In The Pact, a young woman named Annie (played by Caity Lotz) returns home after her mother dies. Annie's childhood home was the source of much trauma, at the hands of her mother, but Annie goes to support her older sister, tasked with handling their mother's estate. By the time Annie arrives, her sister has disappeared - but left behind a house of horrors. We spoke to Casper Van Dien about his role as Detective Creek, the only person who believes Annie - and the only one who can help.
How did you get involved in The Pact?
My manager got me an audition for it. I didn't know about the audition until the night before. My wife was out of town and I was watching my three youngest [kids]. I had no time to study, so when I walked in I told them that I was only able to look it over twice, so it would be a cold read. They asked if I had anymore time. I said, "No, my kids are in the car, and I have to go pick up my wife at the airport. I've been doing this for 24 years, and if I don't know what to do by now, I shouldn't be doing it at all." I did it, and they told me the shoot dates, but I couldn't do it - I was taking my kid to tour colleges. My manager talked to them and they changed the dates. It all worked out. They were very sweet to me. I really liked working with producer Ross Dinerstein, and I'm not just saying that because he hired me - well, maybe I am, but he is a really cool guy. Then Nicholas McCarthy, the director, was so cool, and I loved working with Caity. Maybe I am answering your questions too quickly!
What was it about the script that drew you to the role?
It was a scary script. It was really frightening to me. I like a good horror movie. When I was younger I used to sneak away to watch these kinds of movies because I liked to be scared - which may be a little sick. It's still something I enjoy. My wife cannot stand horror movies, so I have to wait until she is asleep or not in the house [to watch them]. Then I saw the short, and I thought [Nicholas] did a great job. I liked everyone involved and it just seemed like a good fit for me. It was a different character for me. One that I think I could, unfortunately, relate to: this cop who has been weathered. I think he had some problems with alcohol, and family issues. There was one line I really liked, where I tell Annie that she reminds me of my daughter. I felt like this was a real character.
Another genre film, Starship Troopers, really gave you your big break. But after 20+ years in the business, you're not worried about being typecast, are you?
I've been told by people who have represented me, that when they have tried to get me to go in [to read] for something, someone will say, "Yeah, we know who he is, he's the Starship Troopers guy." Even after 15 years, people still see me as that. So do I get typecast? I don't know. Do I worry that I will be typecast as a recovering drunk cop? I hope so. I would like to be typecast as everything!
It's a fun business. If you believe the good things that are written about you, you have to believe the bad things that are written about you. So either believe it all, or believe none of it, but either way, it's still fun. It's fun to have people still want to talk to you.
What was the most difficult part of The Pact for you to film?
When you have to shoot something that isn't there. There is one scene where I see a ghostly hand, and I am by myself. But even that was fun. The more difficult it is, often times the more fun it is to do. You are coming up with something different and creative and everyone gets really into it. This film wasn't difficult because everyone was so enthusiastic and you could see that they were doing a really good job. I feel like the crew - the director, the set designer, the DP - I feel like they are all characters in the film. Sometimes I think an even better film would be watching the people who make it. The energy was enticing and it brought the best out in me. What was difficult was watching it with an audience at Sundance. But they were all terrified. I was sitting next to Caity and Haley [Hudson, who plays Stevie], and at the first scare they both jumped on me. Haley actually left - and she is playing a pretty creepy, scary character. So I think it is difficult not to take audiences's reactions too seriously.
Without giving too much away, The Pact has both supernatural scares, and "real life" scares. Which element do you find to be scarier? Not just in the movie, but in general.
The illusions, the tricks that our minds play on us can be far more terrifying, except when you get into the real downers of society: child abuse and neglect and all that. You hear the real horror stories of that. So I think that the tricks our minds play on us can seem more terrifying in the moment, but the real atrocities that humans can do on one another are greater. But in movies, I find both terrifying, especially when there is a good combination of them.