Exploring the most frightening locations and situations that you have little or no knowledge of can sometimes be the most life-affirming circumstances of your existence. The opportunity for an actor to portray a role in a horror film undoubtedly offers them the unique chance to fully let go of their own inhibitions and explore those thought-provoking situations. Delving into those life-affirming circumstances isn’t just reserved for exploring the harrowing events that physically and emotionally threaten their characters; learning how to quickly adapt to filming in unfamiliar locations with a new cast and crew also provides them with the reassurance that acting is what they truly wish to pursue. Embracing those identity confirming situations is thrillingly showcased in director Valeri Milev’s new horror sequel, ‘Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort,’ which is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Actresses Sadie Katz and Aqueela Zoll, who are both newcomers to the series, and were the only American performers in the franchise’s fifth follow-up, powerfully played drastically different characters with their own unique motivations. The two generously took the time recently to talk over the phone about playing characters whose lives are pushed to the extreme in the film, which was shot on location in Milev’s native Bulgaria.
‘Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort’ follows the emotionally and economically struggling Danny (Anthony Ilott), who recently lost his high-power financial job and clout amongst his former colleagues when he inadvertently lost a large sum of money. When his long-lost relatives unexpectedly notify him that he has inherited the Hobb Springs Resort, a once thriving but now struggling isolated vacation inn, Danny begins to view the opportunity as his chance of redemption. He convinces his girlfriend, Toni (Zoll), as well as Vic (Rollo Skinner), his best friend; their friend Bryan (Joe Gaminara) and his girlfriend, Jillian (Roxanne Pallett); Rod (Billy Ashworth), Toni’s brother; and Charlie (Harry Belche), Rod’s best friend, to accompany him to the look at his new resort. While the group is still upset he lost their money, they agree to take the journey to West Virginia to help Danny figure out what to do with his new property.
While Danny initially has little interest in keeping the resort, once he meets the resort’s caretakers, Jackson (Chris Jarvis) and Sally (Katz), who are siblings who secretly share a more intimate relationship, he quickly changes his mind. Under Sally and Jackson’s guidance, much to the dismay of Toni and their friends, he decides to stay and help make the inn profitable once again. While in the process of trying to pursuade Danny to go back to New York City with them, the friends become targeted by the franchise’s main three villains, the hillbilly cannibals Three Finger (Radoslav Parvanov) and his two brothers, Saw Tooth (Danko Jordanov) and One-Eye (Asen Asenov). The petrified friends most not only prove to Danny he’s making a mistake by wanting to stay at the inn, but also protect themselves from the blood-thirsty brothers who thrive on their fear.
While Sally is just as much of a threat to Danny, Toni and their friends as the three canibalistic brothers, Katz revealed that she was interested in playing the female villain as she felt screenwriter Frank H. Woodward wrote a “complex, fabulous and unique character.” The actress also liked how Sally’s villainous side offers the franchise a new route to go. “One of the great things I noticed while reading the script was that I could go wild with this character,” Katz also praised while further discussing Woodward’s screenplay. “You can see in the script that she’s damaged in a way, yet she had a goal. But her drive wasn’t just to kill,” the actress emphasized.
While the actress stated she doesn’t find anything wrong in women “running from the bad guy with the butcher knife” in horror films, she liked that Sally’s different from the female victims Woodward wrote. She “doesn’t just have this thirst for blood. She has some motivations in what she was doing,” Katz said. She added that she really wanted to play Sally because portraying “the bad guy who has a purpose is a gift. She has simmering blood in her veins.”
While Katz did describe the crimes her character executed as “twisted,” she does have reasons for committing them. The female antagonist was driven to harm those who threatened the people she cares about, as she truly loves her family. But she feels that one of the most intriguing aspects of the character is that “you never knew where she was coming from.”
When the actress met with Milev and the film’s producers to discuss Sally’s trajectory in ‘Wrong Turn 6,’ she asked them, “What if I go really nuts? I really want to have fun with her.” Katz received a positive response to her suggestion, as “everyone in the room went giddy, and said, ‘There aren’t any rules for Sally.'”
