Freya Allan is no stranger to physical roles, having played Ciri for the last five years in action-packed Netflix fantasy series The Witcher. While shooting upcoming horror film Baghead, though, she found herself having to manipulate her body in all kinds of challenging, new ways to aid her performance.
During an exclusive interview with GamesRadar+, Allan got candid about scary movies and admitted that, while she can appreciate what audiences like about them, they're not necessarily the kinds of titles she seeks out as a viewer. "It's a real experience, right, when you go see something like that in a cinema. I saw the recent Saw movie, but I don't really get scared," she confesses. "I go to see them more to be like, 'Okay, come on now, give it to me.'"
With that, the 22 year old was intrigued by the prospect of making a flick like Baghead and approached filming from a somewhat technical perspective. During production, she was surprised at what a challenge it is to abandon "certain logic and instinct" when your character is doing the total opposite of what you would do in a specific – and potentially life-threatening – situation.
"Shooting [a horror movie] has its frustrating elements, I can't lie to you," Allan explains. "You have to kind of let go and surrender yourself to the genre in certain moments, which is hard to do as an actor. We all watch horror movies and scream at the screen, like, 'What are you doing?!'. It's such a massive challenge but such an awesome achievement when a film is able to not make you think like that so much.
"I honestly learnt how to be scared on this movie. That sounds like the most basic thing ever but I actually found that once you get the hang of working yourself up, you can do it again," she continues. "[Baghead] actually taught me a lot in many ways and allowed me to go on to my next project with a better kind of knowledge to manipulate myself physically. Like, with the movie I've just done, the movie I did after, I spent a lot of time just running on the spot, getting my heart rate up, which I did on this. It's almost scientific at times, which I found really interesting. Acting is like a psychological mindfuck."
Directed by Alberto Corredor, Baghead follows Iris (Allan), a young woman who inherits a creaky old pub in Berlin following her estranged father Owen's death. With no real assets of her own, she travels to Germany to meet The Solicitor (Ned Dennehy), the morally ambiguous man handing the estate's affairs. Despite his best efforts to convince her to walk away from the property, Iris agrees to sign its deed, and unknowingly binds herself to the shape-shifting creature, that possesses the power to "bring back the dead", occupying its basement.
When Neil (Jeremy Irvine), a grieving widower, rocks up on her new doorstep, urging her to let him see his late wife and claiming "money is no object", Iris rejects Owen's videotaped plea to not involve herself with Baghead's trickery – and opens both a metaphorical and literal door she soon wishes she hadn't.
Just as Owen (Peter Mullan) did before her, Iris learns the hard way how difficult Baghead is to control once you go past the sinister séance's two-minute limit and, together with her best friend Katie (Ruby Barker), vows to destroy her before she destroys them.
"There's just a constant intrigue for humans when it comes to that topic; death and what happens to us after," says Allan of the film's themes. "It's been a constant conversation throughout time. I think it's the one thing where we humans really don't – well, everyone has different beliefs, of course, – but like, no one really knows what comes next and what that experience is like. With our film, you get to see two perspectives of people who have experienced loss, and their very different reasons for wanting to bring those people back, so I guess it makes you question whether you'd do it yourself."
Baghead releases on January 26. For more chills and thrills, check out our guide to the most exciting upcoming horror movies heading our way.