One of the more outrageous scenes in the Sundance horror movie “Eight for Silver” involves star Boyd Holbrook using a butcher knife to dissect a massive werewolf monstrosity, only to reveal a young woman crawling and screaming out of the cavity that they then have to kill. It’s a wild moment, but director Sean Ellis feared the young actress wouldn’t be up for it when they learned that she suffers panic attacks.
“She had the job of jobs. And it wasn’t too hard to show our revulsion,” one of the film’s stars, Alistair Petrie, said during an interview at TheWrap’s Sundance Studio presented by NFP and National Geographic. “She was a trouper; she was such a trouper. I mean of all of us, she was the one who was put through the wringer.”
Ellis said they were informed by her agent after she was cast that the actress doesn’t fly and doesn’t travel on boats either, so they would have to come to her instead.
“I was like, alarm bells are going off. She read the script. She knows what we’re going to do to her, right?” Ellis asked. “She’s like, ‘My panic attacks are not triggered by anything like that. I’m up for what’s in the script. I think it’s going to be really good fun.’ Are you sure? Because I don’t want you covered in blood and screaming at me saying, ‘This is not what I signed up for!’”
“Eight for Silver” is a twist on the werewolf film and follows a landowner who unleashes a gypsy curse on his village that leads to his son disappearing and transforming into a monster. Holbrook stars as a pathologist and werewolf hunter who has to face off against the monsters but also has to deal with the stubbornness of Petrie’s character, who refuses to believe in the curse.
“We had a blast making this thing, and it was really, really ambitious. Even though we were in a village, there seemed to be a haunting quality throughout this vineyard that stayed with us and with the film,” Holbrook said.
In fact, “Eight for Silver” has an unexpected tie to the pandemic, as the film is set during the cholera pandemic of the late 19th century that prevented people from leaving their villages, even as the werewolf curse was spreading and hurting more and more people. Ellis said some of the dialogue, including a line in which Holbrook talks about the need to “limit the exposure,” ended up becoming “weirdly topical and mirrored what was going on” amid the current-day pandemic.
“It was kind of startling. Drama at its sort of best holds a mirror up to society and ourselves, and it’s a strange and curious thing that this is, to your point, elements of this film do exactly that,” Petrie added. “I don’t know if that makes Sean a genius or a madman. Probably a combination of both.”
Check out the full interview with the team of “Eight for Silver” at Sundance above.