Throughout the lexicon of horror films, the recurring role of the mother is a fascinating one to behold, as maternal roles have been key to some of the most iconic and frightening performances to date. Whether it be Piper Laurie in Carrie, Betsy Palmer in Friday the 13th or Samantha Eggar in The Brood, or adversely the number of mothers who have played empowered variations of the “final girl” throughout the years, matriarchal roles have anchored many genre films and provided a catalyst for either compelling relief or relentless anxiety throughout the years. For this reason, you’ll rarely see two actresses emulate the same performances in playing a mother inside of a horror story, and leaves the audience more engaged as they wait for their expectations to become subverted.
Fortunately for Jug Face, a horror film that offers much in the way of subversion in general, the mother in question is played by none other than acting veteran Sean Young, who turns the role of a backwoods colony matriarch into a ferocious and shockingly unforgiving performance. Aided by a tightly wound script, involved performers and an unpredictable intuition, Young offers the film a razor sharp antagonist with suffering from internal fears that manifest into gut-wrenching external acts of violence and aggression. In our last chapter of JUG FACE WEEK, Young spoke to Diabolique on her character, her process as a performer and the identity of the most destructive monster within Jug Face…
DIABOLIQUE: Jug Face is a very peculiar horror film as it strides to exist in a world outside of our understanding, generally speaking. What attracted you about this project?
SEAN YOUNG: Well, what I think of the movie as is a story about a family and a community that has been taken over by this Pit, and on a regular basis, the Jugmaker, who is somewhat of a soothsayer, decides who gets sacrificed. So the subtext of the picture is that the Pit represents corporatocracy and how all of our lives are so taken up with our dependence that we’re being gobbled up by corporatocracy.
DIABOLIQUE: Wow. That’s a very unique way of looking at the film. I never really thought of that allegory in that particular light but it’s very interesting.
YOUNG: Well, it’s true.
DIABOLIQUE: I can see where you’re coming from with that, in retrospect. Well, considering that you’re a very experienced and seasoned actress and Jug Face was Chad Crawford Kinkle’s first feature film, what was your experience like working on Kinkle’s inaugural cinematic effort?
YOUNG: I think Chad was pretty conservative [as a director]. I don’t think he worried much about that because he had so many people [supporting him]. In working with Sean Bridgers, myself and Larry [Fessenden], he knew that he was in good hands. And Lauren was a natural; she took her role and ran with it. But I don’t think Chad had many worries in that department.
I think the worry was, really, the monster. If it’s a horror picture, you’ve got to have a monster. There were plans to see that monster that didn’t really end up in the final cut, which I think is better. I think it supports the subtext that we’re all trying to live our lives underneath this big black hole and we’re trying to figure out how to save our communities and our families and yet still have the burden of sacrifice.
DIABOLIQUE: One particular aspect that I noticed about Jug Face was that the community was dominated primarily by men and followed many traditions that favored men in a basic, primal mentality. Did this aspect inform your decision to approach your character more aggressively?
YOUNG: No. I think that aspect falls in line with the whole ‘being under the auspices of a never-satisfied, hungry, corporate influence’ because we do live in a male-dominated world. As much as many women might not want to admit that, it’s still quite true. So, for me, that [element] just was in line with that whole theme we were trying to go for, which was what it’s like to live underneath the influence of a suffocating presence of a hungry corporate world.
DIABOLIQUE: In playing Loriss, the mother of the protagonist Ada, you shared many intense scenes with Lauren Ashley Carter, including ones with some particularly awful violence, although in my opinion, I thought there was a certain vulnerability behind your character’s actions. Was a facet of vulnerability something that you wanted to bring to this character?
YOUNG: I didn’t actually think of [Loriss] as vulnerable. I thought of her as ignorant. I think that was a part of what I was going through with her. You know, people who are ignorant justify their violence because they don’t know any better. I think of my character, Loriss, as someone who deeply believes in what she thinks is right, but it just happens to be that what she thinks is right isn’t right. She doesn’t know any better because she’s ignorant, but that doesn’t stop her from being violent.
