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Q&A: Mena Suvari talks “SOUTH OF HELL”

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In the past several years, television has seen many different scary subjects tackled on various horror shows, whether it be zombies, classic horror mythology, slasher movies, cannibals or vampires. However, one noticeable exception in recent years has been demon-hunting, a baton left untouched by the absence of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and is looking to be picked up by SOUTH OF HELL, the new WeTV series from Jason Blum and Eli Roth.

The show, airing in a Black Friday binge block starting at 6 p.m. ET/PT followed by cable on-demand and video on-demand services immediately after, showcases Mena Suvari (who genre fans may remember from Stuart Gordon’s STUCK) as a demon hunter for hire with a particularly petrifying advantage: her demonic alter-ego, Abigail. With the premiere imminent, Suvari spoke to FANGORIA about the new series, working in horror and the future of SOUTH OF HELL…

FANGORIA: What do you think it is about television that works for Maria Abascal’s story in particular?

MENA SUVARI: Well, there’s so much genre material on television, but as for SOUTH OF HELL, Maria’s story needs to be told on television. It’s a big story, and the way it unfolds is organically episodic. However, I really like what WeTV’s doing, which is dropping all of the episodes on their website the day SOUTH OF HELL premieres, so you can choose how you experience this story. It’s really cool to see that kind of change in the industry, and it’s wonderful that the people calling those shots are making this kind of content for TV.

FANGORIA: SOUTH OF HELL is WeTV’s first big horror show. Considering the relaxed content restriction on cable as well as Eli’s association with the show, should horror fans anticipate some shocks or will the show be more cerebral in its scares?

SUVARI: SOUTH OF HELL gets pretty shocking; I don’t want to give too much away but there is some crazy stuff in there. There were times when we were working where I was like, “What the hell?! What are we doing now?!” On the other hand, the show is very cerebral, for sure.

It has both elements, so I think people will really like the shock value but I think the show will also deliver to people’s expectations based on the content that Jason Blum and Eli Roth make. I hope people will like it because there is a lot more to the story than the scare factor. There’s also a good amount of action to the show, so I think SOUTH OF HELL encompasses a little bit of everything.

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FANGORIA: What was it like working with the cast and crew of SOUTH OF HELL?

SUVARI: Oh, they were fantastic, and I think SOUTH OF HELL came together so perfectly. I was actually in a situation where I did a pilot for Amazon and it aired but didn’t get picked up, but the timing of it all allowed me the opportunity to work on SOUTH OF HELL. SOUTH OF HELL was one of those projects in the industry that came out of nowhere and everything lined up to be perfect.

Not only that, but it happened with a show in a genre that I always want to play in with filmmakers that I’ve admired for so many years, like Eli, Jason, Ti [West], Jennifer [Lynch] and everyone else. Besides that, I got to shoot the show in Charleston, South Carolina, where I grew up. And my brother on the show is played by Zachary Booth, and we instantly hit it off like he was my own brother. And we’d never met before, so it felt like the whole show was really meant to be.

The whole process can be really hit-or-miss, since you really never know who you’re going to work with and you have to have that certain bond in the show. But Zachary and I developed that bond, and I’m grateful to the casting and everyone who put that together since they must have had a sense that would happen. I hope people like the show and we’ll see what happens with it, but it was awesome to forge such awesome relationships with each other.

FANGORIA: If the show is renewed, where would you like to see the story go for Maria/Abigail?

SUVARI: Oh my gosh, I honestly don’t know. I’m pretty much up for anything, and Matt Lambert, who created the show, is so talented that I’m sure SOUTH OF HELL could go in so many different directions. I’m just grateful to be apart of it. I’d love to see this adventure keep going, so I’m game for anything they throw my way.

 

About the author
Ken W. Hanley
Ken W. Hanley is the Managing Web Editor for FANGORIA and STARLOG, as well as the former Web Editor for Diabolique Magazine and a contributing writer to YouWonCannes.com. He’s a graduate from Montclair State University, where he received an award for Excellence in Screenwriting. He’s currently working on screenplays, his debut novel "THE I IN EVIL", and various other projects, and can be followed on Twitter: @movieguyiguess.
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