Prior to our conversation with Crepitus star Eve Mauro, she’d been described to us as “extremely high energy,” “very funny” and “awesome.” Following the chat we shared last Thursday afternoon, we can confirm every word.
Brimming with an infectious personality, Mauro is all passion, all the time, and very proud to be a part of Ginger Knight Entertainment’s tale of a cannibalistic clown, but not just because she wanted to make “something that will scare the shit out of people.”
With turns in Age of the Living Dead (2017), Dexter (2009) and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (2009), to say nothing of countless magazine shoots including Maxim, Mauro was intrigued by the script for Crepitus, because “it made your skin crawl” and her character — an abusive, alcoholic mother of two — was a welcome departure from her usual roles.
From Ginger Knight Entertainment:
Seventeen year old Elizabeth and her younger sister Sam are thrust into circumstances more terrifying than life with their abusive, drunken mother when they are forced to move into their deceased Grandfather’s house. Frightened beyond belief, they are forced to learn horrible things about their family history. Never mind the ghosts in the house, there is something far worse that takes an interest in them … a cannibalistic clown named Crepitus.
Over the course of our discussion, Mauro revealed that this project was the perfect film for Haynze Whitmore to make his directorial feature debut, that she dug into the part of Brandi because “to just play a villain, and play it like I know I’m a villain is no fun,” and that making Crepitus conjured nostalgic memories of watching horror films as a child. Recollections that haunt her to this day.
iHorror: When I spoke with Bill Moseley in late June, he touched on your Crepitus character with the words, “on the printed page, she’s just real scum.” Tell us about Brandi.
EVE MAURO: Oh, Brandi. I mean, where do I begin? She has two daughters, she’s an alcoholic, she’s a drunk, she beats her daughters repeatedly. Even the way that she speaks to them, she’s probably one of the worst characters I’ve ever read on paper, especially with children. I really enjoyed playing the part (laughs). She’s sleeping in her own vomit, she’s just the worst, and I had a lot of fun playing that part because she wasn’t pretty or something I normally play or I’m typecast to play. I was very excited to play this role. The girls I worked with (Caitlin Williams and Chalet Brannan), they allowed me to drag them around the floor and have some fun (laughs). We built a relationship prior to the dragging and the beatings, but I didn’t actually beat them for the record (laughs),
iH: No children were harmed in the making of Crepitus.
EM: Yes, I mean to my knowledge (laughs).
iH: What’s difficult in portraying such a deplorable character? Then again, as you just said, playing evil can have its advantages, it can be fun, too. What was the most fun about going to a place that you’d never venture as a human being?
EM: The funny thing is, because we look at villains and these characters as not human, but there’s always these qualities. If you just take a character and you find things you can sympathize or relate with, because in their minds, they’re not evil, they’re not doing any harm or any bad, they always have justifications for all of their actions. The sick part about this role was trying to justify why I am the way I am and why what I’m doing is okay. To just play a villain, and play it like I know I’m a villain is no fun, but to find why I think that I’m doing this, why it’s okay, was the fun part. I thought about the back history of Crepitus, how he relates to her and what the children mean because they’re a product of, it started this fire inside of me where “Oh, I can see how they’d become a little evil.” It’s getting to that point now, that’s the character. But you have to relate somehow, so you just have to find what’s relatable, so that was exciting. I just loved dragging the children across the floor, but that’s another story (laughs).
iH: Give us that “I’m in” moment when you were reading the script for Crepitus. What was the deciding factor where you said “I have to be a part of this?”
EM: Wow. When I first read it, I did read your interview with Bill Moseley, I did not know what crepitus meant, so I looked it up and learned it was the crackling of joints, so I was interested in that. The way that Crepitus spoke and the children, some horror movies just do one thing, one big evil thing, this had multiple, evil, distressing, or just things that made your skin crawl all throughout the page. Just sitting at the dinner table with the mother and the children, I remember reading the script and saw how she spoke to the children, what she did and it made you think of The People Under the Stairs and I’m like “Oh, fuck. I’ve gotta do this!” (Laughs) So it was every single part of it. It’s not like you’re just waiting for the creepy clown, every single part makes you uncomfortable, and I like that when I watch movies. I like to feel uncomfortable or not at ease.
iH: You’ve been acting for over a decade, so you’ve dealt with many different directors in many different genres. Why was Haynze Whitmore the right director for Crepitus?
EM: Haynze is just amazing. He knew exactly what he wanted and he knows the horror genre. There’s just something special about Haynze, I have to say. This is his first project, and I was just texting him actually (August 10), he’s working on editing the final trailer and the special effects and what-not, but he really has a passion for it. He’s been wanting to do a film for a very long time, and Eddie (Renner) and Sarah, his wife, wrote the script and it just came in perfect timing. They say that everything happens for a reason or things happen with perfect timing, which most times is a lot of bullshit, but this is perfect for (Whitmore). I think it’s perfect.
iH: While filming or immediately after, was there a scene you were involved with for Crepitus that left you saying “That’s gonna knock people on their ass?” Without giving too much away, of course.
