Brenna Coates on the weight of ‘Neon Lights’

Brenna Coates as Laila in the horror/thriller NEON LIGHTS, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.
Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.

Brenna Coates (“Coroner”) stars in the new thriller Neon Lights. We sat down with Brenna to talk about the movie, working with her father and mental health.

In Neon Lights, tech tycoon, Clay Amani, retreats to an off the grid location in search of meaning and peace, with disconnected siblings and their offspring, only to be caught in a bone-chilling killing spree within his new estate.

Directed by Rouzbeh Heydari (Together Again), Dana Abraham (Prisoner of Fear) wrote the film and stars in the movie along with Brenna Coates, Brit MacRae (“The Eden Theory”), Stephen Tracey (“Good Sam”), Rene Escobar, Jr. (“Air Crash Investigation”), Erika Swayze (“Workin’ Moms”), Lauren Howe (“Reacher”) and Kim Coates (“Sons of Anarchy”).

Check out our interview with Brenna!

What are people in for when they watch this movie?

Brenna: They’re gonna be on the edge of their seats. It’s thrilling. It’s exhilarating. It’s a ride. Truly, truly. We just had the world premiere event on Sunday and I forgot just how intense the movie is and right from the very first scene, with the music and with the performances, it doesn’t stop until the credits. It will evoke a lot of a lot of things. There’s some heartbreaking subject matter in there and there’s gonna be a lot of different interpretations that everyone has, but no matter what, they’re just gonna come away with just being like, ‘Damn, that was a really good movie.’

How did you come to be a part of this project?

Brenna: I just remember getting sent the script, it was maybe October of 2020. They wanted my father (Kim Coates) and there was a part for me, and we just kind of couldn’t believe it. And I fell in love with the script. I got to meet Rouzbeh, the director, and Dana, the star and writer, and we clicked right away and the rest was that. We still talk all the time, and seeing them at this premiere was such a party, such a good time. We’re going to have another one in LA in a few days. But it’s been a long time, we shot this like almost two years ago now, which is just crazy.

What was it like working with your father?

Brenna: It was good. It was funny. This was the first movie we’ve ever done together and I just remember, you know what a trip to be able to see him at the craft service table. He’s in his costume, I’m in my costume, our two characters couldn’t be more different from one another, and just to be able to laugh with my pops and watch my pops and he could watch me and talk about it later on, you know, at night when we got back home was special. It was special. And now I mean, I really am not being corny, but seeing the movie on Sunday at the premiere and having our family and friends be there and seeing me and my dad on screen together was pretty cool. So, I’m forever grateful for Rouzbeh and Dana for allowing that to happen.

Would you work with him again?

Brenna: Ah, we’ll see. No. Yes. I mean, literally just this morning, I had an audition to do and I made him self tape me. And God, I have such an attitude whenever that happens, like such an attitude. And my dad tries so hard and he tries to read the lines and then he starts acting and then he starts acting too much, and I’m like, ‘Dad! This audition isn’t for you. It’s for me.’ We act all the time together, so of course, I would act with him again, of course! He’s my favorite actor. So, of course.

Kim Coates as Denver Kane in the horror/thriller NEON LIGHTS, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.
And you play Laila in the movie. What exactly is her relationship to Clay?

Brenna: It’s tough, right? We don’t want to give things away, but certainly Laila is Clay’s therapist. You know, I’ve always said Clay’s her favorite patient, her favorite client. And she’s just a safe person and just a safe space for Clay.

You mentioned earlier that there’s some really heavy themes in the movie. One of those revolves around mental health. And I was just wondering what you can comment on that?

Brenna: Yeah, well, that’s what drew me to the movie. I mean, the world is so hard right now. It’s just so hard but, you know, at least we’re talking about mental health. It’s just crazy that, you know, recently or a few years ago, trauma was not even considered a factor of someone’s mental health and now, thank goodness, it is. I think that you never, ever, ever know what someone carries around with them every single day. You know, what happened to them, why they are the way that they are. And the more we talk about it, the more we can hopefully just have compassion towards people going through mental illness or trauma. To me, it’s everything. To me, it’s fascinating. I read books on it. I go to therapy, myself. I’m a huge proponent of that. So thanks, Dana and Rouzbeh for making that a huge theme in Neon Lights.

With that all being said, what do you hope that people take away from watching this movie?

Brenna: Yeah, I think it’s two things. The world is so hard right now that it’s such an exciting movie to watch. It’s so intense. The performances are so incredible. The music is stunning. The direction is flawless. Obviously, for them to be entertained, obviously for them to just lose themselves in this story for an hour and a half would be just wonderful. To gather your friends and watch it would just be wonderful. And then also, yeah, whatever your interpretation of this movie is, is your interpretation. If it leads to talking about, you know, opening yourself up to those tougher conversations then that’s incredible. But for me, Laila, and playing a therapist, obviously, my interpretation was about healing. So if it leads to kind of this newfound will to want to heal, want to look towards healing, then that’s incredible as well.

You hinted that you were doing a self tape earlier today. Do you have any projects lined up that you can talk about?

Brenna: Yeah, so obviously Neon Lights on July 12. I’m just counting down the days. But actually, on July 5, a movie that I was in, I shot this last year. I played the female lead in it, it’s a drama, it’s out in the States. You can catch it on any streaming service: Apple TV, Amazon Prime. It’s called Burden. It’s an incredible film. I’m super proud of that one. And yeah, I’m going to be filming two movies this fall.

Is there anything that we didn’t touch on that you’d like to add about Neon Lights?

Brenna: It’s just so much fun for me to get to talk about Neon Lights because it was just such a glowing time for me in a pretty tough time. So, love to Rouzbeh, love to Dana, love to everyone.

Brit MacRae as Clarissa in the horror/thriller NEON LIGHTS, a Momentum Pictures release. Photo courtesy of Momentum Pictures.
Momentum Pictures will release Neon Lights On Demand and Digital on July 12, 2022.