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Taissa Farmiga on scaring easily and being nervous acting for her sister, Vera

"The Final Girls" star Taissa Farmiga talks about getting to play the serious side of a horror-comedy.

In “The Final Girls,” Taissa Farmiga plays Max, a teen grieving for her dead mom, played by Malin Akerman. In truth, Malin is younger than Vera Farmiga, the “American Horror Story” regular’s older sister, and another actress who goes between dramas and horror. Still, that factoid isn’t as odd as the film itself, a comedic horror in which four young people find themselves sucked into a cheesy ’80s slasher movie, a la “The Purple Rose of Cairo.” And since the film-within-the-film starred Malin’s character, that means Max, in a grim twist, gets to effectively once again spend time with her dead mother.

I heard you’re not much of a horror fan.

That is true. I’m too sensitive. I get freaked sometimes.

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What is it about them that you don’t gibe with?

They just scare me. I get scared very easily, even on set. You’ll see crew members pat me on the shoulder and I freak out. It’s actually a joke on set. I was talking to my sister the other night, because she’s doing “The Conjuring 2.” And another friend of mine was talking about a horror script he’s working on. It wasn’t even an in-depth conversation; he just mentioned exorcisms. I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep. My brain was just running, and it was just a simple conversation. I have to overcome it somehow.

All this being said, “The Final Girls” isn’t a straight-up horror movie. It’s a comedy, while your character’s arc could be airlifted into a more “serious” film and still be trenchant.

That’s what I love about “The Final Girls.” Yes, it has scary moments and it can be called a horror movie. But it’s also funny. It’s also got a lot of heart to it. It was interesting to hear Todd [Strauss-Schulson), the director, speaking about it. He said it’s a mother-daughter story that deals with grief, but cloaked in a horror movie. When it comes down to it it’s just dealing with real situations and the real emotions we all feel.

You’re the one in the film who’s not overtly comedic, yet you’re surrounded with comedy people who are cracking jokes.

Honestly, the hardest thing was not breaking up when you had a scene where everybody’s trying to be funny and Adam [DeVine] and Thomas [Middleditch] are riffing and improv-ing. I was blowing straw wrappers at Thomas’ face as he said his lines. It felt like you were in camp hanging out with friends. It seems to be the hardest thing to remember that you’re making a movie.

Even some of the most seasoned comedic performers tend to ruin takes by laughing.

I’m not the worst there is. I’m not that bad. For example, there’s this diner scene where Alexander [Ludwig] and Alia [Shawkat] and Thomas and myself. I could see Alexander get that twinkle in his eye and he has to turn away so he doesn’t break. Once he breaks you get it in your head, and then it’s hard for you not to break. We all ruined someone’s take. I don’t feel too bad.

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Malin Akerman, who plays your mom, is in fact younger than your older sister, Vera, and you’ve even played Vera’s daughter in “At Middleton.” That seems like a relationship that’s both unusual and normal.

I come from a big family, so I’ve grown up with adults. But I have a great relationship with Vera. There’s an age gap, but as I’ve gotten older and entered the same field as her, that just means she has someone to talk to now — someone who understands when she says, “I was on set for 15 hours.” She has a new person to go to. And she’s always there for me. It’s just a bunch of support from both ends. She opened me up to this world I had no idea I wanted to be in. She helped me find that. It’s just a love fest, we all love each other.

And I’m sure she helps you to obstacles she encountered when she was starting out.

Whenever I’m frustrated I know she understands and she can talk through things. My first movie, called “Higher Ground,” she directed me in. I was nervous acting for my sister. It’s not that didn’t want to disappoint her — I mean, I didn’t. There’s just so many expectations apart from her being a terrific actress.

Follow Matt Prigge on Twitter @mattprigge
 
 
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