Greetings, all. Ambush Bug here with another AICN HORROR: ZOMBIES & SHARKS column. I had chance to talk with AMERICAN HORROR STORY’s Taissa Farmiga about her new film ANNA which is set in a world where psychic phenomenon is much more common and almost to the point where it is as accurate as a DNA test and holds up in court. The film stars Farmiga as the titular character, as well as LOW WINTER SUN’s Mark Strong and Talkback favorite Brian Cox as well as ROME’s Indira Varma and GAME OF THRONES’ Noah Taylor. My review of the film shows up later on down the page, but first let’s hear what Ms. Farmiga had to say about ANNA!
TAISSA FARMIGA (TF): Hi Mark, how are you doing today!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Hi Taissa, it’s great talking with you today. I’m big fan of your work on AMERICAN HORROR STORY and I saw ANNA last night and it really was a fun film. How did you become involved in the film?
TF: Oh, it was so long ago. Well, my agent sent me the script and I read it late one night because I had a meeting with the producer the next morning. And I read it and I immediately just loved the character of Anna. I loved all of her layers and how complex she was. I loved that challenge and I really wanted the part.
BUG: You mentioned that it was so long ago that you made the film. What’s that like to make a film and then you move on and you really are not sure when the film will come out?
TF: I shot that movie in Barcelona in October of 2012, so it’s been a while since we made it.
BUG: Given the immediacy of television, is it weird to see how long it takes for a movie to come out?
TF: I was actually thinking about that recently. You know, how you shoot a movie and then you’re done with it. And then you don’t hear about it for a while. With AMERICAN HORROR STORY, we shot that less than a year ago and its immediate gratification where as with film, it’s kind of fun. It’s nice to see something you’ve worked so hard on and you even might have forgotten a little about it, but then you see it and you remember how amazing it was.
BUG: Mark Strong seems to be such an intense actor. What was it like being in the same scenes with him during the filming of ANNA?
TF: I was so excited to work with Mark on this film. Drawing on the relationship between the two characters in the script was a big deal. It plays a huge part in it in the storyline, so meeting Mark for the first time, it was so amazing. And he’s just a great guy. He’s an awesome actor and a very nice person. We got along great.
BUG: This film takes place in a world where psychic phenomenon is accepted as a real method of solving crimes and next to DNA evidence, it’s seen as a valid method of police and detective work. Do you believe in that sort of thing; psychic and paranormal phenomenon?
TF: It’s so hard to believe. Anything supernatural freaks me out. It was an interesting concept. What if we can tap into something else in order to solve our problems? I don’t know what I believe. I know there is something bigger out there. What it is, I don’t know.
BUG: It seems to me, just seeing your work on AMERICAN HORROR STORY and now in ANNA, that you have a tendency to play characters who on the outside look to be very innocent, but there’s something darker beneath the surface. Are you attracted to that type of role or is this coincidence? What is it about those types of characters that turn you on to those roles?
TF: You know, I like stuff that’s a little darker. A little heavier. I don’t know how Anna is compared to Taissa. I’m a pretty happy person. I mean, I think I’m pretty happy. (laughs) But it’s layers. I like layers, man!
BUG: Well, I am a bag fan of AMERICAN HORROR STORY and I think COVEN was one of the best series yet. Are you coming back for Season Four?
TF: As of right now, I’m not. I’m going to go shoot a Western with director Ti West that kind of conflicts, but we’ll see. Maybe I might pop up later in the season. Maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll skip a season.
BUG: It seems like you and your sister Vera are really tearing up television right now with her and BATES MOTEL and you with AMERICAN HORROR STORY. Were you guys attracted to horror films growing up?
TF: Personally, I wasn’t growing up. I remember my sisters putting on Chucky [CHILD’S PLAY] growing up and I’d get scared watching it on a sleepover. But I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I didn’t grow up liking horror films that I’m showing up in all of these scary projects.
BUG: How has Vera been influential to you in your career? Has she given you any advice that you’ve taken to heart in terms of your performances?
TF: If it wasn’t for Vera, I wouldn’t have found out that I have a passion for acting. I’m so happy she helped me along the way. Getting to meet new people and try on different personas and things like that. Vera is incredible. I’m actually going to go see her in Vancouver soon and get some quality sister time. I always text her for advice asking her if this or that sounds good. She’s the first person I call for advice because she’s the person I’m closest to.
BUG: So you have a Western coming up? Can you talk about that at all?
TF: The director is Ti West and it’s called IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE. John Travolta and Ethan Hawke are attached to be in it. Shooting starts soon and I’m really excited about it.
