Hitting the ground running after the release of last year’s festival favourite BITE, comes LET HER OUT; a brand new shocker from the Black Fawn Films gang. Helmed by ANTISOCIAL director Cody Calahan and penned by Adam Seybold, LET HER OUT promises a very different kind of possession movie than we’re used to seeing and, given its particularly grounded approach, there’ll be no stopping it from creeping deep under your skin.
Starring Alanna LeVierge, Nina Kiri, and Adam Christie, LET HER OUT follows young bike courier Helen (LeVierge) who suddenly begins suffering inexplicable blackouts and hallucinations after a near-fatal road accident. On further investigation, it turns out that a benign tumor is the root cause; but that’s the least of her worries as the sarcoma is actually the remains of her “vanishing twin sister” that was absorbed in utero. Triggered by a bang to the head, Helen’s evil twin begins growing at an alarming rate and begins using Helen’s body as a vessel to act out her psychotic plan.
With the film having just received its world premiere at the Horror Channel FrightFest in London, Terror Time caught up with the film’s leading lady, Alanna LeVierge, to talk about tackling two very distinct roles in one…
Terror Time (Howard Gorman): Can you tell us what it was that attracted you to Helen’s character? Was there anything about her personality and what she was going through that you related to and that you thought you could use to help create this persona?
Alanna LeVierge: I think from the beginning I empathized with her. You can see that Helen is a very genuine, loyal, and strong person who is struggling to find her place within her own mind. Even though she appears to function normally within her daily life and social surroundings, there remains an inner conflict as to how exactly she fits in. She’s like an outsider looking into a life she wishes she could be a part of. I’ve often felt that the more I step back and observe people, the more you question if your actions and thought process align with what others are experiencing.
I was also drawn to Helen’s perseverance; to go through life starting from such a broken state and often feeling isolated and abandoned from the many things most take for granted, shows the strength of her character.
TT: Cody told me how the vanishing twin story the film is inspired by is a real thing and actually a lot more common than people think. Did it come as a surprise to you and did you research many cases to try and imagine the emotions people might experience on discovering they have a brother or sister inside them they never knew they had?
AL: It came as a shock to me as well – I was very intrigued to start my research on this condition as soon as Cody and I had met. I read many articles on varying topics from how the condition starts, to the after effects of how the surviving twin copes. It’s a strange concept learning you have a long-lost sibling; many of the surviving twins were said to have issues with borderline personality disorder. Dealing with rejection and abandonment was one of the hardest to overcome for most. The self-isolation and unwillingness to pursue intimate relationships we see Helen go through is amplified as “Helen 2” begins to take over – we see the contrast in their personalities throughout the film as the twin attempts to reignite all that’s been lost throughout the years.
TT: Did you watch any specific movies or documentaries to prepare for the role. I think Cody suggested horror movies but also action movies as he wanted you to be physically running from this evil version of you rather than just playing someone turning evil?
AL: I watched a few movies – IT FOLLOWS was among one of Cody’s top recommendations; the subtlety throughout the film was inspiring for my own performance. I also watched THE EVIL DEAD and BLACK SWAN for both physical and emotional references as well as a bunch of documentaries on socio and psychopaths.
TT: When it came to performing as the evil twin version of your character, did Cody give you any specific pointers?
AL: We talked about a couple of scenarios from both real life and film references. Although we had some ideas, we both didn’t know exactly how the evil twin was going to come out. The voice and the character that came out in the final scene I feel was almost ‘born’ naturally by the time we got to that point of filming. It was almost like Helen 2 just ‘was’ and there was no other way she could have been. I knew that I wanted her to come across as somewhat childish because she really is essentially being introduced to the world for the first time. I really allowed myself to let her character take over and not place any judgement on how it came out; I felt a real energy take over, especially in the final motel scene. It was a really amazing experience as an actor.
TT: From an acting standpoint, what did you find more complex: Being full out pure evil, or the complicated Helen character battling with this evil twin trying to take her over? I’m guessing the latter. It must have been tough juggling both characters at the same time. How did you manage to find the perfect balance between the two?
