Lexington native Emma Bellomy has very specific goals for her major motion picture debut, playing one of the masked murderers in the new thriller, “The Strangers: Prey at Night.”
“I want security systems to be flying off the shelves,” the 2017 Henry Clay High School graduate said to the audience for the film’s first showing at the Cinemark Fayette Mall Cinemas. “I want you to go straight to Walmart or wherever and make sure that your house is secure, trailer — wherever you’re going home to, tonight.”
For Bellomy, a freshman at the University of South Carolina, the Thursday night meet-and-greet and pre-show speech was the start of spring break.
“This is my big, glamorous, freshman year spring break,” she joked, before meeting hometown fans to sign autographs and take selfies, which she will do again for the 7:40 and 10 p.m. showings, Friday.
Making “The Strangers” was how Bellomy spent her summer vacation between high school and college after her agent, Janie Olmstead of Images Model & Talent received a call for people to audition for the movie, which was shot in the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky area last summer.
“I knew she was right for it,” Olmstead said. “She has been with me a couple years, and she’s one of our top female models with great communication skills.”
She loves what she does, and I guess I can respect that ... on some level. But don’t go out and kill people.
Emma Bellomy on her “Strangers” character, Dollface
Bellomy credits the speech and debate team at Henry Clay with a lot of her theatrical training, as well as modeling and other work through Images. She was actually finishing shooting the Trinity Broadcasting Network series “Smoketown” when she got the call to audition for the movie. It’s a follow up to the 2008 thriller “The Strangers,” about a trio of masked murders that terrorize a family, which Bellomy had not seen when she got the audition notice — she notes that she was 9 at that time.
There wasn’t a lot of time between getting the call and the audition, so Bellomy watched the original “The Strangers” on her phone while driving up to audition. She loved the movie, but allows that she wasn’t a big horror fan. She says making “Strangers” helped her gain an appreciation for “the art of scaring people.”
“I absolutely loved playing Dollface,” Bellomy said. “She’s such an interesting horror character, because she’s very playful. She loves what she does, and I guess I can respect that ... on some level. But don’t go out and kill people.”
But what did her mom and dad think of seeing their daughter playing a psychotic killer?
“She was a handful when she was little,” Holly Bellomy says, with a laugh. “If you had told me back then that in 20 years she’d be a psychotic killer ... But she has mellowed and she’s a really great kid, ambitious.”
Her dad, Brett Bellomy, was also at Thursday’s signing, along with her sister, Lucy Ritter, who helped her with Sharpies and pictures as fans came to her table in the Cinemark lobby.
“This is pretty hard to believe,” Bellomy says. “I’m just a college student who may or may not have filmed a movie over the summer. So all this hype is pretty unbelievable. But it’s fun. It’s given me a chance to see people I don’t get to see on a regular basis now and see people who love the movie, hopefully as much as I do.”
Bellomy and her parents say she hasn’t “gone Hollywood,” though she is interested in more film roles. She is studying broadcast journalism at South Carolina with minors in film and French. She says she picked South Carolina after growing up in Lexington because she wanted an SEC school — “I love tailgating,” she said — but wanted to get away from home.
That, of course, means when school starts again, she’ll have to go see the film with all her college friends.
Before settling into her seat for the 7:20 screening Thursday night, Bellomy said, “I think I have to watch this movie 50 times before the end of the month.”
Rich Copley, @copiousnotes