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Exclusive: Ila Schactler Talks Meadowoods

Ila Schactler (click for larger image)With its DVD release now upon us, we sat down with the star of the way claustrophobic terror tale known as Meadowoods (review here), Ila Schactler, to get all the dirt on … well, being buried in a coffin under all that dirt!

“Oh my gosh, I was in that box for over two hours each day just screaming and screaming. I could barely talk afterward,” Ila tells us. “We had done that whole scene, I think it took up about fifteen minutes of the ending of the film, but we did it over a period of several days because of my voice. Even worse, for continuity purposes I couldn’t even wash my clothes for like two or three weeks. They were just disgusting, and I had to keep putting them on, then putting them in a bag, and then putting them on again. It was really gross but in the end so very worth it.”

One of the things we wondered about after seeing the movie was whether or not the young actress had any concept of how torturous this truly ambitious buried alive scene would be when she had first read the script and auditioned.

“I had no idea, Schactler tells us with a laugh. “I really didn’t even know the film’s entire plot as all I had read at the time was a rough outline. All they told me was, ‘We need someone who can scream and be buried alive.’ I was like, well, I’ll try it! Little did I know it would turn out to be this big long fifteen-minute horror show! At first I was really nervous and wondered if I could actually do this. Up until now I’ve never been at a point where I needed to stretch myself so far. I really just didn’t want to fail anyone.

Meadowoods on DVD (click for larger image)From here we spoke about the logistics of the way the scene was pulled off.

“The coffin itself was set on a table that was about four feet off of the ground,” said Schactler. “At any given time there was always three sides of the box keeping me completely enclosed. I remember feeling really confined, and it would be super hard to breathe, especially while screaming. When they were shooting me from the feet up, the only opening in the coffin was the floorboard. That was the most claustrophobic. Keep in mind this was a real wooden box so it was dirty and dusty and filled with all kinds of splinters. When I first got in, it was a bit more open and I had some space to move around. To get really into the character’s mind, though, I actually asked the designers to make it smaller and tighter. Upon them doing that, I only had a few inches here and there to move. Once the size was right, they turned off all of the lights, and all I had with me was a little earpiece for direction and so that I could talk to the other characters. Let me tell you being scared was no longer a problem.

“Thankfully, though, I could always see the camera so things never felt too real,” Ila continued. “I used that to separate myself from what was going on so that I didn’t end up freaking myself out too much. I mean I had to get there to that point, but I also had to make sure that this fear didn’t completely consume me.

After all was said and done, I asked Ila what it was like seeing the flick for the first time.

“Sitting and watching it for the first time was unbelievable. At the preview I was at no one was moving at all during the burial scene. When it just got dark and all you could hear was screaming and scratching and this agony and crying, everyone there just stopped breathing. They were so sucked into it. You could feel the fright in the room. It’s kind of hard to watch.

Meadowoods is available now on DVD. Order yourself a copy below.

Big thanks to the crew from Monterey Media and to Ila for talking with us.

Uncle Creepy

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.