DIABOLIQUE: From our previous interviews from JUG FACE WEEK, we learned that the film shot on location in Tennessee and that there was a good amount of freedom associated to the amount of time given to the performers. Do you think that those aspects of filming Jug Face lent more to an uninhibited performance?
YOUNG: There’s certainly some truth behind that some actors who are held captive in a hotel and are far from everything they’re familiar with will rely on each other and they’ll band together. But I think that all of the people in this picture could be very competent at building their characters, whether they were in Manhattan or in the middle of Tennessee. There were a lot of professionals, from Larry to Sean Bridgers to myself and Lauren. In fact, all of the actors were super competent. Daniel Manche did a fantastic job, and I think we could have done [our performances] no matter where we were, even if we were on Mars, if we were asked to.
DIABOLIQUE: Many of your scenes were with your fictional family, made up of Lauren Ashley Carter, Larry Fessenden and Daniel Manche. Was there a certain approach to the way you acted with them as opposed to others in the film, for instance, Sean Bridgers, who played the society’s outcast?
YOUNG: Well, I particularly enjoyed working with Lauren. I really had a gratifying experience being a support to her and being an encouragement, because she’s a newcomer and an up-and-comer. She’s very talented and very fun to work with. We didn’t really bother each other; we were able to work together very easily. There weren’t really any problems because we all walked in knowing what we were doing. Plus, we were very supportive.
I thought, actually, the costume designer, Michael Bevins, did a really good job with all of the costumes because when you look at the film, the costumes make you want to itch and scratch yourself. They look so specifically made because he handmade them. It wasn’t like he went out shopping. So he created a little world for us in a very specific way because we were all dressed in the same kind of genre. We were all dressed with the same kind of feeling, so you could tell that we were our own little community.
DIABOLIQUE: Did you, as an actress, want to bring anything to this role that had not been on the script or in your initial characterization of Ada?
DIABOLIQUE: Do you have any future projects in development or awaiting release?
YOUNG: Yeah! I’ve been offered to do a play. The play is called Ava and it’s about Ava Gardner. It is a one-woman show and it was written by a man who actually worked with Ava Gardner, and that’s going to go into rehearsal starting in the fall. I’m really excited about it because when I read it, I was so excited and couldn’t put it down. The stage is something that’s very exciting for me to start working on.
As mentioned before, Jug Face is releasing this Friday, August 9th in select theatres, and the film is still available for rental now on iTunes, Amazon and VOD platforms. For our NYC readers, the midnight screening of Jug Face at the Village East Cinemas tonight (08/09/13) will have producer Andrew van den Houten in person! The film is also releasing on DVD and Blu-ray on October 15th, 2013, and is available for preorder on Amazon and other retail outlets. For more information on the film, you can visit its official website here or visit here for a list of screening locations.
This concludes our JUG FACE WEEK here at DiaboliqueMagazine.com! Additionally, you can check our previous JUG FACE WEEK interviews with producer Andrew van den Houten here, star Sean Bridgers here, and star Lauren Ashley Carter here, as well as Chris Hallock’s interview with Jug Face director Chad Crawford Kinkle here. You can also view Kinkle’s short film, Organ Grinder, here via ModernCiné.
Also, don’t forget to pick up Diabolique Issue #17, our incredibly great and star-studded horror-comedy issue, which is available for preorder, available at the App Store now for iPad / iPhone users (Free with a Digital Subscription!) and will be on shelves and available for Digital Download on other platforms soon! Subscribe to the digital edition and not only will you save money from issue to issue, but you’ll also be getting Diabolique #17 for free!
– By Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine, as well as a contributing writer for Diabolique Magazine and Fangoria Magazine. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on several screenplays spanning over different genres and subject matter, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.