According to legend, an ominous entity known as the Queen of Spades can be summoned by performing an ancient ritual. Those brave enough draw a door and a staircase on a mirror, in darkness, and say her name three times. What happens next must be experienced to be believed. Inspired by the classic Russian short story, Patrick White’s QUEEN OF SPADES follows four teenagers decide to summon the Queen of Spades as a joke. But they could never imagine the horrors this innocent prank has condemned them and their loved ones to. The evil entity won’t stop until she gets their souls.
With QUEEN OF SPADES now available in theaters, Nightmarish Conjurings got to sit down with its lead star, Ava Preston, where we got to discuss the different facets found in her character, Anna, the fear that welled up during filming, and whether or not she is a fan of ghost stories.
What drew you to this project in the first place?
Ava Preston: The script was super interesting. It’s really that classic horror film genre, you know, the teen summoning, all of that fun stuff. So, I was very drawn to the character’s storyline, the opportunities within the film, I was just super excited about it. So I was all in for it.
You actually have a really unique dynamic, because I spoke with Patrick White, the director, about how he wrote the character and it’s not just a teen interacting with other teens. You play a teen that also interacts with parental figures, which you don’t really get to see in a lot of teen horror films. How is it shifting between interacting with friends and interacting with adults? Was it a challenge to play that type of dynamic?
Ava Preston: I think that it was very interesting, because everyone acts a certain way around their friends and their family, so I really had to think about how I could make that separation clear for the audience. I know that I was thinking about the older people in the building that Anna is hanging out with. She’s trying to seem a little reserved, a little bit more mature, holding back on the things that she’s saying, and with her mom, she’s just really who she is. So, if she’s mad at her mom, she will stay mad at her mom, or if she’s scared, she’ll get close to her mom. So, I think that it was really beautiful to create that relationship between the mother and daughter, because as you said, you don’t see a lot of that in horror films. It’s usually just like, “Wow! The protagonist is in trouble. Let’s hope they don’t die.” And that’s basically just the whole thing. So it’s this journey through this horrible thing that happened with the summoning of the queen, reacting with Kaelen Ohm, who plays Mary as my mom. It’s just that relationship that I thought was really nice to have in a film.
I found it interesting that this entire film is based on folklore, but the folklore has progressed over time. There was the 1949 film The Queen of Spades that is different from the original story, and then it feels like this film pulls from both. Did you read the story and watch the film?
Ava Preston: Yeah, so I actually knew that it was a previous story and legend. And I was honestly scared while filming it. Because you know, we were really in the dark, saying, “Queen of Spades, show yourself,” three times with a card on the mirror drawing the door and the staircase. We did all the nuts and bolts, right? So I was worried if I go home and I actually get possessed, that wouldn’t be that fun. But I do know that we left something slim out of that process. We would film during the day, and you’re supposed to do the ritual at night. It was something like that. We changed that and I was like, “Oh, okay, so we’re fine. I’m not gonna get possessed.” I thought that was super interesting and fun to be a part of something that already exists. As you’re filming, there was always this weird, eerie vibe on set. Because of that, for sure.
Are you typically a big fan of ghost stories and urban legends and things like that?
Ava Preston: I am very interested in it. I would sit down and watch these things because they are interesting, but I do know that once the sun goes down, I’m going to be very scared. I’m quite the scaredy-cat when it comes to things like that. But I do love that feeling when watching a movie. It is lots of fun. I know I’m not going to love it later. So I try to avoid horror now. Which is quite ironic because I’ve been in three other horror movies and my family calls me a mini-scream queen. So…
You do a great job at being a scream queen, and there are moments in this film with demonic possession. What’s the trick to pulling off a demon within?
Ava Preston: There’s a lot that you can do, and I knew going into the film that it was going to be a challenge. I think for an actor that’s always exciting when you have that challenge, because it’s something that you can work on. And I knew for the possession scenes, I couldn’t be like any other character that I’ve ever played. I could really go full out and use all of my energy. There was no limit. The sky was it, so I could do anything. I could scream at the top of my lungs. I could contort my body in different ways, or I could use a different voice. I could really just do about anything. And I think that was something that I was really excited about when reading the script. I just thought there was so much I can do with it.
So, what is more difficult to play? A possessed girl or the “very reserved around adults” version of Anna?
Ava Preston: It’s different in ways because doing a possession scene, it’s very exhilarating. You’re screaming really loud. Your throat hurts. You’re very exhausted at the end of the day, but in a way acting very reserved and creating this other personality within yourself could be trickier than that very extreme side. Honestly, I think they both go hand in hand however you look at it.
QUEEN OF SPADES is currently in select theaters and will be available streaming June 15th and on Blu-ray June 29th.