Reece Connelly talks ‘A Werewolf in England’

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Independent UK production company Dark Temple Pictures is continually adding to its roster of monsters.

We have had cannibals, ghosts (An English Haunting) and mutant fish people (The Barge People), and now with A Werewolf in England (set for release later this year), they are dabbling with lycanthropes.

A Parish Councillor and criminal take refuge at a remote countryside Inn, unaware that flesh-hungry werewolves inhabit the surrounding woodlands and are ready to feed.

Bloody Flicks caught up with first-time feature actor Reece Connelly, who plays Archie Whittock in the feature to talk all things wolves and making the transition from stage to films.

Tell us how you got the role in the film?

Charlie (Steeds) had seen me in a short play I’d written + performed in London. It was this Lovecraft-inspired comedy erotica thing – very weird! – so I think I stuck in his mind and he thought I might be interesting to cast.

He contacted me late last year and asked if I’d like to audition for his new film, which was ‘A Werewolf in England’, and we met for some drinks, I sent off a few self-tapes, and I got the part!

What can you tell us about your character Archie Whitlock?

Archie is this young guy who’s been wrongfully convicted of murder, and will most likely be hanged for it. He did kill someone, but that someone was a bloodthirsty werewolf. The issue is, no one believes him.

He’s a bit of a fool, but his heart’s in the right place. He’s very loyal and kind. And there is a bravery to him, even if it’s often hidden under a lot of flapping and screaming.

And then he finds himself, on the eve of his execution, trapped in this creepy old inn where the owners just happen to be sacrificing guests to their local werewolf pack. He’s not got the best luck, poor chap.

This seems like an invasion horror with werewolves, is that a fair description?

Absolutely. You’ve got this crazy bunch of characters banding together, using what they’ve got, finding common ground, and having to fight for survival against these terrifying beasts who just keep coming.

Charlie has created something really unique with this that’s also soaked in grand old horror lore and traditions. It’s like a classic Hammer monster movie with a darkly comic twist – loads of surprises and shocking moments! I gasped and laughed a lot when reading the script for the first time, and the finished thing is looking even nuttier.

Can we expect plenty of gore from A Werewolf in England?

Oh yes. Rivers of it. It was a very sticky thing to film.

And not just blood and guts. There’s not many bodily fluids that aren’t flying around in this.

Are you a fan of horror films?

I’m a huge fan of horror. It’s a genre I love so so much, and one that I have enormous respect and passion for. So it’s been a dream come true to be a part of one.

How did you feel about this being your first feature film?

I was very nervous. I’ve acted on stage a lot, but acting for the screen is a different kettle of squid. I was so lucky that the other actors and crew were incredibly generous with their time and energy – I learnt so much from everyone – and Charlie was wonderful. He knows how to get the best out of his cast, and creates a warm, fun, and very communal set. It was a lovely environment to work in.

What is your background in acting?

I’ve always loved performing and studied Drama at uni in London which is how I got into the scene. I’m usually producing and writing my own shows, which I act in too. And recently I started doing stand-up too and co-founded a queer comedy night which is going from strength to strength.

Was a horror film always on your list of films to be part of?

At the top of the list! Being such a mega-fan of horror I’ve always wanted to do a film; most of the stage work I’ve done, and other stuff that I’ve written, has a horror vibe. It’s always present in my work. Even my stand-up is kinda scary!

Who did you bond with most on-set?

I can’t answer that because everyone was amazing. I was really lucky in that I had scenes with pretty much every other character, so spent a lot of time with different people and formed friendships with all of them. Which made sharing the screen and making work with them all the more rewarding.

What was the toughest day of filming?

One of the first nights on set the temperature plummeted, and the cold was chronic. You could see the breath in front of your face, and I was in this little thin flouncy shirt and my Primark thermals were living up to their £5 price tag.

I just had to remember that I’m a Geordie, and we’re bred for this. We have thick skin. And, luckily, the days were never that chilly again. Also: I started to really layer up!

What can you tell us about the locations you shot in?

Charlie and his team hand-built this whole inn inside a barn in Cornwall – it was mind-blowing what they did. So pretty much everything was shot in and around this barn, but you’d never know as the quality of the sets and detail in the shots is amazing.

Did you enjoy working with Charlie Steeds and the Dark Temple Motion Pictures crew?

I had the best time, and miss it so much already. Having seen some of Charlie’s films before and really digging the work he makes and the way he makes it, I was desperate to get involved. And it really was as exciting, and challenging, and hilarious, and inspiring as I’d hoped. I would love to work with him and his team again.

Post-COVID-19 what is your next project?

I’m developing a new show for the London Horror Festival, which I’ve being part of for the last 3 years. And lockdown has really allowed me to get stuck into that. I’ve also had bags of time to keep writing, and am working on a book.

So lots of irons in the fire, we’ll see what the future holds!

A Werewolf in England will be released later this year on DVD from High Fliers.

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