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Bell, Ashley (The Last Exorcism)

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Ashley Bell Talks The Last ExorcismAshley Bell isn’t a household name just yet, but if there’s any justice in the world, that will all change after this weekend when Lionsgate releases Daniel Stamm’s The Last Exorcism.

Bell stars in the upcoming thriller as Nell Sweetzer, an isolated teenage girl living in rural Louisiana with her overprotective father, Louis (Louis Herthum), and her prickly brother, Caleb (Caleb Landry Jones), who is visited by a local minister (Patrick Fabian) at the request of her father, who thinks she’s being possessed by a demon.

With The Last Exorcism (review here) set to hit theaters in just a few hours, Dread Central had the opportunity to catch up with the actress to talk about her performance in the film as well as her experiences while filming in rural Louisiana.

The first time audiences meet the Sweetzer family, it’s on the family plantation, set apart from the community around it. Bell said that location in particular was key in ensuring the film had an authentically creepy feeling.

Bell explained, “The plantation was the perfect location. We got there and there was a rusted machete stuck in the fence, and I knew we were home! All the furniture was already in the house, including my character’s bed, so it was huge gift as an actor to be able to play off a set piece like that. The house just smelled of heritage and had this authentic Southern Gothic feel to it. Being there together really gave us that isolated feeling we needed to make the story succeed. I think audiences will think we seem like family because we became a family on that set.”

Bell said she knew from the start there was something special about the character of Nell that would be the opportunity of a lifetime.

“I fought hard to play Nell because I wanted it so badly,” said Bell. “She is such a complex and physical character to play, and I fell in love with that challenge. Daniel [Stamm, the director,] had me exorcised during the audition process even, and as I was laying there on the carpet of this casting office while a guy is ‘exorcising’ me, all I could think was, ‘Boy, my parents are going to be so proud of me!'”

New Stills: Daniel Stamm's The Last Exorcism

Bell is quick to credit her director as one of the catalysts in her performance of a character that at one moment is so sweet and filled with light and energy but then in the next hot second is staring down the camera with ferocious intensity. The actress relished the challenge of that duality and said Stamm was the perfect director to find those performances lurking inside her psyche.

“Daniel is an incredible director. Even starting back at the audition, he created such a safe environment for me to work in. We did like 20 to 30 takes for each scene because Daniel would always encourage us to try something new, to dig deeper to really find our characters. It was great to be able to work that way and have that freedom when performing. Daniel came into this project with such a strong vision, and he knew exactly where he wanted all of our performances to go throughout production,” Bell said.

The actress added, “I was at the hotel in New Orleans one day waiting at the front desk to pick something up. As I stood there quietly, the woman at the front desk came up to me and said, ‘You know, you’re really scary when you’re quiet’, and I think that’s when I realized I tapped into something special while down there. I had no idea I could be creepy. It’s kind of cool!”

With so much of Lionsgate’s marketing campaign aimed at featuring Bell in some of the most incredulous positions ever, I asked the actress just how much of her we see on screen when the character of Nell goes to some dark and twisted places during the second exorcism scene that elevates the film to an entirely new level of tension.

“Daniel gave me a lot of freedom to act however I wanted to during the second exorcism so I tried a lot of different movements, including this crazy backbend I had been working on,” explained Bell. “Daniel was so open to just letting me do my own thing that even though it was an intense scene to shoot, I still felt really safe being there and going to those places as a performer. Daniel worked hard to make sure everything you saw onscreen felt authentic so I knew I needed to do the same.”

“All of the physical stuff was me except for the broken fingers, but I am such a method actress, though, that I probably would have even broken my own fingers if Daniel had asked me. The really exciting parts of the shoot for me were the more physical stuff I had to do, especially those scenes in the barn. I had no idea what Daniel had in store for me when I signed up so I just did my best to prepare physically and mentally before the shoot,” Bell added.

Two New Stills: The Last Exorcism

Beyond the physical and mental aspects of her performance, Bell also did extensive research into exorcisms, and during the research process she ran across some very creepy stuff that definitely gave her a new perspective on the subject matter.

Bell said, “When I was talking to people that had actually been involved in exorcisms, they’d be nervous to tell me anything about their experiences. A lot of that came out of the fear that somehow what they experienced would be unleashed just by them talking about it. I couldn’t believe the fear in their eyes when I was talking to them – what they experienced was very real and I wasn’t expecting to see and hear that kind of fear.”

“I remember I was listening to a lot of audio tapes of exorcisms, and I heard all kinds of sounds that could be recreated, which was the skeptic in me rationalizing everything. But then all of a sudden, I could hear these really unnatural sounds that were nothing that could come from either a man or an animal, and that’s what would really freak me out. I’m glad we didn’t experience any of that on set. Despite the film’s subject matter, we actually had a total blast shooting,” Bell concluded.


Thanks to Ashley for taking time out of her busy schedule to speak with us. Look for the film in theatres on August 27th. Check out the official The Last Exorcism Facebook page for more; then dig on the official The Last Exorcism website here.

Exclusive: Ashley Bell Talks The Last Exorcism

Heather Wixson

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Exclusive: Rocky Gray Talks Halloween Horror Anthology 10/31

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The last time we gave you guys word on the upcoming Halloween horror anthology 10/31 was to bring you the knock-out exclusive official poster, which you can peep to your left (click for a higher-res version).

