‘Dark Nature’ Star Hannah Emily Anderson on What Legendary Horror Performance Inspired Her
Hannah Emily Anderson is no stranger to horror. She’s starred in franchise entries like Jigsaw and indie hits like What Keeps You Alive alike, showing her range as both hero and villain. Now, in Berkley Brady’s feature film directorial debut, Dark Nature, Anderson gets to tackle the role of Joy, a complicated woman trying to get back on her feet after surviving an abusive relationship. But a weekend retreat with her friend’s grief group doesn’t exactly go as planned and her healing journey is littered with monsters. Literally.
Read the full synopsis below:
Joy, a survivor of an abusive relationship, joins her friend Carmen and her therapy group on an isolated weekend retreat in the Canadian Rockies. Led by the enigmatic Dr. Dunnley, whose methods are experimental and, at times, dubious from Joy’s outside perspective, the experience eventually shatters the border between reality and delusion. Joy begins to suspect that they are being stalked by her abuser, when in truth, the entire group will be forced to confront a monstrous entity more terrifying than the ghosts of their pasts.
Anderson stars alongside Madison Walsh (Don’t Say Its Name), Kyra Harper (Orphan Black), and Helen Belay (Abracadavers).
Dread Central spoke with Anderson about the physically and emotionally demanding role of Joy, the horror performance that inspired her, and much more.
Dread Central: What attracted you to be a part of Dark Nature? Was there anything in particular that attracted you to Joy’s character?
Hannah Emily Anderson: I thought it would be a fun challenge to do something so physically demanding. And I liked the idea of working with a female cast and director. Joy presents as a strong woman, and she is, but she’s sitting on top of this mountain of trauma and trying to hold it all together. I was attracted to playing a character that’s wrestling with herself as well as the world around her.
DC: This role seemed demanding both physically and emotionally. How did you relax/unwind after shoots?
HEA: Very true. Madison Walsh (who plays Carmen) was my saving grace. We’d hang out after work, have a good laugh (she’s ridiculously funny), watch a movie, enjoy a glass of wine, and eat good food. I also watched a lot of BTS/interviews with Jane Levy on Evil Dead (2013). She was a big inspiration. I thought, “If she could do THAT, I can get through this.”
DC: Was there any physical preparation you needed to do for the role, even just to hike out to shoots every day?
HEA: I didn’t have much time to prep, but it just so happened that I’d done a week-long wilderness survival course a few weeks before I was cast. I became obsessed with the reality show ALONE and one of the contestants from season 7, Kielyn Marrone, offered this course in Ontario. True to the show, we were only allowed to bring 10 items from a very specific list. I spent a week sleeping outside in mosquito-infested woods with no toilet paper, learning how to find and process firewood, forage for food, make fire without matches, and budget energy on limited calories.
DC: What was it like to film with a solely female cast?
HEA: We are all so different and I felt like we came together in a powerful way to stand up for and encourage each other through the harder moments. They helped me find my voice. We all shared one trailer, so it felt like a kind of f*cked up summer boot camp. It really felt like we went through something together and came out the other side.
DC: Are you a horror fan outside of work? Do you like scary movies?
HEA: I am! I’ve gotten more into it in the last few years. One of my partner’s sons is very into the genre and I think it’s rubbed off on me. Every Halloween he tries to watch as many horror films as he can, so I’ve joined in. But I can’t watch a horror movie without my hands in front of my face. I’m terrified, I’m sweating, I’m the girl screaming “DON’T GO INTO THE BASEMENT!” but it’s thrilling. The only problem is I have trouble sleeping afterward.
DC: Do you remember your first horror movie?
HEA: I’m pretty sure it was Jaws. Big mistake. It contributed to my number one fear of sharks. But somehow it didn’t stop me from watching it over and over. It’s an incredible film.
DC: What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen?
HEA: Jaws. And I couldn’t get through The Babadook. I was watching it in broad daylight, but the performances were TOO convincing. The sound and image of the monster haunted me for a long time. No, thank you!
Dark Nature, from Epic Pictures‘ Dread label (Dread Central’s sister company), is available now on VOD.