I love when a movie stuns you and leaves an impression upon you that is hard to shake. Director Ben Cresciman’s latest film, SUN CHOKE, did just that. It’s an indie art house flick that sinks it’s teeth into your soul and doesn’t let go. It’s a study on loneliness and the extents someone is willing to go to satisfy an obsession. Last week, I got to sit down with actress Sara Malakul Lane to discuss her role of Savannah and what it was like for her character to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Shannon McGrew: Hi Sara! Thank you so much for taking time out today to speak with me about your newest film SUN CHOKE! For those who may not be familiar with your role, can you tell us a little bit about your character?
Sara Malakul Lane: I play the character Savannah – the whole movie is really centered around the character Janie (Sarah Hagan) and I’m this stranger that comes into her life that she becomes obsessed with in a strange way. Without giving too much away we end up having this relationship and things get really ugly. I’m basically just an innocent stranger caught in the wrong place at the wrong time which is a really scary part of the movie from my point of view. I’ve caught the eye of someone who is basically crazy.
SM: What interested you in playing this role and how did you prepare for it?
SML: It was a long process to get this role. I went in originally for the role of Janie – I worked really hard for that role, I think I went in three times – and the actress that played Janie, Sarah Hagan, went in 3 or 4 times for the role of Savannah. I remember the producers calling me and they said, “We love you but we went in a different director for the role of Janie but you were really great” and I remember being super disappointed. A couple days later the producers called me again and were like, “I had this really interesting idea – I loved you as Janie but how about you read for Savannah” and I was like “Yeah, absolutely, let’s give it a shot”. It actually ended up working really well because Sarah (Hagan) had a completely different take on Janie than I did and and hers worked so much better than what I would have done. I ended up being so much more connected to the character Savannah. It was the right casting choice.
When I found out I got the role of Savannah there was the usual preparation but nothing too crazy as I’m just the girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sarah Hagan and I worked really hard on our relationship in the film as well as the different dynamics we had. I worked with the director, Ben Cresciman, a lot because a lot of the time my character is trapped and there’s a lot of physical abuse that goes on, so he worked on that a lot with me. The director was very determined for us to have a very specific type of relationship throughout the movie. When you watch the film you will get what I mean.
SM: The film has three strong female leads, do you think the film purposefully has a strong feminist undertone?
SML: Absolutely! I think it’s amazing that the directors and producers made that choice to have an all female driven horror movie. It’s a very feminine movie and it’s very centered around how women feel about each other, how women control each other but all under the vein of horror/psychological thriller. A lot of these types of films are very centered around male/female relationships, love, all that kind of stuff and are usually male-driven and like you said this film is all females. Women make each other feel a certain way and I think SUN CHOKE captured it in a way that I haven’t seen done in a horror movie before.
SM: Speaking of horror, what about this genre keeps you coming back?
SML: I just love being put in these crazy situations that I hope don’t really happen to me in real life – it’s fun and crazy. I’m a big fan of horror movies and there is something about lying in a pool of blood that just makes for a great day at the office.
SM: Lastly, what can we look forward to in the future from you?
SML: Currently I’m filming a reboot of the KICKBOXER movies with Jean-Claude Van Damme. The first one that we shot comes out in September and right now I’m in Bangkok shooting the sequel to that. I also have a couple of other horror movies coming out, one called OLIVER, w which is another psychological horror movie that I think people really enjoy and another one called THE DOMICILE.
SM: That’s great! Congrats on all the upcoming projects and I know we here at Nightmarish Conjurings look forward to seeing those. Thanks so much for answering our questions today and for anyone interested in checking out SUN CHOKE it’s currently on iTunes and VOD with a limited theatrical release on Friday.