The new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S and Creepshow joins an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is executive produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

The film’s stories are directed by the likes of Justin M. Seaman (The Barn), Zane Hershberger (Devilution), John William Holt (The Dooms Chapel Horror), Brett DeJager (Bonejangles) and Rocky Gray making his directing debut.

This past weekend we were able to catch up with producer-director Rocky Gray and ask him a few choice questions about the anticipated upcoming anthology film.

You can check out our quick interview below and then make sure to hit us up and let us know how excited you are to check out 10/31 in the comments below!

Dread Central: How is the film coming along?

Rocky Gray: The film is now completed and we are getting the perks out to our Indiegogo backers. The backers and Death By Festival got to see the first cut of the film in October and they loved it so we’re very excited to get the film out to everyone else very soon.

DC: What can expect from this anthology?

RG: Expect to have a lot of Halloween themed fun. Each segment has its own flavor so the pacing and the look change throughout the film. With masked killers, vampires, scarecrows, tricksters and old hags there’s something for everyone.

DC: Will there be a sequel?

RG: If there was a demand for it we would make it happen!

Sounds good to us. Thanks for chatting with us, Rocky!

You can become a fan of the film on Facebook HERE.

SYNOPSIS:
A Halloween treat bag of all the things that go bump in the night. From masked killers to scarecrows, witches, and tricksters. There’s a scare for everyone in this anthology of horror and the macabre from the creators of The Barn and Volumes of Blood.

Red Letter Entertainment, Inc. brings you the directorial debut from Rocky Gray (composer of The Barn, Killing Floor 2), two-time Grammy-winning musician and former drummer for Evanescence. A new horror anthology in the vein of V/H/S/ and Creepshow brings an ensemble cast together to spin twisted tales of the macabre. The film is Executive Produced by P.J. Starks, creator of the critically acclaimed Volumes of Blood.

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The Duffer Brothers Have Begun Working on Stranger Things 3

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I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of the first season of Netflix and The Duffer Brothers’ “Stranger Things” to tell you the truth. That said, I absolutely loved the second season (read our reviews HERE).

It is with this in mind that we are all looking forward to “Stranger Things 3”.

Recently Deadline reported that at Vulture Festival LA the Duffer Brothers, producer Shawn Levy, Finn Wolfhard, Paul Reiser, and Linnea Berthelsen talked about season two and teased season three.

“We are [in] very early days on season three, and we’re still figuring it out,” Ross Duffer said, before taking a beat, then adding: “I probably wasn’t supposed to say that. That’s not official; that wasn’t an official announcement — we’re just working on it, just for our own amusement… for fun!”

Whatever.

We all know at this point that there is going to be a “Stranger Things 3” and that The Duffer Brothers will one day begin working on it. Don’t worry so much, Ross Duffer.

After all, your brother already let us know that season three will begin after a time jump:

“Even if we wanted to hop into the action faster, we couldn’t,” says Matt Duffer. “Our kids are aging. We can only write and produce the show so fast. They’re going to be almost a year older by the time we start shooting season three. It provides certain challenges. You can’t start right after season two ended. It forces you to do a time jump. It’s a long way of saying that yeah, we’re going to do a time jump.”

What did you think of “Stranger Things 2”? Did you dig it more (or less) than season one? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social media!

“Stranger Things 2” is currently streaming on Netflix.

Synopsis:
It’s 1984, and the citizens of Hawkins, Indiana, are still reeling from the horrors of the Demogorgon and the secrets of Hawkins Lab. Will Byers has been rescued from the Upside Down, but a bigger, sinister entity still threatens those who survived.

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James Cameron’s Terminator Reboot/Sequel Hires Screenwriter

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The last word we brought you guys on producer James Cameron and Deadpool-director Tim Miller’s new Terminator film was when we let you know that Paramount had set the film’s release date for July 26, 2019.

Today we have news via The Wrap that the studio is bringing in screenwriter Billy Ray (Captain Phillips) to pen the movie’s script based on a story crafted by Cameron.

You may remember that Cameron and Miller created a writers room a while back to plan out an all-new trilogy of films, but while that writer’s room included David Goyer, Charles Eglee, and Josh Friedman, it seems like Ray will be the first film’s sole writer. For now.

Story details are, of course, being kept under wraps, but Cameron and Miller are treating the new movie as a direct sequel to Cameron’s T2: Judgment Day.

“This is a continuation of the story from ‘Terminator 1’ and ‘Terminator 2.’ And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream,” Cameron told THR. “Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”

We also know that Cameron plans to center the new film/trilogy around a new group of younger characters, who will eventually carry on the baton as it were.

“A lot of this is handing off the baton to a new generation of characters,” Cameron said. “We’re starting a search for an 18-something young woman to essentially be the new centerpiece of these stories. And then a number of other characters around her and characters from the future. We still fold time in the story in intriguing ways. But we have Arnold’s character and Linda’s character to anchor it.”

How excited are you for James Cameron’s new Terminator flick? Make sure to hit us up and let us know in the comments below or on social mdeia!

The new Terminator film is produced by James Cameron and will be directed by Tim Miller (Deadpool). The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton.

Terminator 2.5 is expected to hit July 26, 2019.

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