It’s creepy kids month here at Dread, and it really doesn’t get much creepier than Josh (Jett Klyne) in Brandon Christensen’s Z, a supernatural take on the dangers of having an imaginary friend that’s now available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray. Do NOT set up a play date with this kid. Josh’s mother, played by the illustrious Keegan Connor Tracy (Once Upon A Time, Bates Motel) has also had history with Z – the entity posing as Josh’s buddy – that she’s tried to bury deep within. Speaking with Tracy at an alarming speed (both of us talk REALLY fast), we managed to cover the possibility of a Z sequel (a Z-quel?), where another Final Destination movie could go, an intriguing new idea for a horror film called The Evil Eye she hopes to direct, and her newfound love for the horror genre.
Synopsis: A family find themselves terrorized by their eight-year-old son’s imaginary friend. An imaginary friend brings with it stigmatic labels, inherent horror, and farfetched uncertainty.
Dread Central: With Z, I think my fear of children is even greater after watching this movie. Growing up, did you know anyone with an imaginary friend? I’m sure Z makes you glad you have daughters.
Keegan Connor Tracy: (laughs) Well, my youngest had imaginary friends all the time and she had a whole language. They lived in a place that she’d named and she’d named the language. She would often talk to this girl “Sela” and another one named “Soshi.” She would repeat things and they would be the same across time, it was really interesting. As she got older, it just sort of dissipated and obviously in Josh’s case it just never dissipated.
DC: How would you describe the character of Z? Do you think it represents the power of a child’s imagination?
KCT: I think so. There’s always the question of the magic of it. Is this thing real? Does she think it’s real? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. But it sort of crosses that boundary, right? What if it’s possible to conjure something from the other side, some other dimension, whatever that is. Me playing her, I had to ground it in something and so for me the grounding was schizophrenia. There’s always that element of magic that I think still existed and maybe it was possible for something to be conjured. I do that in my writing. I realized the other day, I don’t think I’ve ever written something that doesn’t have an element of magic to it.
DC: You do some really good work in this. Was the experience on Z a lot more challenging as an actor since you’re in every shot as opposed to a TV ensemble where you don’t have to carry as much of the weight?
KCT: There were moments, believe me, in the middle of the night where I was like, ‘Man, it’s pretty good to be five or six on the cast list. But at the same time, like a marvelous challenge. It was why I took it. And you know, when you’re going to work on something that has no money you have to do it because you see something. I knew the psychological journey I could take that woman on and that it would be a challenge for me as an actor. So that was what sold me on it, just knowing that I would have to dig really deep and the response to the work that I did has been really good. It’s nice to know that it was impactful and, therefore, worth it.
DC: I know with Scream 5 in development, there’s now growing interest in bringing back Final Destination as well. We actually just did a big Final Destination piece that got a really good response. The franchise has really gained respect over time. Have you noticed the growing love for the series or is it something that’s in your rear view now?
KCT: Well, certainly once Twitter came around. There was a lull where you didn’t have an opportunity to hear from fans when we didn’t have social media. I think all the way along I’ve had fans. You just hear about that franchise and, of course, now I’m at a point where people are like, ‘That was my first scary movie!’ and I think, ‘Oh my god, how old am I?’ (laughs) I get tweets on the regular about Final Destination so it doesn’t surprise me at all that it did so well and that’s a franchise that they’re thinking of revisiting. I don’t know, I wonder what they’re up to? I’d come back.
DC: Yeah! I mean, obviously, you had a bad end with an air bag but the fact that they do play with the timeline, it would be interesting if they could bring you back somehow. There’s always a way.
KCT: Yep, or what if they didn’t all die that day? It’s another dimension or who knows what.
DC: Is there any chance of a Z sequel? I know it was really successful on Shudder.
KCT: Yeah, it has done really well and I guess it’s the highest thing on iTunes right now for Raven [Banner]. I don’t know, I haven’t talked to Brandon [Christensen] about it, I don’t know where they would go with it. My guess is that it would be the kid, right? Although you could go back and do Elizabeth as a kid and see how that struck back then. Maybe a parallel between her as a kid and Josh as a kid.
DC: I know that you’ve been writing a lot and directing. I would imagine that you really enjoy the genre space and the horror realm. Are you still attached to direct The Evil Eye? I really like the premise of a former child star watching a cursed horror film she starred in.
KCT: Yeah, I am still attached and we had a meeting just last week, we’ve got another meeting this week. We’re still trying to find financing and all of the hoops that you have to jump through and COVID is a giant block in that. You know, it’s funny because horror really wasn’t my genre. I tend to be, I guess, more in fantasy is where I’ve lived and sci-fi. In viewing Z, it really taught me about that genre and gave me a new appreciation for it. I think it is underrated both from a filmmaking perspective…you look at something like The Haunting of Hill House which is beautifully directed and scary and wonderful. And just amazing right up until, I think, the finale left me quite cold. I think the work that actors do in that genre is really underrated. It’s hard, hard work. I really think the fanbase is loyal and they know what they’re going for. Sitting in festivals with those audiences and seeing how they would react to those jump scares and the way they would laugh after really gave me an understanding of what people are after and why we go see horror. It made me a fan in a way that I didn’t expect for that to do. I have a pilot that’s out there right now that I think you could consider sort of fantasy horror, I guess. Then we have Evil Eye and I’m working with them on rewrites for that. It’s a whole different genre that’s come to interest me in a way that I wasn’t expecting.
DC: It seems like a good package with Evil Eye with Nick Morris and you, I enjoyed Becky a lot. Would you act in that as well?
KCT: Originally, they offered me the lead and then they said, ‘Oh, you’re directing. Would you like to direct as well?’ I just realized I couldn’t do both for lots of reasons, some of which were literally physical parameters. But I did say yes I will play the mother from the old movie and I think that that will probably stand. I can be in some things but I just don’t think at this juncture of my directing career to be the lead in an emotionally difficult movie and try to direct it at the same time, you can’t do either job well. So I chose directing. Then, yes, I will have sort of a cameo role.
DC: I’m looking forward to it and I’m glad that we both talk fast because we got a lot in in our allotted time.
KCT: In your ten minutes, yeah okay! (laughs)
Z is now available on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray”