Interview With Mena Suvari, Sarah Grey, Alexis Knapp, And Kevin Lewis For ‘The Accursed’

I don’t get it. It may seem like a good idea to move to a remote house in the goddamn middle of nowhere to take care of someone you have never met. And you better go alone because there’s only enough room for one person. And of course, there’s no telephone, TV, computer, nothing. Absolutely no means of communication. Sure, that sounds like a great idea. *Insert eye roll here* It’s like these people have never watched a horror movie in their lives.

This is where we find ourselves with the new film, The Accursed, the latest from Willy’s Wonderland director Kevin Lewis. Grieving nurse Elly (Sarah Grey) is asked by family friend Alma (Mena Suvari) to come take care of the invalid Ms. Ambrose (Meg Foster) in a remote, ramshackle house. She’s never met either of these women but agrees to move in, ignoring the warnings from a local witch hunter (Alexis Knapp). Lo and behold, nothing is what she thought it was going to be, and before long, she realizes that there’s something demonic inside Ms. Ambrose that’s itching to come out.

To celebrate the release of the film, I chatted with stars Sarah Grey, Mena Suvari, and Alexis Knapp, and director Kevin Lewis about what intrigued them about the film, what they all wanted to bring to their roles, horror movies, and more!

Alexis Knapp, Kai Knapp, and Sarah Grey in The Accursed.

PopHorror: I watched The Accursed last night and let me tell you. That was intense, so I’m super excited to speak with you guys today. My first question is for all of you. What intrigued you about the script and made you want to be part of the project?

Mena Suvari: I love the genre. I’ve been a huge fan my whole life, so I feel like that was a given. Huge fan of Kevin’s [Lewis]. Was a little surprised by some of the things that they had requested Alma might do.

PopHorror: I bet!

Mena Suvari:  I was down for the challenge. I think ultimately, I was just really excited to work with Kevin, and I felt really safe. So I just thrust myself into it without worrying too much. 

Sarah Grey: I remember reading the script and I could picture everything that was going on, and I was like, “Man, this is intense!” I really wanted to work with Kevin. I remember talking to him and I feel like we just connected straight off the bat, and we had a really similar vision. I knew right away it would be a really great experience, so I was really excited.

Alexis Knapp: Mostly the quality of the writing and the story, how it was driving towards so much truth and depth for a horror film. And particularly the character I was going to play is unlike anything I’ve ever done before and is a lot more rooted in another aspect of me that I haven’t really ever been able to portray on screen before. So I was excited and ready to do it. And I can’t lie. When I met Kevin, I was like, “This man is an angel. He’s such a sweetheart. I love him to death. Let’s freaking do anything!”

Mena Suvari in The Accursed.

Kevin Lewis: For me, Rob Kennedy wrote a great script and the characters just popped off the page. The first seven pages I was like, “Wow! This is just incredible. I’ve got to do this film.” It was its own narrative in itself, a little short film. And I just loved the whole character dynamic. Raised by women all my life, I take care of my mom. She’s 91. And that brought a lot to me when I was reading about Ambrose. My mom, she loves these true horror mysteries, and so it’ll be two in the morning, and everyone is asleep in my house, and she’s in the den with the glow of the TV. So I was like, this is a good moment. I’m going to use this for the film. All of those things, and just the idea of the characters and their relationships with each other. Really the idea that the sins of the mothers are passed on to the daughters, and history will teach us nothing and keep repeating the same things. That really spoke a lot to me, and I said, “I have to do this.”

PopHorror: That’s awesome. My next question is for you, Kevin. How did you convey your vision to your cast and crew?

Kevin Lewis: I did a mood board, so visually I was showing them what I wanted. I kept saying there was an elegance to this story that I wanted to bring. It deals with psychology so Sarah and I talked about repulsion. I talked to Mena about Nurse Ratched. Mary Lynn, with Alexis and I and Kai [Knapp], about the mother and daughter. I thought how fabulous it was that they’re mother and daughter and what they bring to those roles. Really wanting to bring the truth, get to the truth of these characters, because I knew at the end of the day, with all the trimmings of the black magic and gizmos.

I wanted to make the opening more visceral, which is what I tried to do. Movies, to me, take on a persona, original of themselves. When you’re making a film, you can just kind of feel it. You can push back on that, and to me, you may not have magic in a bottle. And I knew we had magic in a bottle. Like I was saying before, this movie is very organic, and I just feel like it took us to a place. We had to allow ourselves to be open. The road just kind of showed in front of us and we just started walking to the road all together. We didn’t have one creative disagreement, any of us. We saw the same thing. I would come to Sarah and say, “I was thinking of cutting this line,” and she was like, “Oh my gosh, I was, too.” It was so wonderful to have that spirit. And Mena just wanted to go for it. She told me when I first talked to her. “I’m going to go for it,” and I’m like, “Great! That’s what we want.”

