An emerging model and actress in the indie genre, Lacey Rae has built a solid buzz on several roles in and out of the genre which prepares her to move along nicely in the scene. Now, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I talk with her about her burgeoning interest in the genre, her early acting work and the upcoming film 9 Ways to Hell.
Me: Hello and thank you for taking the time to do this.
Lacey Rae: Absolutely! Happy to chat with you.
Me: First off, when did you get into horror in general? Were you into genre films growing up? What films specifically got you into watching horror movies?
LR: I first gravitated toward horror when Monster Squad came out in theaters and “Thriller” was blowing up MTV (how’s that for aging myself?); but I absolutely fell in love with the genre when I first watched Army of Darkness, Seven and Scream. I saw Scream in theaters nine times including a special midnight screening with giveaways – I won a poster and Jiffy Pop! Between those films and Rocky Horror Picture Show (I also love musical theater), I love the high stakes, the drama, the occasional camp, and the athleticism of the performers; it’s cathartic. I even wrote a blog post about how much I love horror!
My preference for horror movies when I was younger segued into a current love of haunted houses and immersive horror theatrical experiences. I have performed in a few live horror productions, as well as written reviews for genre events in the Los Angeles area on Haunting.net and Media-Geeks.com.
Me: How did you come to be involved in the industry as an actress? Was there any specific aspect that appealed to you from an early age?
LR: Oh, I’ve always been a performer. I started when I was four years old tap-dancing on stage. That morphed into singing and dancing, then into performing in musical theater. The next step, obviously, was acting in horror films. I joke… But there are similarities between musical theater and horror. I love the heightened sense of reality and the escapism that the two genres provide, albeit in very different ways. I also need to push and challenge myself on a daily basis, physically and emotionally, and acting in horror provides a great outlet for that.
Me: Having worked on plenty of short films early in your career, what tools and skills do you acquire working on those that transferred to future film projects?
LR: While working on many short films, I’ve worn a variety of hats – actor, writer, director, script supervisor, casting, stunts, and make-up – and learned a lot about the different roles on set. One pet peeve of mine – in any aspect of life – is disorganization. I think everyone’s time is so valuable (especially on a very low-budget or no-budget project), so I absolutely can’t stand when someone’s time is being wasted. As I took on more producing and executive producing roles in my short films, I learned how to stay as organized and time-efficient as possible. This helped a ton when I started working on feature films, like 9 Ways to Hell, which had nine different writers/directors and overlapping casts. Talk about a huge coordination job!
Me: What do you do to stay in character while on-set? When you're not filming, how do you pass the time between takes?
LR: This one depends on the project and how many different roles I am responsible for onset. If I’m producing as well as acting, it’s more challenging as I’m managing multiple jobs, but that’s why I had my stupendous co-executive producer, Nick Dragon, on 9 Ways to Hell to help. On other projects, I try to make sure that I have amazing directors/co-producers who can alleviate some stress while I focus on the acting side.
On my short film, Bad Fun, I co-wrote (with Ross Mihalko and Rebecca Diggs), produced, and acted. But I hired a crew that was at the top of their game – from directing to lighting to stunts to AD – and I could not have been any luckier. I arrived on set and offered to get to work as a crew member, setting things up, but director Nick Kane told me that everything was under control and I could just focus on acting. It was a breath of fresh air and so, so comforting to have that support behind me.
In terms of acting, though, if it’s a difficult role, I will ask for a few minutes to get in that headspace before rolling. In between takes, I’ll take a step away to regroup or stay in it, but I’m not a “stay in character 24/7” type of actor. There’s always too much to do!
Me: That brings us to your latest project, "9 Ways to Hell." What can you tell us about the project? As you’re also an Executive Producer on the film, what drew you to being involved in the project in that manner?
LR: A few years ago, I fell into a rut where I was finding a lot of people saying they wanted to make films but never following through. To combat this, I joined a meetup group for Hollywood guerrilla filmmakers hoping to meet like-minded creatives that actually wanted to create. I met the most amazing and talented people in this meetup group! We started making short films together when we could and helped each other bring our projects to life, creating a community of reliable filmmakers. Nick Dragon and I met on a werewolf short film and bonded over our love of horror films.
After about a year of making short films together (From Zombie with Love, Trash Day), Nick and I were itching to make a feature. We decided that the best way to get our friends and fellow filmmakers involved would be to make an anthology, especially since it would allow each writer/director creative freedom, unified via an overall theme.
9 Ways to Hell is a feature-length anthology film based on Dante’s Inferno. It interweaves nine different stories based on the circles of Hell – Limbo, Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Heresy, Violence, Wrath, Betrayal and Fraud – each with its own writer/director and some overlapping cast members. We interweaved characters, themes, props, and iconography throughout all the segments; yet it’s a little like herding cats. The segments range from darkly comedic (“Lust”) to surreal (“Violence”) to straight out of the news (“Wrath”) to graphically violent (“Greed” & “Fraud,” with award-winning gore FX by mastermind Joe Castro). The final film is just amazing to watch – especially knowing what went into making it – and it’s gotten a lot of well-deserved accolades!
Me: What can you tell us about your character, Alice Durante? Where did your inspiration for the characters' portrayal come from?
LR: My character, Alice, is an amalgam of Alice in Wonderland and Dante, and is the main focus of “Betrayal” and the interstitial segments. Nick Dragon wrote Alice in a way that paralleled my life as an actor, so it was extremely easy to get into the mindset of someone who has betrayed their dreams for an “easier” but unsatisfying life.
Also, at the time, I was suffering the sudden loss of a pet, so I was very raw and emotional already. When you see scenes of me running around in the rain, scared and crying, a lot of that was a way for me to grieve.
Me: What was the set like while shooting? Do you recall having any odd or funny on-set stories about yourself or any of the other cast/crew members?
LR: Since all the writers/directors and producers were basically paying for everything out of pocket, the shoot was naturally as scrappy as one can get. We shot when we could, where we could – even if that meant at 2am on a Wednesday night in an alley of the slums of Los Angeles that absolutely reeked (a place we so cleverly referred to as “poop alley”). Everyone chipped in when and where they could, all in an effort to create.
I remember one middle-of-the-night shoot during which we were filming Alice chasing a character who stole her phone. I was wearing these very high, platform heels that we had gotten from Goodwill. During one of the first shots of the night, one of my shoes breaks and I completely wipe out, twisting my ankle and scraping up my leg. We had no other time to shoot, so someone kindly went to get some ice for me, and I got back up there to finish getting the footage we needed. We have my fall recorded, but unfortunately, a lack of continuity wouldn’t let us include it in the final film.
Me: What else are you working on, regardless of genre, that you'd like to share with our readers?
LR: I shot a true crime docu-drama that’s now streaming on HBO Max, Alabama Snake; it has some horror elements for sure! I’m also anxiously awaiting Tom Six’s new film, The Onania Club, in which I play an aspiring actress. Switching gears completely, I’m working on fleshing out a comedic web series about a drunk fairy named Stumbelina (now on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok). I also make a brief appearance in fellow 9 Ways alum Scott Richards’ new horror feature, Mia, which I’m very excited to watch.
Me: Lastly, being that this is Women in Horror Month, what special message do you have for any women out there looking to join in the industry in any capacity as you are one yourself?
LR: No matter what the genre, the most important thing to do is create. If creating inspires you, you will inspire others. Then there is no limit to what you can achieve. Join theater companies that specialize in more off-beat shows, find Facebook or Meetup groups with like-minded people, record short films on your phone – just get involved, and be ready to work hard, and jump in with both feet!
Thank you again for your time!
To follow her work and stay up-to-date with her, check her out on social media: