Erin Sanders

Interview With Erin Sanders, Star Of ‘The Call’

The last place you’ll find me on a dark night is locked in the house of a creepy old man with no way out. I highly doubt that the promise of a large sum of money would change my mind. Or it might. I do like money. But what I don’t like are creepy old men and things that fuck with my mind. The weird dude in The Call, directed by Timothy Woodward, Jr., makes this offer to a group of teenagers that he blames for his wife’s death. Hard. Pass. I caught up with the star of The Call, Erin Sanders, and we discussed working with Tobin Bell, filming during Covid, returning to her roots, and of course, horror movies.

Erin Sanders

PopHorror: I watched The Call this weekend, and I thought it was really great, so I’m excited for more people to see it.

Erin Sanders: Thank you so much for watching!

PopHorror: Of course! What intrigued you about The Call and made you want to be a part of it?

Erin Sanders: I really appreciate playing characters that are fully formed people. When I’m presented with a role that doesn’t have a lot going on under the hood, I can certainly come up with my own inner monologue and backstory. But it’s a lot more fun when I can tell that the filmmakers are invested in that and have an interest in that emotional life and journey coming across on camera. There’s so much of that on the page for Tonya in this film. Not to say that her history justifies her actions, but there is a strong line of reasoning starting with her emotional trauma as a child to her unhealthy coping mechanisms that lead her to this point in her life. We understand without justifying why she is the way she is. That, and the fact that I got to work with these legendary actors, Tobin Bell and Lin Shaye, who are such a treat to work with.

PopHorror: That’s awesome! I’ve spoken to Lin, and she is just so delightful.

Erin Sanders: She’s such a sweetheart. Tobin Bell’s personality is more like quiet focus… There’s a softness to him, like even a tenderness, dare I say, that is unlike the characters that he plays. It’s really cool and special that I got to know them as people in addition to acting with them.

L-R: Chester Rushing as Chris, Erin Sanders as Tonya, Mike Manning as Zack, Sloan Morgan Siegel as Brett in The Call. (Photo courtesy of Cinedigm)

PopHorror: I love that so much! Where did you film, and how long did it take?

Erin Sanders: We filmed on location in Los Angeles. The shoot was about a month long, maybe five weeks or something like that, with some pick-ups after. All in all, probably about five and half/six weeks total. And we filmed on location in this big, crazy house in Beverly Hills. We spent some time on soundstages creating the environment of the call we disappear into. The carnival scene was an actual carnival up north that we drove to, and we shot during off hours during the night. We finished at 5:30 in the morning just before the sun came up.

PopHorror: I was curious about the house if it was a real house. It was insane on film!

Erin Sanders: It is insane! It really exists! People live there! That’s a real house!

PopHorror: That’s what it really looks like inside?

Erin Sanders: It really looks that way. Obviously, with set dressing. Like when the doors are boarded up, that’s not how the house really is, or when there’s things that look a little decrepit and extra scary, that’s not how the house really is. Set design and set dressing came in and really enhanced all the creepy, haunted parts. But for the most part, it really does look that way, which is amazing to know that properties like that really exist. It’s such a blessing that we got to utilize that set.

PopHorror: And how much fun was it to visit the ’80s? I love the style. Your hair and your clothes were just on point.

Erin Sanders: Thank you so much! I cannot take credit. I’m going to give all the credit to Ching [Tseng] who did all our hair and makeup, and Chloee [O’Hayon-Crosby], our costume designer. They were so invested. They really had an interest in creating iconic moments. They wanted characters they could see people dressing up as for Halloween. They wanted distinct looks so that when you see it, you recognize that that’s Tonya from The Call, or that’s Chris from The Call. And I think they absolutely nailed it. The crimper got lots of use.

Chloee, our costume designer, she pulled all these unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, which is really hard to do in horror because when there’s blood around, it’s going to inevitably stain things. So, there are certain pieces that there had to be doubles of, obviously, so those couldn’t be unique one-off pieces. But Chloee would definitely try to iron out every detail with the filmmaker like, “When exactly do we need doubles? When don’t we? Because anytime we don’t, I’m going to use actual vintage pieces.” And she did. And my patchwork vest that I wear throughout the majority of the film is from her personal collection. It belonged to her mom, and the fact that she trusted me to wear that is such an honor. It was so cool.

PopHorror: That’s so cool! They did a great job. 

Erin Sanders: Thank you! I think so, too.

PopHorror: Making a horror film is vastly different than some of your early works, like Zoey 101, and other shows like that. Were you a horror fan before making this film?

Erin Sanders: I am a horror fan. I love really smart, psychological horror. I don’t mind some blood, also as long as it’s not gore for the sake of gore. I’m not a person that just loves gross-out for no reason. I want everything to have an intention and a reason, a direction, an emotional integrity to it. That’s why I was so drawn to this horror film specifically, because I understand why these characters operate the way they do. Not that it justifies their behavior, but these are real people who are haunted by the choices they’ve made in their lives. They’re the kinds of things that won’t leave them alone when they close their eyes. And I think real people can relate to that in small or even big ways. We all have things we’ve done or seen in our lives that we wish we could maybe undo or leave in the past, but our memories simply won’t let us. That’s ultimately what leads to the devastation and destruction of these people.

PopHorror: I’m glad to see that you’ve gotten your start in horror. I’m excited to see what you’ll do next. I know that Covid has stalled a lot of projects, and a lot have been cancelled. But is there anything that you’re currently working on or anything that you have coming up?

Erin Sanders: I recently shot a music video for the song remix, “Follow Me.” That was the original theme song for Zoey 101. You mentioned that show. The star of that show, Jamie Lynn Spears, is making a really strong push to bring it back. To reboot the show. She created this remix of this song that she sang originally as a kid and got to re-sing now as an adult after she’s had some time to develop herself as a recording artist and as an actor. It was fun to reunite with those cast members.

Like you said, because of the pandemic, things are really different right now. It takes a lot of trust to step onto a set, so the projects I work on moving forward are heavily influenced by that. I’ve been kind of laying low this entire time, so now, I’m starting to put my feelers out, and see what’s going on, because people are starting to adjust and understand how to be on a set and be safe and Covid-compliant and take care of everyone involved. Actors when you’re on camera ultimately have to not wear a mask… not only for the actor’s safety but for everyone else’s safety. You have to be really, really careful in that regard. So, I hold that with a lot of weight, and just want to be really sure that, if I’m involved in something, everyone is being taken care of really well.

PopHorror: That seems to be the consensus across the board and how it’s going to be going forward.

Erin Sanders: I think this is a great opportunity for everyone in the entertainment industry to take a step back and learn again how to reprioritize their health and safety—mentally, emotionally, and physically—because this is an industry that tends to ask everything of not just actors but from everyone behind the scenes, to just give all of their time and energy at the expense of the project. I think that’s really, really common. And now, that there is such a specific threat that we can point to, an important reason for everyone to take a step back and recognize, “Okay, am I prioritizing myself? Am I also considering the health and well-being of those around me?”

PopHorror: One last question, Erin. What is your favorite scary movie?

Erin Sanders: It’s hard to narrow it down to just one, but recently, my favorites of more modern horror films are Creep and Creep 2 by the Duplass brothers. I love everything they do. Get Out because obviously Jordan Peele is just a mastermind, and The Invisible Man. It was stunning. I wouldn’t change a single thing about it. And then the older films… Love Halloween, love The Shining, love The Birds.

Thank you so much, Erin, for speaking with us today. The Call hits Premium VOD and digital on October 30, 2020.

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, book worm, foodie, dog mommy.

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