Applecart tells the story of the Pollack family, who make the long trek out to the snowy woods in the hopes of healing their sickly man of the house, James, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. During their travels, they come across a passed out woman and bring her back to their cabin to warm her up while they look for help. Unfortunately for them, this meeting was no coincidence, and the woman who they aim to save seeks to bring them nothing but chaos and destruction. They’ll be lucky if they live till dawn.
Birth.Movies.Death. was lucky enough to sit down with the cast and crew of Applecart to discuss their film, which recently had its world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas.
Birth.Movies.Death.: I’m very curious about the title of this movie. Where does Applecart come from?
Bradford Baruh: Originally, there were multiple commercials in the movie and you saw Barbara [Crampton]’s campaign ad which we stuck with, and there was one that was one of these -- well, you’re probably not old enough to remember -- but they used to sell these weird commemorative plates and pieces of art and things on infomercials so we had one that was kind of a boy pushing an applecart, like a Norman Rockwell Americana kind of thing, and we latched to that image of being like, this is the typical American family. So, we wanted to reinforce the normalcy of the family, and we felt like that was a good way to do it. And then the term ‘applecart’ comes from the idea of something normal being set on a positive path, and then an outside force coming in and upsetting that. So you look at the family as a normal American family, and then Barbara’s character being the outside force that upsets the applecart. I just kind of liked the title. I think we had a lot of time in the snow to talk about it, and you know, I was like, “Oh, it’s going to be like, Darkness in the Snow”, but I think Applecart is kind of cooler.
A.J. Bowen: I don’t know, Darkness is the Snow is pretty cool.
BMD: What drew everybody to the project? I’m especially curious about you, Barbara, you’re so iconic by the point, you could basically do whatever you want, so what made you want to sign on with a first time director and give this film a shot?
Barbara Crampton: A strong woman’s role. I knew that Brea [Grant] was involved and I thought it was a wonderful role for her and I’ve been her fan for a very long time, and to get an opportunity to work with A.J. [Bowen] again was exciting to me, and it’s something different, right? I mean mostly, and you are a historian of genre cinema, so you know, I started in the business as the bubble-headed co-ed from Re-Animator and as our society has evolved, my roles have reflected my maturity but also how we portray women in horror films. And I fell in love with the character, so much so that I was afraid they were going to give it to somebody else and I stalked them. They talked to me about it but they didn’t offer it to me for a long time, and you know, I flew down for this dinner and I said well, is this an offer pending a meeting, or what is this? And I thought, I don’t want them to give this to someone else because I really wanted to play a character that had a lot of strength, whether she was a good person or a bad person, and to be in a movie with another strong woman, and I just thought it was different and interesting and something I hadn’t seen before, as well.
BMD: Did you feel the same way?
Brea Grant: Yes, I mean, getting the script was really exciting, I often don’t get scripts like this. I mean, I am a blonde woman and a lot times I’m reading roles for like, ‘Blonde Girlfriend’. We don’t know what her job is, or, did she go to school? We don’t know! Maybe! Maybe she went to college, maybe she lives in a box, we literally have no idea what her background is, so to get a script like this, you’re just like, “Oh my god! I hope no one takes this away from me!” You’re dying to do this, and I had a meeting with Don Coscarelli because Don was the one that originally emailed me about it, and I just remember going in there and thinking, “Okay Brea, look older, look like someone who has some sort of gravitas because otherwise they are not going to hire you for this role.” And so I tried to look older and not do what I’m doing now, which is talking with my hands, I tried to be cool because I wanted to play it so badly and I think I even told Brad at the time that people don’t really see me for this kind of stuff and it means a lot for me to try to do work that, well, it is my age, I am thirty-five, I could actually have kids this age, but mainly a woman who has a story to tell and an interesting story.
BMD: What grabbed your attention about the project, A.J.?
A.J. Bowen: Don [Coscarelli] and I are old friends, and he called me and then he and Brad and I got together and we talked about it, and this feels like it was a long time ago. I think it was like three years ago when it was still in the beginning script stage. So when I heard what they were wanting to do, I was like, “Oh yeah, absolutely, yes yes yes” and then it was a long time before we even got to the point where I saw the script, and I have been lucky in that I’ve gotten to be in some movies, but we always get these questions as actors, like, “What made you choose something” and I’m like well, I can’t speak to actors that get to choose their work, because I have no dollar value attached to my name, but I’ve been incredibly lucky that the things that I end up usually getting to work with, more times than not, I get to be in films where there are strong female character roles, like getting to work on You’re Next, A Horrible Way to Die. And then in addition to that, it’s very strange to go from never having played a parent in a movie to playing the parent of people who have graduated high school. Barbara and I, when we met on You’re Next, the first thing that she said to me was “How old are you?” and I told her, I’m like a bloated alcoholic mess, and I said, “I’m thirty-three” and she said “I guess you could be my kid” and then flash-forward five and a half years later and we’re doing this thing and we had a cast dinner and I’m thinking, “Where are the children?” and we got through the whole thing, went home, and I’m like, “Were the kids not there?” I just thought that they were like friends of people, I had no idea. Like how did I go from never being a parent in a movie to being a parent of someone who has a driver’s license?
BMD: Maybe it’s just my interpretation, but I can’t help but notice that in this political climate we’re currently in, it was interesting to have a character using malevolent forces to gain a political edge, and I was wondering how that taps into this, depending on your opinion, scary Trump-ian era that we’re living in?
Crampton: We were filming when the campaigns were going on, and when we started I don’t think Trump was even the candidate at the time, but we all saw it coming, and you know, it’s almost like in the movie – you see the future! And if Hillary had become president, it still would’ve worked. It is whatever side you’re on and what you think about who’s in control and who’s in power and where does that come from? You read all of these reflections from Nostradamus and predictions about what’s going to happen and the Antichrist and where does that come from? So, a lot of that played into what I was thinking about when I was working on the role.