Zoll also expressed her appreciation of her character’s strengths while talking about why she was drawn to the horror sequel. “I loved that Toni was conveyed as a normalistic, naturalistic character that we see in (film) relationships all the time,” the actress revealed. She also appreciated the fact that the character “was very sweet and supportive” of Danny, and was presented as “almost a mother role to her boyfriend. In a lot of ways, I can relate to that. I love playing that type of young woman, because she wants everything to work so badly. She’s trying her best to make that happen.”
The actress also noted that she was “very endeared to Toni right away, even during the audition.” Zoll was immediately drawn to the fact that Toni’s not weak, and she respected the character’s endurance while fighting for her life and relationship.
Katz also enjoyed Toni’s stronger personality, as the jealousy between the two female characters “makes the story a little juicy. It becomes less about killing, and more about the fact that women are such complex creatures, and when they’re angry, they become angry on a whole other level,” the actress also enthusiastically noted. “When women are angry, they’re much more about the mindf*ck,” she also earnestly said.
“Not to get all feministic, but Sally’s very ruthless (especially against Toni),” Katz also revealed whille further discussing why she appreciates having her character presented as a villain alongside Three Finger, Sawtooth and One Eye. “Hell hath no fury over a woman scorned! (That factor) makes it a little more interesting; it brings a new dynamic in playing against the three brothers, though I don’t what they’re going to do (with them) in ‘Wrong Turn 7.'”
Further talking about the three villainous brothers, who have all appeared in previous installments of the franchise, Katz immediately mentioned an important scene they have with Sally. ***SPOILER ALERT*** “The brothers are (committing) one of the crazier kills in a great scene with Roxanne Pallett, and I was just waiting in the wings to make my entrance. I then went up to Three Finger to do my thing, and I had respect for the fact that (these characters) have been doing their thing in the five previous films,” the actress noted. ***END SPOILER ALERT***
Katz also discussed how she found it exhilarating to take part in the gory types of scenes she had watched in the earlier installments of the series. “It was fun to be a part of that, but it was also intimidating,” she revealed. She thought the process of showing Sally’s villainous side with the brothers in their scenes together was somewhat scary, as “it was necessary to make them bigger and bolder.”
Also adding to the intimidation factor was that Parvanov, Jordanov and Asenov “stayed in character all the time. They ate lunch together, and (even then,) I never really saw them out of make-up,” which Katz described as being “gnarly.” She then laughed when she remembered one day on the set when she saw one of the actors out of make-up. “I won’t say which one it was, but (when I saw him,) I asked everyone else, ‘Who is that handsome man over there?’ Everyone started laughing, and I tried chasing him down,” she amusingly recalled.
While Zoll admitted that she doesn’t always “operate in the same ways as Toni in real life,” she also felt it was fun opportunity to work on a ‘Wrong Turn’ film. She relished the opportunity to shoot the movie in Bulgaria “with a great cast and crew.”
Zoll and Katz truly bonded on the set, in part because they both flew to Bulgaria from their homes in Los Angeles. “Everyone else was very well-trained in the U.K. They were fresh out of theater school, and had worked in the West End,” Katz praised of her co-stars. While the rest of the group had arrived on location before the two American actresses, the actors all met in their hotel’s lobby, where they “all had their scripts in hand, and were talking the film. We all became close very quickly.”
“I have nothing but amazing things to say about Anthony Ilott,” Zoll also noted while discussing her working relationship with her on-screen boyfriend. But she also humbly admitted that on “The day I landed in Bulgaria, I had this weird little wave of nervousness run over me, for some reason. (Ilott) was the only person I wasn’t able to find any information on, whether on IMDb or anything like that. I had this nervous feeling where I thought, ‘Oh my God, one of my ex-boyfriends is playing Danny!’,” which the actress laughed and joked about.
