Alex Essoe is honestly someone you should be keeping your eyes on. Ever since Starry Eyes, she’s been cutting a major swath in the horror scene, with head-turning roles in films like Doctor Sleep, Homewrecker, and Midnighters. Now she is appearing in Darren Lynn Bousman‘s DEATH OF ME. For the upcoming release of the film, I got a chance to chat with Alex, where we discussed how she approached her role and what it was like working with Bousman and the rest of the cast.
In DEATH OF ME, Christine (Maggie Q) and Neil Oliver (Luke Hemsworth) awake hungover and with no memory of the previous night while vacationing on an island off the coast of Thailand. They find footage on Neil’s camera, and watch, horrified, as Neil appears to murder Christine. With twenty-four hours until the next ferry and a typhoon threatening the island, Christine and Neil attempt to reconstruct the night’s events – and are snared in a web of mystery, black magic, and murder.
Hi Alex, it’s a pleasure to speak with you today! To start things off, can you tell us a little bit about your character and her relationship with Christine and Neil?
Alex Essoe: I don’t want to give too much away but essentially my character’s the one that rents the AirBnB to Christine (Maggie Q) and Neil (Luke Hemsworth). I’m kind of the person there who supports Christine and seemingly tries to help her out and has her best interests at heart but in reality that’s really not the case (laughs).
This is your film with Darren Lynn Bousman – how was it working with him and the rest of the cast?
Alex Essoe: Oh my god, it was so much fun. Darren is hilarious and a really smart guy who really knows his stuff. He just really made the whole experience a lot of fun. Lee Nelson, our producer, who was there with us, was also great and a really sweet dude who made working such a breeze. Everyone was pretty awesome, actually. Our Thai crew was so nice and so eager to do a good job which is really nice cause that’s not always the case on indie films (laughs). Maggie and Luke are awesome people. Luke is so funny, he was cracking us up so much. He’s such a family man, such a good dude.
Your role in this film is a bit of a mystery which becomes more concrete as the film unfolds. How do you approach a role like that?
Alex Essoe: It’s really interesting…My approach to this was just to really downplay everything. To act as if I was sincere. The important thing is that she behaves as if she is genuinely surprised at the problems that come up. You know who she is? She’s similar, Darren was saying this, to Ruth Gordon’s character in Rosemary’s Baby. My character is always bringing things by and she has things for Christine to wear and stuff for her to eat under the guise of taking care of her, but she has completely sinister motives. It was really important to kind of tap into that sociopathy, that kind of antisocial…Almost as if I’m biding my time, almost reptilian, where I’m just being completely still on the rock until it’s time (laughs).
Piggybacking off of that, can you talk about what it was like working alongside Maggie Q?
Alex Essoe: In real life, she’s really warm and she’s very sweet and was especially lovely to me. She is a very warm and generous person; that being said, she is also really intimidating because she has been making martial arts movies since she was a kid in China. She is like clean mind, clean body – she is a very disciplined person and in real life, I would NEVER try to do what my character tries to do to her cause she could kick my ass so easily. She has her shit together and I was just in awe of her – this is what it looks like to not be a total, complete mess (laughs).
Lastly, what do you think it is about this story that will appeal to people?
Alex Essoe: I loved the subgenre of religious mysticism in horror. I love stuff like The Wicker Man (1973), which this is very much an homage to, or The Serpent and the Rainbow, or The Minion, stuff like that. It’s one of my favorite subgenres and I think the mysticism and the world-building and the surreal aspects of the film will really stay with people.
For more on DEATH OF ME, check out our review here. DEATH OF ME will arrive in theaters and On Demand and Digital on October 2, 2020.