March 9, 2022 Interview – Jocelin Donahue
When you think of some of the more talented actresses in modern Horror cinema you would be foolish to overlook Jocelin Donahue. Growing up in Connecticut, Donahue is a highly expressible actresses who first made a big splash back in 2009 starring in Ti West’s The House of the Devil, before later on taking on roles in such big Horror flicks including 2013’s Insidious: Chapter 2 and 2019’s Doctor Sleep. Now taking looking to wow Horror fans once more, she takes on the leading role in Mickey Keating’s new film Offseason. Set for release in theaters and on VOD and Digital on March 11, 2022, Offseason is a creepy new story about a surreal, isolated island that makes the unbelievable a grime reality. Excited for opportunity to work on Offseason, Donahue recently sat down to talk about the film, her past works, the emotionality of Horror, plus more.
Cryptic Rock – You have been involved in acting professionally for around 15 years. Involved in many interesting films along with television series, how would you describe your career as an actress thus far?
Jocelin Donahue – One thing leads to the next. I was really lucky to have my first lead role in Ti West’s The House of the Devil (2009). That really set the stage for some more films in independent Horror. I was really lucky to get to work on something that was so fulfilling artistically and it was such a great learning experience; that sort of started my education in the Horror genre.
Those kind of performances, which get to show high stake drama and a lot of emotionality, I hope lead to other opportunities in Drama. I think those feelings and skills do translate to other genres as well.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. And you have had a varied career, but you have done a lot of Horror related films. Do you enjoy working in the Horror genre?
Jocelin Donahue – For sure. You get to do so much in Horror and it encompasses so many different genres in it. You get to do the drama, the comedy, the highly emotional, sad, gothic, or Sci-Fi. There is always a lot to play in the Horror genre. I now have a deep appreciation for all the different ways that Horror explains our world and how it lets us explore our fears.
Cryptic Rock – It certainly does. A lot of what you just mentioned come together in your new film Offseason. How did this film come about for you?
Jocelin Donahue – Mickey (Keating) sent me the script, we sat down and talked about. Yes, this one has a kind of weird mythology at heart and I loved that right away. His influences came, not just from Horror films, but also southern gothic literature; that was very interesting to me. His really strong sense of place and the mythology about this place I thought was super interesting.
Mickey just has such a distinctive filmmaking style. Each of his movies is kind of it’s own distinct thing. After hearing about his influences, his touchstones with this film, and learning about the nightmare Maria had to go through, I knew it would be a very interesting project to work on.
Cryptic Rock – It is quite interesting. A lot of Offseason’s effectiveness weighs on your performance as Maria, and you do a great job. There are many scenes in the film where it is just you and there was no one else to play off. Was this part challenging?
Jocelin Donahue – Yes. It’s true, this character is isolated, alone, and a lot of it is wordless. I was interesting in playing the moments where it was dawning on her that there is no solid ground, there is no logic, and she’s living in a nightmare. There is nowhere to hide, suddenly you end up in a room you weren’t expecting to be, or there is a dead end where there wasn’t one before. Maria is skeptical person, she has to come to terms with what was beyond belief to her is now undeniable. She has to accept the weird rules of this place to survive. That was very interesting and fun to play.
Cryptic Rock – There are certainly has a lot of eerie qualities and you can feel the isolation. Where was Offseason shot? It looks very interesting.
Jocelin Donahue – We shot it in a little beach town called New Smyrna Beach, Florida about 1 hour from Daytona. It is actually where Mickey and his family would go on family vacation. It was built in the ’40s, so it looks very much like that. Of course when they cleared everything out and made it empty, it had a really twilight zone, uncanny feeling.
Then we shot all around the Apollo national sea shore which is down near Cape Canaveral; it has a really lush jungle, tropical, gothic feeling. It really helped with the atmosphere and what the characters were going through. It was really not something you can re-create somewhere else. It really had such a strong sense of place and helped with the feeling of being isolated and vulnerable.
Cryptic Rock – Sounds very compelling. It appeared that 99% of Offseason was shot at night. As an actress, is it different shooting at night?
Jocelin Donahue – That is an interesting question. Something I love about making Horror movies and working at night is the feeling that you are the only ones wake. You feel like you and the film crew are working under the cover of darkness and it does help you get into this timeless place of where you are not distracted by normal daily life. Just the darkness in general creates an ominous feeling. There is so much fog in Offseason. (Laughs) There is a feeling that things are not in focus and there is a weird surrealism, and yes, the nighttime helps with that.
Cryptic Rock – It is a defining aspect that creates a strong atmosphere. Beyond Offseason, what other projects do you have coming up?
Jocelin Donahue – Later this year I am looking forward to a really interesting narrative video game that I worked on with Sam Barlow. Somethings are tied up, but hopefully I’ll be shooting a feature in May which will be a Crime Thriller.
Cryptic Rock – Those are some projects to look forward to. Last question. As a seasoned veteran in Horror, do you have any favorite films in the genre.
Jocelin Donahue – Yes, I’m always adding to my frame of reference. I originally loved Kubrick’s stuff; The Shining (1980) was one of the first things I saw as a teenager. I love the ’70s stuff too. Some of my favorites include Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Don’t Look Now (1973), The Challenging (1980), and Repulsion (1965). These days I like creepy, minimalist Sci-Fi styled films; Alex Garland’s stuff and cult stuff like Mandy (2018) as well as the series Archive 81.