Emily Goss is a star on the rise. With more than 30 credits to her name, it just might be one of her recent releases that catapults her into full-blown stardom. The project I reference is The House on Pine Street, and it’s one of the best haunted house films to hit the market in the last few years.
Goss shines throughout the production, facing a multitude of troubling emotions, and for a relatively green performer, she handles those challenges brilliantly. She is brilliant. We’re talking hang with A-listers, no problem, brilliant. And that’s why I was anxious to pick Emily’s brain just a bit. What we see from The House on Pine Street is moving, but hearing Emily recount production points is wildly enlightening.
This is a performer to keep your eye on, and The House on Pine Street is a film that deserves a comfortable place in your collection!
Addicted to Horror Movies: First, tell me what it feels like, on a visceral level, to envelop your thoughts and really focus your mind set as a woman with child, knowing she’s trapped in the grasp of what feels like undeniably imminent danger.
Emily Goss: So this is interesting. You saw Jennifer as a woman with child, right? And everyone does, and of course she is, but the most crucial thing about her is that she doesn’t see herself that way. So I don’t really see her that way and didn’t focus my attention there. Rather, she is a woman with a very clear idea of who she is and what her life is. And then suddenly, that idea is no longer shared by the way the world or the people she loves. So it’s that other visceral feeling – that need to be seen, to be known – that is in danger. There’s a great moment when Jennifer catches her reflection in a mirror. Then she moves to stand behind some moving boxes so her belly is blocked in the reflection. A literal, simple, amazingly-scripted conflict between the way she sees herself and wants to be seen, and the way she is actually seen.
What does it feel like? It feels like ripping your throat out screaming at deaf ears. Ultimate frustration. Fear. Doubt. Rage. It’s terribly sad – the tragedy of not wanting to be where you are and not being able to do anything about it. The heartbreak of being faced with the distance between you and your husband, or your best friend, and not to be able to cross it. It’s extremely lonely. It’s the caged animal feeling. That’s where I put my focus – on everything I could do to get out of the cage.
ATHM: Jennifer really offers a wide array of emotions as the story unfolds. How challenging is it to run that internal gamut. And not just at the job. Does that ever effect you once shooting has wrapped?
EG: I studied theatre in college and grad school and by doing theatre, you develop emotional endurance and flexibility – and physical endurance and flexibility too, for sure. I’m very thankful for my theatre training for teaching me how to plot a journey, very technically in some ways, so that certain beats and builds are there no matter what, while also allowing me the resources to access and express whatever is in my body in that moment, on the day.
More than lingering Jennifer-feelings, I had that post-show depression when you’re no longer spending all day every day with people you love making something you believe in. Luckily, the House on Pine Street crew has stayed very close. Natalie Pelligrini and I just had a date night, and Natalie, Aaron, Austin, and I made dinner at their new apartment a few days ago when our September release was announced.
ATHM: I adored this character, and I thought you absolutely killed, juggling so much powerful and heartbreaking content. What does a picture like this – in your opinion – honestly due for future career endeavors?
EG: Thank you so much. I’m so glad you liked her and felt for her. That means so much to me. I don’t know about that second part. No one can know I guess. I just want people to see this film because I think the work of everyone involved is great, and I believe in the power of the story. But really, the experience of making it was so wonderful – it was one of the best times of my life. I remember saying to friends in LA when I came back from Kansas, if nothing else happens, THAT just happened. And that’s enough. It still is.
ATHM: Do you feel this was the breakout moment that could transform you into an absolute must-have performer in studio eyes?
EG: I have no idea. Wouldn’t that be nice, huh? I mean the only thing to do is to keep working and playing and “finding the pleasure” as one of my drama school teachers used to say. Which is not at all a dirty thing how dare you even think that.
ATHM: Let’s talk about Taylor Bottles’s work as Luke. I kind of loved and hated this character in unison. But there’s also, for a fair portion of the movie, a certain mystery – an ambiguity to the relationship that suggests maybe Luke isn’t the cleanly, wholesome family man. The way this undercurrent runs throughout the picture is brilliant. When you really look at the mystery that man creates, and his natural dad vibe, he ends up proving himself an insanely magnetic character. What did you think of that role, and how well did you and Taylor mesh in front of the camera?