The lack of information about Ilott’s career online led Zoll to be “really curious about meeting him. When I did meet Anthony for the first time, I was on set, going through wardrobe for the next day. He was filming that day, and between takes, he was having coffee, and I went over to say hello.” The actress added that instantly, any nerves she had about working with her co-star “completely went away. He was so professional and endearingly sweet. I knew right away we were going to have a great time.” She added she’s still friends with Ilott, who she described as a “talented young actor, and I feel ‘Wrong Turn 6′ is fortunate to have found him.”
“Anthony and I did a lot of rehearsing and work on our own,” Zoll also noted about when they began working together on the set. “But on the weekends, after we got down with our long days (during the week), we’d all meet for dinner or down in the lobby to prep for scenes,” Zoll revealed. “That was especially important for scenes where our characters were facing a tough divide. I’m a firm believer that if you do your work ahead of time, you then have the freedom to take things where they go, and be directed by your director,” the actress added.
Being prepared also helped the actors “let organic things happen on the day,” Zoll added. “Working with Anthony really made that effortless, because we could then respond and react to one another, without it feeling forced or faked at all.”
Zoll also divulged that she enjoyed filming the horror sequel in Bulgaria, as she loves “being on locations that are different from any other places I’ve been. I’ve never filmed in Bulgaria, or in the types of locations we were in. That adds an element of newness to me, and that adds into my character, as well.”
Being on location for the horror sequel also helped “the entire cast become really close.” While Zoll admitted that during the first week of filming, the cast “was divided; Anthony, Rollo Skinner and I became close. Then that weekend, the cast went out to dinner with the producers. We had a chance to let loose and really get to know each other.”
Then during the second week of filming, the cast was all together, filming on location, so “we bonded really quickly. “So that obviously helped the chemistry (on-screen), since we’re friends off-camera,” Zoll added.
Forming those close connections also helped make it easier for Zoll and her co-stars to improvise on the set. “While working with Val, our director, he gave us the freedom (to improv), if something didn’t feel quite right. We’d talk about it, and if it worked, we’d go with it. If it didn’t, we’d toss it aside,” she revealed.
Milev “gave us the opportunity to make our scenes what we wanted, while still sticking to the script, which is an important point,” Zoll noted as she was praising the director. “Working with Valeri was rewarding. He’s creative in the ways he wants the scenes to be shot, which is always really inspiring to me.” Since everyone the set was working hard during their limited filming schedule, the director offered “a comforting energy. He set the tone and the mood very well.”
Koll added that one of her favorite scenes to shoot for the movie was with Katz. “There was a lot of work that went into it for me, as that scene was important for Toni,” she said. The actress added that she thinks her co-star, who she described as becoming a close friend to her off the set, as talented. Koll’s respect for Katz rose as they delved into working on their characters’ relationship and scenes together. “We were obviously also talking about (those aspects) with Valeri, and he was constantly encouraging us. If we knew where we wanted to go with it, he would give us that freedom to explore (our ideas). More often than not, they worked,” Koll added.
Further discussing her close working relationship with Katz on the ‘Wrong Turn 6’ set, Koll noted how cold filming in Bulgaria was, particularly their first week there. Some of the heaters in the trailers worked better than others, “so there were numerous times she and I would be in the same trailer between takes. We had a lot of down time, so we had a chance to get to know (each other). Given that she and I were the only two American actresses, we had a lot of commonalities,” Koll added.
“Sadie fascinates me, and in a lot of ways since we finished filming and got back to L.A., we became like sisters,” Koll revealed. She also noted she thinks her fellow actress is “spunky and fun, as well as being a hard worker. Those are all things I admire. Working with Sadie was incredibly satisfying.” She reveled in the fact that while working with Katz, she didn’t second-guess her acting choices. “We weren’t pretending; we let it be exactly what it was going to be,” she added.
