I recently reviewed the psychological thriller Lavender, which was released this month. The film was clever, had an unpredictable twist and featured a great cast. Following the review, I had the pleasure of speaking with Lavender’s director and co-writer, Ed Gass-Donnelly.
HorrorGeekLife: Lavender is very psychological and heavy, featuring a lot of family tragedy. Where did the idea for Lavender come from?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: My friend Collin (Frizzell) gets credit for creating the central idea and what the story became. We spent a long time working on this and it’s probably taken seven years working on this. We’d develop it to a certain point, put it in the drawer and come back to it. It was a lot of back and forth. Once we really found who the character was, we created the context for the action to happen. Like, making her a photographer and searching for these houses. Once we found that, it started to make sense.
It had to be more than just 20 years after tragic events or something happening because of a random reason. The idea that these missing memories and childhood events fuel this person’s obsessions to the point that it defines who she becomes. She becomes a photographer so she can search for the house that is the key to all of these memories. The idea that what drives our obsessions can come from our childhood, or otherwise, and create who we are.
I had a close friend who was abused as a child and I was there when they suddenly remembered these things happening. To suddenly go from having no memory of something to a stark memory coming to life was horrifying and fascinating. It’s remarkable what the human body is capable of doing to protect us, especially as a kid who doesn’t have the ability to process. You put those memories in a box until you’re at a happy, stable point of your life and can deal and rid yourself of those demons.
HorrorGeekLife: Through this process that Jane goes through, we meet Young Jane, portrayed by Peyton Kennedy. The film also features two other young actresses, Lola Flanery as Alice and Sarah Abbott as Susie. All three were phenomenal. Do you think they grasped how heavy their roles were?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: I was trying to be extra cautious and very delicate about certain things. But, these kids just diving in. There was a scene that’s not in the movie anymore. Early in the film, Jane sees a centipede. As a kid, she hung onto the bed and a centipede crawled on her arm, which is why the centipede appears earlier. We were wondering if we should do a CGI centipede and she says, “No, put the bug on me!” She was so gung-ho. When we had to cover them in blood, they were so into it.
There were times where I worried I’d be traumatizing these kids, but instead they thought it was hilarious or fun. We had to have a child psychologist on the set to make sure we weren’t ruining these kids’ lives, but they handled it all maturely. I was always impressed with what they were capable of.
HorrorGeekLife: As I mentioned, there was quite a heavy turn of events in the film. What do you hope audiences take away from Lavender?
Ed Gass-Donnelly: I guess the sense of catharsis in the idea of confronting your demons, which is better than running from them. The audience and Jane have the same information, and normally the characters know more about themselves than you do. But, in this case they don’t. The audience and Jane really go on the same ride together. You almost get put in a first-person point of view because everything she discovers, you discover at the same time.
HorrorGeekLife: I think that message is well conveyed by the end of the film. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, we appreciate your time!