When I last spoke to Paula Brancati, it was at the end of a bug-infested day near Orangeville, Ont., on the set of Slasher: Guilty Party, where she played a character named Dawn.
Now Brancati is back—along with several of her Guilty Party co-stars—in Slasher: Solstice, the third season in the franchise created by Aaron Martin. Slasher: Solstice keeps the franchise’s cast intact by reuniting several actors from past seasons in Dean McDermott, Joanna Vannicola, Brancati, Erin Karpluk, Jim Watson, Jefferson Brown and Paulino Nunes with new faces in Baraka Rahmani, Lisa Berry, Mercedes Morris and Salvatore Antonio.
And, like the franchise, Solstice meets up with these characters as awful things happen in present-day to match a truly terrible occurrence in the past. We spoke to Brancati about playing Violet.
It’s exciting times for everybody, thanks to Netflix. The reach for a Canadian series like Slasher is worldwide instantly.
Paula Brancati: It’s really exciting, I think, especially with something like Slasher where it’s an anthology, and so each season really has its own identity, and they feel like they can have their very unique stamp on them, each shot by a different director. I feel like we’re doing something new every year with the show. I’m overwhelmed in the best way with how big the reach is, and I always forget how many people can actually access the show and watch it in perpetuity, all over the world. It’s mind-blowing, and the response has been super-positive.
What I like about the Slasher franchise and what Aaron started is that, yes, it’s a horror anthology. Yes, there are gory deaths, but the deaths mean something, and there’s emotion attached to these characters.
PB: I completely agree with you. I think the reason I was so delighted when Aaron came to me with this in Season 2 with that character was that I’d never worked in horror before. I think I had certain ideas about what the genre was like. I was pretty thrilled to see that in Season 2, and then in Season 3 as well, that the characters don’t fulfil these horror movie tropes in the same way.
I would be delighted to watch a show with any one of these characters leading it. To get to have so many complex characters, to see such an incredible, diverse cast that looks like the city we’re actually in, that has female characters that are so complicated and so exciting, I think that that’s what the show does really well, and then horror is just another element to it. It makes me very proud to be a part of this particular horror franchise.
Violet thinks she’s helping. She’s a lonely character, and there’s definitely some sadness to her because the only real connection that she feels is with this anonymous group of people that watch her videos.
PB: I ingested a lot of YouTuber footage before bed, and I would leave the Kardashians on in the background because I think they aesthetically for her are a huge influence, as they are for a lot of millennials. I think she wishes she was Nancy Grace, too. She’s listened to Serial over and over again. She watches and listens to, I think, current things, and probably would also be very dated in some of her references. It was a lot of fun to build her from the outside in as well, and play with her voice.
She’s so much fun. There are so many directions you can take it in. [Director] Adam [MacDonald] was very clear about wanting to make sure it felt very much like a real person. I think that’s the danger with someone like that, with a character like that is I was worried that maybe people wouldn’t believe that she exists on this planet. I think from the response we’ve been getting, people seem to know her well. I don’t know if that’s frightening or not, but it’s what they’re saying.
The other thing that struck me was this relationship between Joe and Angel, obviously, but also Angel, Joe, and Violet. It was a complicated relationship between the three of them. I thought it was really well written, really well done, and didn’t feel forced in the middle of a show where people are being killed off every episode either.
PB: Thanks for saying that. I agree with you. I think it was so well written, and it’s a real testament to the writers. Somehow amidst this 24-hour crazy killing spree, it felt so honest. I think that’s also a testament to Ilan Muallem and to Salvatore Antonio, who played Joe and Angel, respectively, because you really feel right away when you meet them, you feel like you’re right in something.
I think Ilan does such a nice job. I really feel like he absolutely had a real love for Violet and that they probably did have so much fun for a very long time. She’s in a whole other planet really, really far away from him. Those scenes behind, you know that door? There’s a scene where he’s locked her into the bathroom. That stuff was really exciting and very challenging to shoot. I found that stuff really very like it pushed us in directions with each other. I really think Adam, again, treads a really great line of keeping everything energetic but also feeling really real.
I think those things can go off the rails if you don’t have a director who’s really tasteful. I felt really in very, very good hands.
What are you working on now? Do you and Michael Seater still have your production company?
PB: Yeah. We do. We’re developing a couple of TV things. I went off to Italy and shot a feature that I produced and was in, called From the Vine. Wendy Crewson played my mom in it. Joe Pantoliano is the lead and it was directed by Sean Cisterna. We’re just finishing post-production on that right now. There’s a sci-fi feature that’s doing a festival run that I was a lead in with Erin Berry, who was one of our producers on Slasher, called Majic. Paulino Nunes is in it. That’s doing a festival run right now.
Slasher: Solstice is on Netflix now.
Images courtesy of Shaftesbury.