Echo Andersson brings us sass and sarcasm in BJ Verot’s sci-fi horror film, The Return.
Synopsis: After the death of his father, a brilliant college student returns to his family home where he learns that the horrors from his childhood aren’t as dead and gone as he once thought.
The Return was written and directed by BJ Verot and stars Richard Harmon and Sara Thompson alongside Echo.
Check out my Q&A with Echo.
How does it feel now that people are going to get to see it soon?
Echo: We’re really excited. It’s been out in Canada for a little while now but, as you can imagine, that market is a lot smaller. To finally have the US release is really exciting…
Have you seen the completed film, what’d you’d think?
Echo: We had a little cast screening with Richard, Sara and myself, which was really nice. It was so fun to watch it. It felt like so much time had passed, we shot it two years ago now, so it kind of felt like we were traveling back in time, getting to watch it. It was a lot of fun.
What was it about the script that really attracted you to be a part of the project?
Echo: Well, initially when it came to my agents, I read the breakdown for my character, for Jordan, and one of her character descriptions was that she uses humor as a defense and I was like, ‘oh, that’s me.’ It was great, I felt like I really connected with it. Also my favorite genre is horror, and I love sci fi stuff and I’d only gotten a little snippet for my audition, but I was already so attracted to the character. And once I got the full script, it was just so exciting to read it and see that BJ, our director and writer, has really made this very fun script.
What did you think of the ending?
Echo: I did not think that it was going to take that twist, but I was very pleased when it did. We actually had a meeting where we sat down with BJ and Ken (Janssens), who also wrote it, so they can jump in and walk us through the exact science. They’re so cool, they’re so into it and they had actually kind of created what they think the equation would be like. It was really cool.
What was it like working with Richard and Sara?
Echo: I’m very grateful. We connected really quickly. There was no real, you know, buffer period of us just kind of getting to know each other. We really clicked right away and we’ve been lucky enough to remain close afterward and we all live in the same city so we see each other often. I feel very lucky that that was the cast I got to work with on this project.
So Jordan and Roger have this long term friendship and there was a moment in the movie where you both talk about the treehouse. The moment isn’t really explained so was that scripted and just kind of cut, or was that something that you and Richard came up with?
Echo: It was scripted. It was supposed to be kind of ambiguous. Basically a moment for Jordan and Roger to allude to, perhaps that there used to be something more, you know, to their friendship. We see that maybe Jordan and Roger had a bit of a history when they were younger.
With Sara, what was it like creating that tense relationship?
Echo: Sara and I are so close. And so, I mean, we loved each other since we met each other, so that dynamic of her kind of being jealous of what was going on, it was solely on screen. It really just came down to putting that on in the moment and drawing on other relationships or other experiences that we had outside of each other because that’s so far from our own dynamic. We’re both goofy together. So, we really just kind of had to put on that we had this tension because that was, that was not ever real for the two of us.
So, things get pretty dicey, especially for you and Sara, did you actually get dragged down the flight of stairs?
Echo: I wanted to so badly, but they did not let me. I had a double. They walked us through what the stair scene was going to be. I said I could do that but they were like, ‘No Echo, you have no stunt training and we’re just not going to let you get dragged down the stairs.’ So that was a stunt double but yeah, that was one of the funnest things to watch. This girl, who looks like me, getting dragged down the stairs and it really turned out very cool.
What would you say would be your favorite part about filming this movie?
Echo: Definitely getting to work with the cast and the crew. BJ was so collaborative and inclusive and he created such a comfortable, fun work environment. I don’t think there was ever any moment where anyone felt like they couldn’t offer a suggestion or speak their mind about something. It was just like meeting people who were really on the same page with what we were trying to create. And so that’s why we’re so excited that it’s out and that we were able to get that across in the movie.
On the flip side of that, what would you say would be the most challenging part of filming?
Echo: The heat. We were shooting in this house in the middle of the summer and we were going through a heat wave. It was a four story house, so every story, as you got higher, was just hotter and hotter and hotter. I think there was a day where it must have been like 90, 95 degrees in the house and we were just sweating our makeup off. Our poor makeup team was constantly coming in and doing touch ups because we were just melting. So just battling the heat and trying to pretend like you’re not about to melt into a puddle was a challenge.
What is something that you are super excited for viewers to see?
Echo: I’m really excited to kind of get the reactions from the VFX and some of our spooky elements and I want to see the jumpscares, how that plays for people. The people that I have watched the movie, with here in Canada, I’m always watching to see like, is everyone jumping at the same time, what are the things that are actually getting people, freaking people out? So, I’m just excited to see how that hits with the American audience and how the thriller element comes up.
When you were filming, did you have any idea of what the demon was going to look like?
Echo: Not really. We didn’t really know. There’s one version of this demon that was red, it almost looks like an inside out person, and that was an actual mask so that was real. But the black thing with wisps of smoke coming out around it, there was nothing there and we had no idea. BJ was just like, ‘it’s gonna be scary so be scared.’ That was what we had to go off.
Did you have something to react to or was it just, ‘hey the demons over there, look scared?’
Echo: Yeah, I think we kind of did it that way, it was a little guerrilla style. Like with the scene at the bottom of the stairs, where I’m being attacked by this thing, we just had our stunt actor in doing that. She was so fantastic and really brought a lot of energy. That was great because then I can react with an actual physical being instead of just pretending like there’s something on top of me.
Is there anything else that you’d like to add about The Return?
Echo: We’re just super excited for people to go see The Return on August 10 and can’t wait to get the reaction from our American audiences.
Are you working on anything else right now?
Echo: I’m actually writing a project. I’ve kind of, over the pandemic, shifted gears a little bit and have started writing a little bit more. So I’m working on a pilot for a TV series with a friend of mine and we’re shooting a promo this summer in New York. That’s kind of my main focus right now.
Are you allowed to talk about it a little bit?
Echo: I can speak a little bit about it, we haven’t started pitching it yet so what I can say is that the premise evolved with my writing partner, who is Middle Eastern, and her background is in belly dancing, her family was the first family to bring belly dancing to America. We are taking some real life stories from her family and it’s going to be kind of a scary, sexy dance thriller. And that’s all I can say.