Rites of Spring blends a number of different subgenres into one cohesive horror film. A woman, played by Anessa Ramsey, is abducted for a mysterious ritual known as the Rites of Spring. At the same time, a co-worker who she unwittingly got fired after letting him take the fall for a major snafu joins some buddies to steal money from his former boss. The heist goes horribly awry, as does the kidnapping, and the two stories converge in the middle of nowhere, with all parties fighting for survival. We got a chance to speak with Anessa about her role, about which storyline she finds scarier, and the scariest part of all: running barefoot.
How did you get involved in Rites of Spring?
From what I understand, Padraig Reynolds, the director, was a fan of The Signal and Yellowbrickroad. I think AJ Bowen was involved, and Padraig expressed an interest in me. So I was sent the script and I signed on.
What was it about the script that made you want to sign on?
I like to do movies that offer a challenge, and I like to do movies that I would like to watch. This particular movie, for the genre, is different because it has two stories that combine into one: the kidnapping versus the actual rites of spring. It was an interesting plot that I had not seen before. I really liked the character and I was excited to work with AJ again.
You seem to be drawn to the horror genre. Do you enjoy watching horror films as well?
The horror genre has a lot going for it, as far as acting goes. In every good horror movie, it’s got everything. You’ve got your drama, there has to be a little bit of comedy in there, and your horror. Lots of fun special effects, scary things, and I grew up loving horror movies, so I think I just got lucky. When we shot The Signal, none of us expected it to do what it ended up doing, so we got a lot of attention from the genre [community]. so we got to stick around in it.
In Rites of Spring, you end up running from one bad situation to another. We you worried at all that your character would devolve into a generic, dumb horror girl?
To an extent, yes. But having read the script, I knew how it would end up. There were a lot of references that Padraig made to Texas Chainsaw Massacre when he was directing the running and the screaming. I tried to put my own spin on things, but you are right: I ran a lot. It was very mean of the director to decide that the main character loses her shoes before the title sequence!
It could be worse: you could be running in high heels.
Very true. You make a very valid point. I never thought of that. I would have kicked those off.
Did you do all of your own stunts?
I did. Originally when I was offered the role I asked if I could, and they said “Absolutely not” and brought on a stunt team. I was living in Atlanta at the time, and the stunt coordinator was out there. I kind of goaded him into letting me at least try before we went to set. He invited me down to their studio and we rehearsed the stunts, and I got the go-ahead. So although I had an awesome stunt double on set with me, I am proud to say I didn’t use her. I did all of my own stunts, and came away with some beautifully colorful bruises that I was very proud of.
What was the most difficult stunt you had to pull off?
I would say it is a toss-up. I got to body-check a guy down some stairs, and I got yanked out of a car by my hair. The car was not moving, luckily, but there was a lot more at stake because I was backwards. So if I landed on my neck, I would break my neck. There was a lot of rehearsal leading up to that, and a lot of body armor to make sure I didn’t injure myself. That one was a little scary because it happens very fast. But I think it looks really good!
Were there any stunts that you didn’t think you could pull off, or that scared you?
Honestly, I think the hardest part was running barefoot. We shot a lot of nights because, well, this is a horror movie, and I ran through the woods without shoes on. I ran through the barn barefoot that had some barn equipment hidden under the hay that no one knew about. I ran through the school barefoot and that school had been abandoned since, I think, the 1970s. The floors were weirdly greasy - I don’t know if that is due to years of dust or mildew or whatever, but I was honestly more afraid of slicing my foot open or slipping and breaking a bone. The producers were great though. They had running shoes for me between the start point of my run and the end point. So I could do my run, then they would give me shoes so I could walk back to the start point. In the school they actually spread I-don’t-know-how-many-pounds of cat litter to try to soak up the greasiness, then swept it off so there was some traction for me. But that was probably scarier than any of the actual stunts I did.
There are a number of different horrors faced in this film. What is scarier to you: the supernatural, unexplained creature horror, or the realistic horror of guys with guns?
Wow, that’s a really, really good question. As far as watching it... I saw The Exorcist way too young. So the supernatural aspect [of movies] was really, really terrifying to me. I have seen enough horror movies by now that I just want to be scared again. Having the monster come after you, not only is it scary, but it is completely unexplained.. You can’t wrap your head around it because it is not something you would see in reality. The guys with guns aspect is horrifying because that actually happens. Personally, I think guys with guns are scarier, but to watch, I would say the supernatural stuff interests me a lot more. I think the unexplained is scarier than reality [in films].
So in a dark alley, would you rather face off against a zombie or a guy with a gun?
I would much rather face a gangster in an alley because then at least I would know what I was up against!
When you signed on to Rites of Spring did you know it was planned to be a trilogy?
Yeah, I did know that, but I didn’t know much more than that.
Rites of Spring ends rather abruptly, so it leaves you expecting another film.