Over his impressive but coolly under the radar career, actor and musician Lukas Haas has worked with the likes of Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Steve McQueen and Damien Chazelle. But strangely, he really hasn’t been in that many horror movies. Yes, there was that episode of the rebooted The Twilight Zone, the hauntingly beautiful Lady In White (which we touch on) and David Arquette’s slasher The Tripper featuring a killer in a Ronald Reagan mask, and Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood…but not much else.
Browse may or may not be a tech horror movie (it’s not exactly Tetsuo: The Iron Man): there’s no killer app that you’ll find in movies like The Countdown or You Die and the body horror of Videodrome is nowhere to be found. In the below interview, Lukas and I talk about what’s really the scariest thing about Browse…this could happen to anyone.
Synopsis: What Richard wanted was a fresh start, what he got was a nightmare. Browse tells the story of Richard Coleman (Lukas Haas), an introverted man who becomes convinced that his identity has been hacked after dabbling in online dating. Desperate for clarity, Richard seeks to uncover the truth of who is trying to manipulate him and why, but the more he struggles with his futile investigation, the further he’s cast into an insurmountable web of paranoia that threatens to destroy his thinning hold on reality.
Dread Central: I was wondering if you remember anything about filming Lady In White, was that the first horror movie you were in?
Lukas Haas: Gosh, was that the first horror movie I was in? I think it was! I think it was the first horror movie I was in. Yeah, I remember filming that movie, it was actually a lot of fun. The story was so cool and we were up there in upstate New York which was beautiful. There were a lot of fun scenes like riding my bike around getting stuck in the cement and doing jumps. And the cloak room and just all those special effects and stuff and shooting bow and arrows. It was sort of like a cool, All-American moment for me.
DC: Scream Factory put out a Director’s Cut of that a few years back. It definitely has some cult status now, man.
LH: Oh yeah? That’s cool! It was like a Norman Rockwell thing almost.
DC: That’s definitely more of a ghost story. Would you say that Browse is an example of techno horror? I know they’re marketing it as a horror movie but it’s more of a psychological thriller.
LH: It’s psychological for sure. To me, it’s not even really necessarily a thriller. It’s scary. It’s definitely scary in a totally different way. It’s scary just because I feel like everyone can relate to the idea that we’re all connected to the internet now. We’re all connected to this thing which, in a way, is out of control. There are so many things that have changed about human life based on the internet. All our information is out there. You can’t really do anything without connecting to it. It’s just gotten so confusing and it’s all because of the internet.
DC: It’s definitely more of a cautionary tale now, I think, especially when people are meeting online now more than ever…
LH: Yeah, we have our lives where we’re actually in the world and we relate to each other but this whole other world up in the cloud that we relate to in a whole other way. It’s just strange.
DC: I came across your song “She’s In My Head” and the video about obsessing over someone over social media and, now, that really mirrors your character Richard in this movie.
LH: That’s funny, I didn’t actually make that connection. That’s a good connection, it’s true.
DC: Did you have a lot of input when you were shooting this?
LH: Yeah, definitely. In this case, Mike Testin the director was really cool He wrote the script and he had a real vision for what he wanted. I loved the idea of exploring how scary it is. It’s not even like anything physical is happening. It’s just all this mental strain that this character’s going through. That’s what I thought was so interesting to explore. It’s happening but it’s not happening but it is happening! But definitely, I love collaborating and working with people and Mike was completely open to my ideas. It was cool, it was a cool experience.
DC: You come up with a plan of what to do in case of an earthquake and that sort of thing but nobody really thinks of a plan to put into action if you’re getting hacked.
LH: Right. It’s so scary, exactly. Where do you go? How do you find out what’s happening to you? How do you find out where it’s coming from? In his case, everything is just falling apart. He doesn’t know why and he doesn’t know where it’s coming from. It’s really scary because it’s so easy to imagine that happening. If the wrong person somehow got a hold of your information and was able to manipulate it, who knows what they could do to you?
DC: I know that Browse isn’t a straight up horror movie, but it’s cool that you’ve got Jocelin Donahue in there, she’s got some real credentials. I like the flashback sequences with her but you guys didn’t really get to work together?
LH: Yeah, we didn’t actually get to work together but she was fantastic. I love those sequences, I love how he put that stuff together like a real memory in your own head.
DC: I’m also not used to seeing you with a gun. Maybe Inception, but I can’t think of a lot of times when you’re doing some serious gun action. Were you comfortable with those scenes? Some of them were a little intense.
LH: I’ve done movies with guns but it’s more about how your character relates to the gun. In this case, it was just so creepy and this gun shows up and, obviously, there’s some intent behind it. It’s leading my character towards something he’s just not sure how to relate to. He’s ready to go down that road because everything has become so out of hand. He’s being prompted, he knows it’s a manipulation but he’s also buying into it at the same time because he can’t help himself and he has no other options.
DC: Is there anything going on with Midnight in the Switchgrass? That has such a cool cast, were you guys in the middle of shooting that?
LH: You know what, we were in the middle of shooting it when Covid struck. I just got back here, I’m in Puerto Rico, I got here yesterday. Apparently, we’re going to film. I think we may be one of the first movies actually back filming. We’re in quarantine here for a week getting tested every day. It’s actually pretty wild but I’m excited for it. It’s a cool movie, I think.
Browse debuts July 7th, 2020 via FilmRise and is available now on VOD and Google Play.