Understanding and empathizing with the confusion and fears of all characters, no matter what background they come from or beliefs they hold, is a powerful attribute of all horror films. The new horror thriller, ‘Alone with You,’ thrives on the anxieties of its protagonist, Charlie, as well as all of the people in her life, including her mother. Despite the two women’s differences in lifestyle choices, both of their apprehension about being isolated from the people they love, due to their beliefs and external forces, and being forced to contend with their own insecurities, allows them to understand each other better.

Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks wrote and made their feature film directorial debuts on ‘Alone with You,’ which is now playing in theaters and On Demand, Digital and DVD, courtesy of Dark Star Pictures. The drama’s official release comes after it had its World Premiere at Fantastic Fest.

‘Alone with You’ follows Charlie (Bennett) who wants to spend a romantic anniversary night with her girlfriend, Simone (Emma Myles), in their Brooklyn apartment after their first year together was tumultuous. But after a traumatic video call with her estranged and homophobic mother (Barbara Crampton), Charlie realizes she’s locked in her apartment and she’s not alone – despite the fact that Simone hasn’t arrived home yet from her business trip.

As the night progresses and Simone still hasn’t returned, Charlie slips in and out of memories as she fights to keep her grip on reality. But when a woman’s voice in the wall starts taunting Charlie, the darkness closes in on her. She realizes her only hope is to cling to the truth, or be swallowed up by the evil trying to overtake her and drive her completely mad.

Crampton generously took the time recently to talk about starring in ‘Alone with You’ over the phone. Among other things, the actress discussed that she was interested in taking on the role of Charlie’s mother because she was drawn to the movie’s overall screenplay, particularly the unpredictability of the characters’ relationships and arcs. She also mentioned that while she didn’t know Bennett and Brooks very well before she was cast in the thriller, she embraced their filmmaking style, and enjoyed the experience of rehearsing, and shooting the feature, with them over Zoom during the height of the initial COVID-19 lockdown.

The conversation began with Crampton explaining why she was inspired, and how she became attached, to play Charlie’s mother in ‘Alone with You.’ “I was sent the script by a casting director, and was told that it was going to be shot during the height of the pandemic. There weren’t any vaccines at that point, and nobody was going out – everyone was staying home with their families,” she shared.

“So I read, and really liked, the script. I was surprised by the ending – I didn’t really know what was going on with this character of Charlie, who was preparing a homecoming for her girlfriend, who had been away, and she’s late,” the performer revealed. “Then strange things start to happen, and she begins to hear voices, and she’s really scared. She doesn’t really understand what’s happening to her, and she can’t get out and is having trouble communicating with people.

“So I thought, what is this movie about? What’s happening here? I couldn’t figure it out,” Crampton admitted.

“But I thought it was really well-written, and it really surprised me, like I said. It was also an opportunity for me to play the character of Charlie’s mother, and she’s kind of overbearing and judgmental,” the actress also divulged.

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been playing more complicated characters like her, and people have been offering me those kinds of roles. That’s sort of fun for me,” Crampton shared.

The drama “also gave me the opportunity to be my own camera person and lighting designer. (Bennett and Brooks) said they were going to send me a camera through the mail, so I was going to have to set it up and film myself. They (said they) were also going to film me through the Zoom portal, so you can see me on the screen, but they also wanted me to film myself. So I thought that was going to be a fun challenge for me during the pandemic,” the performer also revealed.

“So I thought, why not? There are a lot of reasons to do this movie,” Crampton continued. “I was really happy when I was rehearsing with Emily via Zoom a few days beforehand. I thought she was lovely and wonderful, and just a terrific actress. So I thought it was a good project all around, and am happy to be a part of it.”

Bennett “was someone I didn’t really know very well, so it was all about us doing our homework on our parts separately, in a way,” the actress noted. “She did tell me a bit about her own mother, and how, to a small degree, my character is very religious and maybe had some fixed views, which may be similar to her own mother. I think she may have a better relationship with her own mother than her character does with my character,” she also revealed.

Bennett’s “from the South – not to say that everyone from the South has fixed views – and she was talking to me about her upbringing and religion, and how that played into the telling of the story,” Crampton continued.

“I have a great relationship with my own children. I have two children, and very much enjoy a give-and-take with them,” the performer shared. “If you use yourself in every character, it’s helpful.

“But I also have to think, what if I didn’t have that with my kids? What if the ways that I wanted them to be in life were different than what they had chosen? How would that feel to somebody who had very fixed and very unforgiving views about things? From that, I was able to create a character, and talk to Emily about it,” Crampton further divulged.

“I talked to Emily about it while we were rehearsing and working on the scenes together. Little things grow on top of other things until you’re able to form a character or relationship while you’re working together,” the actress added.

