As a horror fan, I am used to seeing the queer women of horror films being one dimensional stereotypes that are killed off fairly quickly or (in best case scenarios) the obsessed villains. (I prefer the latter because at least they have motivations other than being “the gay one” who is ultimately punished for her sexual orientation.)
Although there have been some exceptions (like Stewart Thorndike‘s Lyle), most of the time these films are also created, written and directed by straight dudes. So when I saw that filmmaker and actress Jessica Cameron (Truth or Dare) is behind Mania, “a fucked up lesbian love story,” I was intrigued.
Mania is a road film, as the plot follows “two lesbian lovers [who] are forced to flee their hometown after a brutal murder changes their lives forever.”
“It’s Thelma and Louise meets Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer with some cool David Lynch-esque dream sequences thrown in!” Jessica told an interviewer. “I originally came up with the concept and Jon wrote this powerful script that I just had to make. I wanted to do a love story – in a very horrific way. Kinda a more fucked up, modern Romeo and Juliet type thing. The script was so good that I wanted to watch this film as soon as I read it, so I knew I had to make it!”
So while Jessica created and directed Mania, the film was written by her male collaborator, Jonathan Scott Higgins. She said casting was difficult partly because both leads “are really complex and extremely multi-dimensional with strong character arcs.”
“Add to that the many nude scenes, and sex scenes and it made casting tricky,” Jessica said. “I had talented actresses who wanted the role but would not do the nudity in it, but since all the nudity is plot crucial we had to pass on those actresses. We also had a few wonderful actresses who were fine with the nudity but the sex scenes made them uncomfortable, and as an actress I understand this as sex scenes are always to an extent uncomfortable, however they can not come across that way on screen (unless the character would in fact be uncomfortable in those moments).” (Icons of Fright and Sinful Celluloid have a few photos and there are some that are NSFW.) The trailer is also NSFW.
Tristan Risk and Ellie Church star in Mania, and the film is heading to film festivals this fall, just in time for Halloween! Find out more about Mania on the film’s Facebook page.