Welcome to today’s installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be talking to creators working in horror and share and recommend various pieces of underappreciated scary media-books, comics, movies, and television-to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
This year’s 31 Days of Halloween included an article about the seeming disappearance of scream queens. If there is one modern actress that perfectly embodies the idea of a scream queen, it is Lauren Ashley Carter. (And you thought she was the feature picture for the article just because I was being lazy.) The star of fan favorites Darling and Jug Face, Carter recently sat with AiPT! to talk about her new movie Artik, her lifelong love of horror, and what the future holds.
AiPT!: You have a strong horror pedigree. Have you always been a fan?
Lauren Ashley Carter: Yes, I have. I used to watch horror movies with my father on the weekends, and I think I was mostly drawn to the horror, the cover art on the VHS’s. So, I would just go in, and pick what I thought looked interesting to me, and my dad pretty much let me pick out whatever I wanted.
AiPT!: Yeah, the cover art was amazing on horror movies.
LAC: Yes. I really miss it.
AiPT!: How would you describe Artik?
LAC: This is a hard one. I actually just was asked this in another interview. So like the IMDB description is saying, you know, like a serial killer who teaches his son to murder. I do think it’s… He’s a comic book junkie, and also a comic book artist, and he commits a series of murders, in the style that he’s drawing. So, he’s kind of fulfilling the destiny of his own character, and he thinks that he’s doing the world a favor, but he’s delusional.
AiPT!: I’m glad you mentioned about it being a hard one to describe, because, you’re right, the IMDB what it talks about – it’s a comic book obsessed serial killer -but that seems to be like a very small part of the entire movie.
AiPT!: How did you get involved with Artik?
LAC: So, Tom (director Tom Botchii Skowronski) got in touch with me, and he sent me a description – longer than the blurb on IMDB – but he also mentioned some of the people that he was studying for it. You know, serial killers, kidnappers. And then he sent me the art for it, and I really love the art. Then it was a character that I’d never played before, which was another big sell for me. Then I said, “Yeah, right, like I’m really interested in this. Please send me the script.” So, I read the script, and I thought there was a lot there, and chatted with him on the phone. And yeah. I said, “Let’s do it.”
AiPT!: You mentioned your role, and yeah, Flynn is unlike any role you’ve ever played. What was it like playing a villain.
LAC: Well, you know, it’s interesting because I always think it’s going to be really fun to go crazy, and play somebody like that. But then, yeah, when you… It is a conflicting kind of feeling when you get there, and then you really… When you’re trying to be in it, and really think that way. I don’t want to say really think that way, you know, like, because that’s just psychopathic, but even, kind of, getting near it, it feels pretty icky, and uncomfortable. So, you try to see it through their eyes, and then you can do it honestly without judgment. That’s what’s so important, because it’s not my job to judge. It’s the audience’s.
AiPT!: The camera work in the movie, it shows the sunflowers a lot. So, there are times where it looks beautiful, but it looks very, very depressing, more often than not. I’m imagining the actual filming of it was not as depressing?
LAC: It’s really trippy for me to see the sunflowers, because there were no sunflowers. It was just a field, an empty field. So that was all done in post. And he (Skowronski) described it, and we would always just crack up laughing. So he’s like, “There’s going to be sunflowers.” And we’re like, “Okay.” It was really a lot of fun. Especially when you are dealing with kids, and you’re around kids, you know, I want them to be comfortable, and I want them to remember this as a positive experience and not, you know, that creepy actress who took herself seriously, and didn’t talk to any of us, and just acted like an a-----e. So, we tried to have a lot of fun in between, and I think that we did, yeah. We had… We all ended up getting sick, as well. There was just a virus going around. I was three months pregnant, and puking my guts out in between most of the takes. Then we got sick on top of it. So, I think that we were all together in our sickness during the filming.
AiPT!: There’s one really physical scene towards the end.
LAC: Yeah, it was. I was just not feeling well, and like in a lot of the stunts, you know, I told them when I was uncomfortable, but for the most part I felt very safe. I let everyone know how I was feeling, and I was never really worried. But the kids I was worried about, because it was so cold. Once the sun goes down, and people don’t realize in places like New Mexico in the desert, it gets really cold. And so, you know, you’re dressed for the daytime, and then you’re just not prepared. So, as soon as we were done with tapes, you know, we were running, putting blankets on them, there were fires going, trying to warm up.
AiPT!: It does sound depressing, actually. What draws you to horror?
LAC: Oh, I like… I like the extreme nature of it. There’s nothing more fun for an actor than to be able to go crazy, and just be at the very height of everything. I think it’s like the best place to be. That’s why Greek theater is still so entertaining. And, yeah, I mean it’s… it shows a lot of darkness, and I think, actors in general, are drawn to darkness. You know, there’s not too many of us that get in it just for clowning. So, yeah, I think that there is a pull towards that. It’s the dramatic, it’s the macabre, it’s, you know, you have just, yeah, the red blood, and the pain, the agony, and yeah, there’s some things very appealing.
AiPT!: Speaking of darkness, Darling is arguably your most popular work. It seems like every time I talk about like underrated horror movies, people seem to always mention it. What do you think has made it so endearing?
LAC: Well, I have to say, I always say that I think that house was such a huge character, and it has such a presence in the film, and I think that kind of the danger… the danger of secrets, the danger of the unknown, and suspicion, paranoia that we all have, especially if you’re in a city like New York. But I think, in general, anymore people are always looking over your shoulder. I think that maybe there’s something satisfying about saying like, “Duh, I was right!” You know, there, there is evil, and danger lurking around. I think the aesthetic, you know, when it’s done right, black and white is so captivating, and gorgeous, when you… when you have the right contrasts. Other times I’ve seen some black and white films and I’m like, “Oh God, this is dead boring.” But, yeah, I think that it really succeeds in that way as well.
AiPT!: Yeah, I totally agree with you. The aesthetic works very, very well in that movie. We were talking earlier about playing a villain. In Darling, you do some pretty mean things, but I don’t think you’re the villain.
LAC: Maybe the unintentional villain.
AiPT!: It’s a villain you really, really feel sorry for. Are you currently working on any projects?
LAC: I’m not at the moment. Since I’ve had my son, I’m getting used to the new mom’s schedule, and living in a new country, and I’m also, hopefully I’ll be starting university next year to get my master’s. I think art can’t live in a vacuum, and I need to… need to explore some other… some other roads of this life, and then maybe come back to it with some new perspective.
AiPT!: Are you going to introduce your son to horror, or or are you going to try to keep him away from it?
LAC: Well, I was just thinking about that. I’m like, as a mom now, you know, my dad let me see all kinds of movies from the time I was like five, and didn’t even think about it. See I never freaked out. I always saw it, and I always knew it for what it was, you know, that it was fake. I think maybe that’s the thing, like when they know that it’s fake, but then obviously you know, you have to answer the questions of like the things that are based on a true story, or you know, like I don’t think Dahmer is going to be the first one I show him.
You know, people always say, “Oh I don’t like horror movies”, because they’re thinking about maybe one genre, you know, like torture, or slashers, or something, or zombies. And they say, “Oh, I don’t like that”, but I say there’s something for everyone. I mean look at Anna and The Apocalypse. Like there’s something for everyone. So, I think, yeah, there’s a range and you have to… You start somewhere and yeah, I mean I’m obviously very open to it, but if he’s like, you know, We Need to Talk About Kevin situation, maybe not. So, we’ll see.
AiPT!: And definitely no Evil Dead until he’s older.
LAC: Yeah, yeah. No, although, you know, I wonder what he’d think about it.
Check out Adventures in Movies! to hear the entire interview with Lauren.