[Interview] Rhian Rees on the Fear and Female Power of ‘Halloween’ 2018
Halloween 2018 is breaking box office records, already the highest grossing slasher of all time with over $200 million worldwide, and in the weeks leading up to the big screen return of Michael Myers, images of a terrified Rhian Rees screaming from a restroom stall were on TV during every commercial break on every network, and she says the horror was real for her in that now-iconic scene.
It is the scene that will probably ultimately be most identified with this film, as it was featured so prominently in the first trailer and all of the subsequent marketing buildup to the Oct. 19 release, and, in the context of the film, it is truly the return of Michael Myers, the killer and the trickster, and the donning of the mask.
At last month’s historic H40: Forty Years of Terror Halloween anniversary event in Pasadena, CA., Rhian Rees, who plays “investigative journalist” Dana Haines in the new film, made her first ever convention appearance, meeting fans of all ages over two epic days alongside her co-star James Jude Courtney and the largest gathering of Michael Myers actors and franchise cast and crew ever assembled.
We had a chance to chat for a few minutes that weekend, just days before Rhian would attend the Hollywood premiere of Halloween, as neither of us had seen the new movie yet.
Read on for our interview with Rhian Rees, in which we discuss the very real terror she felt in that restroom stall, what she finds scariest about Michael Myers, and the uniquely female power of Halloween 2018.
So the commercial for the new movie is on every 20 minutes and it’s your scream I’m hearing every time it comes on. What’s that like for you?
No one can prepare you for screaming. It’s not like I’m going to sit in my hotel room screaming at the top of my lungs giving it a good old practice.
I was literally and palpably terrified in that moment. I can’t lie, I wasn’t really acting. I was really scared.
I’m very sensitive to horror anyway, so that’s why I didn’t really watch it (the original Halloween prior to being cast in the new one). I was coming at it, for that specific scene, like, ‘Oh, it’s David (Gordon Green) and we’re shooting a nice indie film where it’s a drama and it’s subtle and beautiful.’ And then I just had to switch part of my brain off to do that scene.
The whole shoot was so quick for this movie, but I thought that was kind of fitting because they filmed the original about as quick.
(It was) 25 days. It felt like we just popped it out, and now I’m just starting to think about it.
This convention really solidifies that it’s real and I did do it and it’s happening.
What is your impression of this convention? It’s your first one of these and we’re all here celebrating the 40th anniversary of this franchise that you are now a part of.
It’s wonderful really. It feels like being part of a very large, extended family. Everyone’s so well mannered and polite, which is such a pleasant surprise. I thought everyone was going to say, ‘Who’s that girl from the trailer?’, because you know, the movie’s not out yet, but everyone has been really supportive and sweet.
I feel very happy and very blessed to be part of it. And I’m not going to lie, I don’t know all of my second-cousins’ names, but I’ll get there I’m sure.
So you’ll be at the big Hollywood premiere this week?
Yes, I’m bringing a big scarf to hide behind. I don’t do well with blood. I’m very squeamish. (laughs)
Did you watch the previous films after you got this role?
Well we were told very specifically not to actually. Well I was told only to watch the first one, because obviously this is the sequel. I cheated a little bit and watched a little bit of H20.
Actually it was funny, David told me to watch Gorillas in the Mist. It’s not a horror film at all. It has scary moments, but it was really to study and understand the mindset of Sigourney Weaver in Gorillas in the Mist, so that was my homework, that and listening to a lot of podcasts. I went through all of them. I ended up going through this whole true crime wormhole and I’m yet to come out the other end.
It’s very timely how they’ve worked the true crime element into the new film as a way to reintroduce Michael to a new generation. This is going to be their introduction to this franchise for certain people.
It’s an epidemic isn’t it? The whole true crime thing has gone absolutely mental, in a great way because they’re entertaining, but I suppose the flip side of that is that we have a lot of podcasts coming out – I mean anyone can make one. So you don’t necessarily have the right training or skills, and let’s just say that may be the case when it comes to Dana and Aaron in Halloween. They may be a little bit in over their heads, if you like.
I mean they’re not psychologists. They have no experience with serial killers, with victims of trauma.
That’s a great point that this could almost be a cautionary tale of be careful what you wish for investigating a killer.
Maybe it’s not good to try and grab the exploitative angle, which we’ll probably learn that lesson the hard way.
I love that some of that real world commentary is embedded into this film.
Absolutely, I think that the true crime element and the podcasting really sums up this millennial generation that we’re very much a part of. And I know Jamie’s talked a lot about trauma sufferers and of course there’s that angle, but for me personally, I was really intrigued by the stalking angle of Michael, which no one really talks about.
The fact that he is a stalker, and again, everyone can be privy to stalking these days what with the interweb. You can probably Google my name and find out three little facts about me by now, and that’s terrifying isn’t it? So I think a lot about stalking and how that is omnipresent right now and it’s deeply part of our culture, and how it’s almost normalized, and that’s an interesting perspective that I had on Michael.
Jamie has talked about how it is very much about the Me Too era in our culture right now and about a woman taking back her narrative.
I know the thing that drew me to the script was definitely that, three badass women. And also, there’s no ditzy characters in the movie. That’s a nice change, isn’t it? In my limited experience with horror films, I think that’s just wonderful. It’s nice to be given our brains back. (laughs)
You can see more of our coverage from H40: Forty Years of Terror here.
[Read our interview with James Jude Courtney on playing Michael Myers in Halloween 2018 here.]
[Read our interview with Nick Castle on reprising Michael Myers in Halloween 2018 here.]
[Read our interview with Christopher Nelson on making Michael Myers’ mask for Halloween 2018 here.]
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