Besides acting alongside Bennett in the movie, Crampton also enjoyed working with her – and Brooks – as co-writers and co-directors. Crampton then delved into what her experience of collaborating with the two filmmakers was like during the production.

“That’s a good question because you don’t normally work with a director who is also the lead actress; that’s rare – I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before,” the performer stated as she reflection on her working relationship with Bennett as a co-star in, and the helmer of, ‘Alone with You.’ “Justin also co-wrote and co-directed it, as well.

“I think it was great. I think there may have been a little bit of trepidation on their part, as far as giving me notes,” Crampton revealed. “But I welcomed that, and I feel like I’m pretty collaborative and open. So I think there was an ease that we were able to create, as far as what they wanted out of me in the scenes and for my character.

“The good thing was that we were able to talk about it a lot in advance. We were in the scenes a lot together, so that helped,” the actress also shared.

“It was sort of like DIY filmmaking, as (Bennett and Brooks) put this together themselves. It’s really their vision and voice, and they really put something together that was personal to them,” Crampton also noted. “It’s really important to me to support young filmmakers, and I think both of them are extremely talented.

“After a little bit of us getting to know one another over a couple of weeks, and talking about the script and characters, and it all coming together on Zoom through rehearsals and then filming it, I think it worked out very well. I think we all communicated very well together,” the performer added.

Continuing the discussion about how she rehearsed, and shot her scenes, with Bennett and Brooks over Zoom, Crampton further delved into what that experience was like throughout the thriller’s production. “Well, they sent the camera to me in the mail, and I sent my family away,” she admitted with a laugh. “We have a condo in Tahoe, up north here in California. So I said, ‘Why don’t you guys go to Tahoe for the weekend, and I’ll just stay here and film my scenes with these guys?,'” because I needed the house to be quiet.

“Also, by that time in the pandemic, we were all used to being alone. That’s the title of the movie – ‘Alone with You,'” the actress pointed out. “We were alone; I was just with my family.”

Bennett and Brooks “were just by themselves, and filming their scenes with people not being so close to them, like across the street, in one instance, and there are some scenes at the beach. They were still self-isolated from one another at the same location,” Crampton divulged.

“Even though everything felt like an abnormal time, we all still felt a separation from one another, and I think that all comes through in the film. That’s kind of what the film is about – being alone in your own head, and my character is very much in her own head,” the performer noted. She further emphasized: “She has fixed views about what the world should look like, and who she thinks her daughter should be.

“We were kind of living that at that time, so the experience of making the movie was like the movie and what it’s about,” Crampton noted once again. “I was shooting on my own, and I’ve never really had that experience before.”

The actress then delved into how shooting her scenes on Zoom influenced her physicality during ‘Alone with You’s production. “I had to sit there (in front of the computer screen), and everything I did was basically in that one position,” she noted.

“We also talked about [me] wearing a cross, so I went out to a store and actually bought a cross that I thought was appropriate,” Crampton continued. “I also used the clothes that were in my own home; I tried on a few different outfits, and thought, ‘What would this character wear? How would she dress herself?,” she revealed. “I also thought about how she would hold herself in her own body when she’s a person like this, who’s sort of a sad, unforgiving person.

“You don’t try to do anything (in terms of your emotions) – you just feel what’s inside of you, and I think your body follows,” the performer admitted. “So I think the physicality that I had came from whatever my character was feeling on the inside.

“But I was pretty stationary, in one position, unlike the movie; there’s a lot of movement in the apartment for Emily’s character of Charlie,” Crampton added. “I thought Justin did a great job of being able to use the camera in their apartment and move things around. He moved the camera into every space in their apartment, and I thought he did that very effectively.”

With ‘Alone with You’ now playing in theaters and On Demand, Digital and DVD, the actress feels the dual release is beneficial for this type of movie. “I think it’s great for Emily and Justin. For them to have a first feature that’s going to be in limited theaters, but still in theaters, is really exciting.

“I think they’re both really talented people and have worked really hard to get here. I’m proud for, and of, them, and also proud to be in a film that I think is so good,” Crampton shared.

“The horror genre has been my home for so long, and I think this duo has reilluminated the feeling of being terrorized, anxious and filled with grief and guilt,” the performer noted. “She definitely moves all around all these feelings with ease. I also think Justin has a real command with the camera and lighting. So I’m proud to be associated with this film with this young duo that’s come up. I hope people like it, and think it’s a really good film.”

Barbara Crampton as Mom in the horror film, ‘Alone with You,’ a Dark Star Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.
Summary
Photo ofBarbara Crampton
Name
Barbara Crampton
Website
Job Title
Actress in writer-directors Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks' horror film, 'Alone with You'

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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