In the new supernatural horror film Pyewacket, Nicole Muñoz portrays a teenager named Leah who puts a death curse on her mother, played by Laurie Holden, with terrifying consequences. Written and directed by Adam MacDonald — who previously brought us 2014’s unforgettable bear attack movie Backcountry — the Canada-shot film marks Holden’s first horror project since leaving The Walking Dead, on which she played the character of Andrea Harrison.
“I met Adam at the Toronto Film Festival and he approached me to do this film,” the actress tells EW. “I was reticent at first, because I had so many years on The Walking Dead. I didn’t really want to do anything involving horror — not that I don’t appreciate the genre, but I like to be a little bit more diverse. He explained to me that it was more of a supernatural thriller that had horror elements, and he asked me to watch his last film, which was Backcountry. I watched it and was knocked out. I mean, that is the best bear attack ever! It will blow your mind. But what I liked about the movie is that he never falls back on obvious choices.”
Holden added, “After watching Backcountry, I read the script [for Pyewacket], I thought it was great, loved the character, and I just thought that there was a great story there. I loved the idea of ‘Be careful what you wish for, someone might be listening.’ You know, we have great power as beings to manifest that which we focus our energy on, whether it’s good or bad. The teenage daughter is so angry because she feels like it’s a form of treason or emotional abuse that her mom’s relocating her. In this one moment, she acts out and does a ritual and puts some negativity out there, and it comes back to haunt her a thousandfold. I thought that was a really powerful message, especially in this world that we’re living in with social media.”
Read on for more from Holden.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell us about your character in Pyewacket?
LAURIE HOLDEN: I play a woman who has fallen on hard times, having lost her husband one year prior. She’s depressed, she’s turned to the bottle, she’s not her best self. But she desperately wants to change that narrative. She wants to be a better human, a more responsible parent. She wants a new chapter. She thinks that moving up north and leaving the city is the answer to all that, but sadly her daughter thinks otherwise, and from there the movie unfolds.
Speaking of which, you have a lot of scenes with your onscreen daughter, Nicole Muñoz. What was that like?
It was wonderful. We really had a chance to bond before we started filming, and we were pretty inseparable, to the point where we almost had a slumber party. I mean, we did everything together. We walked the city, we went hiking, we went to dinners. We both loved the project, we both loved our characters. It just never felt like acting.
We shot in Sault Ste. Marie, in the woods. It was just a really great experience. There’s a duality to the woods, because there’s great beauty when you’re there, but at the same time, when the sun goes down, it gets really creepy and eerie, and I felt like the locations were perfect. It was a quick shoot, but it turned out rather well. We’re just so thrilled that everybody’s embracing it.
People can also currently see you on FX spy show The Americans. Can you tease anything about the rest of this final season?
Um, well, I can’t say much. But what I can say is that I think fans of the show are really going to love this final season. It could have gone in a lot of different directions, but the one that they chose is rather perfect, and it’s gorgeous storytelling, and the way that it ends, it’s truly going to take your breath away.
Pyewacket will be released in select theaters, on VOD, and via digital platforms on March 23. Watch the trailer above and an exclusive clip (which features profanity) at the top of this post.