Personally, the mark of a good horror film is the ability to scare me in broad daylight. There aren’t many films that are able to accomplish this but when it happens it’s truly a special occasion. One of the most recent films to achieve this is Elle Callahan’s HEAD COUNT which combines a creepypasta-style urban legend with that of intense paranoia, resulting in a film that quite literally chilled me to the bone.
For the release of HEAD COUNT, I had the chance to speak with actress Ashleigh Morghan who plays Zoe. The film centers around a group of teens who visit Joshua Tree for a getaway only for one of them to read a mysterious chant resulting in a supernatural presence that stalks each of them. During our chat, Ashleigh and I discussed everything from her first horror role to the creepy occurrences that happened on set.
Thank you so much for speaking with us today Ashleigh. To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character, Zoe?
Ashleigh Morghan: Zoe is an independent girl who likes to hang out with her friends. She goes out on a trip with her ex-boyfriend and girl friends. She is the only single one. She is artistic, independent, and lives her life in the moment. She just enjoys where things are.
What was it about the role that interested you in the character and did you do any research to get into Zoe’s headspace?
Ashleigh Morghan: I’ve never been in a horror film before and I have always been scared of horror films, but I have always been intrigued by them at the same time. When I was reading the script and a little bit about what the film was about, I kind of gave it a go. I auditioned for it and really fell in love with the film. I felt a natural connection to the character. I didn’t feel like I had to reach out of myself, it was more like a genuine, real energy I had with the character. There wasn’t really much preparation for me because I felt connected; we had the same ambiance, the same approach at how we would look at situations. It was kind of fun to be in a character that was similar to me because it was more natural. I had more of a natural reaction to each situation as opposed to preparing how I would approach the work.
Your character grows close with Evan (played by Isaac W. Jay) throughout the film. What was it like to work so closely with him?
Ashleigh Morghan: I think [Isaac W. Jay] is so sweet and we had so much fun together. He actually came to my birthday party the following year after filming. It was cool to get to know someone you didn’t really know, especially because your characters became so close. But it became more natural because we didn’t get to know each other at first then we got to know each other. You get to see that on screen because it was also happening in real life at the same time. It was really cool to show that story through the character’s view while it was happening in real life.
What was it like working in such a remote location as Joshua Tree and did any of you experience anything odd?
Ashleigh Morghan: It was my second time at Joshua Tree, but I was only there briefly the time before. It was amazing. The stars were so bright, but it was also really desolate and dark so I was terrified the entire time. There was this dog from the neighbor’s house that just wandered over at random times and that felt a little ominous. It was really random, so that kind of was weird sometimes.
The shed we filmed in, where Evan first sees the drawing, was really dark and eerie. I would try to walk past it and not look at it as many times as I could, but it was really scary for me. One time, for one of the characters, Hailey, something kept turning on her hot tub and no one was there or close to her because we didn’t have cars. I stayed over with her and we heard some kind of knocking so that was little creepy. That was as creepy as it got because there was some activity happening and we didn’t know what exactly was happening. It was really weird that the hot tub would just turn on and we were out in the desert, so it wasn’t like there were tons of people. That creeped me out!
Last, but certainly not least, are there any additional projects you are working on that we should be keeping our eyes out for?
Ashleigh Morghan: Right now you can see me on Native Son on HBO and The Last Summer on Netflix. I’m writing and I aspire to write. I am currently working on a psychological thriller. I am also writing a really cool sci-fi feature, so look out for those. I’m excited about it and am trying to do something new.