Interview with THIS IS OUR HOME Star Simone Policano

Interview with THIS IS OUR HOME Star Simone Policano

by Jessica Gomez on January 26th, 2020 | Horror News |

This Is Our Home was one of the best indie horror films of 2019. Simone Policano turned in a dynamic and unsettling performance as Reina, a woman who takes matters into her own hands when a child, who claims to be her unborn son, arrives at her doorstep. Policano and I chatted about what it was like filming such a dark movie, her role as the sole female producer, and her favorite “torture porn” franchise.

Jessica Gomez (JG): So, just getting the readers up to speed on how we met - I had watched This Is Our Home, which I loved, but I had the impression that there were anti-abortion themes, which I wrote about in my review. You reached out to me, which I really appreciated, to explain as an involved party, that the abortion was only a bad thing because it is not something that your character Reina wanted - she was kind of forced into it. So how would you characterize the film when it comes to the feminist perspective?

Simone Policano (SP): This was a very important thing for me when we were making it - because I was the female voice and played the lead female character, and also as a female producer - from day zero that this really be a movie about this woman reclaiming her life. I think what’s really interesting about it is you kind of ask yourself the question at the end - who’s the good guy, and who’s the bad guy? It’s interesting talking to women who’ve watched it versus men who’ve watched it. I think in this “woke” climate that we’re in right now, a lot of men have actually loved it.

JG: That’s good to hear.

SP: It’s great to hear...but a lot of the people who have said “she’s crazy” - that mostly has been men. A lot of the women who have watched it have said, “What he did to her was so scummy and shitty. He kinda got what was coming to him.” A lot of people have related to the subtle manipulations that Cory does to Reina throughout the film. The way that he talks to her, the way that when she interacts with him - she kind of makes herself small, and is kind of quiet and apologetic. I hate watching that, in a good way, that you get the sense that we’re building in the story that he’s really this shitty dude who’s not a good partner to her and is not supportive of her. The reason it was important for me to reach out to you was because we talked about this from the very beginning - I said, I don’t want this at all to be perceived as a pro-life movie. That’s not what we were going for. It was important to me that the takeaway was not, “abortions are bad.” I actually think of it as an incredibly pro-choice movie, because the whole idea is, whatever the choice is, it should be made by the person it’s happening to. In her specific case, the choice is just the opposite of what we normally talk about when we talk about abortion. Usually it’s people's right to choose to have one, but in her case, she didn’t want to have one. She was ready to have a family and to commit in that way. She was scared and stressed, but she was ready to go there with him.

JG: Yeah, you see him thanking her over and over, and it’s kinda cringey.

SP: Oh, it’s so cringey.

JG: Reina is a character with a lot of emotional range. She’s going from scenes of depression to intimate moments with Cory and then eventually she gets much darker, but also more powerful as Zeke (who claims to be her son) comes into the picture. What is it like as an actor to go through so many extreme emotions in the short time frame that you guys filmed?

SP: It was amazing. It’s like a dream job to get to explore an entire emotional range. She was such a gift. I spent most of that movie with no makeup and my hair in a tight bun. It’s not about her being beautiful or sexy. As an actress, you often feel like that’s a big part of it, because everybody in Hollywood is at least marginally attractive, and that’s usually somewhat a part of the story. For me, she was just a person that I got to play.

Also, we were very lucky - we shot it in my mom’s house in Upstate New York. It was a very intimate, small, fast shoot, and we all knew each other going in and had built it from the ground up. We shot at least somewhat chronologically, which is a rarity in film because you’re dealing with multiple locations and multiple actors. But it was just me, Jeff and Drew, except for one scene, which we shot separately. We pretty much just rolled through the script. It’s almost like doing a play - you get to work through the emotions as she’s having them.

JG: How weird was it filming in your house?

SP: It was totally weird; it was totally amazing. My mom, who hates horror movies, said, “I’m gonna be so mad at you if this movie makes me scared of my own house!” Then she saw it, and she was like, “Simone! I told you!”

The house is really a character in the film. The way it’s shot, the rooms - it was cool to get to play with a physical thing that I knew so well. 

