The Movie Waffler Interview - THE EXECUTIONERS Star Natalie Burn | The Movie Waffler

Interview - THE EXECUTIONERS Star Natalie Burn

the executioners
Actress Natalie Burn discusses her latest film, home invasion thriller The Executioners.

Interview by Benjamin Poole

natalie burn
Photo by David Muller.

How do you go about preparing for a role like that of Kay? How did you get into her ‘headspace’?

I first wanted to just find justifications for her actions, like where she came from, why she does the things she does. I would never play any part and have disagreements with my character. Even if at first I find their choices wrong, as an actress I would always have the need to connect, to always want to understand them. The worst thing anyone can do is play their characters negatively because it comes from a place of judgement and there is no room for that in our profession. Kay has complexity going on in her mind and definitely has personal issues she is battling with, but she’s doing her best to hide it with her friends, in her profession, in life in general. The truth that is hidden behind her glasses is much more psychological than one can surmise.

Also, anytime I start work on a new role I try to watch a certain movie or a specific person or a character that can inspire me to create my own. For Kay, I watched The Usual Suspects, and it was great to watch not only the twist that the lead character went through but to see the movie unfold in a way that helped me. It informed me of The Executioners' story and it opened up my eyes to see what needed to be told in a very specific way.

There is a strong tradition of female roles in horror films; often as victims, sometimes as survivors, even, at times, as villains. Where do you see Kay and her pals within the horror tradition? How typical are they?

It starts off as a typical horror/thriller film but takes a curve in the middle and has a huge twist that you won’t see coming in the end. I think Kay and her pals land within wherever the audience sees them. Either as the victims or the oppressors. Either as the executed or the executioners. But each audience member is unique and each person has their own take on things. So then there comes the question that I think everyone who watches my film should ask: What would you do if you were in that situation? Do you defend yourself or comply? We as females find ourselves in those situations in real life, unfortunately, one too many times. Where men continually take advantage of women and then blame us for their actions. Every single day we go through those moments where we have to choose do we comply with men or do we fight back with the same tactics that they used against us?

In my life, I always strive for fairness. Whatever is done to me should be done onto you and vice versa. Kay is a victim at first but then agrees with Belle to take control when the tables are turned. But was she a victim at first or did she play possum with them, knowing exactly where this game will end? Kay, in my opinion, is the smartest of all characters who definitely has a secret agenda; while being an opportunist, at the same time she plays this game perfectly! She does everything that’s being asked of her and complies with men by giving them exactly what they desire!

The great academic Carol Clover once said "the first and central aim of horror cinema is to play to masochistic fears and desires in its audience." Regarding The Executioners, how far would you concur with Professor Clover?

I agree with Professor Clover and that our film touches on all aspects of the audience's wild or even masochistic desires. It has those several crazy twists that they will secretly wish to be fulfilled. The first being the home invasion route and wanting to see the choices the characters make while comparing themselves in that same situation. The second comes when the male invaders take control of the women with rape and abuse. The need to see this kind of violence some audience members would describe as equivalent to driving pass a car accident that happens on the highway: we don’t want to see anyone hurt but we can’t keep our curious eyes away. And then there is a wide range of men who truly desire to be dominated by strong females ala S&M/dominatrix/power shift. And for them, it will be tremendously satisfying to see this in a movie of this nature. To see if the choices of the women would coincide with the personal revenge ideas of the audience members. On the other side, there is a huge audience for horror films and this genre is specifically created to ignite an adrenaline rush, much like when boarding a roller coaster. There is an intense sense of fear, excitement, anxiety and joy, pre and post ride. It’s having a near-death experience without the terminal payoff. Same goes for horror movies. You get to fight, run or die by the axe murderer, all while sipping on a soda and munching on popcorn, comfortably from your theatre seat.

I have to confess, for certain parts of The Executioners I had to watch it on fast forward - I am very squeamish and some of the imagery in the film is quite extreme! What would you say to critics who argue that The Executioners simply engages in violent sexual imagery in a sensationalist and exploitative manner?

With this film, we were trying to show the realistic qualities of this kind of situation. Of course, luckily I have not experienced a trauma like this in real life but who’s to say that if something similar were to happen, it could not have possibly gone further? But it’s not for everybody’s tastes and that’s okay. Neither was Krampus, which showed Christmas in a dark light with children being devoured. It all depends on what one desires to watch. To make any movie with any budget is an achievement on its own. I do not judge my fellow colleagues and don’t question their choices in filmmaking.

Our movie was a horror/psychological thriller and not portrayed as a serious drama. It was meant to be for audiences that need an eclectic thirst quenched. I cannot justify why the director/writer felt the need to make this movie. I am an actress who personally agreed to be a part of this film because I like the complexity of my character “Kay” and the overall message of this film. In the end, I understand people will have a mixed opinion about The Executioners. Some will love it and some will hate it. Just like anything else in life! 

In a few weeks when the weather gets better, my mates and I are going to go camping up the mountain. Having been through the worst of the wilderness in The Executioners, have you got any advice to pass on regarding keeping your wits about you in the woods?

Make sure your cell phone has service and don’t trust anyone. Even your mates, cause you never know...maybe one of them has a secret agenda! 

Why should readers of The Movie Waffler take a chance on The Executioners?

If you are into psychological thriller/horror and someone who doesn’t mind heavy violence and sexual content, who enjoys a good unpredictable twist at the end of the movie, doesn’t judge movie makers and just enjoys the film for what it is, loves thrills and shocking adrenaline rushes, then it’s a movie for you. This movie is not for babies. It’s for adults with tough skin. It’s also dedicated to all the females out there and for men to watch and not underestimate a woman’s power. Even though it exerts violence upon both genders I feel like the final outcome applauds the female perspective more. It’s being released at the perfect time right now due to its controversial subject matter, sparking debates like the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. When people stand up to the status norm, to the establishment, it’s a great thing to witness. There’s a rumour, then an opinion, which in turn starts a conversation, which begins a following and a following turns into fame. And in our profession, any kind of fame is good fame. Any kind of press is good press.

The Executioners is on VOD now. You can follow Natalie Burn for more news on her website and on her Facebook page, her Instagram and her twitter!