Interview With Director Brea Grant For TORN HEARTS

With her newest foray into horror, director Brea Grant takes on the country music scene in the fun and delightfully bloody, Torn Hearts. I was able to speak to the director about her first take on the script, the casting, the set design, and more!

This interview has been edited for clarity. 

This is Kristy Strouse with Film Inquiry. How are you Brea? Or should I call you the Queen of Horror?

Brea Grant: All right! Now we’re getting somewhere. She’s ready. She’s ready!

For real though, you are! I’ve loved the last two films you’ve directed and the last few you’ve starred in. 

Brea Grant: Thank you!

This is another genre film, but it’s very different from your last. What was it about this screenplay that made you think: I have to make this movie?

Brea Grant: I mean, well, it’s a very unique concept. That was first of all, like how could I not make this movie? But I had had a meeting with Blumhouse, after my movie, 12-hour Shift came out. And I want to make genre stuff. But I like fun movies, I want to make stuff that’s a little southern and I love working with women over 40. Like, I feel like there are not enough women over 40. I mean, even honestly, over like 25, and there’s just not that many of them. There are not that many roles for them. And so they’re like, Oh, interesting! And then they sent me the script. I had no idea that we were going to combine all of those things into one movie. And they did. I pitched them my ideas, and they liked them. So, I flew to New Orleans, two days later and started prepping.

Yeah, it’s definitely an interesting concept, and a fun one! Are you a country music fan? I know you’re from Texas, right?

Brea Grant: I am from Texas, and I do have a soft spot for country, my dad loved old country. And then there was a time in the 90s when my mom got into country like new country because it had that revival in the 90s with the Garth Brooks and Reba McEntire world, and I kind of got into it then as well. Then I suppose that I’ve kind of gotten into like, alt-country and I’ve stayed there. There are certain bands I still really like and I make a playlist for everything that I do. And making this playlist was super fun because I got to go back and was like “Oh I forgot about this song!” Also, I think there are just all these old country songs that are super creepy. I didn’t end up getting to use any of them in the movie because we had a great composer and we had songs like I didn’t need a lot of placed songs but there are so many really great super creepy old country songs that I’m a big fan of.

Interview With Director Brea Grant For TORN HEARTS
source: Blumhouse

There definitely is! And I did love the composition. Of course, I have to talk about that the casting because first of all, I love Katey Sagal! Did you have her in mind, or Alexxis or Abby?

Brea Grant: From early on we had a list going of actresses. They were like, you know, I wanted someone who could say she’d come up with the times. And I was like, do you think Katey would do a horror movie? And they were like, well, she’s never done a horror movie. I was like, well, maybe I mean, first time for everything! So, I wrote a really nice letter, she read the script, and she agreed to come down to New Orleans and hang out with us and it was great. She’s a very giving actor and wants to work on the role and discuss all the scenes, the kind of stuff that I really love digging into too. So it worked out really well!

And Alexxis [Lemore] I knew her work because she’s in a film called The Half of It, which had premiered at Tribeca 2020, where 12-hour Shift premiered, and they kept winning awards. Like all the awards they were up for, they won. And it was a very sweet movie, and she was in it. And so when she sent in a tape, I was like, Oh, holy shit! It’s the girl from The Half of It, and she was wonderful! Abby [Quinn] also sent in a tape and was amazing and played guitar on it, and I wanted someone who could actually play guitar. I wanted people who could actually sing, because I wanted them to be recording one song live in the film. I just got super lucky with just an amazing cast, that showed up, ready to work and sing!

Everyone really does settle into the role of being a believable, country music star. They all sound great. And I’ve heard Katey sing before, and I’m so glad you got her to do a horror! Maybe that’ll open some doors for her to do something else because she’s intimidating in this role. 

Brea Grant: Yeah, I’m ready for the Scream Queen franchise, like Jamie Lee Curtis and her need to team up on something. Yeah, I’m ready for it!

Yes please! I feel like this is really such a strong time for female-driven, directed, horrors. Have you seen any recently that’d you like to give a rec out for?

Brea Grant: Oh, that is a really great question. Yes, I watched there’s a little indie film called The Aviary. It was co-directed by a man and a woman and its stars Malin Akerman. Now that movie was really, it’s like horror, sci-fi. Yeah. And it was shot during a pandemic. And it’s like one of those pandemic movies that you’re like, Oh, this is genius. Like, they like that. Did you make it during the pandemic? There are only two, three people really in the whole movie, but it’s really gorgeous. And it was super creepy. So yeah, I have to recommend that!

Interview With Director Brea Grant For TORN HEARTS
source: Blumhouse

Awesome! *Adds to watchlist*. This seems like this is basically like one of those one-set locations, obviously there are a few, but it’s primarily in this house. I’d love to talk about that because I think it’s a very interesting setting because some parts are very lavish, it’s almost like a museum to her past, but at the same time you go in the kitchen and it’s just like rotted food and it’s got an interesting kind of contrast to it. 

Brea Grant: Well, we shot in New Orleans so they have a bunch of creepy houses, and then it’s actually two houses they were right next to each other and we were able to use the main house as the main exterior and where they walk in that whole area is all one location and the kitchen was there too. And then we had another house, she was right next to it, we were able to use for some of the other rooms and then we built the basement for obvious reasons when you watch the movie there are things in there that will be hard to find. And yeah, it was great. I mean the house has that gorgeous like kind of Gothic-looking structure but my production designer had to dress the whole thing too. We painted the inside, and we did a lot of work on it but the goal was that you come in and you’re like oh maybe she’s doing all right. She’s been alone for 20 years but maybe she’s living normally. And then… as you get deeper into the house the more you see the more you realize that maybe things are not great for her.

Yes, any facades are quickly scraped away, and it becomes a house of horrors. Are you already working on something else?

Brea Grant: A few things but nothing you can see I worked on, I directed a show called Unconventional that should come out later this year. I used to work on a show called Eastsiders and it’s the same thing as that. It’s like a queer drama. It’s not genre. It’s another thing that I get to do that is super fun, and I’m super proud of that as well. It also has singing in my episode, interestingly enough!

Sounds awesome! Well, thank you so much for taking the time. I really enjoyed the film, and congrats!

Film Inquiry would like to thank Brea Grant for taking the time to speak with us!

Torn Hearts will be released digitally on May 20th. 

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