Radha Mitchell (Silent Hill, The Shack) stars in Dreamkatcher, a horror-thriller that centers on Gail (Mitchell), a woman who tries to bond with her stepson Josh (Finlay Wotjak-Hissong) at a remote country home. Still traumatized over his mother’s passing, Josh has visions of his late mother ordering him to murder Gail. During the interview, Mitchell talked about what made Dreamkatcher a unique story, shooting in Bovine, and why she continues to grow in confidence as an actress.
You have starred in your share of suspense driven thrillers. Were you a fan of the genre at an early age?
The first movie that left an indelible impression on me was a movie called Cat People. Not the first one, but the second one.
My mom used to always take me to this old fashioned movie theater when I was a kid. This
place called The Astor in Melbourne. Somehow I ended up seeing this movie at an age where
maybe it was inappropriate, but for that reason it stuck in my mind. I was always looking under the bed for the panther.
I think we look in cinema obviously for a heightened sensation and there is a sense when we are being titilated or scared that we feel even more alive. However you get to that state (or) whatever pushes you into an emotional state I think is what creates cinematic memories. I sort of have always been repelled by the genre but also fascinated by it.
Dreamkatcher, from the outside looking in,seems like a horror film with thriller elements. That said, a big part of the movie centers on the family dynamic.
I was going to say a good tagline for the movie would be “a horror thriller for the whole family.”
There is a kind of a family feel to it and I was quite drawn to this unconventional relationship
between this woman who is this therapist and stepmother and this young boy. And this almost
kind of adult repartee where he’s not tended to like a kid. They speak to each other in a very
adult way and it’s kind of unusual and intriguing.
There’s a certain subtlety even in the drama of the story that was very interesting to me.
Obviously when you get into this realm of surrealism, you’ve got more extreme direction. It
became more fascinating because we set it up in a more naturalistic way.
The location for Dreamkatcher is very sparse and picturesque. What was it like to shoot in such an area that seems to be devoid of many creature comforts?
I had just come in from the South of France. I had been at the Cannes Film Festival and I flew
into Bovina in Upstate New York which I thought was a short drive to New York and we’d go
there every weekend.
But when you go out there, there is no wi-fi reception. So I was put into this little log cabin to acclimate and prepare for a couple of days.
I was in this little cabin alone with no car and no wi-fi reception. I immediately was thrown into the experience of the character. That whole region is magical and beautiful because you are kind of off the grid in a sense.
Where you’re driving, there’s no cell phone reception. You feel how it would have felt 20 years ago or 10 years ago even; just this sense of space, which for someone who is addicted to technology, is a bit uncomfortable. But it also gives you this reprieve. And there were people out there that are living in teepees and rocking it out in this instagrammable kind of way.
We hung out in those circles a little bit. Yeah it was a beautiful location but definitely the
isolation and remoteness was intensified by the no phone situation.
I recently rewatched “Feast of Love” and realized at how much my reaction to that changed in a much more positive manner over the years. What were some of your takeaways from doing that film?
Yeah I think a lot of the movies I have done may not have resonated in the moment but they
have a kind of resonance. There are characters that you’re playing even when you’re playing
them that you don’t quite understand because you may not have the experience of the writer
who wrote the character or there is just these certain moments in your life where you sort of shift your own perspective.
I haven’t seen that one in a while. There was a certain cynicism to the character I was playing
that I didn’t maybe completely inhabit in my own life. But it was interesting and it is interesting to how things play out – there is a lot of cross pollination between life and art over time. You see the kind of patterns. You do really grow into the stories in a way or see them more how they were seen from the perspective of the storyteller with time.
Do you feel your acting has gotten deeper as the years gone by?
Everything I kind of love I hate as well which is a bit confusing (laughs). I do feel like in a sense, it is easier than it may have been in the past. Certain things are different but I think the accumulation of experience takes the uncertainty of the process out of it. When you begin a career, you have this hesitancy and you don’t even know if you can act basically. And then I guess as you get older with more experience, the confidence develops there.
In a way you become more involved in the storytelling and more involved in the philosophy of the content. You are more involved in how the story might be constructed, so you can broaden your perspective on the thing a bit.
When you are beginning, you’re just invested in your own character and what you’re doing in that moment. With time, you get a (bigger) picture of the whole story.
Can you name one of your favorite movies and what is it about that story that stillresonates with you?
I have no favorite films. Just for some reason coming to my mind is this movie The Hunger. And then another movie The Lover which is based on a Marguerite Duras book. That was always one of my favorite books when I was studying in Melbourne at Swinburne University. It had this sort of postmodern narrative and I thought they did an excellent job of turning it into an emotional, erotic, poetic film and I wish there was more poetry in film today.
I feel like people have lost this sense of cinema a little bit.
Dreamkatcher hits DVD, On Demand, and Digital April 28 via Lionsgate.
My audio interview with Radha Mitchell is up for our CinemAddicts Patreon subscribers, and later in the week (a day or so after the film is released), I will have audio of Mitchell discussing the end of the movie. Check out our Patreon for details!Become a Patron!