JG: This is a scary, but also a very heavy movie. What was the vibe on set? Were you guys staying in character? Did you need reprieve in between scenes?

SP: It depended on the day. Jeff and I were dating at the time. After the more intense scenes, we would always check in on each other. A lot of people have been like, “It must have been so great, there’s so much chemistry there.” Which, yes, but most of this movie is these people being terrible to each other.

JG: That can get really dark really fast.

SP: Exactly. I felt very lucky - Omri and Jeff knew each other very well going in, and Jeff introduced me to Omri, and that’s how the whole thing started. By the time we were shooting, we almost felt like a family. We all really took care of each other. After we wrapped the climactic scene at the end, I went for a walk down the block and cried because I needed to take a minute to decompress from that. But I felt very lucky that it was with someone who I was actually close with, so we could talk afterwards and check in.

Also, Drew is a 10-year-old, so he kept the set really alive and high energy.

JG: Having a kid on set probably made it more fun at times.

SP: I brought Drew in when Jeff was in prosthetics and makeup, and I was nervous to bring him to that part of the set. I said, “Just so you know, he has a lot of makeup on, it’s not real.” And Drew was like “Oh my god, this is so cool!”

JG: Typical 10-year-old boy.

SP: Yes. It was a fun energy.

JG: You also produced This Is Our Home, your first time producing a feature-length film. How do you think your role as producer influenced the outcome of the movie?

SP: It was so important to have a strong female presence. The creative team were all amazing, but they were largely men, because these were the people that we had worked with before, because this was a movie made on such a low budget. This was a passion project for people who were working for way under their rate. They were all defferential to me - when we talked about, “what does it mean to get an abortion that you don’t want?” Everyone said, “Take as much time to think about it as you need. However you think this is best handled, we’re gonna do it that way, because you’re the only person who could have this perspective.” From the producer standpoint, when we were talking to production companies, it was cool to people that the movie had a strong female lead and also had a female producer at the helm. It felt really cool to be a 23 year-old woman on the phone with these production companies pitching it and being taken seriously. Owning your right to take up space is huge.

JG: Your previous work includes a film called Auggie, which has a thriller vibe to it. Any plans to get involved in more horror films?

SP: I would absolutely love to. I had such a blast. I think horror is a great genre, because A) it has an almost cult-y fanbase, and B) it’s the most forgiving genre, in terms of not having famous people in it. People don’t really go to horror movies to see celebrities; they go for a cool concept. I’d love to do one that has an idea that’s interesting. This Is Our Home is a slow burn, it’s a dark, artsy weird movie. Some of my favorite movies are the Saw franchise - I’m obsessed, it’s a guilty pleasure of torture porn, of just watching people’s bodies fall apart. That’s one type of horror that I like. But we wanted to do something weird and different, and I’m sure there are people who hate it - but the people who like it, really like it. A lot of the feedback we’ve gotten is, “I’ve never seen something like this before.” In horror, there are so many of the same tropes, so it was really cool to hear people say it was a unique style. It told a story that was dangerous to tell; it was controversial. I mean, I’ll be in a Saw movie any day - but the more it pushes boundaries, the movies that spark dialogue - that’s interesting.

JG: You’re a writer too. Horror needs more films written by women. Just throwing it out there.

SP: It 100% does. I’d love to think of a cool horror concept. It is appalling how few women write horror movies.

JG: What’s your favorite scary movie? You mentioned the Saw franchise - do you have any other favorites?

SP: I think Hereditary is one of the best horror movies - and just one of the best movies - of all time. To be able to make a movie like that...that’s the dream. Also, I don’t know if people are calling it a horror movie, but Parasite was far and away the best movie of 2019.

JG: I think some people don’t call it horror, so that they CAN say it’s a great movie. Horror films get shit on in some ways, but they really shouldn’t.

SP: That’s why I was so surprised about Get Out getting nominated. I didn’t think it stood a chance because it was a horror movie, and horror is the most contentious genre. Equality for horror movies!


You can watch This Is Our Home on VOD now.

*This interview has been condensed for brevity and clarity.
 


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