Interview: Niamh Algar

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From the Dark is a fun new vampire film about young couple, Sarah (Niamh Algar) and Mark (Stephen Cromwell) who take a wrong turn at a fork on their vacation. Their car gets stuck in the mud, leaving them to walk to safety. When a house is found, the man who lives inside has been attacked by something and is changing into something evil. Now both the man and the creature that attacked him are stalking to kill the couple, whose only defense is light.

I had the opportunity to speak with the incredibly kind Irish star Niamh (pronounced like Neve) about her experiences filming and her thoughts on the context of the film.

From the Dark seems to market itself as more of a creature feature than as a vampire film. Why do you think?

Maybe they are showing you there are a lot of bad things in Ireland.

Are you a superstitious person? Are vampires even something you would believe in?

I believe in like..I think everyone kind of has like a guardian angel. I went to a kind of spirit guide before and they told me there was a guardian angel looking after me, kind of keeping me out of trouble. So I do kind of believe in a kind past life and different things that people thing. I mean, you just don’t know.

Well, let’s say the vampire attack in the movie, is that something you believe could actually happen? 

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Well, I think, especially around the bogs where they are finding people who didn’t die of natural causes and they think they were killed maybe ritualistically. So the bogs are a sort of grave for these people. So yeah, they could be unearthing these sorts of creatures. You really just don’t know. But yeah, after getting the part, I started researching the bog and found these people being killed ritualistically. It’s like having Ancient Egypt on our own little island, you know? Ireland has a lot of history with a lot of war. Even like in Vikings, the television show that’s on The History Channel, that kind of touched on a bit of our culture.

If you were in that situation, as in you yourself, do you think you would have survived? Sarah was a very resourceful person but as Niamh, do you believe you would have done as well?

When I took on the part, or when I read the script, I had to decide if she was really lucky or very resourceful. I definitely put myself into that character and realize that the only way to play it was to play it very real and how I would react. She’s just an ordinary girl propelled into a strange situation. Unless you’re in a scary situation, you don’t know how you’re going to act. It takes being put into the situation to discover that you have a lot of strength underneath all of that. So, yeah, I think I would definitely kick ass!

What do you think you would do differently?

Well, I think she handled it pretty well. Maybe the situation with Mark in that opening sequence.  I mean, she’s kind of in that relationship for a reason because she kind of needs to be kicked out of it. She needs something to happen in order to make a move. So, I think I would react different in the boyfriend/girlfriend scenario.

When Sarah has to cut off her finger, you did an amazing job of making it seem realistic. You held up the chisel and you could tell you were debating or even gathering the strength to do it. That seems to be the scene where Sarah shows the most strength.

In art school as a teenager, you have to do this printing where you use this little chisel instrument and I did stab myself in the hand. I had to pull it out. So, when I was looking for something, well I also grew up in the countryside where you play and get injured a lot, so when I was looking for something to channel, I guess I used that stuff. I think the preparation to do it is a lot worse than doing it. Trying to trick yourself into cutting off your finger, making yourself believe that’s not what’s happening. It’s like that 127 Hours movie with James Franco where you know you’re going to die if you don’t cut your arm off so you just do it. So yeah, it’s really just a live or die situation.

This was your first horror film, so how did you like horror in comparison to the comedies and dramas that you have done?

Photo Courtesy: NiamhAlgar.com
Photo Courtesy: NiamhAlgar.com

Oh well Conor, the director, gave me a list of horror movies to watch and I think that was the best way to see what they were trying to get at because I was very much into comedy. So, yeah, when I took it on, I read it and said “Oh, it’s a horror?” But really it’s totally like a drama between these two characters who are just having a really crap time in life. But there are so many routes in horror so you don’t really get boxed in and horror fans are amazing. The first showing at this kind of genre film festival, the fans were amazing! They know their film and they aren’t afraid to tell you their opinion. I had a lot of fun. I really, really love working with Conor.

Did you feel like horror was more demanding, even physically and emotionally?

Emotionally, yeah because she is at the height of her emotions, I think through the whole film. When things go down you’re riding that emotion until the very end. Physically it was demanding but I can handle that because I do my kind of cardio and boxing and running and things trying to be physically fit for the shoot because you have to keep moving so you don’t slow down the production team. So emotionally, yeah, definitely but physically, I kept it going for those 30 minutes, so right on!

If more of these horror films were offered to you, would you be interested in doing them? There are so many subgenres in horror; is there one you would prefer to try?

Yeah definitely! If the character has something I could bring something special to, yes, of course! I would really be open to any of them. Before you asked me about drama and you’re brought up learning about drama, everything drama and the basis for everything. You know to go for those heavy emotional, oh I’m breaking up with my boyfriend type of heavy emotional things. There is this film with an Irish actor, I don’t know if you know him, Cillian Murphy, 28 Days Later, and that’s what I love. I love that kind of indie take on horror. You see it and think, “Ohhh maybe this isn’t for me,” but no, no, bring it on!

How does doing television compare to feature films?

Photo Courtesy: NiamhAlgar.com
Photo Courtesy: NiamhAlgar.com

With TV, you’re just brought in with very little time to prepare but with a film, you meet with the director and you learn about your character and you get to be that character for several weeks. You can get tired of TV very quickly with film is very different. Every job is going to be different.

How long did you spend making From the Dark?

Well, we shot in three weeks, June to the end of June. We actually wrapped on my birthday. My birthday was that very end shot. So June 28, we wrapped then. We did about two or three weeks of rehearsal beforehand because we knew we would be on a tight schedule when we got to set and when to shoot and how to set it up all had to be worked out so when it came time to shoot, everything would be ready to go.

Do you have a favorite memory from shooting?

There was a day, I think it was the second day of shooting. The first day we did all of the car scenes. We hadn’t actually stepped out into the bog. I remember Conor was a bit apprehensive on how far to actually push me. So that second day, I basically had to run across this Irish bog. The day before we had worked out where we could run so it would be safe so we could basically make sure I wasn’t going to kill myself and I was holding this big ass flaming lantern while I had to run. I like tripped and fell while holding this lantern and I just picked myself up and kept on running and Conor was like “Oh my gosh, she’s cool. She’s not going to freak.” It was a pretty good feeling. They probably knew that I was athletic and played a lot of sports but there is that concept of how you’re going to look but hey, you just do it and make it look real.

Are you excited for the movie to come out?

Yep, I am! There is a screening right now at an international film festival. I should be there but I’m shooting a film instead. But yeah, very cool. The feedback on it has been great.

You’re going to find a lot of those horror fans coming out of the woodwork for you.

I have like a Facebook page now, which is really weird, that someone set up. My cousin, who lives in Paris, sent me a link to it and it has like 35,000 likes in like a day. It’s weird. So, yeah there are like photos of me and I’m like “Where did you find them?” It’s hilarious. Like I said, the feedback has been great!

From the Dark is now available on Blu-ray and DVD from Dark Sky Films.

======================================================================================================== Ann Hale is the horror editor for Pop-Break.com and a senior contributing writer, reviewing horror movies and television shows. She is also the American Correspondent for Lovehorror.co.uk and writer for Geekandstuff.com. Ann attended East Carolina University, majoring in English Literature. She is a collector of Halloween (the film) memorabilia and is a self-admitted opinionated horror nerd. You can follow her, her collection and her cat, Edward Kittyhands on Twitter and Instagram @Scarletjupiter
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Just a giant nerd in love with horror, 80's action flicks, Star Wars and Harry Potter. Hit me up on Twitter or Instagram @scarletjupiter to talk horror or just to browse the horror collection.