JACK REHER: Dark Corners…quite the departure from the characters you played in Ghost World and American Beauty. Do you want to say anything about that transition?
THORA BIRCH: It is. It’s different. It was a nice challenge for me, the first time I ever tackled a dual role. That was one of the things that attracted me most about the project that I’d be able to create these or hopefully create these two different people and have all the visual differences you can imagine and see the borderline psychological differences.
JR: There is a little seen gem of a film from 2001 entitled THE HOLE…was this your first offering within this genre?
TB: Yeah, you know I encountered material from all the kind of hot button ones and I just, I don’t know, I kind of view the both films I’ve been in are often put in that genre yet in a sense they’re not really part of that genre or considered a typical horror movie. The Hole was a really bad girl and it was obvious that it was coming from a person instead of some spooky entity like a ghost or a science fiction creation. In Dark Corners, it’s again some sort of psychological thriller in a sense that it’s more of a line twist for the audience. Hopefully, they’re confused that every second they have no idea until the very end which, people I’ve spoken to have see it, they still kind of don’t get it and think they do but aren’t really sure so they turn to whoever they watch the movie with and have a discussion about it. Which is great, it’s what I and the director were going for the whole time. We wanted people to watch this and go “WHAT!?!” and talk about it.
JR: It had that impact on me the first time I saw it. I loved that aspect. I want to hear your ideas on the importance of women in the horror film genre…why is it such a crucial role within horror films?
TB: Well, I think it’s often played with and toyed with…the damsel in distress because traditionally the thought in general of being more prone to be victimized in one way or another. A lot people like to watch hot girls scream & cry and get fucked with. I don’t know. It’s a weird deal I guess and kind of fun.
JR: With the current trend of genre films like this coming out more frequently…Do you think that every actress can do a thriller/horror film like Dark Corners in a convincing manner?
TB: Well, yeah…there will always be a market for and a need for people to dabble in these types of roles. Whether they do it successfully or not is in each individual viewer’s discretion to determine. Some people might do one and other people might become the next Jamie Lee Curtis or whatever. It’s a complete toss-up but it is kind of a difficult genre to work with depending on the material sometimes because the way they’re shot. It’s not something you can easily relate to because I’ve never been dealing with the experiences I portrayed in Dark Corners. That was even more realistic, acceptable rather than running from some zombie with a knife or something like that. That to me would be even harder to do convincingly because I’ve never done that before.
JR: Your performance seemed very multi-dimensional and complex. I’m curious to know how you brought that strength to the role of Karen/Susan?
TB: For each of those it was fun for me to try and create as many differences from one another that I possibly could. At the same time because I was working so inside the story and I knew all the reveals and all the answers. It gave me a freedom to approach some moments from no quite the expected outlook because one character, you don’t know if they really exist, and I kind of wanted to give the feeling that maybe, to the audience, that maybe she didn’t even know if she existed. So all of that confusion was really helpful, just being able to embrace each little second and not think about the overall picture and yet the overall picture is what informed every little second. It’s kind of a catch-22 movie.
JR: Do you have any exercises that helped you get mentally prepared for the role?
TB: Not that I was aware of before hand. I think maybe there were little things clicking as we were going along. Certain things I’d do just to try and separate the voice between Susan and Karen.
JR: Regarding the production, you were working with a first time writer-director. Were there any reservations on you part? After all, you have worked with some brilliant minds from Sam Mendez & Terry Zwigoff.
TB: Yeah, I’ve worked with some great directors and Sam Mendez… that was his first film. It was also Terry’s first feature…before he had done a great documentary, CRUMB, but I kind of, maybe I’ve done it too often, but I like working with first time directors because of their energy, their passion & enthusiasm for being on their first film is kind of infectious. It usually lends itself to a lot of creative openness but also it’s kind of a precarious thing to do because you maybe could get one [director] that isn’t so wonderful. It’s a toss-up.
JR: What was your first horror film experience as a kid?
TB: I don’t think you can call it a horror film completely but I was one of those children who watched the same movie over and over. The one thing I thought was kind of scary, the first 25 times I watched it was Ghostbusters. It was a green-goblin thing, the slime, that kind of got me. I’ve never been a huge…I’m not so knowledgeable on the genre-
JR: That ghost in the library scared the shit out of me.
TB: Yeah, the beginning sequence when the books are flying off the shelves and the papers in the air for completely unknown reason was pretty scary.
JR: Shifting gears a little, how do you see women in horror films today vs. women from decades past?
TB: Well, there seems to be an interesting change in direction. You used to see girls that were purely victimized. Now it seems that the filmmakers are toying more with the idea of, subliminally of course, targeting girls that maybe have some lesson to learn or that come away with the experience and change one way or another. It’s kind of like we’re sticking with a type of girl now…the smart-ass gets knocked down and becomes humble or the slut dies. It’s very much kind of a…there’s an element of karma or morals that have been introduced to the genre. Like ‘this is happening to you because…”.
JR: If Thora ruled the world, what would your criteria be to become a scream queen?
TB: That’s good! That’s a good one…well, I honestly would probably be a little bit more liberal than you’d expect. You’d definitely have to have the knowledge of a certain amount of film history and a passion for the process of filmmaking rather than necessarily acting. There’d definitely have to be someone that loved everything about it. More quality I’m looking for than ability.
JR: What trips the fear factor inside of you?
TB: You know, I used to have a nice laundry list of things that did but now I can’t really put my finger on one. I found a way to take care of them all.
JR: Any all-time favorite horror films besides Ghostbusters?
TB: Yeah, there was one…but for the life of me, I can never remember the title. I have no idea what it was called but it was about a group of kids that were abandoned in a city. I think one of the babysitters or something like that, like at the very end they were running around the town, always at night, and everyone’s turning to powder (laughing) like these bodies just disintegrate into this orange powder. And that one was pretty scary because it was like “don’t go outside, you’re going to disintegrate, the aliens are out there and their laser beams…” It was ridiculous but pretty good.
JR: Is this genre something you’d like to continue working in?
TB: Maybe off and on, you know I’m very material based. If I encounter a script I really like and it happens to be in the genre, there’s nothing that’s gonna…the fact that it’s a horror movie, there’s nothing that’s going to make me say “no”. At the same time, I don’t look for films that are in certain genres. It’s about the character first.
JR: Last question…who is more creepy…The Blair Witch or Joan Rivers?
TB: This is evil because I like Joan Rivers but I’m going to have to go with her because I can see that. But she has been nice to me.
- Interview with J.R. Bookwalter - January 22, 2015
- Interview with Andrew J. Rausch - January 22, 2015
- Interview with Rick Popko and Dan West - January 22, 2015
- Interview with Director Stevan Mena (Malevolence) - January 22, 2015
- Interview with Screenwriter Jeffery Reddick (Day of the Dead 2007) - January 22, 2015
- Teleconference interview with Mick Garris (Masters of Horror) - January 22, 2015
- A Day at the Morgue with Corri English (Unrest) - January 22, 2015
- Interview with Writer/Director Nacho Cerda (The Abandoned, Aftermath) - January 22, 2015
- Interview with Actress Thora Birch (Dark Corners, The Hole, American Beauty) - January 22, 2015
- Interview with Actor Jason Behr, Plus Skinwalkers Press Coverage - January 22, 2015