innerdemons-posterOctober is always a big month for new horror flicks. I have to admit that going into Seth Grossman’s Inner Demons, I felt the film had three hurdles to overcome. Another found-footage film: Yawn. Demonic possession: Oy, not again. Fake reality show concept: Zzzzzz. And yet, in spite of my biases, I found the film to be extremely original and highly entertaining. Oh, and it also scared the bejeesus out of me. Inner Demons follows an Intervention-style reality show crew that is shooting an episode about a 15-year old girl named Carson (Lara Vosburgh), a former A-student who is fighting addiction but may in fact be suffering from something far more destructive and difficult to treat. The show’s high-powered producer, Suzanne (Kate Whitney), will do whatever it takes to get a compelling episode but her new intern, Jason (Morgan McClellan) feels drawn to Carson and knows there’s more to her “addiction” problems that meet the eye. The girl’s symptoms clearly straddle the intersection between addiction, insanity, and true possession. Which is it?

I first saw this film at this year’s Los Angeles Film Festival and sat down with the three leads: Lara Vosburgh, Morgan McClellan, and Kate Whitney.

innerdemons-3Danny Miller: It was only after I saw the film that I found out that your director, Seth Grossman, actually worked on Intervention and other such shows. That must have helped a lot!

Morgan McClellan: It was immensely helpful. He gave us a lot of pointers on how things would actually go down in that environment. He knew the kind of stuff that would have happened off camera.

Lara, your performance reminded me of Linda Blair’s in The Exorcist (who I know introduced the film at the L.A. Film Festival). Carson’s youth and innocence only makes what happens to her all the more horrifying. How did you happen to come to this project?

Lara Vosburgh: I’m from Israel (although I was born in New York). I had just arrived in this country and found out about this audition.

What? You come to L.A. and immediately get the lead in a movie? You’re going to give false hope to actors everywhere!

(Laughs.) It did happen really fast. Three weeks later we were on set. It was a great first experience here — the cast really clicked and Seth created a very safe space for us to deal with our own inner demons as we got into these characters!


You had to get to some really animalistic places in this part. Was that hard to do?

It’s funny, because in my auditions I found it pretty easy to play a heroin addict. But the demonic possession was much tougher for me. I remember Seth calling me after one audition and telling me I had to completely let go. In my next audition I think I scared everybody to death! It was Seth who gave me the confidence to do that. You kind of have to channel that place of being very vulnerable and childlike. I think in our day-to-day lives as adults we’re afraid to expose that side of ourselves but for a role like this you just have to. And what helped me a lot is that I’m also a dancer. This was a very physical role!

Kate, I have to say that you completely nailed that kind of borderline sociopathic L.A. TV producer. And I’m being kind by saying “borderline!” As I watched your performance, I remember thinking, “Oh, she knows such people!” How did you end up in the film?

Kate Whitney: I was in the middle of directing two films with a really tight schedule. I love directing but I really missed acting and I decided to pop in on this one acting class even though I had no business doing such a thing with everything I was doing at that time. But I went to the class and Seth was sitting in there. Afterwards he just came up to me and said he had a part he thought I’d be great for. I think my response was something like, “And you are…?”

Needless to say, parts of this movie scared the crap out of me. Was it ever actually scary on the set?

Morgan: Oh God, there was this one night when we were shooting up in the hills that I think scared the hell out of all of us. I remember we started shooting very late, it was so dark and they lit this field in a way that made it seem like you were in a very creepy, bad place. I was truly scared that night!

Lara: Some of the makeup that I had in certain scenes was amazing. It took hours to put on and when I looked in the mirror, I would scare myself!


Morgan, your character is kind of the voice of reason and humanity in the film, and yet, if I were Kate’s character, I would have so fired your ass! How did you get into the head of Jason and his desire to help Carson?

Morgan: Well, part of it was easy because when you meet Lara, you immediately like her so I got how he would naturally want to help this person. As an actor, you’re always looking for that connection to what your character is doing. I thought about what I would do if someone that I cared about, maybe a member of my family, was dealing with these issues. I looked at it as if she had some kind of mental illness — how would I have empathy for someone in that situation?

I have to say that I’m still suffering from a bit of PTSD abou the ending of the film. I don’t want to give it away, but I wondered if you ever discussed different endings.

Kate: Oh yes, we discussed a lot of different ideas.

Morgan: And we even shot a few different endings.

Kate: But I’m not sure any of them would have helped your PTSD — they were all pretty creepy. I remember going to the first screening and thinking, “Oh, no!” because I knew what was coming and I really like these characters!

The Exorcist certainly set the bar for this type of film in many ways, but, of course, that was a big studio film. I’m impressed with what you were able to accomplish with what I’m sure was a tiny indie-movie budget.

Lara: Thank you! It’s true that almost everything was done with practical sets, we didn’t have a lot of money for special effects. But we did have these fantastic makeup people which helped so much.

Morgan: One of the things I liked most about the script when I read it is that the threat was more subtle and below the surface — not in your face or over the top as many horror films are.

Lara: The whole thing was such a great experience for me because I come from the Israeli film industry which is very small and tight-knit. When I came to Los Angeles, I didn’t know what to expect but I saw on this film that there are so many people here who are willing to give so much of themselves, even on a smaller film like this. I was worried that Hollywood wouldn’t be as familial as I was used to, but we were all very close on this film.

But it still must have been a very draining film to make.

Oh, yes. We finished filming just before Hanukkah and Christmas and I was so grateful for the time off during the holidays. Emotionally, we had to go to some very tough places!

Inner Demons is currently playing in select cities and is available on VOD.