Costume designer Lynn Falconer is no stranger to working on horror films having created the costumes for Oculus, Straw Dogs, Silent House and Before I Wake. Her latest project, Universal’s upcoming Ouija: Origin of Evil, let her not only occupy the dark realm she has become so accustomed to, but also let her explore new territory with the film’s 1960s vibe. Below she discusses everything from where she got her inspiration for Ouija to her favorite Oculus look.
–Ouija: Origin of Evil takes place in the 60s. Where did you find a lot of those costumes?
I have a high end vintage clothing business on the side and that led me to investigate some of the most amazing estate sales in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The sale in Las Vegas was at a house that belonged to an ex showgirl who also was an executive assistant to the president of Caesars Palace. It was like walking onto the set of Valley of the Dolls, but all I could take was whatever I could put in my bag for the airplane! Sometimes people think estate sales are creepy, but I actually like to see where clothes come from. It gives them a provenance of sorts, and in the case of this home, I felt that her clothes were just full of good energy. Yes, I suppose there was some sadness there, but that lent itself to the characters, such as Alice(Elizabeth Reaser). I also pulled from the costume houses in LA, like Universal and Warner Brothers, but I would say most of the hero wardrobe was shopped at estate sales and thrift/vintage stores.
-Some very iconic horror characters and their wardrobes came from the 60s such as Tippi Hedren in The Birds and Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby. Did you go back and watch any of these films to get inspiration for Ouija: Origin of Evil?
Yes, I looked at Rosemary’s Baby as well as The Exorcist for color palette. Mia Farrow’s wardrobe for “RB” is just amazing, it’s puritanical but alluring, and there is a lot of “code” in the costume changes.
-When people are getting killed and blood going all over the clothes, how many replicas do you generally need for different takes?
Well, it depends on the director, and how many times they need to reset. One clean always, a duplicate, a photo or stunt double—5 ish? Ouija OOE does not have blood gore in it however…. the horror, like most of Flanagan’s films, is mostly psychological. I prefer this type of horror story frankly.
-Out of all the horror films you have worked on so far, which has been your favorite and why? That is a TOUGH question, but the director is key. Ouija is definitely high up there because of Mike Flanagan, and any time i have the opportunity to flex my period costume abilities, as in Oculus and Frozen Ground(1983 John Cusack and Nick Cage)…I’m happy. I also want to mention that my projects with Rod Lurie have been really great experiences, such as Straw Dogs. He is a complete force, and I clamor to work with him as well.
-What was your favorite look for Oculus? All of the ghosts at the end! Now, dressing Karen Gillan in designer clothes was a lot of fun, but researching, sketching and fabricating looks from 12 decades from 1700 to 1970 was really fulfilling.
-You and director Mike Flanagan have worked on a few films together now. Does the process get easier after each project accomplished together?
It has never been difficult to work with him, Flanagan is an extremely smart guy, he is loyal and trusts his film family (Michael Fimognari (DP), Staci Witt (makeup), Trevor Macy and the Lumpkins—all great people). The only “difficult”(but not unpleasant) project was Oculus, and that wasn’t because it was our first time together. The script was an onion with a multitude of layers, and the continuity challenges were formidable. The disjunctive timeline, the flashbacks, egads! It was a brain gym everyday…but of course, that is one of the key reasons it is such a cool film.
-You have worked a lot in the horror genre. Why do you think that is?
Actually, that is a new development since 2012 because of Michael Flanagan, who is on a roll! I have actually designed more for dramas and romantic comedies, honestly. I’m pretty agile, and continue to want to do all types of genres. To answer the aesthetic part of that question, I posed it to another director who hired me recently. I’m on a dark comedy project right now with Eli Craig, and one thing that he said he likes about my work is my sense of color, and particularly my “horror color palette” that he saw in “Before I Wake” (Michael Flanagan).