“Disgusted,” Shay Mitchell gleefully told us when asked how she felt about her co-star’s makeup on the set of her upcoming film, The Possession of Hannah Grace. We arrived during the final week of a 25-day shoot; a welcome change of pace for Mitchell who had recently wrapped up a 7-year run on the wildly popular Pretty Little Liars.
Enthusiastically Mitchell talked to us about her experience working on her first lead feature role where she plays a former cop that is now a recovering addict working at a morgue. One evening a disfigured cadaver arrives and it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t your typical dead body. To help prepare for the role Mitchell went on a ride-along in Worcester and was able to meet with a number of female cops who tried to quickly show her the ropes. She also relied on her childhood to help guide her character.
“I also watched a lot of cop shows and I always pretended, even when I was younger, going around the corner just kind of like this (mimicking a gun) with my brother. I feel like I have had a lot of training.”
As far as visiting the morgue, she shied away. And who could blame her? Morgues are scary places.
“I just think for my mental state I didn’t want to go to a morgue. I put it out there that I was like, ‘Please, I hope they don’t make me do that.’ They didn’t because it’s quite hard to actually even get in there.”
Speaking of fear, Mitchell discussed how she isn’t a big fan of horror movies and when she does watch them she does so with her hands planted firmly on her face.
“I don’t like scary movies. I don’t watch them. I’m terrified.
“My research for this was watching trailers because I figure if I get through the trailers that’s kind of like the scariest parts, right?” After pausing for a moment, Mitchell continued. “Well, some of them. Maybe it’s not the scariest parts. But then I don’t have to watch it.”
It’s important to note that none of what Mitchell said was intended to disparage horror. She just seems to find horror films genuinely frightening, but she fully understands the appeal. And at one point she even asked for recommendations. I suggested The ‘Burbs, which maybe isn’t the best option when you’re looking for horror specifically, but it is the greatest film ever made.
“Being on this set and seeing the reaction and even me with the research that I did, watching a bit of other movies, I get it,” Mitchell told us. “I get the thrill. I get the love for the gore, almost, because even seeing Kirby (co-star Kirby Johnson) up close, I’m like, ‘It’s almost beautiful.’ You know? Seeing your skin peel off, it’s kind of beautiful.”
While on set we were lucky enough to see a sneak peak of the film’s effects work courtesy of the talented Adrien Morot and it’s easy to see why Mitchell was impressed. Morot has made a name for himself working on a number of large budget films like X-Men: Apocalypse and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, but he loves to get his hands dirty working on genre films and most BD readers will be familiar with his work in 2008’s Martyrs.
“I’ve been talking so much to Adrien, who did her insane makeup, and it’s just unreal. You can go up to her so close and be looking, and you’re still just like, ‘Is it real?'”
See just how real it all is when Sony Screen Gems releases The Possession of Hannah Grace in theaters on November 30th.