Shalima Mkongi loved being a part of one of SA's first horror movies
In one of South Africa's first horror movies, "Rage", a group of school-leavers descend on a tiny coastal town for a celebration of their freedom.
Roxy, Sihle, Kyle, Leon, Tamsyn and Neo party on the beach and drink themselves silly every night.
The townsfolk, Hermien and her son Albert, are welcoming – too welcoming.
During a psychedelic trip on the beach, the friends witness a disturbing birth ritual, which could be a hallucination, or not.
Soon fertility figurines start to appear at random places, and what is supposed to be the best holiday of their lives turns to horror as the teenagers are picked off one by one.
We caught up with actress Shalima Mkongi who plays Sihle in the Showmax offering.
First, off Shalima, how have you been and how are you surviving the lockdown?
I’m amazing on most days and then you have the odd bad days when you realise how severe this pandemic is.
Then you begin to really sit and think about how you’ve been experiencing life. All in all, I am surviving. I feel like I’m one of the lucky few that has found some peace in the chaotic stillness.
How did your involvement in "Rage" come about?
I received a phone call from an actor friend of mine, who makes a cameo on the film (Roberto Kyle, who plays Cheswin) and he asked me to submit my details to the producer.
Roberto thought I’d be perfect for the role. However the film was going to be shot in Cape Town and I am Johannesburg-based so I assumed this would contribute to a rejection.
I sent my details, even though I didn’t think I’d be much of a consideration because of my location. A day later my agent, APM from Cape Town, got involved. I sent in my self tape and the rest, as they say, was history.
What made you say yes to this script?
The genre. I absolutely love horror and I never thought I’d be cast in one because I’d like to think I always gravitate or the universe always gives me roles with a drama-driven narrative.
The script was also something I’ve never done as an actor and what a lovely challenge to stretch my muscles.
I loved the diversity and research it had. My journey has led me to rise in my spirituality and rituals from "Rage" really opened me up to another side of spirituality.
Things like the meaning behind human sacrifice and ritualistic sacrifices in general opened me up to new information. Maybe one day I’ll write something that was inspired from themes tackled in the film.
Tell me about Sihle. What attracted you to this particular character?
Her entire vibe. I love the youth. I’m convinced we will save the world. So I when I read Sihle, I instantly fell in love with her.
She’s extremely smart: a young Einstein in the making. She knows her worth. She’s completely aware of who she is in the contemporary South African setting and I respect that so much about her.
The idea of a South African horror movie set around Rage which is something I have attended myself is so fascinating to me, what kind of research did you do before shooting?
I did various kinds of research, mostly on YouTube. YouTube is one the best places for research for actors.
There’s everything there. I looked at different types of drugs and their effect on people. I started watching a lot of horror films. One that helped me understand the story was Ari Aster’s horror film "Midsommar".
I worked on my body to connect to the youthful side to relate to Sihle’s demeanour by doing more yoga and connecting to my inner child.
What were some of the challenges when shooting "Rage"?
The time frame. We didn’t get much time to shoot the film. We shot Rage in two weeks.
A whole feature was shot in two weeks. It’s unheard of but everyone worked extremely hard to make sure we made a dope movie. I know the director wished he worked more with the actors.
My sentiments too but he trusted our capabilities and we made a really good film in the end.
What was the best thing about being apart of this film?
The cast and crew were amazing. They made everything so worthwhile. Everyone was so dedicated to the project: it inspired you to always show up and be great and that is such amazing energy to be around.
What should viewers look forward to the most?
I don’t mean to sound biased but Rage is one the best shot films to come out of South Africa. The quality of image, the top class acting and story is so refreshing. You’ll definitely enjoy it.