Jennifer Phillips makes her official debut as writer, producer, and director of the brand-new Supernatural horror film Blood Child. STARBURST had the pleasure of chatting with her about this brand new release…
STARBURST: Horror seems to be more orientated towards the scary and supernatural at present and is less reliant on gore. What was your objective with Blood Child?
Jennifer Phillips: Blood Child was meant to give audiences a glimpse into South East Asian mysticism. Making horror in this day and age is challenging because everything has been done. However, there has been very few English films that have dealt with myths and folklore from the region, so I thought it would be interesting to give audiences a peek into some of the true stories that lie at the heart of these myths and folklore.
Alyx Melone was brilliant in the lead role of Ashley and deservedly won the Rising Star Award at the Blood in the Snow Festival in Toronto. Tell us about how you cast her and what would you say was the key strength of her performance and talent in the context of this film?
Alyx came in auditioning for the role of the best friend Naomi. But when I saw her on camera I just knew that she was ‘the one’ and that I needed to cast her as Ashley. I basically asked her to read for Ashley just for formality sake and cast her for the role before she even left. There is something about Alyx when she is on camera, her strongest assets are her facial expressions and body language. Those moments where she said nothing conveyed more than any lines that I could have given her. For example, you knew what she was feeling when you saw her in the bathroom during the miscarriage scene, or how she felt when she was in the forest trying to get rid of Anna.
The film mentions that it is based on a true story at the outset. When you were doing your research, how much of a challenge was it to retain the essence of the real-life case the film is based on, whilst making sure it kept the essence of a horror yarn?
I think that many will be surprised to learn that Blood Child really is a ‘true-true story’. My family grew up hearing this same story from my 94-year-old aunt. I remember that as we (cousins) all grew older, we would fact check this with each other to make sure that we all heard the same story. Before I made the film, I went back to my aunt to reconfirm some of the details, and I also checked with my mom and other aunts as well, only because the memory of someone that age can get sketchy over time.
However, being the sceptic that I am, I also pored over hundreds of other first-hand accounts, interviewed quite a few people on the subject to ensure that I gave the film as much authenticity as I could. I don’t think I had to consciously think about making sure that the film stayed within the genre because the story in and of itself is quite horrifying. Especially when you know that raising a ghost child means that the child is literally with you forever. But the most terrifying part is that when you die, the child has to be ‘passed on’ to your next of kin - so, in essence, when you ‘create’ such a child, it stays in your family and is passed on for generations. Not exactly what most people expect when they decide to raise a ghost child.Blood Child Full Trailer from Jennifer Phillips on Vimeo.
BLOOD CHILD is available on VOD in the US.