The actor also sounds off on all the long-overdue love for "Jennifer's Body."
Kyle Gallner is no stranger to the supernatural -- both on screen and in real life.
The actor -- known for his work in horror flicks including "The Haunting of Connecticut," "Jennifer's Body" and the "Nightmare on Elm Street" reboot -- is back in familiar territory battling evil in the new film, "The Cleansing Hour." The movie puts a viral twist on your standard possession fare, showing what happens when a phony YouTube star exorcist and his team come face to face with a real demon.
TooFab caught up with Gallner to talk about what's attracted him to so many horror films, how "Jennifer's Body" recently got a reappraisal by both viewers and critics and the real-life ghosts he encountered in his hotel while filming "The Haunting of Connecticut."
This isn't your first or even second time at the possession rodeo, following "The Haunting in Connecticut" and "Jennifer's Body." What sets "The Cleansing Hour" apart for you?
At first I thought the social commentary was pretty interesting, playing with that in the world we all live in right now. So many people are more consumed with getting likes than they are with reality. You literally have people dying because they're trying to get selfies. So I thought that was a neat take on things.
When I spoke with [director Damien LeVeck], he told me they wanted to do a lot of practical effects which I also thought was really cool. I love practical effects. That was exciting for me. When I read it I also thought it was funny and dark and had a lot of these really interesting human moments threaded throughout this kind of insane story. Because it was all in one place it was so contained, it was almost like doing a play. It had a lot of unique challenges that I never really had to deal with on a film set and I just really liked what Damian had to say. I really liked the relationships between the characters and I thought the script was something different.
Are you superstitious at all when it comes to working on movies like this?
I will say this, I had weird stuff happen to me when I was filming "Haunting in Connecticut." I didn't have anything happen here, and when I say I'm not superstitious, it doesn't mean I'm not a believer. I believe there are things, but I also believe some of those things you welcome in, or you kind of leave yourself open to some stuff. For some reason, this one didn't really trigger me in any weird way or worry me in any way, but in "The Haunting in Connecticut' I had a lot of weird things happen.
We were staying at this super haunted hotel in Winnipeg. It was a hotel that was originally built for all the workers who are building the railroad. It's the classic like, "Somebody killed themselves on floor 13." Like it's one of those hotels, and I had all these weird things happen. I would hear stuff all the time. If I got in the shower, it would sound like all of my doors are slamming or when I was laying in bed, it felt like somebody punched underneath the bed.
One night it got super cold and I swear to god it felt like somebody lifted the sheets up and slid into bed with me. I jumped completely out of bed, and then the other really weird one ... I got a phone call and I picked it up and said, "Hello," and then I looked at my phone and there was nobody on the phone. And then from somewhere just in the room, I heard somebody go, "Hello." So, I had really weird stuff, but that was maybe more ghost stuff. Nothing on "The Cleansing Hour" but definitely had some super weird stuff on "Haunting in Connecticut."
We'd definitely be booking a hotel room somewhere else after that ...
But there was that stupid part of me that's like, "Yeah, this is exactly what I'm looking for." And I got to the point where it was so often, if I had a really long night, or really long shoot day, I would walk in and start talking to the room. I'd be like, "Please, not tonight." And nothing would happen. They were polite ghosts. They just wanted me to know they were there.
Why do you think you've become something of a "Scream King" in the horror genre?
I think where I've been fortunate in the horror world is I was able to do good, bad, or ugly with some of them -- they're not all loved -- but I think I was lucky to do a lot of pop culture kind of horror films that hit in a different way. Being part of the "Nightmare" franchise, "Haunting in Connecticut" took off in a way that I don't even think the studio expected it to. That did a lot better than I think people assumed. "Jennifer's Body" was a pop culture thing, and that's having a really cool resurgence, it's having a cool second coming which I'm really happy about. So, I got lucky at a young age to be part of these neat horror films that people watched. Some of them they loved and sometimes you get just as much attention when people want to talk a bunch of s--- about films.
You mentioned this "Jennifer's Body" resurgence. How has it been for you to see how people have come around to really support the film now and finally show love to Megan Fox?
I think it's cool because I think people went after the film for all the wrong reasons. I think that they found reasons. Megan was in such a bizarre place within the industry at the time, and I think you just have people who wanted to hate just to hate on it. I don't know if it's because they weren't ready for it. I don't know if it was this younger generation grasped the movie a different way.
I remember making it and thinking, "This is really cool, I really think this is a neat movie." So to see people come back around and defend Megan instead of rip her is A, the right thing and, B, I think it's nice and I hope she feels the love from it. She's good in the movie. She's actually really good in it. I think the script is super smart. I think the performances are really good. So, to see people come back around and embrace the movie in a way that I feel it should've been embraced when it came out is nice."
The potentially destructive nature of social media is certainly a lesson to take away from "The Cleansing Hour." Would you say you have a healthy relationship with social media yourself?
I think it's kind of love/hate. I do sometimes catch myself looking at it a lot these days because I'm just counting time. Then also the way the world is politically, like you're kind of watching everything happen. Whether it's with COVID, or what's going on in the government, it's kind of like your window into the world right now. So, I do have to check myself sometimes, I'll be like, "Alright dude, just put it down."
Before all this happened ... I would post every once in a while. I'm not like a huge social media guy. Like I don't really take pictures that much. My wife yells at me, "You need to take pictures." But I'm like watching it. I'm watching this happen. So, the relationship with social media can be bizarre. At the same time, as toxic as it could be, I think there's some good things about it. You get to see uplifting stories from all over the world, you get to kind of connect with people. I've connected with people I don't think I would've ever been able to reach out to or meet without having some kind of connection on Twitter. So, I think social media could be a good tool, but I also think if used improperly it can be just so horrible and toxic.
This movie definitely takes it to the extreme.
This definitely kicks it up a notch or two.
"The Cleansing Hour" is available now on Shudder, VOD, Digital HD and DVD.