GORE IN THE STORE
IN CONVERSATION WITH BROCK O'HURN
In filmmaker Taylor Chien’s THE RESORT, four friends Lex (Bianca Haase), Chris (Brock O’Hurn), Sam (Michael Vlamis) and Bree (Michelle Randolph), head to an abandoned and haunted resort in Hawaii, in search of the infamous Half-Faced Girl. After arriving, it’s not long until they begin to realise the old adage of being careful what you wish for is true.
In conversation with FRIGHTFEST, O’Hurn recalled his early memories of horror cinema, experiencing genuine fear on the set of THE RESORT, and how film is not all that different to life.
FRIGHTFEST: Why acting as a means of creative expression? Was there an inspirational or defining moment for you personally?
Brock O’Hurn: Growing up, we moved around all the time, and one of the few things I was able to do consistently was watch movies – it became this beautiful escape.
I started acting when I was 12-years-old. I joined a play at my school, I was the lead, and I enjoyed it so much that it was the one thing where I thought, ‘I could do this all the time.’ I enjoyed it, and I wanted to give that same escape I experienced as a kid back to people one day.
FF: It’s a huge difference wanting to do something versus believing you can. Were there doubts you had to overcome on this creative journey?
BH: It definitely seemed like an impossible dream growing up, and it was one of those big things that you can only wish and hope for. The catalyst was when I was 19-years-old and in community college not far from LA. I remember in the second week they handed me a piece of paper. On it were all the jobs you can have, how much money you can make and how long it's going to take you to do it.
I had to look at the best option and so I went through to the bottom of the list, and it said to be a doctor, it was going to take eight years of your life, and you’d make $150,000 a year, which is great money. I didn't want to be a doctor, and I didn’t know how I’d even pay for myself to get to that point, and eight years is a very long time when you have only been alive eighteen or nineteen years. So I looked at it and thought this is not for me. I crumpled it up, and literally that week I packed my bags and ended up living with a friend in LA, and the rest is history.
FF: Picking up on your previous remark about cinema as an escape, was horror something that you were drawn to?
BH: … I remember the first time I saw IT, I was 10-years-old, maybe younger. We had a cousin staying with us who was 30 and I'm this terrified kid who has to go to bed immediately after watching that film. What happens is that not even five minutes later, someone's banging on my window outside screaming, and I thought it was IT. So between that and Freddy Krueger, and all these other films from that time, I can't say I was in love with horror, but I very much enjoyed it and that feeling of being scared.
I don't get that too often because I'm a very big guy, and when I find a movie that actually does that for me like THE CONJURING, then it’s, ‘Okay, you've got to think twice about what's going on.’ There are so many films out there that make you question and think twice. They get you excited in a different way, that a comedy or an action film never will.
FF: If we consider that we are immersed in the world of the characters while simultaneously aware that we are watching a film, cinema is the closest thing to an out of body experience.
BH: … That's exactly how I feel in the sense of I know it's a great film when I forget that I'm watching it. I've walked out of so many films as a kid thinking I have the powers, that I could do this, or I can conquer this demon. This in-between moment is a massive part of it, where you are safe in that space, and then at the same time if you're in it, it's one of the most enjoyable things there is to experience.
FF: When you watch THE RESORT are you still able to lose yourself in the story, if only in moments?
BH: … Being an actor I can't ever help but watch myself perform and think about the choices I've made. Then there’s being on set and knowing what it took to get those shots, and what to expect. There’s a level of separation I feel that I can create, where I can watch it and enjoy it for what it is without being too hypercritical, or focusing on myself too much, or the other performances.
FF: The film is shot in a space that has a history of its own, that inspires the films story. This lends it an aura, that does some of the groundwork. When you think about genre cinema, the spatial can make or break a film.
BH: Without a doubt it plays a factor. If there's a certain energy there, if there's a certain feeling, if there's a way that it looks and feels, then that translates across the screen. You can't hide those types of things, and if you're able to capture it correctly, it's incredible.
The reason this film was created in the first place was because of the stories that we were told about the place, so it definitely had this eerie feel. We were on set into the early hours of the morning, and like I said, I'm a big guy and I don't get scared too easily, but there are a couple of scenes where I had to run into the dark abyss, and I was hoping for them to call “cut” so I could run back.
FF: Filmmaker Christoph Behl remarked to me, "You are evolving, and after the film, you are not the same person as you were before." Do you perceive there to be a transformative aspect to the creative process?
BH: Definitely, in the sense that when you start something you go on this journey. You’re so invested in it, but it’s just like life in that it’s a transformative process. You’re going through these experiences and you're taking these lessons you've learned. It can be transformative in the way you do your work, it can be transformative in the story you're telling, the characters you become and how somebody thinks, and it gives you a different perspective.
One of the things I love about acting is being open minded enough to experience other people's emotions, and adapt them to yourself in a different way, and to view things differently. It’s not going to happen with everything in filmmaking, but I know it has happened for me, and it has helped me grow as a human, and expand my horizons.
THE RESORT is released On Digital and On Demand 30 April.