Exclusive Interview with Caity Lotz of The PactInterview by Karen Moul Written by Karen Moul
If you’re looking for a good scare this summer, check out The Pact
, the first feature-length film from writer/director Nicolas McCarthy. Based on McCarthy’s short film of the same name, The Pact
takes the classic haunted house story and gives it a dark twist.
Caity Lotz stars as Annie, a young woman who has spent most of her life trying to forget an unhappy childhood. Summoned home, Annie arrives to find that her older sister has gone missing.
“She has basically been avoiding her past,” explains Lotz. “That’s been the goal of her life and now all of a sudden she has to go home to deal with [the death of her abusive mother].
“Once she gets home, things start getting really weird and her sister disappears. And all of a sudden there’s a ghost in her childhood home - who she thinks is her mom - and she tries to find her sister and figure out what happened.”
And that is when things take a very sinister turn. What might at first seem like standard fare – psychic, Ouija board, bumps in the night – soon gives way to a visually compelling, psychological thriller.
At the center of it all is Lotz, whose performance is generating consistent praise from audiences and film critics alike. Advance reviews note her gritty portrayal of Annie, the tough-as-nails heroine who is not your average horror flick chick.
“I love playing strong women,” says Lotz. “I think it’s really important to have those characters in cinema and the more we can do it, the better.
“I and [director McCarthy] both didn’t want Annie to be dumb,” she explains. “We don’t want it to be where someone in the theater is like ‘Pick up the knife, you idiot!’ We wanted it to be where the girl is doing what you think she should be doing, and even with all of that she’s still facing all these challenges and it’s still extremely difficult.
“That was definitely one of the reasons I really wanted to play the role. And it’s funny because I used to always be like “Oh, they’re not going to pick me to play the tough girl, I’m this blonde, blue-eyed freckled chick.” So it was nice to get the opportunity to do that.”
The role is a big change from Lotz’s recent work on MTV’s comedy-horror series Death Valley
. Annie is “the complete opposite” of Officer Kristen Landry, but switching gears to play Annie came easily.
“I have both of those parts in me,” she says, “so it was pretty easy to tap into them. Every time I play a character it always has some element of me.
“It’s funny though, I notice that sometimes characters will leak into my life a little bit. When I played Kristen I was a lot more bubbly in my everyday life and when I was playing Annie I was a little bit more closed off.”
This is Lotz’s first starring role in a feature film and she enjoyed the measure of autonomy afforded a lead actress.
“You get so much more creative freedom when your character is the lead, just because the story revolves around your character. You get a lot of creative freedom to explore different things because you’re not trying to fit into another character’s story.”
Lotz also loved doing stunt work on The Pact
. The film’s trailer (available on YouTube) shows Annie being attacked by an unseen presence, tossed about the room like rag doll.
“I like doing that kind of stuff,” she confesses. “And I’ve done wire work before, been flown around. It’s different between flying around than being thrown into things, but I had fun doing it. It was fun and definitely the stunt background helped a lot,” she said. Her years of experience practicing martial arts such as Muay Thai and Wushu were also a big help.
Just 25 years old, Lotz is already on her third career. She previously worked as a dancer and as a pop singer before breaking into acting.
“Dancing was the first thing,” she explains. “When I was seven there was a group of dancers performing at my school and I told my mom I want to do that. So she signed me up for dance classes and then I fell in love with it.
“I never really planned to be a professional dancer but I had an opportunity to have an agent and I was like ‘Wow, I can get paid to do this? Perfect.’ Lotz toured with the likes of Lady Gaga and Avril Lavigne and appeared in a string of music videdos.
Next came a stint with an all-girl pop group. On a whim, Lotz accompanied a friend to a vocal audition and they both wound up in Germany.
“We did an album overseas. [It] never came out over here but we had two top tens in Germany. It was a lot of fun. I was 19 when I went over there, I had never been to Europe, didn’t speak any German. I moved over there with one of my best friends, we both got the gig together so we basically were like 'let’s move to Germany!’ And it was so fun, I had a really good time. It was such a great experience.
“And that’s something I wish everybody could do at some point in their lives,” Lotz continues. “Not just travel but live in another country, because it’s a whole different experience to actually be somewhere for over a year. We were over there for two years and it was a great experience, I think I learned more there than I ever did in school.”
After returning home, Lotz was ready for a new challenge. She danced a bit longer, but also started taking acting classes and “just fell in love with it.” She first gained notice with a small role on AMC’s Mad Men
as Anna Draper’s niece, Stephanie. Death Valley
and The Pact
Lotz feels her varied background provided a strong foundation for her acting career. “Art is all drawing from your experiences so the more you experience, the better. And I think it’s all about following your creativity and your curiosity and trying new things and anything that can help you understand the world and people better, traveling abroad definitely does that.
“I feel really lucky, I think the key to that is just to not be afraid to go through an open door. And if that means closing one door to go through another one, do it. Don’t be scared.”
Next up for Lotz is the January release of Battle of the Year
, "a big 3-D breakdancing movie” about a team of b-boys competing at the international breakdancing championship, which Lotz explains is a real annual competition.
“We actually shot at the real event in France. Montpelier, in the south of France, is where the battle was this year. And we shot at the actual event. So our team, our movie team, actually performed during the event and the crowd is the actual crowd at the event."
Lotz co-stars in the film with Lost’
s Josh Holloway. “Most of my scenes are with Josh and our characters have an interesting dynamic. I break, I did it for a long time, and me and the b boys would always be teaching Josh and he’d want to learn. And he definitely could do some stuff. He doesn’t dance in the movie too much because he’s a coach and I’m the one who’s there to do the actual dancing with the b boys, but off screen he was breaking it up.”
After that, Lotz is open to almost any kind of role.
“I don’t really ever limit it to, ‘Oh, I won’t do a horror movie, or I won’t do this.’ I do it on a project-to-project basis. If the script is great and it’s the kind of story that I like, it’s a thriller and it’s good people working on it, then I’ll do I’d be down to do it.
“I don’t see myself doing a slasher, but you never know.”
Asked about her own favorite horror movie, she quickly cites The Shining
, adding that she’s partial to religious horror.
“I always like religious movies that are kind of scary, that use possession and exorcist stuff, just because there’s so much history behind that, I find it fascinating. And religion to me in general is an odd thing. I don’t really subscribe to organized religion but it fascinates me because of the power that it has over people." The Pact
will get a limited theatrical release in the US, opening in twelve cities on July 6. But it is available now via video on demand, and was released in the UK on June 8.
“But definitely go see it in theaters,” says Lotz. “A scary movie is always better in the theater, just to get the excitement of it all. And don’t go see it alone.”