Summer Howell is a rising star with several horror titles under her belt at the age of fifteen. Her first role was in Curse of Chucky at the age of eight, and she is now starring in the horror thriller Hunter Hunter, releasing December 18. Wicked Horror recently spoke with Summer regarding her role in the film and her acting influences. Read on for the full exchange!
WICKED HORROR: Congratulations on your work in Hunter Hunter and its upcoming release! The film was chilling and emotional, and I think it’s going to leave a big impact on viewers.
I was very impressed with your performance as Renee in Hunter Hunter. Renee is initially portrayed as a strong young woman with serious survival skills, yet as the film progresses we see her vulnerability and are reminded that she is still a child. This role required a balance between displaying both Renee’s naiveté and maturity in some aspects of life. Were there any specific strategies you used to prepare for this role?
SUMMER HOWELL: I didn’t exactly prepare as I did adjust to the acting of my co-stars, Devon and Camille. When I was acting with Devon, I really focused on being his daughter and learning from him, and learning in real life the knowledge that I’d need to act with Camille later on when I’m teaching her things that I’ve learned from my dad. So there was definitely a balance between that side of Renee—gaining knowledge, but also needing to rely on her parents.
WICKED HORROR: Along those lines, I’d like to discuss how you’ve grown as an actor in a relatively short time. You got your start by acting in Curse of Chucky at age 8 and reprised your role in the later film Cult of Chucky. The Chucky franchise features a different type of horror and has a different feel than Hunter Hunter.
While Hunter Hunter is a horror thriller, focusing on psychological and emotional aspects, the Chucky films feature supernatural horror. What was it like for you to step into a more emotionally demanding role? Do you feel that the preparation was much different considering the storyline and the fact that you’ve matured since that first role?
SUMMER HOWELL: I think now that I’m older I definitely enjoy doing more emotional scenes, and it’s become a part of my acting style. I really enjoy that type of acting, and so I’ve just been learning from different sets I’ve been on. I filmed a horror movie when I was 12, called The Midnight Man, so I’ve always been involved in horror. It’s led me up to this point of being in Hunter Hunter and understanding a different side of horror–more of a thriller and the suspense and psychological—how it would feel being in that situation instead of just running from a monster.
WICKED HORROR: You’ve got several horror films under your belt at this point. Are you a horror fan yourself?
SUMMER HOWELL: I don’t know that I’d call myself a horror fan, but I’m definitely a Chucky fan. That’s where I got my start and how I became involved with acting in the first place. So I owe a lot to Chucky and the fans of that whole franchise. But watching horror by myself when I haven’t seen or been in the movie before—I don’t know if I necessarily enjoy it. I tend to hide my face from the screen.
WICKED HORROR: Is this a genre you’d like to continue pursuing in your career?
SUMMER HOWELL: Of course. I love all types of genre, but I think I really enjoy sci-fi horror thrillers. It’s the emotional scenes that I really like, and the balance between more intense scenes and cheery scenes. I really enjoy the difference.
WICKED HORROR: Hunter Hunter has a strong cast of seasoned actors, including Devon Sawa, and Camille Sullivan. What was it like for you to work with them?
SUMMER HOWELL: Working with Camille was amazing. She’s the kindest person ever. She’s a fellow Canadian so we bonded really well, and acting with her was very natural and it came easy because of how well we got along. I think it shows in the mother-daughter dynamic very well. Devon was also great to work with. He’s super professional and you can tell he’s always thinking about how to make his character the most believable it can be. At the beginning, it was a little tense working with him because we didn’t know each other, and that’s how it is with everyone. But, it helped in the first scenes we were filming together because they were about me learning from him and looking up to him—not having this really emotional connection. As we got to know each other, the other scenes fell right into place and we had a great dynamic.
WICKED HORROR: The film features some stunning scenery in the Canadian wilderness. How did working on this set compare to previous projects?
SUMMER HOWELL: Well, I’m from Manitoba originally, and I still live here, so I kind of knew what I was walking into and the climate I’d be working in. It was really great. I love working outdoors, and I realized that while working on Hunter Hunter. It’s so refreshing to be outside for a full day filming, instead of being cooped up in the studio. It was really cool—I loved it.
WICKED HORROR: Who are your biggest influences when it comes to acting?
SUMMER HOWELL: I would definitely say that I had some big influences in the movie Clouds. I looked up to all of my cast—they are such great people and great to work with, so professional. Including Justin Baldoni, he was such a kind person and down to earth. On the set of Hunter Hunter I really looked up to Camille, because she is a Canadian actor like me, and she’s a woman, so I can relate to that. If I was in her place in however many years, I’d be super happy with my life.
WICKED HORROR: Are there any actors or directors that you’d love to work with in the future?
SUMMER HOWELL: I don’t have a list—I’d love to work with anyone!
WICKED HORROR: Are there any upcoming projects that you’re working on?
SUMMER HOWELL: Right now it’s a little slow because of Covid, but I’m auditioning and supporting my movies that have come out, like Clouds on Disney + and now Hunter Hunter.
HUNTER HUNTER is available in Select Theaters, Digital and On Demand December 18th