Icons of Fright Talks IT FOLLOWS, TALES OF HALLOWEEN With Keir Gilchrist!!

It-Follows-Movie-PosterKeir Gilchrist has done a fine job making a name for himself, playing memorable roles in everything from TV’s The United States of Tara to the recently released Paul Solet film DARK SUMMER. Hitting shelves today, is a film that not only caught the horror genre by surprise but also made waves with even non-genre fans, David Robert Mitchell’s IT FOLLOWS. In IT FOLLOWS, Gilchrist plays Paul, a young man who tries to do whatever he can to save his best friend (and crush) Jay, played by Maika Monroe. Gilchrist does an excellent job with his role, playing it very realistic and subtle and shows audiences that he has a great career ahead of him.

Gilchrist was nice enough to chat with our own Editor in Chief, Jerry Smith, for a while, about everything from IT FOLLOWS and his interpretation of it, to his role in the upcoming horror anthology, TALES OF HALLOWEEN. Read on!

IT FOLLOWS was kind of the little train that could for the horror genre. We were all excited about it, but it wasn’t known what the film

Keir Gilchrist

Keir Gilchrist

would be as a far as the release. How does it feel to be a part of not only a film that exceeded expectations, but became the horror sleeper hit of the year?

I couldn’t be happier, in terms of the success of the film. I think I was the same as you, none of us involved in the making of the film knew that it would get as big as it did, and get a wide release. I grew up and sort of geeking out about certain movies and obsessing over them and I see the same thing with kids and IT FOLLOWS. It’s awesome. I think we’re all surprised, in a good way, it’s a great kind of surprise.

Was there anything in particular to attracted you to the role of Paul?

Initially, I was hooked with the script. It was a really good read and really powerful. It was one that really stuck with you, and I talked to a couple of friends about it, and the more I talked about it, the more freaky it became. I went in for an audition and met David (Robert Mitchell, director) and really liked his vibe. David really different than a lot of directors, in a good way. He’s really confident but quiet at the same time. It really inspired me and I just really wanted to be a part of the project. I also wanted to go see Detroit for a bit, so that was really cool.

I love how quiet and almost reserved the film is at times, was that the vibe on set?

Yeah, and I think a big part of that is how David is good with creating these layers and talking about things about figuring them out..even sometimes leaving that up to us as actors and allowing us to figure things out for ourselves and make choices sometimes without even telling him. A lot of our little comments or the humor, you feel a lot of it and it’s just there. I think he made a lot of choices himself, in terms of editing, that even after we shot, still made you wonder “what’s going on?”. He’s a very quiet and somewhat reserved person and I think that really rubbed off on us during rehearsals, so that’s the kind of the tone he created. It was so effortless though, that I don’t think any of us realized he was doing it. It was only after seeing the film that I realized how much of an imprint he made on the film by doing that.

You mentioned obsessing over different films. IT FOLLOWS has sparked a lot of the same thing, with everyone kind of forming their own opinions on what the film means to them, with some saying it’s a metaphor for STD’s or the sexual promiscuity of teenagers. What does the film mean to you, was there a particular idea that David had with the film in your opinion?

It’s an interesting thing, and I’ve heard so many different interpretations and they’re all really interesting to me. They all kind of make me look at the film differently every time I see it. Again, David never really fully said what the film was about and left that to us, and even in interviews, he kind of stays away from saying what he thinks the film’s about, because he likes to hear everyone else’s interpretations of the film. For me, I think people focus a little too much on the sexuality aspect, and I don’t think it’s necessarily about the sex as much as people think it is. The really extreme ones I’ve heard is that it “tells teens not to have sex”, or that it’s anti-sex, which I personally don’t get from the film at all. Personally, I think they’re metaphors about death, which is unavoidable and it keeps coming. For me, having sex with people or just being intimate with them, you feel less alone, and that kind of somehow keeps it at bay I guess. Again, it’s just my interpretation, but I think it’s just this thing that will keep coming after you, no matter what you do. I’m sure David had a completely different interpretation of it, but that’s just mine.

There’s a strong amount of chemistry between the whole cast, and it feels very genuine. Was that something that was built on during rehearsing or were you all able to get that during the filming process?

There was an amount of rehearsing. What I think that all came down to though, with the chemistry, is that we all just arrived in Detroit and where we stayed wasn’t exactly in Detroit, it was more just outside of it. We were all in this hotel together, and none of us were from there, so you kind of just start bonding and spending all of your time together and visiting the city together and stuff. So, I think it was a very quick bonding experience, and on top of that, we all just got along together, there were never any egos on set or anything like that.

The film’s soundtrack by Disasterpeace is such a crucial part of them film, and it really helps build that tone and those moments. Not having that template to go off of during filming, how was it establishing a mood or tone while filming?

Yeah, that’s really interesting because that music is almost like another character and is pretty inseparable from the film. We had no idea what the music would be like and it’s interesting how well it DID sync up with the film. I think again, it just came down to David, and his vision. He definitely had control on set, and it really came down to really trusting him and that he knew what he wanted. Even in terms of the “Its”, it was always just a person with a little makeup on, I had no idea how well it was going to transition. I remember asking David on set, “How is this going to work, are you going to add some CGI and black out their eyes?”, and he was always like “No, I don’t think so”. We all were thinking, “OK, we’ll see how this turns out,” and it was amazing. But yeah, Disasterpeace really brought it with that soundtrack, I really want to get that vinyl.

The character of Paul does a lot without even talking at times, it was impressive seeing the character emote with just looks at times. Was that something you chose to do as an actor, or was there a collaboration with David about how the character would be?

David worked with me and really helped guide me a lot, because that character is essentially HIM in that story. We really talked about how Paul was feeling, and as an actor, I really like to listen, so I thought it was important for Paul to just listen, so I tried to put a lot into even just reaction shots. Especially with Paul, because the character is a really smart, young guy and I feel like he has butterflies in his chest for most of the movie.

In the horror community, there’s a lot of buzz about TALES OF HALLOWEEN, which is being made by some of the greatest people around. You’re in Paul Solet’s segment, right? Is there anything you could tell us about that?

TALES OF HALLOWEEN is one that I’m really stoked about. I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s a very ambitious project, with all of the directors coming together to make an anthology on a small budget. The theme to it is obviously Halloween and it’s more of an old-school horror vibe, none of the “torture porn” stuff, instead it’s supposed to be creepy and eerie and with practical fx. Some have monsters, some of them are silly and Paul (Solet), who directed me in DARK SUMMER got a hold of me and said he had written a script for his and wanted me to play the lead in it. I love Paul, so I said yeah, and we shot a really cool short for that. I’m excited for it.

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