Interview: Monique Candelaria From ‘The Control Group’

Monique Candelaria sat down with Pophorror recently to give us some answers about her involvement with the upcoming horror film The Control Group. She is one of my favorite interviews so far due to her expanding so much on each question. She took the time to tell us about her preparation for her role, her dedication to giving a full understanding of her character, and quite a spooky story from her childhood. Let’s see what she had to say about The Control Group and the supernatural experiences throughout her life.

PopHorror: Thank’s so much for talking with us, Monique! What process did you use to get into your character in The Control Group? How much could you relate to the character you were playing?

Monique Candelaria: When I was given the opportunity to audition for the character Heather, I was ecstatic to be given a character I could genuinely relate to. I am an Army brat and since I was a child, I was taught to have discipline, take pride in my work, stand up for what I believe is right, if I make mistakes never give up and fix what I can. All of these traits I found I could tie in directly to my character because Heather takes pride in her work while executing her tasks with proficiency and accuracy.

But when she finds out that she was tricked into bringing these college students for an experiment that she did not agree to, she isn’t afraid to go against authority and do her best to help the students escape. So, the process I used to get into character was in direct correlation to my life and thought processes, so I made sure that I created a strict routine for myself that I followed religiously even when I was on the set of The Control Group because I wanted to be the best that I could be in my body, mind and soul.

PopHorror: Was there anything you found especially difficult about bringing your character to life?

Monique Candelaria: The one area I found particularly difficult about bringing this character to life was knowing that the audience wouldn’t be given an opportunity to know my backstory and would have to do a lot of guess work when it came to my relationships with the characters around me.

PopHorror: What was an exceptionally fun moment that you had on set?

Monique Candelaria: Truthfully there were so many fun moments I wouldn’t know where to start! The Control Group was the first film where I was cast as a leading character in a state outside of my own. So for me, my entire experience feels very surreal and being that we were shooting at the abandoned Kirkbride insane asylum that is over 700,000sq ft. I took every advantage I had to explore all that I could.

PopHorror: Was there any scene that terrified you while filming it? If so, what and why?

Monique Candelaria: I’m a fan of horror films and how they are made so I wasn’t terrified. By being a part of the project, I was genuinely struck with excitement to see how each scene was executed.

PopHorror: Do you have any upcoming projects that you could discuss?

Monique Candelaria: Currently I am in true actor mode of auditioning and seeing what the universe has in store. But I can say that I have been truly blessed to land some amazing roles throughout the past couple years and it has been awe inspiring to see them become a reality. The ones I am still looking forward to seeing would be Shot Caller, An Ideal Home, and The Garden. One that just came out on VOD that I am particularly proud of is Cents where I play a 28-year-old mother trying to raise a daughter that is a mathematical genius. So if you would like to see what else I’ve been doing, check out my IMDb page.

PopHorror: Is there anything that you would like to let the viewers know about your character that you feel they need to understand to appreciate her?

Monique Candelaria: Hmmmm… I would love to give you guys my backstory on why Dr. Broward calls me by my first name instead of my last name, how Hanson and I met and why we agreed to kidnap a bunch of college students but since I made it all up in my head I figure it’s best if I leave you all with the ability to assume what you will. Once you all have watched the movie, I would love to hear your thoughts on some of these points and see if you can guess what was in my backstory.

PopHorror: Being that the film delves in to the supernatural, do you have any crazy ghost stories you would like to share?

Monique Candelaria: All my life, I have never been afraid of the dark or scared by the unknown. However, when I was 7 years-old, I was haunted by an entity that wouldn’t leave me alone until I was about 16 years-old. Since as far back as I can remember, I have always gotten up in the middle of the night to use the restroom. It has always been a routine of mine and many times my mama would find me in the living room sleeping on the couch with cartoons on surrounded by baloney strings, cheese wrappers and whatever else I could reach in the fridge.

However, when we moved from Colorado Springs to Albuquerque, New Mexico, my mom had us live with our Grandma and Grandpa for a couple of months in a room they added on to the house that was attached to my cousin’s room. The only thing separating the two rooms was a single step and double glass doors. I immediately got comfortable with my new surroundings and would walk in the dark every evening to and from the restroom so I wouldn’t wake anyone up. But that feeling of security soon changed.

About one month into staying there around 3am, I was walking back to my room. As I entered my cousin’s room that was attached to my brother’s and mine, I saw a dense shadow sitting on the edge of the step. Truthfully, the figure looked just like by brother, so I whispered, “David, is that you?” but it didn’t answer me. I asked it again more forcefully, “David, is that you?” But again, it didn’t answer.

I began to get angry but as I looked through the open glass doors I could see the bed that my brother and I shared and unlike the dense black figure sitting on the steps, I could see my brother’s skin and eyebrows perfectly. So I turned back to look at the figure sitting on the step. It must have sensed me because it turned right back to look at me. I thought my mind was playing tricks but it didn’t end there. It looked at me for a solid 3 seconds before his head started spinning in circles while his body remained stationary. When his head finally stopped spinning his body was facing one direction and his head faced backwards…

I was startled and my heart was racing but I genuinely thought it was all in my mind. So, I walked to where his head was facing and put my hands in front of his body and it wasn’t until I swooshed my hands through his body towards myself that it finally disappeared. Once my fingers went though its body is when I panicked. I ran to my bed and hid under the covers, knowing he wasn’t a figment of my imagination or a shadow on the wall.

In the morning, I told my Mom what had happened. She said I just had an overactive imagination… She didn’t believe me but I knew what I saw and was tormented for years with him always doing bizarre actions, turning electronics off and on, turning doorknobs or moving my things.

PopHorror: Holy cow! That must have been freaky! The Control Group also has an underlying story arch about social interaction, trust, and friendship. This is highly relatable when it comes to today’s society. What other character did you relate to most, other than your own?

Monique Candelaria: The character I related to the most was Dr. Broward played by Brad Dourif. I related to the fact that he was passionate about what he was doing and in that passion found a way to justify his actions. In many ways, I suppose it reminds me of myself. I am a passionate person and many people may not always understand where I am coming from but in my heart, I know I am doing what’s right for me. People don’t always have to agree but that is why I always say perspective is everything.


The Control Group features so many different personalities that are fully fleshed out. That is one of the aspects that make this movie so great. Releasing on VOD March 20th, The Control Group is sure to appease horror fans and give them something fresh to squirm over.

About Preston Holt

At 5 years old i was catapulted in to the horror genre and have had no desire to ever leave it. I'm 26 years old with a great sense of humor and a thirst for the horror industry that just will never be quenched. I have a horror review site of my own called cabinintheweb reviews and when I'm not writing about, or watching, horror films, I am spending time with my spouse and my animals.

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