Star Anessa Ramsey Talks Flawed Heroines, Trilogy Plans and More for Rites of Spring - Dread Central
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Star Anessa Ramsey Talks Flawed Heroines, Trilogy Plans and More for Rites of Spring

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One of the finest actresses working in independent film these days has to be Anessa Ramsey, who stole genre fans’ hearts a few years back as Mya in the psychological thriller The Signal, which debuted at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.

Since then, she’s gone on to co-star in another mind-bending horror flick called YellowBrickRoad that premiered at the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival and also worked on projects outside the genre including The 5th Quarter and the Footloose remake.

Now Ramsey is set to return to the horror world with first-time feature filmmaker Padraig Reynolds’ film Rites of Spring, which will hit selected theaters this Friday, July 27th. The heist caper meets creature feature has been described as a ‘genre-bending mash-up’ akin to From Dusk Till Dawn and for very good reason- just when you think you’ve settled into one of Reynolds’ creepy worlds, he comes at you out of nowhere with something completely different and keeps you on your toes from start to finish.

Without a doubt, Rites of Spring will have the fans talking for some time.

In anticipation of the film’s upcoming release, Dread Central recently had the chance to briefly chat with Ramsey about the project and what attracted her it. We also hear from the actress about the challenges of playing this kind of a physical role (she loses her shoes before the credits even begin rolling) and her thoughts on Reynolds’ plans for a Rites of Spring trilogy as well.

Check out our interview with Ramsey below, and look for more on Rites of Spring soon!

Star Anessa Ramsey Talks Flawed Heroines, Trilogy Plans and More for Rites of Spring

Dread Central: Can you tell us how you got involved with this project and what attracted you to the role of Rachel?

Anessa Ramsey: Padraig, the director, was a fan of The Signal and he just sent me the script one day. I really loved it and I loved that Rachel wasn’t like the other roles I’ve done in the horror genre before so that was really appealing for me. I also really enjoyed that there were these two stories converging together, which was something I hadn’t seen done a lot before either. I think creature features are a lot of fun and since I hadn’t done one before, I was happy to get a chance to on this.

Dread Central: I thought it was interesting that she wasn’t your typical ‘final girl’- she had some baggage which I thought was a nice touch to the character.

Anessa Ramsey: Yeah, I liked that about Rachel; I liked that she was flawed. I think it makes her more relatable. She shows remorse for her actions at the beginning of the movie, she knows she screwed up and wants to fix it, but of course, now all this (events of the movie) happens and suddenly she has to become somewhat of a hero and that’s interesting to me.

Dread Central: Did you have any reservations about the physical aspects of this role; it seems like every time we see you in a horror movie, you’re being tormented in some horrible fashion.

Anessa Ramsey: You know, I have to admit I’m kind of longing to do a romantic comedy soon (laughs); no, but seriously, they weren’t going to let me do my own stunts so I had to talk them into it. I worked with our stunt coordinator out of Black Knight Stunts who just let me play around and eventually they saw that I could handle myself so Padraig then gave me the okay to do my own stunts. I have a dance and acrobatics background so the moves themselves weren’t that challenging, it was mostly the running around for most of the shoot without shoes on that was a huge challenge. And it wasn’t like I was just running around the forest in bare feet- I was running around the barn, the farm, the corn fields, the abandoned school- there was a lot of running. So I think I’m done with barefoot shoots for now (laughs).

Dread Central: Did Padraig give you any insight into the rites themselves since they are left wide open for interpretation in his film?

Anessa Ramsey: Just a little bit; I liked being a bit in the dark though. I don’t think I really wanted to know what they were or what they stood for. Of course there is the stuff in the script, but a lot was still left unexplained for us which I thought was cool- like Padraig wouldn’t give us the meaning behind the animal heads but he had his reasons. And plus, not knowing just makes the most sense when it comes to my character so it was better that I was left in the dark.

Dread Central: Padraig mentioned to me in his interview that he is planning on this story to become a trilogy; is that something he’s spoken to you about at all? He mentioned something about seeing your character in the sequel but wouldn’t say anything more.

Anessa Ramsey: Oh yeah, definitely; when I signed on, he mentioned that he wanted this to become a trilogy and that at the very least I’d be in the second film. But I am excited to get bloody and dirty again for him if everything goes through; I know that there’s some script changes happening now but that’s all. But I would definitely love to work with Padraig and play Rachel again; I love that he’s bending the genre in such great ways like this.

Star Anessa Ramsey Talks Flawed Heroines, Trilogy Plans and More for Rites of Spring

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French Thriller Series Glacé Now Streaming on Netflix as The Frozen Dead

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New to Netflix this month to kickoff the year for the killer crime genre and miniseries streams, is “The Frozen Dead,” translated from its original French title, “Glacé.” It made its debut on our screens as the next foreign language series to bring us chills and thrills since the German-language time travel series, “Dark,” released in October of 2017. It looks like we can look forward to more of these international inclusions on our bloody palette.

