Adam Brody talks thriller film ‘Isabelle’: ‘I think we’re all haunted by our family legacy’

A psychological thriller in the vein of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, Isabelle sees an all-American couple (Adam Brody, Amanda Crew) living the dream, moving into a perfect New England neighbourhood, ready to start a family.

Once settled, they soon descend into the depths of terror and paranoia and must struggle to survive a genuine threat from a dark presence keen to end their very lives.

Rob Heydon directs an all-star cast Adam Brody (The O.C., StartUp), Amanda Crew (Silicon Valley), Zoe Belkin (Carrie (2013)) and Sheila McCarthy (Orphan Black, The Umbrella Academy) in Isabelle.

Following a massively successful festival run — 33 festivals around the world — Isabelle returns to Canada for a theatrical run in Toronto, beginning June 28 at Carlton Cinemas.

Global News spoke to Brody ahead of the Canadian theatrical run of Isabelle to talk about working in thriller movies, becoming possessed and the upcoming release of Ready or Not.

Global News: How would you describe Isabelle to someone who has never watched it before?
Adam Brody: I would say it’s a ghost story about the haunting of a new couple who loses a baby in the womb and the horror that ensued. Ultimately, it involves a neighbour.

Pregnancy loss is a highly emotive subject. Were you disturbed by any of the things happening in the movie? Did you bring any of that home with you?
AB: Well I mean that’s certainly a horrific, sad and tragic thing that happens so often. And as a father myself I can certainly, at least, relate to the fear of that.

Do you believe people can really become possessed?
AB: No (laughing). But I think that horror works in movies in general and stories work as metaphors. Things in a movie don’t need to be literal but it could always speak to a greater truth.

I found Isabelle very suspenseful. I was even jumping at moments when you were just walking into the office and Carol was there with your coffee. I was on edge throughout the whole movie and I didn’t know what was going to happen next. Do you have any tips for people to get through a thriller without basically having a minor heart attack?
AB: I think the point is to have a near heart attack in a good thriller. I think that’s the point and I wouldn’t want to give anyone too many easy outs because it’s like a ride. It’s similar to if you’re going on the roller coaster you have to take the drops.

Larissa and Isabelle had some troubling family history. I feel like the audience finally understood Larissa’s fears when she told Matt what really happened to her dad. How important do you think that moment was for the movie?
AB: Of course! I think we’re all haunted by our family legacy in some way or another. Some people hope they become their parents and some people are terrified of it. So I think having something tragic like that in your past, I could definitely understand how that would be scary. Let’s just say it was mental illness [like Larissa’s father] or anything our parents passed down to us — literally or sort of more learned behaviour. Your family legacy is something that people can be afraid of for all sorts of reasons. I do really think it’s a very important and revealing moment in the movie. And it’s another reason why Larissa would be questioning her own sanity.

Did you ever scare yourself when you were filming with your shadow or anything because you were so in the moment?
AB: I wish I was that good of an actor. I don’t think I was scared on set. I can’t say I was… I don’t know (laughing). Making a movie, you need to do everything you can. You kind of block out the 50 to 100 other people that are around in your periphery and try as hard as you can to be in the moment. I don’t think I was too scared on set… I think I was pretty brave.

Did you ever think that in your acting career you would have a sex scene with a demon?
AB: Well, you hope. A lot of people don’t get to consummate that. For me it was a dream come true, a dream come true (laughing). Now I need a love scene with an angel. I’ll be complete.

Ready or Not comes out on August 23 and it looks amazing! How did each experience differ working on both of these thrillers?
AB: The characters are very different for starters. In Isabelle I’m a caring husband who — for the majority of it — I’m trying to care for my wife and I’m not really believing an otherworldly spirit. In Ready or Not it’s less spiritual although there is an element. There is a legend and a curse in the background of it. It’s much more about the practical challenge of killing somebody or not (laughing). In that way it’s a little more of a disturbed character I would say and that job was a little more physical throughout because the majority of it is a cat and mouse chase.

Is it safe to say you play a villain in Ready or Not?
AB: He’s definitely a misanthrope and somewhat of a degenerate. As to his true morality, it kind of goes back and leaves you wondering actually. It’s a little bit gray as to where his morality and loyalty lie.

What’s coming up for you next?
I did a movie called Promising Young Woman and Carey Mulligan is the lead. Emerald Fennell wrote and directed it and it’s really interesting and very topical and darkly comedic.

WARNING: Red Band Trailer — contains graphic language and violent images.

(This interview has been edited and condensed.)

Isabelle opens at the Carlton Cinema in Toronto on June 28 and Ready or Not hits theatres on August 23.

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