Keegan Connor Tracy found something irresistible in Z, a horror film co-written by Brandon Christensen (Still/Born) and Colin Minihan (Grave Encounters) with Christensen also directing, and she sat down this week to discuss the film with iHorror in advance of its release on DVD on September 1, 2020.
She was at home when she got the call from her agent about the film telling her there was no money involved, but she needed to read the script.
“Sometimes when I get things something will pique my interest and other things won’t that might appeal to something else,” she explained. “I have to see something in it, you know, if I was going to be away from my kids for a month and do it for no money. I saw some place that I could go as an actor that was really going to challenge me. I saw a psychological journey that this woman was going to go on and I wanted to challenge myself. So, I was in.”
That psychological journey was a natural fit for the actress who has a degree in psychology, and as she dug into the script, she had to set aside the more fantastical aspects of the film and look at the character she was playing and ground the role in something from the real world.
Z tells the story of a woman and her husband whose lives are turned upside down when their son’s imaginary friend is suddenly terrifyingly real. More than that, there is a real metaphor here not only for mental illness but also in generational, hereditary mental illness and how it affects entire families.
“While I’m the first person to call up magic in everything I write and the work that I’ve done as an actor, I have to have a basis for why she was doing the things that she did,” Tracy pointed out. “For me, I came up with schizophrenia based on the research that I’ve done. It is sometimes hereditary so it made a lot of sense to me. Sometimes I would say to Brandon, ‘Okay, wait, is Z real or not? Okay, it doesn’t matter.’ Even if he’s not real but she thinks he’s real, it might as well be real and how do I ground that?”
The realness of her performance in the film and the grounding she brings to it makes the scares all the more intense as Z becomes more and more a menace in the family’s lives, and Tracy said she had a wonderful time observing audiences watch the film and react to those elements when it was making its way through various festivals last year.
It was one of the first times she had experienced the festival circuit, and certainly the first time she had attended horror genre festivals despite her appearance in numerous genre films.
“Sitting in the audience and watching them experience that build up of tension and then the jump scare where they would laugh and scream,” she said. “The way that people would laugh afterward. I realized that’s what they were after, right? They want that release after. Kind of like when you get off the roller coaster and you’re like laughing and in a great mood even though you wanted to pee your pants while you were on it. It’s that part that makes you say, that was great.”
There are plenty of screams to be found in Z. The film has been available on Shudder previously but non-subscribers will have their chance to bring the terror home September 1, 2020 when the film hits VOD and physical media.