AL: Definitely the latter. It was hard sometimes to stay in that mindset of the struggle that Helen was going through. Especially as we became so close on set throughout the filming process, there were definitely times I had to remove myself to keep in the frame of mind I needed. Filming at night played a huge part in this for me – I was really isolated in my real life from everyone close to me. I would get home in the morning when everyone was still asleep just before going to work and I would leave before anyone got home, so there was a long stretch of time where I didn’t really talk to anyone. I think this helped play a part in the isolation that Helen was also going through, having no one to talk to about how she was feeling. There were a lot of days where I felt tired and emotionally drained – much like how I imagined Helen to feel while going through all this news of her condition and her straining relationship with everyone around her. I feel that the balance came somewhat organically. It’s a difficult process to explain but I think the feelings and thought processes I was experiencing aligned with those of Helen’s character.
TT: Cody said the shoot was physically demanding for you as we see pretty much the entire film from your viewpoint. He said that there were definitely some days when you were done shooting and you would just pass out. What was the most emotionally/physically demanding for you during the shoot?
AL: I would say the most physically demanding was the contorting and shaking that Helen went through while experiencing Helen 2. You put your body through certain motions that it’s not used to and it leaves you sore for a few days! I tried to still work out consistently throughout the shoot as Helen herself is in quite good physical shape, but the obscure body movements were the ones that got to me. There was a lot of heavy breathing scenes that made me come near to passing out, but I always tried to acquire the mindset of the character to get me through and remind me of why I was in that state.
Emotionally – I think what was most demanding emotionally for me was the expectations I put on myself to really convey what Helen was feeling and going through. I wanted it to be genuine and not overdone. I put a lot of demand on myself and my performance in that sense and I feel that day in day out of being in this sort of ‘swimming above water’ state of mind started to play tricks on me to whether or not it was coming across as I had hoped and how I hoped Cody wanted it, to fulfill his vision. Just as Helen starts to lose sight of what is real and what isn’t, I wanted to make sure my intentions were being conveyed the way I anticipated them to be.
TT: Can you walk us a bit through the special effects? One particular scene towards the end involving you is about as gross as they come. I’m guessing that was you inside all the prosthetics?
AL: It was! I was all for the special effects. The more reality it brings to the audience the better. Shaun did an amazing job as did Carly with the special effects and prosthetics. It was a long process some days having the makeup applied; I think I even went back to my hotel one day with the spine still on and didn’t realize until I was showering! The reality of the SFX really helped in certain scenes (such as the finger in my forearm), really embracing the pain that would have come along with that and feeling these foreign objects in my body made the reality of the vanishing twin a lot more believable.
The scene in the motel was one of the grossest and most exciting scenes. As uncomfortable as it was at times to be completely engulfed in latex, I knew this was a pinnacle point in the film and I wanted it to be as chilling to the audience as it was to everyone in the room that watched it in real time. I felt like I was being birthed and breathing life for the first time once I ripped it off. It’s exciting to hear the reactions that follow.
TT: You’ve said that the film opened your eyes to a darker side of yourself that you didn’t realize you had. Can you expand on this and tell us exactly what the film helped you discover about yourself?
AL: I think this became a realization when I was performing the Helen 2 scenes. It was scary how easy it was to let go and allow myself to be consumed by the evil that is Helen 2. As I mentioned, I wanted her character to emerge organicallyand it amazed me how easy it was to let her frame of mind take over. To be completely physically and emotionally consumed by an alternate persona was a little unsettling. I really enjoyed filming the scene where both Helens meet face to face. It was a unique experience flipping between the two characters so instantly.
TT: To wrap up, are you working on anything else at the moment that you can tell us about?
AL: I have a couple of upcoming projects that I am waiting to confirm. All seem to be within the horror/thriller/crime genre, which I’m loving. Filming LET HER OUT really opened my eyes to a realm of film that I hadn’t really explored in its entirety before. And although I’m sure I’ve still barely scratched the surface, I’ve had an amazing experience up to this point learning all the creative directions it can go. It has led me to connect with many interesting and unique people so far and I can’t wait to see what comes from the film’s release.
All I am hoping for is to continue growing and learning from the experiences I’ve had with this film and other projects and apply and build on those skill sets moving forward.
We’d like to thank Alanna LeVierge for talking with TERROR TIME and we’ll leave you with the film’s trailer. It’s also just been announced that the first annual Brooklyn Horror Film Festival will take place Friday-Sunday, October 14-16 and will be hosting the USA premiere of LET HER OUT.