Mickey Reece has written and directed some of the most interesting genre cinema in recent years. His latest offering Agnes is a possession movie unlike any done before. More character study than horror, the film visits a number of different genres. But it is its bold decision about midway through the film that will have audiences talking. We spoke with Reece about his thoughts on horror, his writing style, and how he makes food look so great.
AIPT: What was the inspiration behind Agnes?
Mickey Reece: Writing the script, the structure was definitely kind of influenced around these ’90s movies… The Crying Game and Dead Presidents. I think there’s a few others in this ilk that basically gets you into the theater for one specific type of movie and then just do a complete 180, and turn it all around from what you’re used to. And then after having done Climate of the Hunter and Strike Your Mistress – they were both these female-centric stories – so I was, “let’s just make a trilogy of it. I was really interested in just visually blocking some nuns in front of the camera. So I guess the marriage of those two things are kind of how it came about.
AIPT: Possession movies are either the victim going through the possession or the priest who’s doing the exorcism. In this case, the main character is a third party. Why did you decide to go in that direction?
Reece: Every movie I ever make is just focused around the character. It doesn’t matter what the plot is supposed to do or what the story is, it’s really just based around the characters. It was kind of let’s just take one of these characters and follow her around for the second half of the movie. You’re just approaching it concerned with the characters, not so much what the structure of the film is.
AIPT: How important was it for you to inject that humor?
Reece: I’m always trying to make comedies. No one’s given me money to make comedies, so I just have to lump in my comedic sensibilities into these other horror adjacent movies.
AIPT: A term that gets thrown around a lot, is genre-bending. I think you can accurately describe Agnes as a genre bending movie. How would you describe it?
Reece: I wish it was more ambiguous. Of all the genres of films, horror is kind of the one that I’m the least ecstatic about. And so when we started making these horror films, they were, by design, always going to be different than regular horror films, because I’m not a huge fan of the genre to begin with.
AIPT: Was it intentional for Mary to have so little dialogue?
Reece: Yeah, it was always intentional for her to be this kind of angelic presence that is really just there to guide you and to guide the other characters they have a lot to say. I feel Mary not having a lot to say ultimately has more to say because of it.
AIPT: Were you afraid of losing the audience at all by making such a drastic tonal change?
Reece: I’m still very selfish and just kind of making movies for myself. I think sometimes it shows and I make some garbage and then sometimes it’ll be something interesting. I go for it and I hope for the best, and I don’t really think about the audience because, how can you? So many movies come out that people think, oh, this will be very niche, or this won’t land, or the audiences won’t like this, and then they end up being huge hits. I think as long as I just go with my gut and I’m being true to myself and being true to my art.
AIPT: In Agnes and Climate of the Hunter, there’s lots of shots of food. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen food shot so beautifully.
Reece: (Laughs) The Climate food was very, very put together. That was Kaitlyn Shelby, our production designer. I kind of gave her a very vague description of just, I want all the food to be just wild and alive looking, like Beetlejuice, where the meal just comes out and grabs them. And then based on our kind of ’70s aesthetic, that’s what she put together. So, I mean, it was fantastic on that. And then, that Agnes cake looked like s--t while we were there. In person, it didn’t look that appetizing, but it was kind of done up for the camera.
Agnes comes to Blu-ray March 8
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