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An Interview with Karen Lam, Director of Evangeline

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2015

Films directed by Karen Lam on (re)Search my Trash


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Your new movie Evangeline - in a few words, what is it about?


Evangeline is a supernatural revenge fantasy about a young woman who avenges her own life.


What were your sources of inspiration when writing Evangeline? And is any part of the movie based on actual myths or urban legends?


I originally wanted to write about a female vigilante who hunts serial killers, and the film is loosely based on my short film Doll Parts. The story is partially inspired by the true crime events in Vancouver, and I've pulled in a lot of historical facts about our city, as well as drawing on Asian mythology and folklore. The idea of a purgatory place is based on the Asian "mansion of a thousand windowless rooms."


What can you tell us about your film's approach to horror (as in suspense vs sudden shocks, atmosphere vs all-out gore and the like?


I wanted the action sequences to feel more ragged than stylistic, and really worked to keep the realism in the fights. It was my attempt to keep Evangeline as vulnerable as I could, so that each fight was a matter of life and death for her. As much fun as it is to work with special effects, I wanted to build suspense more than all-out gore. It was in service to the story, and to try to keep the horror under the surface.


international poster of Evangeline

From what I know, Evangeline also features its fair share of action - so do talk about your action scenes for a bit, and how were they achieved?


I worked with an incredible stunt team, and Kat de Lieva ("Evangeline") is very physically capable of doing all her own stunts, which was a huge help. The script broke down the fight sequences very specifically -- I think action and fighting needs to have the same scene arcs as drama scenes -- and I worked closely with our stunt coordinator to get the fights to feel realistic and raw. After that, a good fight sequence is then a matter of precise editing, thanks to my editor Jeanne Slater.


A few words about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand?


A lot of my directing work is done in writing the script, and planning the film. I know all the beats of the scene, why every scene is there and the arc, so when it comes to being on set, I can allow things to unfold more organically because I know what the key moments are. It allows my cast and team the maximum freedom to explore when you know the parameters of each scene.


What can you tell us about your key cast, and why exactly these people?


Richard Harmon, Kat de Lieva

For Evangeline, I was looking for a mixture of vulnerability and strength, and when Kat came in for the audition, she had a perfect combination of warmth and guts.

For Michael Konner (Richard Harmon), I wanted a nuanced actor who could be Evangeline's nemesis: a casual cruelty and intelligence that comes from a life of privilege. I knew Richard's work from the industry and I was lucky that he came in to audition.

For the rest of the cast, I had either worked with them before or they came in for auditions. (David Lewis is a regular in my films, and I had also worked with John Shaw in my serial killer dark comedy short The Meeting.)


Do talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


We had a really relaxed atmosphere -- the cast were young and excited, and it really was a dream. It's always tough when the budget is tight, but we stayed between 10-12 hours a day for the entire shoot, and that keeps everyone's energy at an even keel. When the material is tense and heavy, it's best to keep the set happy and light. Katerina has such a great energy, too, which is infectious.


A few words about critical and audience reception of your movie?


We've had a lot of great responses and positive feedback from really surprising places: we've been around the world to Sweden, South Africa, South Korea, Latin America... and people feel strongly about the work. For me, I write stories to spark debate and discussion -- it's important that people leave thinking about the film, even if it disturbs them.


Any future projects you'd like to share?


I'm currently in polish stages on two more feature scripts -- one is a Lovecraftian gothic horror and the other is a 70s road trip to Armageddon. That one is a dark comedy. I'm also in production on my first documentary about a band. It's like Portlandia meets The Host (the Korean film, not the Twilight one!)


What got you into making movies to begin with, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


I started in the industry as a lawyer/producer, and I've been lucky enough to have gotten a lot of film training in Canada through the National Screen Institute and Women in the Director's Chair. I have the Canadian government to thank for my film training.


Karen at the Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Evangeline?


I try to keep a fresh approach, so I have written and directed short films, music videos, true crime documentary television, and another feature film. I just finished a web series called Mythos this last winter on YouTube now that explores the mythology in Evangeline through a series of short interconnected films.


One can't help but notice that in your oeuvre, you never stray too far from the horror genre - coincidence, or is horror a genre dear to you, and why (not)?


I love horror -- I probably have a wider definition than the standard industry definition, because it incorporates dark fantasy, weird tales, anything that creates fear and dread. I love working with heightened reality, a sense that something horrible is just around the corner. Of course, this is how I feel about romance, too.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Good question. Other people refer to the style and tone of all my films, but for me, I like to not overthink it. I'd prefer to keep things open and flexible.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Michael Haneke is a master filmmaker. I also David Lynch, Floria Sigismondi, David Fincher, Park Chan Woo, Takeshi Miike, Zhang Yimou, Stanley Kubrick. The stories of Neil Gaiman and his breadth of storytelling is what I hope to achieve in my filmmaking.


Your favourite movies?


Audition, Clockwork Orange, River's Edge, Oldboy, Funny Games, and I'm a Lord of the Rings freak.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Karen Lam
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Karen Lam here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Karen Lam at

I don't think I have many -- even the terrible ones have their charm. Okay, maybe The Notebook and other Nicholas Sparks adaptations make me want to gouge my own eyes out. I do my best to avoid the saccharine.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else? or

The Facebook and Twitter links should be there.


Thanks for the interview!




© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD