HANNAH GRACE Closes Out A Great Horror Year

November 30th, 2018HANNAH GRACE Closes Out A Great Horror Year

It’s been a banner year for horror. We’ve seen heavy hitters like HEREDITARY, A QUIET PLACE, HALLOWEEN, and SUSPIRIA — just to name a few. But the year isn’t over yet! THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE hits theaters this Friday and is guaranteed to keep you up at night.

In this supernatural horror thriller, a shocking exorcism spirals out of control and claims the life of a young woman. Months later, former policewoman Megan Reed (played by Shay Mitchell of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS fame) is working the graveyard shift in the morgue. She encounters the disfigured body of Hannah Grace, who Megan suspects is possessed by a ruthless demonic force. And then things get really freaky.

The Creative Team

[Credit: Screen Gems/Sony]

THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE comes from some creators who have a good handle on horror. The script is by Brian Sieve, who wrote extensively for the SCREAM TV series. He also penned an episode of MTV’S TEEN WOLF and two BOOGEYMAN sequels. The director is a Dutch filmmaker, Diedrik van Rooijin, who makes his English-language debut with this film. He’s got wildly extensive TV experience at home, and has made the horror-tinged thriller TAPED, in 2012.

The film also stars Grey Damon, perhaps best known for his regular role as Hastings Ruckle in the final season of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, as Andrew, Megan’s ex-boyfriend. Stana Katic from CASTLE plays Dr. Lisa Roberts. Then there’s the title character: model, dancer, and contortionist Kirby Johnson makes her film debut as Hannah Grace.

The Origin Of Hannah Grace

[Credit: Screen Gems/Sony]

According to producer Sean Robins and writer Brian Sieve, HANNAH GRACE was developed over the course of nearly five years. The idea spawned from an article about a woman in L.A. who was ordered to take part in community service, and her service was in a morgue. “She was fairly innocent;” Robins told Daily Dead. “It wasn’t a ghastly crime that she committed. And the idea of a woman being placed in that situation, who had no training or experience, was intriguing to us.”

It’s rumored that the film was once called JANE DOE; that was changed due to the horror film THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE. The team went with CADAVER for a while, and the movie even had that title when Sony showed off footage during CinemaCon this past March. During production the film was developed for a PG-13 rating, but ultimately received an R for “gruesome images and terror throughout.”

Casting A Contortionist

[Credit: Screen Gems/Sony]

Robins and Sieve were unsure about how Hannah should be portrayed until Kirby Johnson’s audition. During that performance, Johnson crawled around on the floor with her legs above her head. “Everyone is terrified of her!” said Sieve. “[…] It’s all sort of stuff that’s able to be done in camera and isn’t CGI-enhanced or anything like that. In my head, it was always a physical performance… I always gravitate towards stuff I grew up on. I grew up on this stuff in the ’70s and ’80s, where you couldn’t dream of manipulating anything digitally.”

The film was shot in Boston, and thanks to the morgue setting, the shoot took place almost entirely on one set. According to Shay Mitchell, the exorcism scene was later filmed on location in Amsterdam, but the bulk of the story takes place in a confined space — which should only intensify our feeling of terror.

THE POSSESSION OF HANNAH GRACE hits theaters on November 30.

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