Watching Stacey Maltin’s 2017 shortfilm, Viola, makes for great inspiration when daydreaming about certain female characters in any number of thrillers that could be further woven into something larger. For me, it toggles between short and longform/independent and mainstream properties and as prosperous as it is, shortform indie content makes for a great venue to tackle such ideas.
Maltin succeeded this in directing her 2017 short film hit, Viola, which is still making the rounds at festivals and starting actress and producer, Kerry Lacy. Viola is currently making the festival rounds while only available via restricted link fron Maltin, and the imaginably, the reception has been a positive one with a sequel in tow.
“There’s really nothing better than seeing people enjoy your work.” says Lacy. “I feel like Viola is off to a great start and I’m just absorbing it all and trying to learn as I go so I can bring Viola to a bigger audience.”
The hopes are as real as the hype given the context and setting in which Viola takes place. Sequel details on Viola 2 lie in wait, save for a few tasty ones that further set a major concurrent milestone for Lacy who has been cutting her teeth in the last few years with Maltin at New York City-based filmmaking collective, Filmshop.
“Viola came from a fantasy I was having based on elements of my real life.” says Lacy. “I struggled a lot when I was growing up with being feminine and being tough, and feeling like there were ways I should and shouldn’t behave based on my gender. A few years ago I heard a horrifying account of a young woman who was raped and badly injured by four men just a block from my house. It really shook me and other women I know in the neighborhood and I couldn’t stop fantasizing about exacting vigilante justice on those assholes. So I created Viola.”
It was on Viola that Lacy, in fateful partnership with Maltin, managed to erect a visionary character that, in part, embodies an appreciation for feminine strength and resilence in film and television. Favorites like Jessica Jones and the darkly comedic and thrilling Killing Eve are just a few notables Lacy names along with that of actress Gina Carano applying her former pro-fighting craft to cinematic canvas in Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire.
Lacy also gave heavily on some much more cautionary perspective about what motivated creating a character like Viola to begin with; The shortfilm itself immerses you into the silent horrors of everyday life internalized by our main lead, whose dress and appearance overall are just a portion of the scrutiny she faces as an unassuming female. The first minute alone, however, is foreboding enough to show you how dark it could possibly get in this little five-minute slice of cerebral chills and spills as our lead suddenly finds herself cornered in the dark of night by an elusive rapist just moments before succumbing to her instincts.
The rest is history, of course, although there’s a lot that to take away from what we’re shown in terms of the set up leading up to the brisk and brutal finale that sees our title character grip her keys and draw first blood. The finishing blow ensues in the form of a swift and fast-whipping low-kick to our assailant, done with such speed and precision that it looks almost derived from something equally planned and pre-meditated, which almost speaks to a sense of timelessness in this particular endeavor.
Viola starts off with a narration that doesn’t necessarily highlight exactly where our heroine’s tale of social, blood-stained retribution begins. We just know that it started at some point in her life when she began holding a pair of keys in her hands, gripping them hard if only for the frustration that she couldn’t use them everytime some seedy individual made a pass at her or accosted her in some way.
I guess that’s what personally speaks to me in terms of the cleverness of the writing with respect to further ancillary understanding of Viola and her world, next to the somewhat momentous, world-building affair that bodes nicely along the way. In addition, she’s an original persona with a simple, archaic means of handling herself, coupled with a psyche that makes her just as quietly dangerous.
“She doesn’t really use weapons, aside from her keys.” says Lacy, who prides herself on the practicality of her role and the superheroic basis on which her creation grew. “I wanted her power to come from her and have her just be enough by herself without any military experiments or fancy gadgets.”
Lacy applied this concept accordingly with the film’s coordinator, industry stunt performer, martial artist and fight trainer Paul Varacchi who actually alerted me to Viola last year at a birthday party. Moreover, Lacy has been studying martial arts since the age of six and so the prospects of seeing both student and teacher collaborate on an action project lends heavily on just how bigger Lacy’s filmic brainchild could be in terms of action for the story scope. With any luck though, production on Viola 2 had much more grace in terms of set time what with Lacy’s experience on the first being more expeditious than preferred, save for the intensity and excitement with cameras rolling.
“Paul was so much fun to work with and so amazing.” says Lacy. “I felt safe and I felt like he was safe and once that was established, we had freedom as actors and as a visual team to find the camera angles that work to really sell it and make it feel real. Unfortunately our set cops had to leave early, even though we had a permit to shoot for another hour, and they shut us down. We had about fifteen minutes to film the whole fight. It was rough but everyone kept their cool and the magic of editing made it all come out in the end!”
Lacy’s acting involvement lies with other projects as well, including an upcoming webseries called The Bike Crew, currently making its PR known via Instagram. As for Viola 2, now in post-production and readying a summer release, Lacy didn’t divulge too much about the follow-up, save for a teaser on the action front of of things.
“A lot more kicks, I’ll tell you that!” says Lacy, who also gave a humoring response when I delved into something more expansive like pitting a character like Viola against any movie villain of her choosing. I actually expected it to be something in the realm of Freddy Krueger but I felt her choice was a fitting one.
“Does Harvey Weinstein count as a movie villain?” she says. “Viola would really love to kick him in the nuts.”
For more info, visit Kerry Lacy’s official website by clicking here!