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Interview: Renee Victor chats about Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Veteran actress Renee Victor has been around for quite some time, working with everyone from Tyler Perry to Robert Duvall. She most recently appears in the fifth Paranormal Activity film, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. We got to chat with Renee about the making of the film, and her superstitions towards working with the occult.

Scene Creek: You do a lot of comedy, not only in this film but also in Weeds, House of Payne, and many others. Was this your first horror film?

Renee Victor: Technically yes. While I was doing Weeds, I did an independent film called Hollywood Familia. In that film I deal with the occult, because I played a Salvadoran mother who believes in that white magic. So while it was a horror film, I did deal with the occult. So yes, Paranormal Activity would be the first.

SC: In the film you drink tequila shots and dance, and it looks like your having a lot of fun. What was that like?

RV: Well those were my favorite scenes, as far as the ones that I was involved in, because that symbolized the closeness that I had with my grandson and his little friend, and how it revealed that we got together often to have a good time in the kitchen. That’s where most of the gatherings take place in most homes, but particularly in Latin homes; people gather around the kitchen. They cook together, they share, they serve, they party, and that scene symbolized that tradition and part of that culture very pointedly. For me that was my favorite and it was definitely a lot of fun.

SC: Speaking of the Latin culture, we don’t usually see that side of America is most horror films. What was that like to be involved in?

RV: That was Paramount’s point, as I understood. I think it was discovered that nobody spends as much money at the horror box office as the Latino patrons, so they chose to do a movie that involved the Latino culture. I think that was a very smart move and a very important one. As far as having [Paranormal Activity] 1, 2, 3, 4, and then, bingo, here’s the switch. I totally supported that and I was very happy that they made that choice.

SC: How many of your scenes were scripted vs. improvised?

RV: For me? I think everything I said was improvised. That was part of the audition that I did. My Spanish was tested, number one. And as well as my English of course. Also being able to switch from one to the other quickly and still make sense and have the ability to speak Spanish in such a way that it left no wonder to the non-Spanish speaking audience.

SC: While you do have some very comedic scenes at the beginning of the film, in the middle you had some very intense scenes where you are trying to exorcize the spirit from Jesse. What was it like to film those?

RV: That was actually quite… well, it got emotional. You have to admit at some point in your life that there is another existence around us, maybe not in flesh and blood, but there is something else. I did a play called “Dark of the Moon” it had to do with witches and the occult and believing in the evil eye and that sort of thing. During rehearsals our director broke her thumb, somebody’s car was broken into, and I was assaulted getting out of my car when I got home. It makes you pause and think, “Uh oh, maybe we’re pushing this a little much”. When I was doing the scenes for Paranormal I always felt the back of my hair pulling a little bit. Especially when I did that scene with Andrew Jacobs where he grabs my arm. That frightened me, it really frightened me.

SC: Oh yes, that scene where he grabs your hand and crushes the egg was certainly one of the most disturbing in the film.

RV: Justin Bieber should’ve been in there instead of the egg. [Laughing] I’m terrible! I know I’m terrible! So there were scenes like that, and a scene where I fall down the stairs. They also had a scene where I fell back. There was a lot of safety behind me, mattresses and gentlemen who specialized in stunts. I felt safe but at the same time I kept thinking, “Oh please Lord don’t let anything bad happen here!” But in the final cut of the movie all you see is me facing down.

SC: So all that worrying for nothing?

RV: Well yes! That’s the thing about the director Christopher Landon. He was very experimental and I think he wanted to have enough material to be able to make choices. We often did various takes on one thing with little changes here and there that he felt could work. That was another part of the film that was a great deal of fun, because we had such freedom. Christopher was very approachable and available, there was nothing that we could not say, ask, or suggest that he did not have the kindness to give his full attention to. He never ignored anything we ever said or suggested or asked. He always had time for us.

SC: If he asked you to do a sequel, would you do it?

RV: In a heartbeat! I would definitely.

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones is now available to own on Blu-ray and DVD.

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.