Known as the deadliest film ever made, it is said that ANTRUM, a film about a young boy and girl that enter a forest and dig a hole to hell, has a sordid history of inexplicably killing its audience. Initially shot in the late 1970s, the film is said to carry a curse which played out in 1988, during a screening in Budapest, when the venue burned to the ground, killing the 56 people in attendance. However, the death of individuals who have come in contact with this film hasn’t stopped the obsession of cinephiles who are chomping at the bit to see a movie that could possibly kill them.
While attending the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, I had the chance to catch ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST FILM EVER MADE. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with the star of the film, Nicole Tompkins, where we discussed everything from connecting to the material to the supernatural occurrences that took place while filming.
Let’s start from the beginning, how did you become involved with ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST FILM EVER MADE?
Nicole Tompkins: ANTRUM came to me through regular channels – my representation sent me the materials and I went in for an audition.
When did you become aware of what kind of movie ANTRUM really was?
Nicole Tompkins: Actually, the material I was given was very limited. There wasn’t much in the scenes that I was given to audition with. I didn’t know what the movie was really about until about a year or so after it was filmed.
Really? So the material they gave you didn’t reveal anything? They didn’t tell you what the framing device was?
Nicole Tompkins: No, they were just two-person scenes that weren’t very long, but I did connect with the material. I was auditioning with a child and I thought, this is something that I would like to be a part of. The directors, David Amito and Michael Laicini, were wonderful and brought so much to the film.
How did you feel working with this kind of material which features Satanic rituals and dark content? Did it scare you?
Nicole Tompkins: I connected with it on the level of the relationship between the brother and the sister. I found it to be very human and something that I, as an actor, could connect with and would like to explore. That is what I find interesting, the interactions between the characters.
Something that I noticed about the film is that while the sister has gone through all this trouble to write this grimoire of Satanic rituals and is doing these things that are scary and dangerous, it comes from a place of love. She really cares about her brother and wants to help him even though her methods might seem strange. How did you feel about that?
Nicole Tompkins: That’s how I felt. She cares so much about her brother and she wants to snap him out of the depression he is in so much that she is willing to go to these incredible lengths to help him. The sad part is that while it is done out of love, ultimately harmful things happen and things get out of control. She never meant that to happen, but could she know?
That’s true. Changing the topic a bit, are you a fan of horror films? I’m interested to know since you have now worked in horror.
Nicole Tompkins: I have to make a confession, I like horror films, but I am the biggest wuss. If you put on a really bloody horror movie, I’m going to be sitting there watching it through my fingers because that really upsets me. I prefer thrillers and mental horror films like Us or Get Out by Jordan Peele or Hereditary. I love Ari Aster. Both directors make films that are so intense, but they really are about the mental torments that people go through in certain situations. That’s one of the other things I connected with about ANTRUM. Yes, some traditionally scary things happen, but most of the film is about the psychological tenseness and unbearable fear that the characters make up in their own minds.
I think that’s very accurate about the film. It’s less about violence and more about the terror that comes from the terrible place that they find themselves in. What was it like to work with your co-directors, since they were a directing team?
Nicole Tompkins: It was a great experience. We shot the film mostly out in an area where not a lot of people were and they made it very easy. I trusted them completely and they were so creative and ready to work with us as actors that I never had a moment where things were not going well. There was like serendipity with the occult material and little things that happened on the set.
Well, what better way to end this interview than to ask what type of things did you experience?
Nicole Tompkins: There was a scene in the film, which you know if you saw it, where I am reading from the spellbook and suddenly a shadow moves over my face as I am saying specific words. That was not planned and there was no wind but suddenly the clouds started to move and the shadow moved over my face and it was perfect. Both David and Michael were very pleased and it was what it was, serendipity. Just the right thing happened at just the right moment to make a movie that much more frightening and weird.
ANTRUM is now available for purchase and rental in the US and Canada.
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