An English Haunting is the latest feature from Dark Temple Films, the studio that brought us The Barge People and Escape from Cannibal Farm.
We caught up with actor David Lenik, who plays Blake Cunningham, to discuss the project.
Tell us what brought you to An English Haunting?
I’d finished filming ‘Winterskin’ earlier in the year (also with Dark Temple), so genuinely had no idea there was another film being written with me in mind only a few months later, and when the fantastic script for ‘An English Haunting’ came about, there was absolutely no hesitation and I signed on to the project immediately after reading. I was instantly drawn to the character, the setting, the period and my love for the haunted house genre and was very lucky to have a role like this specifically written with me in mind, which as an actor I couldn’t ask for more!
An English Haunting is gothic horror, what was the mood like on set?
The beautiful old mansion that we were filming in was hundreds and hundreds of years old, which was just perfect for the gothic style and was like walking into another time. It was also huge, so especially during the first week of shooting it was very easy to get lost, you would go down one corridor and end up somewhere you’d never been before. The house itself was very eerie and there were certain wings of the house that were reportedly haunted (my dressing room is one of them I later found out!). The first few days on set I was the only actor around, filming lots of walking down dark corridors and exploring the attic etc so that really helped get into the feel of things, not to mention the basement where I had real bats flying over my head! (which actually made it into the film, so look out for it!)
How hard is it to recreate an era such as the 1960’s?
With a period piece, it is so important to transport the audience into another time and to get it right with every detail, which can be difficult. However, with this film, it was made significantly easier having such an amazing location. The house was literally like walking into a time warp, just lavished in period features, with some parts of the house having not been touched since before the ’60s! We were also lucky to have some vintage 1960’s cars that added to the authenticity, like the classic white Rolls Royce that appears in the opening scenes and later the 60’s Jaguar. Filming these scenes was so much fun and I definitely enjoyed being driven around in the Rolls, adding to that feel of grandeur, in an otherwise dark film.
Tell us about your character Blake Cunningham?
Blake is the protagonist of the film and a sort of Daniel Radcliffe in ‘Woman in Black’ type character, who arrives with his Mother to Clemonte Hall in order to care for his rich dying grandfather who resides in the attic. He begins as a shy and introverted character, but as the story progresses, he inevitably begins to unravel the dark and sinister mystery behind the evil in the house and find the strength to fight the murderous spirits.
This is your fourth film with Charlie Steeds, what’s he like to work for?
Fantastic. He knows exactly what he wants and really pushes you as an actor to get the results, but also gives you the space to play around with a scene and let you come up with your own ideas too. Which really is the best of both worlds. I’ve been able to play such contrasting characters in his projects, which is very fortunate. I’ve played three main roles and one cameo in his films, where he seems to get great enjoyment in killing me off and mutilating me in many different ways! But you’ll have to wait and see if Blake comes out unscathed or not.
What was a typical day on set like?
The shoot lasted about 4 weeks, and I was on set pretty much every day. The set was very professional and we were all very much on the ball, with the budget being higher and having the luxury of more time on our side we were really able to focus on character, shots and getting the best film we could. The main cast was me and Tessa (who plays my mother in the film), so we would spend a lot of time together and going over lines between takes. There was also a revolving door of actors that came and went over the month, so we always had a new actor around to keep things fresh and entertaining.
How does this film compare to your other projects?
I’ve worked a lot in horror features, but what sets this one apart, is it has a less in your face horror quality to it. I’ve previously battled Cannibals, Killer dolls, Fish mutants, Killer scarecrow, Serial killers and other creatures, which have been lots of fun and very tongue-in-cheek (and usually very messy work) but with ‘An English Haunting’ it is a lot darker and eerier. It might actually be my favorite project yet, I just love the classic ghost story approach and feels like a very slick film, reminiscent of something like ‘The Changeling’.
What is your next project?
My next project that will be out on DVD in the next few weeks is the horror sequel ‘The Curse of Halloween Jack’, just in time for Halloween! I also have some Theatre roles coming up and very likely another horror project coming up in the new year. But am especially looking forward to ‘An English Haunting’ getting its release in early 2020!
Look out for An English Haunting on DVD and VOD in early 2020.