Mark Edwin Robinson’s I Will Follow You Into the Dark (the film’s sales agent, Epic Pictures, is selling it internationally as Into the Dark) is set to come out later this year. The film stars Mischa Barton (“The OC”, The Sixth Sense) as the troubled Sophia Monet. I recently caught up with Barton at her home to discuss the film, her character and some of the more intense moments to shoot on set.
In the film, “A young woman (Mischa Barton) who is severely depressed after the deaths of both her parents retreats within herself, only to be drawn out of her depression by an unexpected romance with a man named Adam (Ryan Eggold). After Adam mysteriously disappears into the depths of a haunted apartment building, she vows to pursue him, even if it means crossing into the world of the supernatural.” Leah Pipes and Ryan Eggold also star.
The movie deals with a lot of grief and loss. What was it like charting your character’s arc through that?
For me, Sophia is one of these people who is making huge revelations about her life quite quickly and is kind of confused about everything. This whole rejecting God thing is a huge deal for her. A lot of people go through life not questioning things and, when they do, it’s a massive overhaul. That’s where her grief comes from. The crux of the story for me was the love story between her and Ryan [Eggold, who plays Adam in the film]. In order for her to go to the depths of what she goes to, the most important thing is that this love was real and palpable and that the audience wouldn’t question it. And then the other side of it was, “would it be scary enough for me?”
Now that I’ve seen it, the film has turned out more ethereal than I expected. Which I like as well. It is more of an Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind life after death kind of curious side of things as opposed to a straight horror. I think Ryan thought it would err more on the side of just being scary, but it’s not. It’s more about life and love and what’s worth it and what your beliefs are.
As far as her grief, I play grief well. I’ve always played these quite complicated, layered, dark, depressed characters. Sophia isn’t someone with a huge backbone when it comes to things. I mean she is, but she isn’t. She’s strong enough to know what she wants but she’s so uncertain about so many things in her life, but what she’s sure about is Adam.
Do you think that her being in such a negative place at the beginning of the film impacts her relationship with Adam?
Oh no, absolutely. It’s one of these capsule films about fate and this age where you’re questioning everything. Life after death, love, losing your parents. And grief hits you the hardest for the first time in your life because you haven’t been through that kind of grief before. I think for her it’s compounded and compounded and compounded by the fact that her father had these massive lies. And just the fact that she had to cover things up for so long. She lost her mother to a really gruesome looking battle with cancer and you don’t have to see any of this to believe that she’s had it about as hard as she possibly could. And she’s at this point where she thinks she’s given up on everything but of course she runs smack into Adam and it’s fate. And he brings out the best of her… Her art and whatever she was doing before have dissipated. Disappeared.
Astrid [Leah Pipes] is your boyfriend’s female roommate. That’s a complicated dynamic. You also don’t quite expect her to pull what she pulls near the end of the film.
No, she is possessed. She definitely… I think Astrid plays a necessary role in the film. I don’t have much to say about the relationship with Astrid because it was kind of hard to set the tone. It turned out the way it did. I think it plays quite well. It is what it is, I mean she’s got this new love coming into his life. Yeah I don’t really know what to say about Astrid except she’s a necessary evil and she becomes possessed. She plays a pivotal role. She’s just kind of a driving vehicle behind things and she shows what his life is like and the roommates are good supporting roles in showing what his life was before I came along, you know?
There’s an intense bathtub scene in the film. Was that…
It was grueling. We had to shoot it more than once. It didn’t work the first time. Her pants bled in the water, there were all kinds of problems we didn’t think there would be. We shot it literally three times. It was fine. That part of the movie is integral and Astrid is possessed so that’s why it works. Because no friend would do that. You’re in this land of everything has gone so wrong. Again, it’s part of the whole horror genre at that point.
The sequences with the demons and ghosts seemed fairly intense given that they’re so dark and confined.
It was fine. It was exhausting. It was dusty and grueling and it was long hours. And it was low budget. This was Mark’s vision and we all wanted to do as great of a job as we could so I stuck to the integrity of it. I’m actually really happy with the way the film has turned out. We did it so quickly on a low budget so the only way to make a good film is to play the truth of the scene. She’s terrified. This is the land we’re in. These entities and demons.
And there’s so many films about that being made now. Especially in this day and age where there’s all of this “the end of the world” and “where do you go after you die” stuff. I’ve been reading a lot of scripts about life after death and the remaining… the Bible. The end of the Earth. All of that. And I think this film does a nice job of keeping it ethereal. It toes the line between keeping it not a full-on horror film about that and it’s not a full-on love story. It’s somewhere in the middle. It’s a nice ethereal capsule about love. And I don’t think you can take any of these subjects too seriously, everybody views life after death in their own way. So I actually think what Mark’s done in putting the film together is great. It’s open to interpretation in a sense.