So, if you are looking for a serial slasher in an icy setting to hold you over this winter and give you an investigative mystery fix, watch “The Frozen Dead” for a six-episode look at the bloody chaos the mind of a disturbed killer spews on The French Pyrenees.

From the very first introductory scene and the creepy children’s chorus that accompanies the goosebumps – inducing snowstorm view that is in the show’s theme, the eerie tone is set pretty early on. If that does not offer enough incentive to go watch, the camerawork and imagery alone throughout the show are incredible and worth appreciating. These striking visuals are significant if you know it is a television adaptation based on Bernard Minier’s dark novel. All-embracing, the series carries an increase in dread and suspense all throughout, so be prepared to be uncomfortable and most of all, confused as you unravel.

If you happen to enjoy this chilling setting that forces a detective to confront an unsettling past, you’ll be happy to know I found that same cold-evoking, murder mystery intrigue in Christopher Nolan’s work on Insomnia (2002), a film in which Robin Williams unconventionally and successfully jarringly plays the enigmatic man being chased by Al Pacino’s detective character. There’s a film to check out (if you haven’t already that is) if that parallelism interests you – after bingeing the six hours of “The Frozen Dead” that is.

Synopsis:
A grisly find atop a mountain in the French Pyrenees leads investigator Martin Servaz into a twisted dance with a serial killer in this icy thriller. Starring Charles Berling and Julia Piaton. Available now on Netflix.

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Editorials

We Need to Stop Our Alarming Obsession With Child Actors

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On Sunday, January 21, Buzzfeed tweeted an article with the byline “Millie Bobby Brown just Insta-confirmed her relationship with Jacob Sartorius and I have butterflies”. Quite quickly, the tweet was met with a barrage of comments, ranging from mild tuts that it was in poor taste to extreme condemnations of pedophilia and sexualization of a minor (Brown is 13-years-old as of this post). I personally weighed in on the matter.

Earlier that day, CNN ran a video and story where actress/director/producer Natalie Portman opened up about her own experiences being a young girl in Hollywood. Portman’s breakout role was at 12-years-old in The Professional, a movie that celebrated her phenomenal acting abilities. Per CNN, she received her first fan letter a year later, after the film had come out. In it was a rape fantasy. Her local radio show began counting down the time until her 18th birthday, when she would be of legal age. Mind you, she was 13 when all of this was happening, the same age as Millie Bobby Brown.

The parallels between these two stories should immediately be understood and seen. The sexualization and fanatical obsession with children, much less celebrities, is a plague that can only cause damage and harm to those who are on the receiving end. It is time that we recognize that this practice needs to stop. It is time that we all held ourselves accountable.

A cursory search of Browns’ name on Buzzfeed will bring up at least 50 separate articles, on top of the one previously mentioned. These include what was said between “Stranger Things” co-star Finn Wolfhard and herself before their kiss in the second season. There’s a strange obsession with Brown’s instagram account and the conversations between her and other celebrities. There’s even one that states Brown looks like a young Natalie Portman. The irony here is undeniable and it seems very difficult to say that the site doesn’t have an obsession with the young actress.

Hollywood is under a great deal of pressure, rightfully so, from the #MeToo movement as well as Corey Feldman’s pursuit of revealing the truth about widespread pedophilia in that world (watch as he’s shut down by Barbara Walters). His claims have been echoed by Elijah Wood, although he himself states he did not suffer at the hands of any abusers.

Eliza Dushku’s alleged abuser Joel Kramer was recently let go from his agency twenty years after supposed events took place. When those who wonder why the actress didn’t come forward sooner, they overlook the fact that she went to authorities at that time. She details everything in an emotional post on her Facebook page.

The issue, however, does not just lie within those who create in Hollywood. It is exacerbated and pushed on by those who report on Hollywood’s actions and those that read it, lapping up the non-news proclamations with unabashed glee, not recognizing that they are feeding the same system that many are fighting against. Then, even more worrying, is that these “fans” feel entitled to these children, as though they are objects for their pleasure at any time, puppets that need to dance when beckoned.

Sophie Turner weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:


Wolfhard himself has asked that the infatuation and near assault of him and his co-workers come to an end:


And yet even on that particular tweet, Wolfhard’s fans responded with, “Ma babe trust no body“, “I love the right person bixo ♡“, “Love you finn“, and more. “Fans” are declaring their love for a 14-year-old boy that they’ve never met, a person that they’ve only really seen playing someone other than himself.

