creepy. Kinda a take on the family trapped in a car like in Cujo, but instead of a dog it’s a pickup truck menacing them. But the answer to your question is at this time, I don’t know. I want to make something else. So hopefully Girl in Woods does well enough that that can happen.
JRL: I hope there will be a sequel! I would love to revisit Grace! Even crazier — that would be interesting! As of now I have two small children, so not much going on but mommy stuff — but I am ready to get back making more movies now!
We here at the ‘Corpse would sincerely like to thank Jeremy and Juliet once more for their time — and tell you Fellow Fans out there to go check out Girl In Woods!