In the YA thriller FEAR OF RAIN from writer/director Castille Landon, teenager Rain Burroughs (Madison Iseman), who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, finds herself struggling every day as she tries to figure out which of the disturbing images, harrowing voices, and traumatic feelings she experiences are real and which are all in her mind. However, when Rain insists against her parents’ (Katherine Heigl and Harry Connick. Jr.) advice that the shadows and cries from her neighbor’s attic are hiding a dark secret, she enlists help from Caleb (Israel Broussard), the charmingly awkward new boy at school – who himself may not be real.
Prior to FEAR OF RAIN ‘s release, Nightmarish Conjurings’ had the opportunity to chat with actors Madison Iseman (Annabelle Comes Home) and Israel Broussard (Happy Death Day) about everything from how coffee brought them together, the importance of destigmatizing mental illness, and their favorite horror movies.
To kick things off, what was it like working together and building up the relationship that Rain and Caleb have?
Madison Iseman: It’s fun! I like Israel (laughs). We really just hit it off from the beginning. I think we hung out once in LA, before we went down to Florida to film, and then it was just easy from there. We get along really well. We like coffee a lot, that was major.
Israel Broussard: Coffee snobs (laughs). I felt we had an energy that just kind of… I don’t know if it was subconscious but we kind of fit into our characters from the get-go. By the time we made it to Tampa, we had already said the “nice to meet you” and all that, and went and got coffee and, from there, everything was history. I definitely worked off Madison’s energy a lot through this film and it was fun.
For you Madison, this is a pretty demanding role. How was it getting into Rain’s headspace and how did Director Castille Landon help you to prepare for the role?
Madison Iseman: We did a ton of research and talked to people, family members, friends, but more than anything, there was a memoir that both Castille and I really studied called “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness” by Elyn Saks. It was an interesting way to look at schizophrenia because it’s told from Ellen’s story, from a young child up through adulthood. Rarely do you ever get to see or hear about that timeframe, especially if dealing with schizophrenia, and what that looks like. So, we really clung to that memoir and used that a lot towards Rain and what she went through. Between Castille and I, we really tried to find Rain and what her schizophrenia looks like because it does differ from person to person and not one experience is like the other. It was very collaborative from the very beginning, and it was very challenging but I think it turned out really great.
For you Israel, what do you think it is about Rain that attracts Caleb to her?
Israel Broussard: I think they’re a little alike, I think Caleb’s kind of an outsider. He’s not necessarily a loner but he’s definitely a little quirky, a little too quirky to be in a big friend circle. So I think Caleb being a new kid at the school, by the time Rain steps in, I think there’s a little bit of an attraction, a love at first sight kind of thing. But also, I think they have similar minds and I think he’s attracted to that. To the point where he’s more than willing to put himself to the side and do everything he can in his power to help Rain and try to understand where she’s coming from, even when he doesn’t realize what she’s going through. One of my favorite things about the character is he continues that even after he realizes what she is going through and I appreciated that. I wish there were more people like that. That’s the main thing that I loved about Caleb. And really, the whole script was just written well. Castille got a great cast together, a great cinematographer, and I had a lot of confidence in her and she killed it. I’m really happy with the movie we made.
That’s a great segway into my next question which was how was it working alongside Castille Landon and what were some of your favorite parts about filming?
Madison Iseman: There’s so many fun, awesome parts. I really enjoyed all the stuff that Israel and I did together. Those were the light moments, you know, and they were so fun and we got to go to the aquarium and do all this cool stuff. But then there were some of those super impressionistic pieces that were so awesome, like with the painting, some of those elements I really enjoyed cause you got to see a little bit of Rain’s mind and what that might look like. Castille has a fantastic brain and I feel lucky that I got to pick at it and play with her and do this together.
Israel Broussard: [Castille’s] got a huge brain but she also had everything thought out and she did her research even before, I think, putting the pen to the paper and that helped us out a lot. But she also knew what she wanted and she could communicate that really well, strangely well. I later found out she was an actor as well. It was nice because it was definitely heavy material, more so for Madison and Harry Connick Jr. than Caleb, but even being on set I would come by and kind of just watch everything go down. She was just very direct and very inquisitive, but also leaving room for any creative additions they might add to the scene. It was nice, it was [a] wonderful watch, it was great to be part of, and she really knew what she was doing and I’m happy that seeing the film it definitely shows.
I’m sure you both have been asked this a million times, but having starred in multiple horror films, are you both horror fans and if so, what’s your favorite horror movie?
Madison Iseman: Yes, I’m a horror fan. All-time, probably The Shining. Recently, probably Hereditary. The film that scared me the most when I got into scary movies was The Ring. It’s too hard to pick just one.
Israel Broussard: With horror films, I’m not sure how I got into it necessarily, but I’ve been happy to go along for the ride (laughs). I’ve never been a huge horror fan, I’m getting there. I saw IT when I was a kid and that really screwed me over and traumatized me. Not the new one, the new one was good, but nothing can compare to the original, and I was actually a little disappointed in the new one. It was great in its own right but there was just something about the older one that it really just digs into your consciousness and plants a little seed there. My favorite horror movie…it’s kind of hard to tell. I’ve seen a lot of horror movies but the only ones that have been imprinted on me would probably be IT. I did just recently see Hereditary and that was a little much (laughs). It was the most beautiful fucking horror show I’ve ever seen, but at the end, I’m like, what just happened.
Madison Iseman: After I watched Hereditary, for weeks straight in my dreams I saw headless people bowing at my bedside. I was emotionally wrecked from that movie and I could not sleep.
Lastly, what do you hope people take away from FEAR OF RAIN, especially in regards to the treatment of people with a mental illness?
Madison Iseman: Obviously, you know, I hope everyone enjoys it and has a great time watching it. But I do think this is a small step in a big conversation that I hope is portrayed more and more throughout film and television. I think it’s a conversation we’ve shied away from for a long time where it’s been improperly displayed in media. So I really do hope this is a step in that direction and we can see more things that kind of fall into that world of de-stigmatizing mental illness.
Israel Broussard: Yeah, I agree. Obviously, I hope people are entertained by it and get some joy out of it. But ultimately, I hope that this film strips away any stereotypes or misconceptions that people already have regarding schizophrenia and other types of mental illnesses. And obviously, this film itself isn’t exactly how it is for everybody. Everybody handles it a little differently and it’s different for each individual, but what’s important to keep in mind is the perspective that people battling with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses are people too. They have family and friends and they have people around them that help them along. So it’s nice being a bit of a fly on the wall inside Rain’s family and seeing what it’s like as a family to help and go through what people with schizophrenia go through. I hope people take away just a brighter perspective and more of a compassionate perspective.
FEAR OF RAIN is now available on Digital, On-Demand, Blu-ray and DVD. For more on the film, check out our review here.