Commandingly portraying a powerful protagonist who isn’t afraid to go after what they want, regardless of the harrowing consequences they may face, can be a challenge for actors, particularly when the character is susceptible to vulnerabilities throughout an intense horror film. But versatile actress Katharine Isabelle once again proved her talent of effortlessly showing a determined victim’s strengths and will to survive in ‘See No Evil 2,’ her latest horror collaboration with twin directors, Jen and Sylvia Soska. The actress and filmmakers, who previously collaborated on last year’s gripping horror crime drama, ‘American Mary,’ reunited to once again prove that when a compelling and dynamic female character sets out to get what she wants, she bravely overcome any obstacles she may face, no matter who tries to stand in he way.
‘See No Evil 2,’ which is set later on the same night of the events that occurred in its predecessor, follows morgue attendant Amy (Danielle Harris), who is forced to cancel her birthday plans after the corpses of mass murder Jacob Goodnight’s (WWE wrestler Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs) victims are brought into the morgue. She instead celebrates her birthday with her colleagues, Seth (Kaj-Erik Eriksen) and Holden (Michael Eklund), before the three begin contending with the aftermath of the murderer’s brutal rampage. Since Amy was forced to cancel her plans to instead go to work, her friends, including her overprotective brother, Will (Greyston Holt), and Tamara (Isabelle), show up at the city morgue hoping to surprise her.
But the shock is on Amy and all of her friends when the ruthless killer unexpectedly rises from his gurney in the sub-basement level of the hospital that houses the morgue. The group’s wild party quickly turns into a terrifying slay-fest as the sadistic mass-murderer resumes his savage rampage with hooks, surgical knives and power saws.
Isabelle generously took the time recently to talk about playing Tamara in ‘See No Evil 2’ during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the actress discussed how she was drawn to play Tamara in the horror follow-up because of her close professional and personal relationships with the Soska Sisters, who trusted her to infuse the right personality into the character; how she enjoyed working on location at Riverview Hospital in British Columbia, as it helped build the authenticity and scares she brought to the screen with her co-stars, with who she enjoyed working with; and how he best way to get the energy and adrenaline levels up in tho actions scenes is for actors to perform their own stunts.
ShockYa (SY): You play Tamara in the new horror film, ‘See No Evil 2.’ What was it about the character and the project overall that convinced you to take on the role?
Katharine Isabelle (KI): It was all about the (Soska) twins. I’ll do whatever they say, no matter how many bodies of dead wrestlers I have to dry hump. (laughs) While I did have to sit quietly for a few days, that allowed me to make the character of Tamara someone I liked a little bit more. She was a bit of an overly sexualized horror victim. But I think between the twins trusting me as they do, and knowing I could bring more fun to the character, I was definitely drawn to Tamara. They said she was to be locked in a mental institution, which is probably where the three of us are all going to end up, so I figured I might as well play her.
SY: Speaking of Jen and Sylvia Soska, who you previously worked with on last year’s horror film, ‘American Mary,’ they co-directed ‘See No Evil 2.’ What was the experience of reuniting with them to make this film?
KI: It wasn’t really a reunion, because I see them every three weeks or so; they’re best friends of mine. So it didn’t feel as though we waited that long to collaborate again. But it was really fun to work with them again, and see them on the set. They inspire such passion, enthusiasm and creativity in everyone around them. People support them more enthusiastically than you generally find. So when you’re shooting in an abandoned mental institution, it’s cool and laid back, even when everyone’s tired.
I was really interested in seeing them fully grow into directhood, and I want to continue to see them be in charge of big studio movies. It’s a big challenge, and they’re handling it beautifully. Hopefully (‘See No Evil 2’) will provide funding for them to make their own originally written material again. ‘American Mary’ (which the Soska Sisters penned and directed) was so successful and well-loved. It was material that was written from the depths of their souls. I think that’s highly valuable, and the rest of us would love to see more.
SY: The movie is the follow-up to the 2006 slasher film, ‘See No Evil.’ How familiar were you with the original movie before you signed on to act in the sequel? How did the first movie influence the way you approached portraying Tamara in the second film?
KI: I never saw the first (‘See No Evil’), to be honest, since Tamara wasn’t in it. (laughs) But as far as I was concerned, I took (this film) to be completely original, even though I knew Jacob existed and did bad things in the past. But my character didn’t really know about any of that sh*t. She knew (some of the major details) about his past, but she’s just there to party and have a good time. But the fact that it was a sequel didn’t really factor in with me, in any way at all.
SY: Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs reprised his role of killer Jacob Goodnight from the original film. What was your experience of working with him on the sequel?
