FANGORIA Presents: Lance Henriksen on “SIN REAPER”
As any devoted FANGORIA reader knows, one of the reasons why horror is one of the strongest genres of cinema is the fact that the love for horror is so universal and communal. The horror genre brings together audiences young and old in a way unlike any other, as the experience of watching a scary movie differs so uniquely from person to person. Thusly, one cannot be surprised when you see the different voices coming out of the fright field around the world, not separated by language or generational gap, but rather brought together by the international tool of storytelling and the fears that we revisit time and time again.
That same mentality is definitely apparent in Sebastian Bartolitius’s SIN REAPER, fashioned out of an international cast and production to bring you all a terror tale that knows no boundaries. The old-school slasher film, now available under the FANGORIA Presents banner and available for free on Hulu (see here), serves up a figurative depiction of that cultural dichotomy, but also presents a literal form of the same mechanisms within its very own cast. Out of the diverse international performers, hailing from countries such as Britain, Germany and Japan, two actors enter SIN REAPER from very different generations of horror, but both bring their considerable talents to a similar result. One is none other than scream great Lance Henriksen, whose gravitas and experience lent a presence of legitimacy to the independent production and served as a role model for cast and crew alike. The other is up-and-comer Patrick Thomas, whose dive into horror began with SIN REAPER and has now extended into several upcoming television projects in development.
Thomas, a dual citizen of both Germany and the United States, found the process of working on SIN REAPER to be both appealing as a horror buff as well as a burgeoning actor. However, his casting process was as thrilling as his role in the film, as he was put into a uniquely stressful and time-sensitive casting offer.
“I received a call from my agent, who offered me a lead role [as Sasha Jones] in SIN REAPER,” Thomas recalls, “but under one condition: I had to accept the part by midnight of that day. If I accepted, I would be picked up in the morning, driven to an undisclosed monastery and would start shooting that same night. I had literally no time to prepare myself. I thought about the script, the opportunity of playing a character going through an enormous range of emotions and the chance to act next to a horror movie legend: Lance Henriksen. That made the project appeal to me, and as I am always up for a challenge, I decided to join the cast of SIN REAPER.”
However, Henriksen had reasons of his own for boarding this particular project, having had been in many fear films in the past, often times cast as an antagonist. In SIN REAPER, however, Henriksen plays Dr. Hoffman, a psychiatrist who works as a father figure and advisor to Helen Mutch’s lead character, Samantha.
“I’d never played a psychiatrist before, so it was kind of fun,” Henriksen says. “Most psychiatrists are mentors, so you end up enjoying the fact that you’re helping somebody. [Samantha] was in terrible pain, not knowing how to handle what was going on [in the film], so emotionally, my character was able to pay it forward. It was a nice feeling to do that. I had to have a connection to the character, because otherwise, I wouldn’t know how to play it. It was a cool balancing act.
“I wanted to bring forward the thinking that went behind [Dr. Hoffman],” the ALIENS and NEAR DARK star continues. “It wasn’t about what he was saying; it was about how he was listening. Psychiatrists and therapists have to listen carefully from one moment to the next about what their client is trying to say. My character’s biggest consideration was to not preconceive what she was going to say to me or how the session was going to go, because she could have exploded at any moment and then just walked away and never come back.”
Henriksen brought more than his emotional investment toward the character to the set, however. He was often looked up to by the young cast and filmmakers over the course of production, and in turn, gave actors such as Thomas a level of confidence needed to tackle the physically demanding production.
“The only thing more exciting than watching a horror movie is starring in one,” says Thomas. “You get to do all kinds of cool stunts, be chased by a masked murderer and get totally drenched in fake blood, which, by the way, tastes as awful as it looks. We were very lucky that almost everyone from the cast and crew got along with each other. Being the most well known and experienced actor in SIN REAPER, Lance Henriksen was a true professional, and I do see him as a good role model for young actors.”
On the contrary, Henriksen claims that his distance from the physical requirements of the scary scenes and the movie’s violence partially fueled his decision to pursue the part.
“Really, what I was concerned with on SIN REAPER was the aspect that I was working on,” offers Henriksen. “Not being involved with the violent aspects of this film was really liberating because my character was just trying to send out [Samantha] for closure; he didn’t know the extent of it. So it was totally out of my hands, just like life. Life is out of your hands. You live it turning one corner to the other. So I didn’t really know about the violence in the film until they happened in the moment, which I really enjoyed, by the way. I really don’t want to be the person trying to dissect the movie.”
Henriksen and Thomas did, however, share one unique quality, both being the only American citizens cast in the film. Nevertheless, the shoot was a collaborative and symbiotic effort, with the on-location filming in Germany bringing everyone together both professionally and personally.
“We were not only shooting SIN REAPER in a monastery, we all had to live in it for well over a month,” says Thomas. “The monastery was in the middle of a forest, hours away from any big city, so there was no way of leaving the location to clear your head, not even for a few hours. The old monastery did not have Internet, and the cell phone reception was very limited. The cast spent a lot of time together, which helped us to quickly build a strong relationship with one another, on-and-off camera.
“We lived like vampires, going to sleep at sunrise and waking up in the early evening, as we shot mostly during the night,” Thomas adds. “I used any spare time and every break in between scenes to go over and memorize my lines. I was the only actor cast in such short notice, so the other actors had been working on creating their characters for months in advance. Besides Lance Henriksen, I was the only American actor in the cast, and in return, I helped my international co-stars fine tune their ‘American’ English.”
“[SIN REAPER] was a lot of fun!” says Henriksen. “I got to meet a whole new group of people and [producer] Nico Sentner took me out for food at an old, local restaurant that he knew about. There’s a little sense of adventure about being in a new place.”
Likewise, the experience of making SIN REAPER was a fruitful one for both actors, who each celebrate the film in their own unique but oddly comparable fashions. “Actors don’t really have control over the outcome of the film,” says Henriksen. “I would have to risk being in the moment and trying to be believable, so I don’t watch dailies or the rough cuts because even if you do like it, you have no control over them. Why would you put yourself through that? It’s too frustrating. So when I see the finished film, I’ll go, ‘Whoa, they did a good job. I see what they’re trying to do.’ It’s a sane way to work.”
“I think people like to underestimate this genre a lot,” says Thomas. “SIN REAPER is one of the main reasons I love horror as much as I do. As a kid growing up in the U.S. during the ’90s, I was always drawn to horror shows on TV, like ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK?, hoping one day to become an actor and be able to act in a horror movie myself. I am happy to say that I put in a lot of work to bring the script and the character that was given to me to life. I couldn’t be prouder to know that my movie has found a home with FANGORIA, a fantastic distributor and publisher of the world’s best horror magazine.”