Paranormal Activity 2 actress Molly Ephraim discusses playing Ali in the sequel, working with the original cast and much more.
When Paranormal Activity 2 was first announced, the sheer nature of the first movie demanded that we would be seeing a new cast of actors for the sequel. One of those new faces is Molly Ephraim, who plays Ali Rey, the teenage daughter of the Rey family who gets an unwelcome visitor with an unruly supernatural being terrorizing the household.
Paranormal Activity 2 will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on February 8 and I recently had the chance to speak with this young actress about her role in the sequel and her experiences on the set. Take a look at what she had to say below.
The first movie was really a unique event, especially for a movie with that small of a budget. I was wondering if you could talk about your experience watching the first movie and when you first heard about the sequel?
Molly Ephraim: Yeah. I hadn't seen the first one in theaters, because I'm a scaredy cat, so I watched it in my hotel room, once I found out that I had the job for the second movie. I watched it during the day, with all the lights on and tried to approach it from a professional perspective because if I started buying into it, of course, I would be terrified. So that's how I watched the first one, but I recently watched our version, our unrated version on the DVD and, even though I'm in it and watching it makes me kind of nostalgic towards that summer and the whole experience of shooting, I was at a friend's house and I started noticing weird noises. The floor was creaky... I don't know. Horror movies and me. It's a difficult relationship.
That's one of the cool things about this movie. Ideally, you want to see it in theaters, but it's almost creepier when you watch it at home.
Molly Ephraim: Yeah, it's unsettling. It sort of gets under your skin in a weird way. When you turn it off, it's kind of gotten in there. It's psychological like that.
It was mentioned once in the movie that Ali's mother had passed. I was wondering if you had developed that back story about what happened to the mother, just for your character?
Molly Ephraim: Well, I thought it would be a way for us to think about Ali as being sort of an open character. She's very open to the presence of the supernatural because she has an investment in it, she wants to connect to her mom. In my mind, her mom probably passed away when she was young and she didn't have a lot of memories surrounding her mother. She wanted to use a Ouija board to get to her mom.
There are also a few scenes where you're the cinematographer as well. Did they give you any training on how to handle the camera or did they want it to feel more natural?
Molly Ephraim: Well, once I got the job, I had been using the camera a little bit, when we were still doing auditions and testing other actors. Apparently, my camera work was too shaky and I was making everyone nauseous in the editing room. They gave me the instructional booklet for the camera, so that way I had some homework. You know, I did some of the shooting and then Mike Simmonds, the DP, also did most of it. He would shadow me or I would shadow him so we could get cleaner shots.
Is that kind of a fine line to walk though? Don't you want it to look like a fully trained person holding the camera but not so shaky as well?
Molly Ephraim: Right. I did get better as the summer went on, too.
Molly Ephraim: Yeah. They're super sweet. They're really great people so it was fun having them on set. It felt like a reunion, even though we hadn't been there before. Every time they showed up, it was like a big family. They're so natural and really fun to improvise with. The scenes we did with Micah, he's like a ham and a half. There were a lot of laughs on the set, for being such a scary, terrifying movie.
It must be fairly odd to shoot, not only with the scenes you shot yourself, but with all of the cameras around the house. Was it difficult getting into that mentality?
Molly Ephraim: You know, for me personally, it was easier. I have a background in theater, mostly, so to have those cameras mounted in the house, we were able to do a scene in one room and seamlessly walk into another room and keep the scene going and improvise. Because you're not dealing with any of these close-ups, or you're doing scenes over and over and over again from different camera angles, it was really organic because you just end up telling a story with your voice and your body language, with the cameras mounted up there. It felt kind of liberating. You could do a scene one way and walk around this house and then try it another way in another take. From what I understand, movies aren't generally like that, so it was pretty cool.
We talked a bit before about watching this at home versus watching this in theaters. Do you think the DVD and Blu-ray will catch on even more because it's just as effective at home?
Molly Ephraim: Yeah, definitely. It's a good movie to watch in a house because it gets under your skin. I had friends that saw it in the movie theater and they all jumped out of their seats or were screaming. I want to send the DVD off to some friends because they said they were too scared to see it in a movie theater. I wonder how much scarier it is watching it at home.
Can you talk a bit about working with your director Tod Williams and how he kept the process going throughout the production?
Molly Ephraim: He's great. He's super funny and cool as a cucumber, which is also a great quality in a director, especially because a lot of our filming process was trial and error. You see if something works and he'll rattle off more ideas while we're shooting a scene. When we were working on things that are largely improvised, you have some ideas about where things could go, but Tod might be hiding behind a wall saying, 'Try this.' His attitude was always very cool and calm and it was great to work with him.
We heard last year that Paranormal Activity 3 had already been greenlit. Have you had any talks with the producers at all for another sequel?
Molly Ephraim: I have heard nothing at all. They are very tight-lipped. I know they are working on things, but I will be the last to find out, I'm sure (Laughs). They take their non-disclosure's and their secret meetings very seriously. I'm sure they're cooking up something really good, but I can honestly say I have no idea what that is yet.
What would you personally like to see in Paranormal Activity 3 or 4 or 5? It really seems that this franchise could go on for quite awhile.
Molly Ephraim: I don't know. I mean, in Paranormal Activity 2, there are more characters, more relationships. There are a lot more directions where it could go. I, personally, love Martine in the movie, the actress who played Martine. I think she's awesome, so my vote is for Martine to swoop in and save the day. I don't know. You know, the baby has to grow up, so we'll see.
It would be cool to see the Ali and Martine Show for number 3. That would be awesome.
Molly Ephraim: Yeah, exactly. We're riding with Abby off into the sunset.
To wrap up, what would you like to say to anyone who didn't get a chance to see Paranormal Activity 2 in theaters about why they should grab the DVD or Blu-ray?
Molly Ephraim: Oh, good luck, my friends. I would enjoy it but have some friends come over afterwards. Make bake some cookies afterwards to get your mind off things, because we're going to get inside your head (Laughs).
Thanks so much for your time, Molly, and best of luck.
Molly Ephraim: All right. Thank you. Bye.