Chances are if you’ve seen Lin Shaye acting her heart out in the middle of a horror film, you’re getting a 100% authentic performance that only enhances the fright that we all so desperately seek when checking out one of these chillers. Recently, Lin was the recipient of a title that embodies her standout work in such films from the Screamfest LA Horror Film Festival: Ambassador. She was gracious enough to give us a few minutes of her time during the festivities to discuss her role in the celebration of all things independent horror-related, so sit back and enjoy!
BW: Lin, I figure you’ve been asked the question of “how did you feel when you were told that you’d be the ambassador of Screamfest” a dozen times, so I’ll shoot you this one: How has it been going since the festival’s been under way?
LS: It’s been really great – I’ve been aware of Screamfest for some time now, but I wasn’t really sure what they’d want me to do, and it was very elevating for me, personally, to really experience the fanbase in such a public way with so many people; it was really exciting. It’s wonderful because they celebrate new talent as well as talent that has been around, and plus there’s a film that I’m in (The Final Wish), which will be premiered on the 17th – it’s got Jeffrey Reddick (Final Destination) as the writer and a relatively new director by the name of Timothy Woodward, Jr. We’ve done a ton of press for this one, which I enjoy, and then I’ll have to sleep for a couple of days! (laughs)
BW: Your horror resume is quite expansive, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I remember your first role in a horror film was in 1982’s Alone In The Dark – what do you believe have been the biggest changes in the genre between back then and present day?
LS: I think it’s a lot more popular, and I also think it’s more sensationalist than it used to be. I think we’ve all been desensitized a bit because of the media and all the product that’s out there, and horror’s become very popular – much more than I think it was, and I believe that it’s a lot harder to please the audience. There was a point where there was a lot of gruesome stuff that’s not really my cup of tea, but I think we’ve come back around to a more sophisticated type of horror film. I haven’t seen Mike Flanagan’s new series as of yet (“The Haunting of Hill House”), but it’s been getting rave reviews and he’s just a really smart, wonderful storyteller, so it’s fun to see that fans are being attracting to stuff like that once again. The genre as a whole has become much more sophisticated than it was and has also become much more harder-hitting than it was.
BW: Were you a fan of the genre before you got your start? What is the particular allure of these films for you, personally?
LS: Honestly, what I feel I do best is tell stories, and I’m always interested in a good story – it’s not so much the genre as it’s who the character is, what’s the story about, and what’s it trying to say? I’m so much more involved now in trying to say something specific with the story I’m telling – be it in the character personally or the whole of the film. I just did a film called Jackson’s Hole – kind of a murder mystery, and I played a role that was written for a guy – I play a bear trapper. It’s a small role, but there was something that I saw in it that had a contribution to make – the film is about domestic abuse as well – there’s drama and murder involved, and even a small bit of humor, but it’s got a serious theme, and I looked for ways to amplify that. I’m just really attracted to a good story and characters – I’ve never been a fan of horror alone, but I’ve always been a fan.
BW: Over the course of your career, was there that one specific role that you just couldn’t seem to shake free of – something that stuck with you after filming wrapped?
LS: The movie we just did – The Grudge. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever been a part of. Actually I’m thinking of another film I did a while back, The Hillside Strangler – we filmed it in a seedy part of town, and one of the producers was a very odd person, and I felt really assaulted from the experience. I played one of the killer’s moms, Jenny Buono – based on a true story, and even though it wasn’t a horror film, in many ways it was. I remember specifically that I was upset a few days afterwards. Between the last Insidious that we shot and The Grudge, those were ones that really affected me. I can’t say too much about The Grudge, other than Nicolas Pesce is a master at juxtaposing imagery and ideas that on their own might come across as something we’ve all seen before, but his talent is putting together the pieces. The Eyes of My Mother is a film that he did, and it won a bunch of awards, and his latest is called Piercing – these are the only films that he’s done, but it was very unnerving to shoot the Grudge scenes in many respects, and the last Insidious was so emotional for me, I was really tired after 6 weeks.
BW: After Screamfest wraps up, you’ve also got The Grudge on tap as well – what else can your fans look forward to seeing you in?
LS: In addition to the films I’ve mentioned, I did a string of movies that didn’t really have large parts – I did a film that I also co-produced called Room for Rent that I’m extremely proud of. It was shot in Sedona, Arizona – small budget, fantastic story about a woman’s disintegration. I was very involved in shaping the script, and Tommy Stovall is the director, and we just sold it to a company, and you never know what they’re really going to do with it, especially with all the formats available now, it’ll show up either on iTunes or YouTube or Netflix – any one of those. Keep your eyes open – I’ve been working a lot and I’m doing very interesting things – I think I’ll show up somewhere! (laughs)
Screamfest LA runs through October 18th in Hollywood, CA.