Lived to Tell: Inside The Scarehouse with Sarah Booth, by Alison Milward

D Films’ most recent venture, The Scarehouse, has wrapped principal photography in Windsor, ON. The feature film began shooting in August 2013 with intended release in Fall 2014. The movie is directed and co-written by Canadian filmmaker Gavin Michael Booth of To Hell, With Love acclaim. His wife, Sarah Booth, is the co-creator and star of this movie. I was lucky enough to sit down with Sarah to dig up some dirt on what we can expect this year from what is being described as a “Mean Girls meets Saw” take on horror.

TKS: Hi Sarah! Walk me through what The Scarehouse is about.

SB: The Scarehouse is about two girls who seek revenge on their sorority sisters and they open a haunted house as the perfect place to execute their plan. It’s a revenge plot; it’s a girl on girl torture comedy.

 TKS: What are you most excited about that will get audiences excited as well?

SB: One of the things I am most excited about is that it’s an all-female horror film. There are just so many stereotypical female roles in horror films and I think what’s really fun with The Scarehouse is that, yes, all the characters are kind of stereotypes, but there are so many variations of those stereotypes included that I think every person will be able to find someone in their lives that they can identify … and, perhaps get some satisfaction out of seeing their Hollywood demise. Is that dark?

Also, the kills. There are a lot of kills that I haven’t seen before.

And, I don’t think that The Scarehouse is your typical horror film format either. You’re rooting for the killers. You’re not trying to figure out who the killer is, you’re actually trying to figure out why the killers are killing.

TKS: There’s a lot of estrogen in this movie. Do you think there is a void in horror for strong female leads?

SB: Absolutely. I think, like I said before, there are a lot of stereotypical roles in horror, in film in general, but especially in horror – the girlfriend, the slut, the smart girl – you know who is going to go first. I think characterizations are really interesting in this one just because it’s girls interacting with girls. There are strong ones and there are weak ones; I think audiences will have some familiarity and be able to identify. You know, wonder and think, “Oh, I hope that’s how I would act”, or not.

A big thing also is, I’ve never seen so many females on screen as I did with The Scarehouse. Every principal female character has more lines than men in this movie. We received over 120 tapes for just the principals. The female talent in this country is astounding. Just having these girls step up and do these roles … the girls conveyed that they were excited to play such meaty characters – not just show your tits stuff. Juicy roles where you had to dig and act. These are some badass ladies.

TKS: There are some awesome kill scenes in The Scarehouse. What are some of your favourites out there and how do they compare to the ones in TSH?

SB: I will always remember the Johnny Depp death in A Nightmare on Elm Street, I loved that one, but I think, probably, my number one favourite kill scene is the Drew Barrymore scene from Scream. I didn’t grow up with a big film background. I didn’t have all this knowledge or history of horror films but that film always stuck with me. It was epic. That was by far the best opening of a horror film I have ever seen. With The Scarehouse you also have the comedy that Scream injected and the same ‘you don’t always get what you expect’ factor.

TKS: Canada has a list of notable movies and directors that have helped shape the international horror landscape. What do you think The Scarehouse brings to the genre?

SB: I think something unique that The Scarehouse brings, definitely, is that you’re rooting for the killers. It’s something new we’ve seen with Breaking Bad and Dexter, but it’s something that hasn’t really been done that much before in film horror. I mean, you know, maybe with sequels you get to know the killers, but off the bat with The Scarehouse, you get to know these girls and once you find out what they are up to and who these other girls are, you have that feeling where you think these other girls deserve to die. It’s kind of scary as a human to feel that, it makes you feel like shit, but honestly I think that its the most important thing in film, to create empathy (for a character) that you would never imagine having/doing in real life. You get to feel sympathy even, for something, somebody that you would never justify in your reality. Storytelling allows us to imagine.

TKS: You wear many hats on this movie – co-creator, casting director, associate producer, lead actress – what are some tips you have for entrepreneurs who aspire to “do it all”?

SB: This is my first time on a project this large wearing this many hats. I think one of the biggest things is to know what kind of person you are. You have to realize the commitment to each role that you are making, and deliver. Some days I did not want to be a producer but sometimes things come up and you’re in it and you just have to make it happen. I really think that if you want to try and do it all, just do it. It can be a lot of trial an error to figure out what works. I think one of the biggest things to remember is that it’s not about you at the end of the day – it’s about a lot of other things.

Also, having a spark of imagination, (putting it down on paper), and having fun with it matters.  If I could do one thing for the rest of my life it would be horror and action.

TKS: I understand The Scarehouse was shot in an actual funhouse and began filming on a full moon, and you shot through a Friday the 13th. Did you experience any weird, creepy things during the filming of this movie?

SB: Yes! I believe in ghosts and they brought a paranormal team into the building where we were shooting. Only about the third week into production did I feel that I was dreaming dark and crazy dreams. I was getting woken up by things. I think by being in the horror atmosphere for so long – you walk around the corner and there is a severed hand or you have blood on your hands for 12 hours – you start absorbing creepy vibes. One time I felt something crawling on me, one time I felt a hand slide down my face. A couple of people were telling me creepy things that were happening to them too like lights dying for no reason and running into apparitions.

TKS: Can you leave us with a list of your top 3 horror recommendations that horror fans ‘must see’?

SB: 1.) I haven’t seen this one but I heard amazing things coming out of the Fantasia International Film Festival about a Canadian indie called Antisocial.  2.) If you haven’t seen Scream, go fuck yourself. You have to see this movie. 3.) Honestly, the first Saw was a big game changer. Saw brought us that format twist where we didn’t know who the killer was – you know, don’t show the monster, let people’s minds wander.  Paranormal is a good example of this too.

Thanks to Sarah for sitting down with The Kill Spot for this interview.

The Scarehouse stars Sarah Booth, Kimberly-Sue Murray, Emily Alatalo, Dani Barker, Katherine Barrell, Jack Ettlinger, Jennifer Miller, Ivana Stojanovic and Teagan Vincze.

For more information about the movie visit The Scarehouse on IMDb.

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