Barbara Crampton feels ‘at home’ in the horror genre

Barbara Crampton as Mom in ALONE WITH YOU. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.
Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.

Barbara Crampton‘s career is an iconic figure in the horror/thriller genres has spanned three decades and continues to gain momentum. Currently, she stars as Mom in Alone With You. 

Synopsis: As a young woman painstakingly prepares a romantic homecoming for her girlfriend, their apartment begins to feel more like a tomb when voices, shadows, and hallucinations reveal a truth she has been unwilling to face. 

The film also stars Emily Bennett (King of Knives), Emma Myles (“Orange Is the New Black”), and Dora Madison (“Friday Night Lights”). Alone With You was co-written and co-directed by Emily Bennett and Justin Brooks.

Check out my interview with Barbara!

You have an amazing career with the horror and thriller genre. Are you actually a fan of these movies?

Barbara: I’ve become a fan over the years. I don’t believe that I started out being a fan of the horror genre. Although I did grow up watching Dark Shadows and The Outer Limits and Night Gallery and shows like that. It wasn’t until I started working in the genre and seeing what it could actually do that I became a fan. I think the horror genre deals with the most difficult of all emotions to grapple with, fear. That is the one emotion that really stops us and propels us into decisions like no other emotion. And the fact that we dissect that and really look at it from all different angles, with an eye towards empathy, I think really does surface for audiences and people all over the world to be able to understand and grapple with fear. So, I’ve become a fan since working in the genre.

Emily Bennett as Charlie in ALONE WITH YOU. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.
Was there anything specific that kept you coming back to the genre?

Barbara: People kept hiring me. I mean, I had some early success with Re-animator and From Beyond and since then, over many years, people have reached out to me and I had sort of a second run in my career after raising my children with You’re Next. I didn’t think that I was really going to make any sort of impact in the genre again, if you will, or really work in any concrete, substantive way. But I got that call over 10 years ago and since then, I feel like I’ve worked more than ever on television and in movies and now I’ve just done some voiceover work and had the lead in a video game Back For Blood. I feel like this is my home, the horror genre is my home and I feel like the audience and horror fans are very supportive of me and very welcoming of me, so I feel like this is the place I should be.

How did you become involved with Alone With You?

Barbara: I didn’t know Emily (Bennett) and Justin (Brooks), the co-directors and co-writers, at all. The movie was being produced by Andrew Corkin, who I knew a little bit from the business because he had produced some movies that I really like, We Are What We Are and Martha Marcy May Marlene; and Theo James, who is an actor from the Divergent movies. I was a fan of both of them and I also knew the casting director, David Guglielmo, who casted me in a few things before. They sent it (the script) to me and I read it and Emily and and Justin are very new people on the scene, but it was very clear to me from reading the script how good the script was. So, I spoke to them and had a zoom call with them and talked with them about the project and what they were trying to do and how they saw the project and I really felt like they had done their homework and they were extremely prepared and really enthusiastic about making a tight little sort of DIY, in home thriller in their apartment. This was during the pandemic when nobody was doing any work. It was during the early pandemic when we were still going to the grocery store and coming home with boxes of lettuce and washing them off. And so everybody was really insulated and really at home and you were only with your family. And they said, ‘Look, your part is just on Zoom and you can do it at home and we’ll send you a camera through the mail. You can film yourself and we’ll also fill you through the zoom lens.’ I really liked the part and I took to them very easily and just thought they were a very creative duo. You take a chance on new directors who haven’t done a feature before, but I’ve done that a lot of my career. I worked with Stuart Gordon on his first movie and with Adam WinGuard in his early career, and I’m used to working with new filmmakers a lot. I just saw something in them so I agreed to do the part.

Barbara Crampton as Mom in ALONE WITH YOU. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.
What was it like having to film yourself? 

Barbara: Well, they sent me the camera through the mail and I had a little instruction about how to set it up and how to plug everything in properly. And then I had to kind of be my own lighting designer and makeup artist which is something you do also for self taping, so it is kind of similar, but I haven’t done a whole bunch of self tapes myself. I think what made it easier is because we had all been on Zoom for many months already before that, so I was used to talking on screens and communicating with people on screens because I had been doing that with my family and friends for months and months. It didn’t seem that abnormal in a funny way. It seemed okay to me. Many times when they do close ups and you’re actually on a set, you have to act sometimes with a piece of tape that they place on the camera because maybe the actor can’t be there in those close quarters or they really want to get a close up on your face and there’s just no room for the other actress. You can hear their voice but you’re actually acting with a piece of tape. And at least here I was acting with somebody on a screen so it didn’t feel like there was that much disconnect between us. It felt really oddly normal and natural.

Do you have any projects that you’re going to start soon that you can maybe tease out?

Barbara: I have a lot of things in development because I’m doing not only acting but producing as well. I produced Jacobs Wife that came out last April and I have a new movie that is going to be announced soon. We just finished wrapping that I’m an executive producer on it, it’s kind of a Lovecraftian sort of tale. And then I have a new movie that I’m working with the same people that I worked on Jacob’s Wife with. We’ve been developing quite a few projects and one of them is written by Dennis Paoli, who wrote the original Re-animator and From Beyond. We have some people already that want to be in it as actors and we have a director and we’re just closing in on our financing. And hopefully, we’re going to shoot that in late spring.

Emily Bennett as Charlie in ALONE WITH YOU. Photo courtesy of Dark Star Pictures.
 You can watch Alone With You on VOD, digital and dvd beginning February 8.