The Exorcist, The Exorcism of Emily Rose—these are masterful studies in creeping psychological horror that served as important inspirations for director Diederik van Rooijen’s The Possession of Hannah Grace, which sees Pretty Little Liars’ star Shay Mitchell come into her own as a feature film star.
In the new horror film, the recent Manila visitor and Filipina-Canadian actress brings to the screen a highly competent heroine, ex-cop Megan Reed, who has fallen on hard times but is determined to regain her footing. To do so, though, Megan will have to overcome challenges unlike any she might ever have imagined as a series of supernatural events prompts her to doubt her own sanity. A demonic force has set its sights on her and will stop at nothing to see her dead and defeated.
Watch the trailer here.
For Mitchell, the role of Megan represented a singular opportunity to play a complex character under unimaginable pressure who digs deep to summon the courage to combat a supernatural threat. “I really liked the fact that she is able to overcome things throughout this movie—that she doesn’t just die,” Mitchell says. “She proves to herself that she could do it. Being in a morgue alone all night would be a very isolating job for you and me, but for somebody like Megan, who’s gone through a lot of recent ups and downs, I think being surrounded by cadavers is strangely comforting. There is no judgment there. Nobody is telling her she’s messed up again or that she’s been lying and needs to get her act together. But as things start getting strange at the morgue, her self-doubt begins to complicate the situation.”
To prepare to play Megan, Mitchell did a ride along with local Boston police officers and studied what it was like to work in a morgue. “It’s a very intense role to play, and from day one, she embraced it. She really threw herself into the part,” executive producer Glenn Gainor says.
“When you’re the main actor in a movie, it’s mostly centered on you, so there’s a lot of responsibility. She’s so down-to-earth. She’s a team player and such a leader. I think that this is going to be the start of a huge movie career for her,” co-producer Andrea Ajemian says of Mitchell.
Director van Rooijen agrees. “Everybody’s going to be amazed by what she’s done,” he says about Mitchell. “It’s her and the demon and that’s it. Her reactions are what makes it scary and fun to watch.”
In Philippine cinemas January 23, The Possession of Hannah Grace is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Use the hashtag #PossessionMovie