By MICHAEL GINGOLD
One of our favorite genre actresses since her breakout role in STARRY EYES, Alex Essoe is having a busy year. In addition to taking on the iconic role of Wendy Torrance in this winter’s highly anticipated DOCTOR SLEEP, she stars in another pair of upcoming chillers and gave RUE MORGUE a few words on both.
Essoe co-stars in DEATH OF ME, the latest directorial venture from Darren Lynn Bousman, which was acquired last week for North American release by Saban Films. First announced way back in 2011 as SPELL and written by Ari Margolis, James Morley III and David Tish, it toplines Maggie Q and Liam Hemsworth, “and I play kind of a nefarious role,” Essoe tells us. “You’re not really sure where I stand; I’m kind of an outlier. It was really fun.”
Further elaborating on the storyline, she says, “It’s about this couple who go on a retreat to an obscure little island off the coast of Thailand, and they get wrapped up in the ancient local customs and rituals and become unwitting, unwilling participants in something very outside of their control. It’s very mystical and supernatural, and there are some awesome visuals in it. Even for Darren, this is kind of a departure; this is not so gory, it’s more kind of trippy. It has a SERPENT AND THE RAINBOW vibe to it. I love that movie—it’s so disorienting—so I’m super-excited about this one. Filming in Thailand was great; I’d never been before, and I was like, ‘Oh my God, it’s like a postcard!’ ”
She also enjoyed taking a role that, as she noted above, may have something of a dark side. “I don’t think I’ve played a straight villain, though you could make the argument that [STARRY EYES’] Sarah is both a victim and a villain. That’s part of the fun of this genre: You can get really creative with stuff like that. I would definitely love to play villains in the future.”
Essoe is on the good side in THE DRONE, a horror/comedy that played festivals earlier this year and has been picked up by Lionsgate Home Entertainment. “I believe that’s coming out in October,” Essoe says, “and it’s from Jordan Rubin, the director of ZOMBEAVERS, who I love. It was just laughs making that movie; Jordan was originally a standup comedian, so he was cracking jokes all day. And the movie is so funny because we play it totally straight, doing a completely serious movie about a ridiculous idea. I’m really happy with it.”
THE DRONE, which we first reported on here, casts Essoe and John Brotherton as a newlywed couple terrorized by the titular device, which has been possessed by the spirit of a serial killer. As opposed to all the danger it causes on screen, Essoe says there was nothing to fear working with the drone on set. “It was piloted by a guy named Travis Geske, who also did drone work on the CRITTERS Shudder series with Jordan, and he was a master. He was super-careful and great at flying the drone. Especially for an independent film, I felt very safe on set [laughs]. I mean, we filmed it around the West Hollywood area, in a residential neighborhood—very low-stakes. We weren’t, like, climbing rocks in the wilderness or anything—which I’ve also done!”
See THE DRONE’s original trailer below and look for more on these movies as they near release!