A culture has been established and reinforced that celebrities are somehow open for our sycophantic obsessions. This needs to stop. We need only to remember our own experiences as children so that we can apply them to these kids today. As Kevin Brown so wonderfully put it on Twitter:

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Reviews

Ruby Blu-ray Review – ’70s Drive-In Psychic Shocker From VCI

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Starrign Piper Laurie, Janit Baldwin, Stuart Whitman, Roger Davis

Written by George Edwards and Barry Schneider

Directed by Curtis Harrington

Distributed by VCI Entertainment


Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and director Curtis Harrington’s Ruby (1977) is paying it to a few of the ‘70s most notable horror films. Cribbing liberally from such better pictures as The Exorcist (1973) and Carrie (1976), this is a picture that could have worked well despite being a pastiche because it begins with a decent setup and the elements for something interesting are present. Unfortunately, nothing ever gels like it has to and Ruby loses focus early on, dashing from one death scene to the next and allowing for little salient connective tissue to tie it all together. The big mystery presented early on should be easy enough for horror fans to deduce, and the film never brings the scare factor. A few of the deaths are novel in their inventiveness, especially the use of the drive-in theater surroundings, but a couple kills do not a movie make and Ruby spends too much time middling and being weird to be of any note.

Florida, 1935. Low level mobster Nicky Rocco (Sal Vacchio) is gunned down by a lake as his pregnant girlfriend Ruby watches on in horror. Just before dying, Nicky swears vengeance on whoever did this to him. Cut to sixteen years later and Ruby (Piper Laurie) runs a drive-in movie theater and lives in a home nearby with her daughter, Leslie (Janit Baldwin). Ruby is a tough broad, quick-witted and foul-mouthed; able to hold her own with the guys. But those guys are beginning to vanish one by one as the bodies start piling up at the theater. Ruby suspects there’s something off with Leslie, so she brings in her own psychic doctor, Dr. Paul Keller (Roger Davis), to examine her daughter. Leslie, as it turns out, is acting as a conduit for the wayward soul of Nicky, who blames Ruby for his ultimate demise. Possessed and programmed for vengeance, Leslie and Ruby have an all-out battle in a search for the truth.

The second half of this film is where things go right off the rails, with scenes aping The Exorcist so much it feels like a knock-off. This isn’t always such a bad thing because knock-offs of better films can always turn out great (see: most of the post-Gremlins little creature features), but Ruby never makes a clear case for introducing these fantastical elements in the third act. This is a story that could have worked better by exercising restraint, playing closer to something like J.D.’s Revenge (1976), a similar gangster-soul-out-for-justice film, than a wild, possessed ride.

What does work, for me, are the drive-in theater setting (I’m a sucker for movies that also involve the craft of film in some way) and the kills, a few of which make great use of the theatrical setting to deliver fitting fatalities. One employee winds up stuffed into a soda machine, with his blood getting pumped into a dark, syrupy drink and served up to guests. Another meets his end on the screen, impaled by the pole on which car speakers are kept. Harrington does inject this picture with a strong sense of atmosphere, too. The locale is woodsy and feels remote; the countryside is dark and foggy, the perfect setting for something grim to occur. None of these elements are enough to fully save the feature, though they do bring enough production value to ease to burden of a poor script.

Personally, I’m a sucker for almost any horror from bygone eras – especially the ‘70s and ‘80s – so, deficiencies aside, Ruby is still worth a spin if you enjoy reveling in this particular era. This is far from an unheralded gem or little-seen treasure, but it does, at the least, rip-off good pictures in spectacularly bad fashion.

This is a rough film and every bit of work done for the 2K restoration still can’t do much to polish it up any better. First, a note: there is a video drop-out for approximately ten seconds around the 21-minute mark. VCI is offering replacement discs via their Facebook page, so check there for further details. Future copies will be corrected, and those should already be on “shelves” now, so consider this an FYI. The 1.85:1 1080p image is frequently soft and murky, darkly shot and poorly lit. Shadow detail is virtually non-existent. The color temperature looks a bit on the warm side. Film grain is noisy and occasionally problematic.

An English LPCM 2.0 track carries a clean & balanced audio experience. Voices sound a touch muffled at times, though nothing too severe. The murders scenes are accompanied by creepy ambient sounds, adding a slight chill. The film’s closing theme song is awesome cheese that must be heard. Subtitles are available in English SDH.

There are two audio commentary tracks; the first, with David Del Valle and Nathaniel Bell; the second, with Curtis Harrington and Piper Laurie.

The film’s original trailer is included in HD.

Also included are a few interviews with Harrington, conducted by David Del Valle, including “2001 David Del Valle Interview with Curtis Harrington”, and “Sinister Image Episode Vol. 1 & Vol. 2: David Del Valle Archival Interview with Curtis Harrington”.

Special Features:

  • NEW 2K RESTORATION from the original camera negative
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Audio Commentary with Director Curtis Harrington & Actress Piper Laurie
  • New Audio Commentary with David Del Valle and Curtis Harrington historian Nate Bell
  • Two Interviews with Curtis Harrington by Film Critic David Del Valle
  • Photo Gallery
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Ruby
  • Special Features
2.3

Summary

A simple plot becomes wildly unfocused but Ruby does have intermittent camp value fans of ’70s horror cinema should dig. VCI’s Blu-ray is no beauty by any means, though it’s likely to be the best this poorly-shot feature will get.

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