EM: Yes, there are many of those scenes (laughs). I can say, one scene, because it’s not going to give anything away, the way that the mother brutalizes the children. It’s just so disgusting and disturbing, but it works. The girls were great to work with, so it looks really bad, but let me just say that we were laughing after every scene (laughs), so I don’t want to get any hate mail after this, like “Oh, fuck!” (Laughs) There’s a scene in the kitchen where I’m eating this ham hock thing, but the kids, constantly, they’re making food for me, they’re doing whatever I want. They’re kind of my slaves. Then one of them upsets me, so I take the bowls away from both of them and I make them watch me eat, and the ham leg is dripping off of my face. It’s pretty disgusting, pretty raw, and it’s pretty awesome. (Laughs) But we laughed afterwards, I swear. (Laughs) The kids were okay.
iH: It’s funny that you brought up liking the feeling of being uncomfortable when you’re watching a film, because (co-writer) Eddie Renner referred to you as “completely fearless,” we have to ask, whether in life or on the screen, what scares you?
EM: To be scared or to scare people or any of those things, it just gets your blood going. Your heart starts pounding and it’s almost an arousal type of thing. To be scared, to be feared is like sex, and everything is about sex or arousal and fear, and all that really equals to power. So being fearless, I guess, would mean maybe I felt more powerful when I was playing this role.
But what scares me is not living. Not feeling things. So I’m doing a lot of crazy shit all the time just to make sure that I’m still alive, that I’m not dead yet. I’m always making sure, just a little pinch.
iH: Sounds like you thought it would be fun to have a psychic on set one day while crew were setting up. Care to share your reading?
EM: What happened was that Caitlin, who plays my daughter, told me that she knew this psychic. We were shooting at this old dead house, which kept dead bodies in the early 1900s or something, so I told her it would be a great idea to bring the psychic on set and then she could just do everyone’s palm readings or whatever. So we did, and everyone got their palms read and let’s see, what did she say about me? (Laughs) Uh-oh, she did say she saw multiple spirits around me, or how did she say it? Guardians. So (laughs), she said that they’d been around me quite a bit lately and said that I needed to release them, I think. But I’m not ready to release anything, so I think that they’re going to stick around for a while. (Laughs) I kind of forgot, I was just really in the moment of having a psychic there.
A couple of nights, me and a couple of the other girls went to the house just to collect some things afterwards. There were no lights on, the doors kept opening and shutting and it was really creepy. I enjoyed it. I was scared, I was running out of the house one night. So I don’t know what the psychic meant exactly, but the whole fact that we brought the psychic to the house, did the readings and then were scared shitless the next night thinking something was after me was perfect for me. That was living. (Laughs)
iH: Once you’d wrapped filming, you spent a day traveling from Michigan back to Los Angeles with Mr. Moseley. You didn’t get a lot of time together on set, so how was the experience for you?
EM: Oh my God, it was awesome. So Haynze drove us to the airport and on the way there we were just listening to the music, jammin’ out and Haynze was telling us all about Michigan. And (Moseley’s) from the Midwest as well, so they had a lot in common, they were talking about that. First of all, I”m his fan, I’m a huge fan, and he’s a really smart, genuine man. I believe before he started acting he was a journalist and he was telling me about that, about his family, that his daughter is like a super model, and he’s just an all-around, creative, awesome person. I was so happy to have worked with him because he’s a fuckin’ legend (laughs). It’s like, “Yeah, I worked with Bill Moseley, and he plays a clown and he sings and he talks in this rhyming voice,” so it’s pretty rad. And he’s dope. I mean, you can’t complain. You’d think he’d be something else, but he was just all-around amazing, and I was so excited to spend that time with him.
iH: With IT due in early September, comparisons are unavoidable, but Pennywise doesn’t have the market cornered on horrific clowns, genre fans have been exposed to legions. What makes Crepitus unique?
EM: There’s big budget horror movies and then there’s lower budget horror movies, and sometimes with the bigger budgets you can’t really do and say all the things that you really want to say. What makes Crepitus unique is we do whatever we want. The writers, the directors, the actors; I mean, we got free reign. When they wrote this script, they were not thinking about giving this to a studio because no studio would touch it. There are so many things that are going on with Crepitus, so that’s the difference that we have. We all wanted to be a part of this project, so I don’t know if it’s comparable to the other ones, but it’s definitely it its own realm. We were just able to explore and to create. Everyone, at different times, makeup, hair, production, design, writing, acting, you name it — we all had the ability or the option to just create, and that’s why we really do it, to create. And to make something to scare the shit out of people. (Laughs)
iH: In one sentence, describe the nature of Crepitus as a film.
EM: Oh God. (Laughs) Let me think. Some scenes are disturbing and some can be somewhat campy, but it was it does, I think it’s nostalgia for me, in a sense. iI brought back memories of watching a horror movie as a child. It was disturbing, and sometimes when you go back and watch those movies, it’s a little campy, but then certain things just stick with you, and they never leave. And then you’re 35 years old and you’re remembering this one scene from a horror movie you watched twenty-something years ago and it still sticks with you a little bit. So that’s what I think it will do, there’s going to be certain parts that are just going to stick with people, and it will have that same feel as when we were kids watching it. That’s what I hope and that’s what I felt. I felt like I was doing something that still scares the shit out of me. (Laughs)
Crepitus is due for release on October 15.