Aya Cash has made strides in both television and film since she came on the scene, but it’s really been this past couple of years that her star has shined bright. With her role as Gretchen Cutler in FX’s dark comedy series, You’re The Worst to her recent turn as Stormfront in the latest season of Amazon’s The Boys, it’s clear that she is a force to be reckoned with. Now she can be seen in Josh Ruben’s SCARE ME. For the upcoming release of the film, I got a chance to chat with Aya, where we discussed her character, the difference in scary storytelling approaches, and whether or not she’s a fan of scary stories.
In SCARE ME, Fred (Josh Ruben), a frustrated copywriter, checks into a winter cabin to start his first novel. While jogging in the nearby woods, he meets Fanny (Aya Cash), a successful and smug young horror author who fuels his insecurities. During a power out, Fanny challenges Fred to tell a scary story. As a storm sets in, they pass the time spinning spooky tales fueled by the tensions between them, and Fred is forced to confront his ultimate fear: Fanny is the better storyteller. The stakes are raised when they’re visited by a horror fan (Chris Redd) who delivers levity (and a pizza) to the proceedings.
Thank you so much for speaking with me today about SCARE ME. To start things off can you tell us a little bit about your character?
Aya Cash: I play Fanny, a horror writer who is in a cabin in the woods writing her next book and she meets another horror writer who is attempting to do the same. When they lose power, they decide to spend the evening together telling each other scary stories and trying to scare each other. As the night goes on, you start to wonder what stories are made up, what are real, and are we in a world where monsters exist.
The film features a small cast of just yourself, Josh Ruben, and Chris Redd. Were you able to do a lot of improv or was it mostly scripted?
Aya Cash: I would say it’s mostly scripted with a lot of improv, meaning that the script is mostly there, and then Josh sort of let us play off of it as we went. Obviously, you’re not going to tell Chris Redd not to improv because we would be losing one of the main things you hire Chris Redd to do, which is bringing his brilliance to the script. Sometimes we did like 15 minutes takes of just Chris Redd. The line would be like five lines and then we would just watch him spin, which was so much fun. So there are little bits and pieces. I have the little monologue about Zumba – that’s me, but there’s also a really strong script in there I relied on.
Were there parts of your character you were able to identify with easily? Are you a big fan of scary stories?
Aya Cash: I’m totally not. I’m not a scary movie watcher or a scary storyteller. I did watch Tales From the Crypt when I was a kid, but I think everybody did. It’s just never been like the thing that I was super drawn to. It’s fun to be a part of something but I feel vastly unprepared for many of the questions about our references cause that’s all Josh Ruben. His people will be like, “Oh, you’re honoring this and this is an homage to that,” and I’m like, “No idea” (laughs).
I found it interesting that Josh’s character, Fred, focused on stories that had more of a supernatural element to them as opposed to Fanny, whose stories seemed to center around the horrors that people experience. What are your thoughts on that?
Aya Cash: I didn’t sort of catch that but it’s true. I think, total armchair theory, is women have to deal with more on a daily basis in our society so their horrors are more grounded. That’s an impulse answer to a question that I haven’t thought deeply about, but that’s an interesting point. A woman walking down the street at night can be a horror film. There’s this great comedian who talks about…This is from when Lindy West who wrote articles about how there can be no rape jokes but then she actually put out rape jokes that she supports where the butt of the joke is not the victim. One of the comedians talks about being a woman is waiting for your rape and the idea of like: I’m walking to my car, put my keys in the car, I hear someone behind me, this is my rape. I’m walking to the subway and someone has crossed the street to be near, this is my rape; and sort of the waiting for something bad to happen, I think, is a distinctly female-presenting experience.
Did you have a favorite moment during filming that you were excited to see on the big screen?
Aya Cash: Honestly, I don’t have a specific moment but Josh is doing so many things in these movies. Getting to see it all come together as one with just…I was so happy for him. He is so good in the movie and I know how hard it is to be able to shoot, be directing yourself, and trying to get all the other things done and put out all the other fires that are happening on set. He is just so funny and so great and it highlights his talents so well, I was just excited. Every moment he’s on-screen I just think he’s brilliant and I’m happy for the world to see that.
SCARE ME is now available on Shudder. For more on the film, check out our review here.