I miss living in the Midwest during autumn. I miss October in Ohio and the Halloween festivities. When I was in high school, one of the most popular Halloween attractions was the “haunted” cornfield a few towns over. I preferred it over your typical haunted house, and while we do have one here in Phoenix, it’s just not quite the same when it’s still 150 degrees outside.
Emerson Moore’s feature length directorial debut, Escape the Field, brought back all kinds of nostalgia because it takes place entirely in a cornfield.
Six strangers wake up trapped in an endless cornfield only to discover something mysterious is hunting them.
Well, you have my attention. To celebrate the release of the film, I chatted with star Elena Juatco about what intrigued her about filming in a cornfield, why she loves horror, what’s up next, and more!
PopHorror: Hi Elena! Escape the Field is a lot of fun, so I’m excited to speak with you today.
Elena Juatco: Yay!
PopHorror: It reminded me of haunted cornfields from growing up in the Midwest. What was it that intrigued you about the film and made you want to be a part of it?
Elena Juatco: This was an interesting one, because we filmed this in September of 2020. This was my first time back on set after the pandemic happened. So sets were closed, and this was my first thing back. It was weird because a lot of people dropped out. The original cast—there was a lot of recasting—couldn’t do the full quarantine that was required. There were so many rules. This was my introduction into what a pandemic set is. Now this is a normal thing, and I know all the rules and everything. So I was actually cast in this less than a week before I was on set. It happened really fast. When I got the phone call, I was like, “I can go back on set? Yes! I can go back? This is great, this is great! What is it?”
I love horror; I love Halloween. My favorite thing on Halloween is to just sit in a dark room by myself and watch scary movies. I just love freaking myself out. This was my first time in the genre, and I just felt like it was perfect. I have never been in a cornfield. You’re lucky because what an amazing environment that is. What a great setting for a horror film. The environment also allows for the production to actually happen. We were one of the first productions to get up and going because it was outside and there were only six cast members. It was small. People flew in from LA, Texas, and England. Jordan [Claire Robbins] flew in from Vancouver. Since I’m in Toronto, I was able to get in there without having to quarantine. I was just happy to be back on set and back working.
PopHorror: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
Elena Juatco: My favorite scene was being taken, because I love screaming. I have a great horror scream. Again, we filmed this like two years ago so I was trying to get my memory back as to what was going on at that time before. I was looking at my old journals and I wrote, “Today was so much fun! I got taken and I got to scream my head off.” There’s something so liberating about screaming your head off in an empty cornfield and getting grabbed. I had a stunt double who was incredible. Watching that on the monitor and her being ripped through the field? Props to her. Watching that was so incredible, and I just knew that was a pivotal scene in the entire movie. That’s when things take a turn. I had fun doing that.
PopHorror: That’s awesome. You mentioned that you’re a big horror, and I saw that you were in Repo! The Genetic Opera, which is one of my favorites.
Elena Juatco: Yeah! Wow, thank you! That was one of the first things I ever did, right at the very beginning of my career. One of the first things. Thank you so much.
PopHorror: That’s impressive. What is it that draws you to the horror genre?
Elena Juatco: I love the darkness of it. I love the suspense and the not knowing. I love the female characters that center these horror films and how horror films are done now. They’re such strong women, and they’re going to get through. It becomes a survival game of what Would I do? I would do this; I would do that. And then that moment when they get scared, your gut just drops. I get a high off of that. It’s a weird suspense. I love going to haunted houses. I wish I could go to a haunted cornfield. Every Halloween before the pandemic, you could go to this huge space and there’s haunted houses, and I would go and I would just scream my head off for like two hours with my best friends, and we would dress up. I love that where you’re just thrown off guard.
PopHorror: That’s what makes it fun!
Elena Juatco: Yeah! That’s what a great film is. When you’re in the safety of your own house, you are familiar with your surroundings. Then you watch something that just totally scares you and makes you feel unsafe in your own home. That’s the magic of film. I love that. I love that feeling.
PopHorror: What would be your weapon of choice in a zombie apocalypse?
Elena Juatco: Ooh, I’ve thought about this. Anything like dagger-wise is too close because they could easily scratch you and bite you, and then you’re dead. I would be like Michonne, and I would have a long, very sharp sword so I could maintain the distance, but I wouldn’t have to get cut. The thing with a gun is you have limited bullets. With a sword, it doubles as a survival thing to get food and sustenance and cut things. So I would use a long, sharp sword.
PopHorror: I also have to have something with length. At least the length of a machete.
Elena Juatco: At least! This is not a hand to hand combat situation. I’m one of those people that’s going to survive right until the end.
PopHorror: I can’t run very fast so I need that length.
Elena Juatco: Neither can zombies, though, so you would do well.
PopHorror: I appreciate your confidence! What is up next for you?
Elena Juatco: This is an exciting year for me, actually! I have a few films coming out. I’m very excited for a film called Easter Sunday that’s going to drop on August 5 from Universal. It stars Jo Koy. I play his sister. It’s a Filipino family on Easter Sunday. Very, very excited for that. It’s a comedy, not horror. And then you may or may not see me find love at Christmas. I’m just mixing all the genres up! It’s so fun. That’s what is so great about being an actor. You get to do everything.
PopHorror: One last question for you today, Elena. What is your favorite scary movie?
Elena Juatco: It’s so hard. I love The Conjuring series.
Thank you so much, Elena, for taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to catch Escape the Field available to stream now!