A few nights ago I sat down to watch The Lullaby. It was far from what I was expecting, just another indie horror film. The film was dark and fantastic and left me lying awake that night with thoughts swirling around in my head. Reine Swart (Dominion, Z Nation, Detour, Die Pro), the film’s lead actress left me impressed with what I believe is the best performance in a genre film that I have seen in a very long time. Of course when I had the opportunity to interview Reine I jumped at the chance.
Reine took us inside the mind of her character Chloe in The Lullaby, directed by Darrell Roodt and written by Tarryn-Tanille Prinsloo. In the film, after returning to her hometown, overwhelmed by the birth of her baby, Chloe tries to come to terms with motherhood. Despite the support from her mother, Ruby, Chloe struggles with the demands of being a new mom. The growing sense of pressure, guilt, and paranoia sends Chloe into a dark depression. Chloe sees danger in every situation. As her thoughts continue to grow worse and more violent, Chloe starts to hear voices and humming of a childhood lullaby and sees flashes of a dark entity around her child. Convinced that the entity is real, Chloe does everything in her power to protect her son.
Horror Fuel: “Not long ago, you appeared on ‘Z Nation’, what was that like?”
Reine Swart: “‘Z Nation was really fun. I have always wanted to do an apocalypse, zombie type of thing. Because it’s like a zombie comedy type of show I was allowed to go a bit overboard. I worked with Dan Schaefer, one of the writers, who knew exactly what he wanted. It really helped me to bring out Carly McFadden, the weather girl. She’s really excited to do her first broadcast. It all just goes haywire as the zombie apocalypse begins. It’s a great script. I really enjoyed it.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m a fan of ‘Z Nation’ myself.
Reine Swart: “It’s a really fun show. It’s bizarre in all the best ways.”
Horror Fuel: “What initially drew you to ‘The Lullaby’, which arrives in theaters on March 1?”
Reine Swart: “Originally, it was the director Darrell Roodt, who is big in South Africa. I had previously worked with him, but not as much as I wanted. He was attached to this film and then I got the script. Here in South Africa we get a lot of comedies and dramas. I hadn’t seen or read any horror from South Africa in a long time, if ever. I like horror so that drew me to it as well.”
Horror Fuel: “The Lullaby’ was fantastic. It is so different from the horror films we usually get, and it was so dark. Your performance was dead on.”
Reine Swart: “Thank you. I was so tired but had so much adrenaline. It was incredible.”
Horror Fuel: “I can’t help but wonder how you prepared for the role.”
I had to do a lot of research. I watched all the horror movies that I had seen and I caught up on the ones I have missed.
I did a lot of research into postpartum depression because the thought of hurting a baby is something I couldn’t fathom. I needed to understand what Chloe is thinking. I found a really sad story about Andrea Yates from Texas. She killed her children. I’ve always thought that she was such a monster. I watched all the documentaries and this woman really needed help. She had a mental illness. It’s so scary to think that some women who have postpartum really hear voices and hallucinate. It’s terrifying. That really prepared me for the film as well and to help me know what Chloe is going through.
About the horror thing, I watched a lot of horror when I was younger. I had to catch up when I got this role. I watched ‘The Conjured 2’. It was so good. It was surreal.”
Horror Fuel: “You were amazing and the film was so intense. And it’s always a good thing when attention is brought to a mental illness. People need to understand what it is like for those suffering from one.”
Horror Fuel: “What was your first reaction when you saw the midwife on set?”
Reine Swart: “I was very impressed with the work that Mary-Sue Morris, the makeup artist did. She had a limited budget, she did an incredible job. The lady was played by Dorthy Ann Gould who is a fantastic actress. I couldn’t look at her too much. It really freaked me out. If we were sitting around the set or eating I would make sure not sit next to her. ”
Horror Fuel: “That lullaby the grandmother sings is really disturbing. Where did it come from?”
Reine Swart: “It’s called “Thula Baba” and it comes from South Africa, where the movie comes from. It’s a real lullaby about killing your baby. People sing it because it’s been around for hundreds of years. South Africa has a dark history. It originated from when there was a brutal war. The English captured the Africans and put them in concentration camps. They raped the women and they would have bastard children. They would kill the babies because they didn’t want those English bloodlines. The midwives were usually the ones that would kill the babies. ”
Horror Fuel: “That’s terrible.”
Horror Fuel: “There is a lot of dark subject matter in ‘The Lullaby’ that might speak to a lot of women. How does that make you feel that it may touch their lives?”
Reine Swart: “The thing is, I feel very sorry for Chloe. She has a strength that I hope other women can feel. We shouldn’t judge them if they go through something like this and that if other people know someone who is going through postpartum depression that they know it’s real. It’s not something that they are making up, it’s terrifying and that when women get a baby, no matter if it’s their first or what, it is a lot of work and we need support. Our bodies go through so much and I think we need to have respect for women who have a baby. It’s a big thing, not a small thing.
I hope they take away is a little bit of South African history and I hope they take away that women go through a lot, especially when they have a new baby. And that that women need a lot of support.
Horror Fuel: “You have a supernatural filming coming out soon, ‘The Empty Man’. Can you tell us about it?”
Reine Swaret: “I can’t say much about it yet. ‘The Empty Man’ was shot in South Africa. It’s an exciting project for me because it is my first big studio project, it’s from 21st Century. The lead is James Badge Dale. It’s something completely different from what I’m used to.”
Horror Fuel: “I look forward to seeing it.”
Horror Fuel: “Being that is Women in Horror Month here, what advice would you give women looking to get into the film industry?”
Reine Swart: “My advice would be, if you can, make your own stuff, make short films and put them in film festivals. I believe that it helps you grow. Go to the film festivals and meet people even if you aren’t directing. Go for it. I think women have so many stories to tell. It’s going to be an interesting next few years with stories that women are bringing.”
Horror Fuel: “Speaking of directing, you just directed project, ‘Skoonma’.”
Reine Swart: “Yes, I did a five-minute horror film with a friend of mine. It is going to film festivals now. It’s a lot of fun being behind the camera and It’s my first horror. I hope it gets bigger from here.”
After watching The Lullaby I was so impressed by Reine Swart. She is an incredibly talented actress, but during our interview, I was really surprised by her passion for her work, her desire to shed light on mental issues, like postpartum depression, as well as her as a person. I can’t wait to see more of her work.
Be sure to check out The Lullaby, which arrives in select theaters on March 1, 2018, from Uncork’s Entertainment. For regular updates on Reine’s projects be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She’s one actress, writer, and director that you are going to want to keep an eye on.