Jessica Lowndes is treading new ground, and this time, she’s doing it by going outside her comfort zone.
In the noir-inspired horror film Abattoir, based on the graphic novel of the same name, Lowndes plays Julia, a real estate reporter whose family, including her sister, is brutally murdered. Desperate to find answers, Julia goes on a mission to investigate who’s behind the killings and the events that led to the tragedy.
What she uncovers is something even she can’t fathom: A lone wolf, Jebediah Crone (Dayton Callie), has been building a haunted house from rooms where horrific tragedies have taken place. One of those rooms happens to be where Julia’s family was killed.
For Lowndes, switching gears from The CW’s teen soap 90210 -- in which she starred for five seasons -- to an emotionally charged murder mystery like Abattoir marked a natural progression for the 27-year-old actress, who was seeking a new challenge.
“The director, Darren Lynn Bousman, wanted all the characters to have a rapid-fire dialogue and that as an actress was definitely a challenge, because he wanted it to have a Bogart-Bacall feel,” says Lowndes, who described the film as an “adult fairy tale in a very messed-up way.”
“It’s not just the typical horror movie. Having come from the Saw world, Darren wanted it to be a beautiful tragedy,” she adds, reassuring that the film is less about gore and more about psychological horror. “You look at the shots and the lighting and even the haunted house, the abattoir, and there’s something hauntingly beautiful about it.”
To hear Lowndes tell it, Abattoir -- which made its festival debut in June -- has a special place in her heart. She credits her “emotional” role as being something “completely different for me,” one that pushed her to an “another level” professionally and personally.
“To get yourself into that emotional state every day is very tough,” she says of the grueling month-long filming process, the majority of which was shot at night.
Even so, Lowndes says the singular experience she had making Abattoir was much like that of “a one-act play.” Still, she had doubts about her abilities as an actress to pull it off. In the end, her worries -- mostly self-inflicted -- were unwarranted.
“At first, on the first day on set, I was terrified -- like, how am I supposed to do this?” Lowndes admits. “In the end, once you conquer your fear and you do it, I felt very accomplished. But I felt like we had something unique and something original and everyone brought their own creative vision to it.”