Director Kevin Lewis on the set of The Accursed.

And Alexis with Kai, that whole mother/daughter and to show that on set and if I could get some of that emotion because at the end of the day, we are making a movie, but to me, we are trying to connect with the human spirit, with the human condition when we watch a film. And yes, it’s a horror movie, and it’s gruesome and scary and stuff, but I wanted to make a movie where people might think about it the next day. It gives you pause a little bit because to me, great horror movies are about the human condition. That’s why I hark back to the 70s, The Changeling, and The Omen and stuff. Of very real characters in a real situation. And then you can inject the supernatural, and the slasher, and all that other stuff. But at the end of the day, it’s about the characters, and these actors are just incredible. They brought it to life.

PopHorror: I’m glad you mentioned the opening because Meg Foster is just phenomenal in this role. She’s a beloved actress in horror and just to see her in her element terrifying you. She was just fantastic. That was really awesome. My next question is for Mena, Alexis, and Sarah: Was there anything that you were adamant about bringing to your character?

Meg Foster in The Accursed.

Alexis Knapp: I would say no.

Mena Suvari: I don’t know. I don’t think, for me, there was anything. I felt like there was so much there already. An opportunity to manipulate that, specifically with Alma… I can’t think of anything.

Sarah Grey: Yeah, I think it was really just truth, that I could bring as much truth as possible to it. That was the main focus.

Mena Suvari: Kevin was always there at any moment. And even aside from our conversation or different forms of prep that we had. I remember, even if there was any moment, that I could just run over and find him and talk about something really quick. He was always present and supportive, no matter what. It just felt great.

PopHorror: That’s really amazing. It’s important to have that kind of support. You all have some sort of horror in your credits. Mena, you had mentioned that you’re a fan of the genre. Would you say that you were a horror fan before making this film?

Mena Suvari: Oh yeah. My whole life. For me, I’ve always loved psychological, like supernatural things. More like this than heavy on gore. The heaven and hell. I love all of this. Since I was little.

Sarah Grey: I also love the supernatural aspect. Those are always my favorite horror films.

Alexis Knapp: I personally don’t like to watch too much gore. It really affects me. But as far as being in it and portraying the characters… In this one, I didn’t have to do anything too hysterical, but in other ones, I have really gone into hysterics. It’s really an amazing, emotional purge. It feels amazing to express yourself and get all the psycho shit out.

PopHorror: I bet!

Alexis Knapp: And I feel just like… Oh my god. I feel like I just lost ten pounds! I do love doing it. It’s just a matter of watching the ones where I don’t know what’s going to happen.

PopHorror: I am not an actress. I’ve never made a movie or anything, but I can just imagine how amazing it would be to just scream everything out, and to just put everything that’s in you into that scream. How cathartic it must be.

Sarah Grey in ‘The Accursed’

Mena Suvari: It was really cathartic for me to hear Sarah scream.

Sarah Grey: You felt it for me.

Mena Suvari: Thank you for doing that for me. I needed that.

Sarah Grey: I did it once, and was like, “Let’s do it again!” It is so fun. It’s such a release! I was prepped. I had my tea and honey before. I was ready to go.

Mena Suvari: You’ve got to love the tea and honey on standby. 

PopHorror: I really just have one last question for you all. What is your favorite scary movie?

Sarah Grey: I really liked The Conjuring. I remember seeing that in theaters, and I got a muscle spasm in my leg from being so tense. I’m a huge fan of Vera Farmiga. I think she’s great. She’s also got those great, icy blue eyes like Meg in this.

Alexis Knapp: I really love It Follows. I love the concept of that one, and how it’s teaching people about sex safety, and how you pick up energy off of each other when you engage in such intimacy. I think that’s a really important film, just on concept alone.

Mena Suvari: I am going to say The Blair Witch. I remember when that film came out. I was working in Minnesota at the time. I saw it in the theater, and then I went back to see it again. I feel like there’s two camps on The Blair Witch, but what I love about it was that I didn’t see anything. That was the first time where it just messed with me so psychologically. It absolutely terrified me. There’s just something so different about it.

Kevin Lewis: There’s so many of them. The Shining is one of my favorite movies. The Invisible Man with Claude Rains. I was a little kid when I saw that. “I’m riding on the hood of your car,” at the end? It totally freaked me out. Evil Dead is my favorite horror movie, but The Shining in terms of scares, and a movie called Burnt Offerings. That really unnerved me.

Thank you so much, Kevin, Mena, Sarah, and Alexis, for taking the time to speak with us. The Accursed is now available On Demand.

About Tiffany Blem

Horror lover, dog mommy, book worm, EIC of PopHorror.

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