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We’re always game for a good horror movie. No, really, we love a jump scare, a fierce final girl, and the shivers that run down our spine when the killer is just around the corner. You name it, we’ll get the popcorn. In the past few years, it’s felt like there’s been a real horror resurgence, especially for those who’ve been more casual viewers. From critical acclaim and awards recognition, to box office hits and more — if there’s a horror renaissance happening, we’re reveling in it. And so is Elsie Fisher.
Fisher memorably skyrocketed to fame following 2018’s indie hit Eighth Grade, featuring a touching, truthful performance from its young star. Four years later, Fisher takes the lead in a different kind of horrifying movie (though with stakes that are a bit higher than surviving middle school…maybe) with Texas Chainsaw Massacre — the spiritual sequel to the 1974 horror film. SheKnows chatted with Fisher about all things horror, including final girls, the enduring impact of the genre, and this exciting new age of contemporary horror classics.
“I think people are drawn to disturbing things, things with no explanation because we continually want to figure out what the hell just happened,” Fisher shared with us. “Also, particularly right now, we’re seeing this kind of horror renaissance revival because everyone just feels insane trapped in their houses for the past 17 years.”
Indeed, our stir-craziness has definitely bled into our desire to feed the adrenaline rush integral to horror fare. And that’s where 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre comes in. Fisher stars as Lila, who follows her older sister and friends to a deserted town in Texas where they plan to build a new utopia of sorts in the spiritual sequel to the 1974 original that spawned an entire franchise. Unfortunately for them, it happens to be the hometown of Leatherface, who’s revving his chainsaw and is out for blood — buckets of it.
Before you check out the new horror movie out on Netflix today, read on for our full interview with Elsie Fisher below.
SK: What was your introduction to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Had you seen the original or the sequels and new iterations?
Elsie Fisher: I saw the original when I was way too young to see it. It irreparably ruined my life, but maybe saved my life, too. I saw it and I loved it. It was very scary, but now when I watch it, I’m like, this is funny. This is kind of a funny movie. It was really fun to do our own take on it.
SK: What sets this sequel apart?
EF: I personally love the fact that it’s dealing with the way a lot of real-life trauma survivors connect with horror and then bring that within the scope of the film world itself. It’s tackling some deeper issues. And I thought that was really fun. Well, fun isn’t really the word. But it was very cool to be able to tackle. I think it’s just another step of bringing it into the modern era. There’s a lot of social media stuff, which was kind of neat too.
SK: Your character, Lila, is really intense. How did you prepare for the role?
EF: I don’t know if there was much preparation, to be honest. I think I auditioned for the movie like one-and-a-half, two weeks before I flew out to Bulgaria to start shooting. And so there wasn’t a lot of preparation before I actually got to start. A lot of the stunt stuff I was not expecting because I think maybe a lot of it kind of got put in after we had already started shooting.
But I love the story, too, which is very important to me. She’s a survivor of a school shooting and that’s a very real, visceral thing that people are dealing with. I wanted to do research into what survivors of [school shootings] are dealing with. And then, again, going back to how survivors of trauma connect to horror and tying that all in, while also not letting her be defined by trauma because Lila’s a little asshole like 17-year-old. So all of the above.
SK: This version brings back one of the original’s most important characters. Did it feel really special to have that connection to the 1974 film?
EF: I think so! I’m not a method actor but sometimes I don’t want to consume the media of things prior, so I don’t ruin my character’s interaction with [their story], if that makes sense. I did Castle Rock a couple of years ago and our season was a prequel to Stephen King’s Misery. I tried not to consume Misery because I didn’t want it to interfere [with my process].
I’d already seen The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so being aware of Sally’s trauma as a survivor and seeing the connection was really cool. It was just really awesome to have her as a character. And she’s kicking ass, dude. She’s kicking real ass.
SK: One of the reasons The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is so important is due to its influence and inception of ‘the final girl’ trope. Are there specific final girls from classic or contemporary horror films who’ve really impacted you?
EF: I generally watch psychological horror as opposed to slashers — though I do enjoy the occasional slasher. I don’t know if this even technically counts, but Charlie from Hereditary is kind of a final girl and kind of not. I really enjoy stuff like that — there’s no hope left. It’s terrible. It’s bad. I love it.
SK: You’ve said you’re a fan of psychological horror. Are there certain films that have left an impact on you?
EF: I really love the original The Thing (1982). I love it because it’s also a combination of psychological and the classic monster’s out to get you, but also who is the monster? And I think the execution of that film is just perfect. I love it. I consider Gravity (2013) a horror film, personally. That [film] ruined my life again — saw it way too young and it was horrifying. It’s man versus nature, which is really scary.
SK: What do you think projects like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Castle Rock say about the original stories they’re inspired by?
EF: I think people are drawn to disturbing things, things with no explanation because we continually want to figure out what the hell just happened. Also, particularly right now, we’re seeing this kind of horror renaissance revival because everyone just feels insane trapped in their houses for the past 17 years.
SK: Horror has also been a great entry point for a lot of incredible writers and directors. Do you see yourself perhaps one day trying something behind the camera?
EF: I would love to. I don’t know when it will happen with horror, because I think it has to be very intentional in a lot of what you do, depending. But that would be so much fun. I love writing. So maybe I’ll think of something really terrible and just write it down.
SK: What do you think is the biggest misconception about the horror genre that still persists today?
EF: I think so many people are like, “Oh, I’m too scared, I’m too scared to go watch the movie.” I think people are missing out on really incredible performances because half the time, especially with like psychological horror and some of the less gory stuff, it’s not that different to the dramas that those people who are scared would be watching.
I also think horror isn’t getting the awards recognition it deserves. Lupita Nyong’o in Us was so fantastic and got no recognition. I’m hoping maybe with this renaissance, we see more and more stuff just getting the attention it deserves.
SK: Do you think there’s another iconic horror movie villain that could take down Leatherface?
EF: I don’t know! I think it has to be some sort of maybe unknowable force or just something completely unexplainable. Maybe the Babadook — something so completely out there because Leatherface is a very tangible thing, even though his mind perhaps is quite unknowable. He needs something he can’t necessarily [massacre with a chainsaw].
Before you go, click here to see all the nostalgic hits getting movie and TV reboots.