EG: I love hearing people talk about the way they feel about Luke! Audiences have had so many different feeling about Luke – and really all aspects of the film – in ways not even Aaron, Austin, and Natalie ever imagined. That’s the beauty of The House on Pine Street, the terrifying, infuriating, inspiring room for interpretation. This film demands audience participation.
It’s funny – I liked Taylor so much as a person, and cared so much about Luke as Jennifer, that I couldn’t believe it at first when audience members said they hated him. Taylor is a lovely actor and such a giving friend and scene partner. We got along and had each others’ backs from the beginning. I’m so thankful for him and for the chance to work with him.
ATHM: Moving past Taylor, let’s talk about the Keeling’s. Tell me about your experience working with the two.
EG: The Keelings are miracle people. As is Natalie Jones, their co-writer and producer. They are brilliant and yet always craving new knowledge. They are technically skilled and massively accomplished but humble and straight-shooting. They dream big and yet never lose sight of the simple joy of creating art. Aaron and Austin as directors were two of the best I’ve ever worked with. They led calmly, collaboratively, and yet still led the way directors are supposed to lead.
ATHM: Give me a story from the production that will always stick with you, be it an intense event or a humorous event or anything in between.
EG: There are so many… Ok. When things really hit the fan, Jennifer is wearing a black shirt – spoiler? – so in my head I call it “the black shirt sequence.” It’s this amazing escalation that gets me every time; it makes me forget I’ve seen the movie a million times – it makes me forget I was in the movie. I think it’s just great filmmaking. We shot most of the black shirt sequence in chronological order in an afternoon, evening, and night. So we were all feeling that escalation as Jennifer was, going from location to location, stakes rising, racing the clock… We even shot driving sequences on our way from location to location that didn’t end up in the film.
One of the shots I’m most proud of in the entire film is a long, complicated shot in the black shirt sequence. The beauty of a film like this with practical effects and a small crew is the teamwork involved. It was very late at night – and by very late I mean very early. It’s hard to describe what’s going on in the scene, but the essential part of it was that we were all in the zone. In the zone together. Tunnel vision, adrenaline, exhaustion, fun, joy, dancing this choreography, everyone doing something, making this thing that was bigger than all of us. And throw in that 2 a.m. loopiness… It was technically difficult for Sebastain who’s operating and pulling focus in a narrow hallway, navigating stairs, CJ is holding the boom, matching Sebastain’s steps to try to minimize the sound of footsteps – both of them are in socks. At one part Taylor has to sprint to Austin and Monique just off camera to put on a jacket, then Austin and Monique have to dive out of the way before Sebastain swings back toward them. It’s emotionally intense and wild for me and we do it again and again, but each time I have to give it everything because that could be the one time we finally get it… And we only got it once. We got it, we crowded around to watch it, then we moved on.
ATHM: The House on Pine Street is one of those really rare films that I think could be turned into a stellar trilogy. If, say, even one sequel was made, would you be onboard to reprise your role, or would you prefer to let a successful little sleeping dog lie?
EG: I would sign on to another House on Pine Street movie in a second. Less. But I’m so interested in your thoughts on this! I can’t imagine what it would be as a trilogy. I’ll have to interview you about that…
ATHM: So, give me a summary of the entire experience: What was it like making The House on Pine Street?
EG: It was the best. I’ve said so much about that already and could really go on forever. To be very honest though, something I don’t get to say often is that it’s also scary in some ways. My life and work are unpredictable. When a film like this is behind you, you can’t not have a tiny part of yourself that pipes up from time to time and says, “Will I ever do work like that again? Will I ever have that much fun again?” I love what I do, I love where I am, I’m excited about the projects I’m working on now, but those thoughts have definitely crept up in time since we wrapped. But like I said before, no matter what else happens, we made this film together, and that is enough. That is so, so, so much more than enough.
On behalf of the Addicted to Horror Movies crew we want to thank Emily for the time and insightful commentary. We greatly appreciate it!