KI: Glenn’s a really nice gentleman, and I feel bad for the terrible, awkward situations they put him. (laughs) He’s a great guy, and I think he did great in the film. I also think a lot of people will have fun watching Jacob Goodnight; I had fun, anyway. I’m just sorry I made him blush-he was supposed to be dead, and he was blushing.
SY: While Kane plays the main character in the movie, many of the supporting characters are female, including Danielle Harris and Chelan Simmons. What was your experience of working with your fellow actresses on the sequel?
KI: Well, I’ve loved Chelan, as well as her acting, forever. This was the first time I worked with Danielle, and she was awesome. It was awesome working with everybody. When you’re running around an abandoned mental institution, having the time of your life, it was fun working. Michael is also a really good fried of mine. So it was a nice time, (laughs) especially when you get to hang out with your best friends, and watch everyone get murdered.
SY: Were you able to have any rehearsal time with Jen and Sylvia, or your co-stars, to discuss your characters’ backstories and relationships?
KI: No, we usually don’t have time for that sort of thing. I flew in at the last-minute, and after my last scene, I got directly on a plane to go to another movie. So we didn’t have time to talk about backstories, unfortunately.
SY: The movie primarily shot on location at Riverview Hospital in Coquitlam, British Columbia. What was your experience like filming in the hospital? Does shooting on location influence the way you approach your roles?
KI: Do I prefer shooting on location, as opposed at a studio? Yes, I definitely do. Sometimes in a studio, the lack of oxygen can make you feel like you’ve been there for nine days,e vent though you’ve only just got to lunch.
Shooting on location is fun; we shot the film in Riverview, which is notorious for being haunted. It’s also filled with asbestos, so it’s scary. I’ve spent more time there than I ever thought necessary, without actually being committed to an institution. (laughs) I’ve shot there tons of times. It’s fun, and definitely lends the atmosphere of weird, scary and f*cked up sh*t.
Once I had Selena Gomez escort me to the bathroom (while filming the 2008 musical comedy, ‘Another Cinderella Story’), even though she’s younger than me. She was about 15 at the time, but I didn’t care. I was like, “You’re going with me. (laughs) I have to use the haunted bathroom, so you’re going with me.” Riverview definitely lends another level of scares, especially when you’re making a horror film.
SY: You performed many of your own stunts in the film. What was the process of creating the action sequences for ‘See No Evil 2?’
KI: I totally filming my own stunts, except afterwards when I’m completely bruised and battered, and I look like I’ve been beaten with a bamboo stick. But it’s always fun when you’re there. They ask you if you’re okay, and you’re like, “Let me do it again! Let me throw myself down the stairs one more time! I feel great!”
Then you wake up the next morning, wondering what the hell is wrong with you, and what you were thinking. But you have to do that. The best way to get the energy level up in those scenes is to just do it. You have to keep a high level of energy and adrenaline going. So if throwing yourself into walls is the only way to do it, then you do it. (laughs)
SY: ‘See No Evil 2’ is (currently playing) on Video on Demand. Are you personally a fan of watching movies On Demand. Do you think the platform is beneficial to independent and smaller films overall?
KI: Yes, I do like it, because I’m lazy, and have no schedule in my personal life ever. (laughs) So to be able to just sit down and be able to watch anything in my own house, without having to go out in public and get coughed on, is something I like a lot. I think it’s totally valuable. It’s a lot easier to get people to click a button at home than it is to have them go to actual movie theaters. So I think the film will be successful. Any medium that delivers our product to audiences is good, as far as I’m concerned.
SY: Besides films, you have also starred on such television shows as ‘Hannibal’ and ‘Being Human.’ What is it about television that you enjoy so much? How does it compare and contrast to making films, particularly smaller ones like ‘See No Evil 2?’
KI: There isn’t a huge difference between the two; although sometimes you have to shoot 10 pages a day for TV, as opposed to one-and-a-half pages a day for films. But I love both mediums. The landscape of television has changed these days; some of the best projects and characters for women are on TV now. I love doing everything; I like going away somewhere to do a weird, f*cked up movie for a month or two, and then going to a couple of TV episodes. I like to support, and perform in, all different mediums. Acting is acting, and it’s all the same to me.
SY: Seeing the success that Jen and Sylvia have had with their films, are you interested in pursuing writing and directing in the future?
KI: I can’t write anything. (I’d write) “Exterior, days, sh*t happens.” I’m constantly amazed with people who can write. I also only really want to direct when I’m annoyed with how slow our day is going. (laughs) So I’ll let other people do that.
Written by: Karen Benardello