“Having the chance to work with everyone (on ‘Wrong Turn 6’ was great). Sometimes you get on a film set, and it’s a challenge. Sometimes everyone’s so different, you don’t always mesh together right away. But on other film sets, like this one, it’s quite the opposite,” Zoll stated. “Sometimes, like on ‘Wrong Turn 6,’ it couldn’t be easier to get along, and want to work with, everyone.”
Zoll noted that by the second week on ‘Wrong Turn 6,’ she looked forward to working with everyone as she was going to the set. While “we’d spend really long days working, I was acting with some of my new closest friends,” she added. “I’m an actor who, if I’m working with someone I trust and respect, I’m constantly looking for their feedback. It’s not just about me and my lines; it’s about us, and who the (other characters) are to me.”
While on the ‘Wrong Turn 6: Last Resort’ set, “we really talked about our characters, and their relationships with each other.” Like Zoll, Katz embraced the fact that everyone took their work and relationships on the set very seriously.
Katz also pointed to the fact the cast’s close connections is highlighted on one of the bonus features on the movie’s DVD, titled “Hobb Springs: A Place to Rest…In Peace.” The actress noted that while she was watching the featurette, which she described as amazing, “you can see what good friends we all became. Anthony and Rollo are actually coming out to visit, and will be staying with Aqueela and me both. We became really close.”
While discussing her on-screen rapport with one of their other co-stars, Jarvis, Katz noted that while they didn’t have a lot of scenes togehter, “our relationship is really important (to the story). We talked a lot about what our relationship was, particularly before Danny and his friends arrived, which was really important.”
For example, the two talked about the scene “where I was putting on lipstick. It was really our first scene together, and we shared a kiss.” The actress divulged the fact that they discussed the characters interaction in just that setting for about half-an-hour before they shot the sequence. “We were sort of saying good-bye to that relationship, and why that was important, and how we could play that,” Katz further explained.
The actress added that she thinks it’s important for actors to discuss their relationships and scenes together, like she did with Jarvis, before they begin shooting. She feels it’s important they develop their characters’ mental states with each other together, so they better understand their connection on the set. “I think it was important to set up why Chris’ character is a little more stable than Sally, and (for me to understand) his perspective on things,” Katz also explained. “I think we’re lucky we worked with actors who cared about (the film) and decided to really go for it.”
Besides closely working with Jarvis, Katz added that she and Koll also “really worked our scenes together, and really played together. I like working with actors who care about their scenes, and want to do their best. Valeri, as the director, really allowed us to do that.”
“I also liked the fact that Valeri also wanted to take every scene seriously,” Katz added. “He would say, ‘Let’s make every scene that we have together count, whether it has four lines (or extensive dialogue).'” The actress also called Milev “the most passionate director.”
Katz also noted that the director speaks in broken English, so she knew when he was happy with a shot when he began “jumping around, saying ‘Yes, yes!’ You could always see him watching the monitor. When everyone wasn’t in a scene, we would watch him watching the monitor as a joke. He would be holding his breathe and pumping his fist in the air, and his face would change colors,” the actress fondly remembered.
But when the filmmaker didn’t like a scene, Katz explained he would “cover his face and start pacing and sweating it out. Then he would yell ‘Cut,’ and have this look (of disappointment).” The actress amusingly remembered that if she made Sally “too ugly, Valeri would say, ‘Sally sexier.'”
But Katz enjoyed the fact that the filmmaker was so passionate about the project, as it influenced the cast to care more about every scene. “It made (us) really want to step up to the plate,” she added, before revealing that after every take, she would look at Milev to see if he would start saying “Yes! Yes!” If he had his look of dismay she came to recognize, she would quickly say, “Okay, you want this? I’ll do it again!”
Katz added that “It was cool working with Valeri, because he really gave a sh*t, so everyone put in 150 percent, because he was doing it…you really have to have a passionate director who’s twisted and crazy when you’re making a horror film.”
Check out photos of Katz and Zoll, as well as stills from the ‘Wrong Turn 6’ set, below.
Written by: Karen Benardello