BUG: Now, Ti West is best known for his horror work with THE INNKEEPERS, THE SACRAMENT, and HOUSE OF THE DEVIL.
TF: He is. This is actually quite different. I asked him why he wanted to make a Western and he said he just wanted to. It’s definitely much more of a traditional Western vibe than his past horror work.
BUG: Cool. Well I look forward to seeing you in IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE and I really did enjoy ANNA. And I do hope you pop back into AMERICAN HORROR STORY because I’m a big fan of what they’re doing with that series. Thanks so much for talking with me today!
TF: Aww, thank you, Mark. Bye!
BUG: You can check out Taissa Farmiga in ANNA on demand and in select theaters now and after the trailer, check out my review of ANNA!
New On Demand and in limited theatrical release!
ANNA (2013)aka MINDSCAPE
Directed by Jorge Dorado
Written by Guy Holmes & Martha Holmes
Starring Mark Strong, Taissa Farmiga, Brian Cox, Indira Varma, Noah Taylor, Jessica Barden, Saskia Reeves, Clare Calbraith, Sanny van Heteren, Rod Hallett, Alberto Ammann, Frida Palsson, Richard Dillane
Find out more about this film here
Reviewed by Ambush Bug
Using recognizable elements from other films about psychic phenomenon, but blending them in interesting ways and making it all the more better with a rock solid cast makes ANNA a familiar, yet still good little thriller.
ANNA takes place in a world where psychic phenomenon is seen as a valid form of forensic investigation. Utilizing the same skepticism that rose when DNA testing was first being used as a method f gathering evidence for a court of law, the increase in people with psychic powers has made it much more of an accepted concept. Whole corporations are built upon the belief and while it still is a controversial subject, the existence of second sight, mind reading and sensory manipulation is no longer a thing for comic books and Stephen King novels. We enter this world through the weary eyes of John (Mark Strong) who suffered a nervous breakdown when his memories of his own wife’s murder began seeping into the minds of his clients when he was connected to them. But his boss (Brian Cox) believes John has it in him for an extremely sensitive case for a personal friend involving a sixteen year old girl named Anna (Taissa Farmiga). Anna is exhibiting budding psychic powers and is involved in a suspicious fire in her boarding school. John is sent to evaluate the extent of Anna’s powers and get to the bottom of the strange occurrences happening around her household and to her family, but when John gets close to Anna, he realizes she is much more powerful that she lets on. The root of the film is not whether or not Anna has psychic powers, but if she’s using these powers for good or evil.
First off, while the premise is familiar territory examined thoroughly by David Cronenberg in SCANNERS and via Stephen King’s inspiration in THE DEAD ZONE and also in comic books like X-MEN and more recently Valiant Comics’ HARBINGER series (which is very X-MEN-y at times), ANNA brings those fantastical powers into a more subtle and delicate, yet still deadly form in this film. Writers Gay and Martha Holmes along with director Jorge Dorado have developed a very ordinary world for these extraordinary powered people to trounce around in, which makes the whole thing much more believable than the other movies mentioned above. Through news reports, court depositions, and casual conversations, it’s an interesting and new way to approach this materials and this makes for a new and exciting style of setting for this type of movie.
Additionally, a strong cast can sell even the most outrageous concept and this cast is exceptional from top to bottom. Mark Strong’s lead as John is intensity personified, which leads me to believe that he’s not just faking it in LOW WINTER SUN and every other performance we’ve all seen him in. Any film with Strong in it is immediately going to be good in my book and his performance as the haunted shell of a former pro detective is fantastic. But the dangerously innocent demeanor of Taissa Farmiga as ANNA is equally effective. She not only is gorgeous, but also able to use those looks to seemingly innocently work her way into both the hearts and minds of Strong’s John but also the viewer himself. Her performance had me constantly guessing and second guessing as to the purity of her motives. Brian Cox, Indira Varma and Noah Taylor also round out the cast in unconventional, yet strong performances.
Is it a schoolgirl crush she has on John or is Anna really the monster her parents fear she is? For a long while in this film, I could see this going either way and I think you will too. This is a mystery through and through trying to find out what evil, if any, lies behind the wide cherubic eyes of Anna. And while this is definitely not the first film to venture into the mind and questioning its dangerous potential, it is a film that does so effectively.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over 12 years & AICN HORROR for 3. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment & GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81. Look for GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES available in February-July 2013 and the new UNLEASHED crossover miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS WEREWOLVES: THE HUNGER #1-3 available in May-July 2013! Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.
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