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Exclusive – Lin Shaye Talks Grace: The Possession

In the latest devil possession horror film, Grace: The Possession (review), we follow innocent and lovely Grace (Alexia Fast), a sweet, sheltered teen who’s being raised by her fervently religious grandmother, Helen (Lin Shaye). Helen doesn’t want to let Grace go into the big, bad world – but Grace is insistent on leaving for college.

The only thing she learns is that the Devil is there, and he’s determined to possess her. When Grace moves back in with Grandma, it’s all Helen can do to keep from saying, “Told ya so!

We had a chance to chat with Lin about her juicy role as a zealot and were surprised to learn that she – a true horror icon! – actually auditioned. Or at least read for the director, Jeff Chan. “Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, one of the producers, actually invited me to come and meet Jeff and read for him, which I was happy to do.

Lin Shaye

Although the film is not technically found footage, it does show everything from Grace’s point of view. At first Lin found this concept somewhat difficult to get a handle on. “I didn’t quite grasp yet what the POV thing was, and it was mostly then for me about the character and the story. I thought Helen seemed like such an interesting character to try to find because, as Jeff admitted as well, she was written just one-dimensionally. She could just be the evil nasty grandmother, and so we started discussing this at the audition; how much more there was to her, her loss and her struggling to keep her head above water with all she had been through, and her desire to control her life and her granddaughter’s life and have her granddaughter replace the love she had of her own daughter.”

“So it became for me a much more interesting character to draw and to try and show not just the evil things that she’d done to try to control everyone’s life around her but to show her, the heart of this character too and what her losses had been. I found it a really interesting character to play, and Jeff was so great in terms of how we kind of excited each other, because we kind of kept building on each other’s thoughts and ideas, and in terms of playing the scenes too; sometimes we would do them 360 degrees different.”

The character is somewhat reminiscent of Piper Laurie’s depiction of the mother in Carrie, but Lin brought her own vibe to it. “There’s more backstory to Helen than there was in the mother in Carrie. I mean, we know that she lost this first daughter to bad things, and also people who are ultra-religious in that sense are… I feel like they’re trying to control their own weakness somewhere inside. Not that we all aren’t [weak] on some level, but people find different ways of trying to sustain themselves and to bolster themselves and to make themselves strong, and a lot of religion is often used in that way, you know. Religion obviously has a lot of different reasons that people gravitate to it, and especially that kind of zealot.”

Why do so many people love a good exorcism film, even after all these years since the Satanic panic era of the 70s and 80s? “I think maybe it’s because we all have those things inside of ourselves that you try to get rid of, and there’s a tangible in terms of the exorcism; there becomes a tangible experience to either witness or try to duplicate… I guess some people do inside as well of ridding yourself of scary, evil things,” says Lin. “I have my personal point of view, and it is quite different than that, but I think that’s a very attractive element, especially to see it when it’s not really you; movies in general I think are about having an experience that you’re afraid to have in real life on some level. I think people have a desire to find a way to rid themselves of pain and evil… evil meaning what you’re scared of… [not so much] on the outside as much as it is a fear of what you have inside.”

Although Grace: The Possession will be released on VOD everywhere, Lin does suggest you watch it on the biggest screen you can. “I wish that this movie was going to be in the theaters because there’s something in that experience of being in a dark room with all these strangers with a screen as big as your heart, you know, that’s out there, and experiencing something that’s private in public, and I think this movie totally would have benefited from that as well.

Nonetheless, the intimate POV concept should lend itself to home viewing. “I think it’s going to be a terrific experience,” Lin says. “The POV [is great because] what it gives to you is, you become the characters in the film and you experience what they’re going through in your own personal manner. And there was one moment of violation that we all watched on the monitor with the POV and it was crazy. It was the first time watching it; [everyone] had their own private moment of horror, really, of what was going on. And I thought, ‘Ah! That is the lynchpin of this film.’ People are going to experience things personally that they didn’t know they were going to experience from watching this film. It’s a very exciting experience.

Grace: The Possession Release Details
Just in time for Halloween, a producer of Sinister and executive producer of Insidious brings a chilling twist to the classic horror story when the terrifying GRACE: THE POSSESSION debuts on DVD and Digital HD October 28th from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Alexia Fast (Jack Reacher) plays the title role of Grace, an 18-year-old Catholic girl who moves away to college, never having sipped alcohol, done drugs, or had sex. But something dark comes over her, and her purity is taken as she becomes possessed by demonic forces. The film offers audiences a unique first-person perspective of the possessed like never seen before. The cast also features Lin Shaye (Insidious franchise), Alan Dale (“Lost”), Alexis Knapp (Pitch Perfect), and Joel David Moore (Avatar).

GRACE: THE POSSESSION has a run time of approximately 88 minutes and is rated R for sexual content/violence/disturbing images, some drug and alcohol use, and language.

Synopsis
GRACE: THE POSSESSION is a story told like never before – through the eyes of the possessed. Grace (Alexia Fast) is a beautiful, naive, virginal college freshman trying to deal with campus culture and her outgoing new roommate. But when a terror takes over her body and unleashes chaos, Grace returns to the cold clutches of her severe grandmother (Lin Shaye) and the strict rules of the Church. Haunted by the horrific death of her mother and her deeply ingrained destructive urges, Grace must stop the demon inside before it’s too late.

Grace: The Possession

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Staci Layne Wilson