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  • Writer's pictureCody Fuhrman

Writer/Director Greg Pritikin on his Latest Horror Film “The Mistress”

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

I couldn’t wait to sit down with Greg Pritikin after screening The Mistress – a new haunted house thriller he wrote and directed. The Mistress follows Madeline and Parker, two newlyweds who have just moved into their dream home only to be tormented by a horrifying spirit. Pritikin is known for writing and directing: Totally Confused (1998), Dummy (2003), Surviving Eden (2004) & The Last Laugh (2019).

Courtesy of Nick Bilton

The Mistress was shot in my home city of Los Angeles, in a gorgeous neighborhood known for the many Victorian homes that line its streets. The community of Angelino Heights has served as a location for films like China Town and the Fast & the Furious franchise as well as television shows such as Charmed and Mad Men. All but a few scenes of the film are shot inside of a towering and ornate Queen Anne Victorian home that Greg actually lives in.

Greg: The house is in a neighbored called Angelino Heights which is the oldest continuous neighborhood in Los Angeles. It has the highest concentration of Victorian homes, I think in Southern California. Maybe all of California. The neighborhood was established in the 1880s and some of the houses are from around that time up until now. It’s a beautiful neighborhood - it’s near Dodgers Stadium and near downtown. It’s a nice little community. It feels very out-of-time and out-of-place in Los Angeles. It’s part of Echo Park.

Courtesy of Lindsay Blake

Cody: Can you tell me about your home’s history?

Greg: Learning about the home’s history was one of my inspirations for writing the movie. The house was built in 1894, but it was built about three quarters of a mile east of here. Around the turn of the century, they discovered oil around the surrounding lands. So all of a sudden by 1900/1901, there were dozens of giant oil derricks erected around the house. I have photographs of this - of the house in its original location with oil derricks around it. So in 1901 the original owner hired movers with draft horses to lift this giant Queen Anne Victorian and move it to its current location, where it's been since 1901. So it has a very interesting history.

Courtesy of Floyd B. Bariscale

Cody: We learn early on in the film that Parker has a stalker. I will admit I had to pause the movie five minutes in so that I could do a little online stalking of your house. But I can’t be the only one. It’s so unique to see a Victorian home in L.A. Do you ever have people just show up at your door and ask to see inside?

Greg: Well first of all I want to thank you for only online stalking. That’s very respectful of you. Second – yes, all the time. We get lots of pedestrians and passersbys and tour buses that come by the house. If we happen to be outside they ask a lot of questions. We also get visited by a lot of location scouts who want to take photos of the house for TV shows and movies. We have had a few shoots in the house since we’ve lived here. We’ve been here for nine years. Which is nice because if it’s a big show they pay you well and they put you up in a hotel for a few days.

John Magaro in THE MISTRESS (2023)

Cody: You already mentioned that the house had been moved from its prior location which comes up in the movie. Just as Parker’s writing takes inspiration from his home’s past, is there anything else about the history of your house that provided inspiration for your script?

Greg: Well in terms of the house, I think the answer is not necessarily in the history of the house, but in the unique design and layout of the house which became a character in the ensemble. The house is really its own character. I wrote the script to be shot in the house. At one point there was talk of us shooting this movie in Montana, which would have meant completely rewriting the character of the house based on what houses we could find there. Which I was dreading, because so much of what happens in this movie is based on the unique layout - the attic, the basement, these back doors and back passages and the stained glass. It was like writing a movie for a particular actor and then being told that you don’t have that actor anymore and you have to write it in a different actor’s voice. Luckily that didn’t happen. So the house really was a vital character in the writing of this movie. And I wouldn’t have thought of it in any other house.


Cody: Yeah, it really is perfect. I see The Mistress as a supernatural horror film that transitions into a psychological thriller. It’s a great blend of both. Which if done right - and I think it was done well here - can be a winning combination. A lot of my favorite movies have this blend of subgenres. So here is my question for you: Is your house actually haunted?

Greg: [Laughs] Well it’s as haunted as the movie is supernatural.

Cody: Which is left up for debate, just how much of the line between reality and fiction, I would say, is blurred.

Aylya Marzolf in THE MISTRESS (2023)

Greg: Oh yeah, absolutely! I want you to be very creeped out even if I say there are no ghosts, I want you to be like, “Well I still think there are in that place!”

Cody: Well, I think there are.

Greg: I think my intent was to convince you as an audience that you were watching a supernatural horror film and then to kind of pull the rug out from underneath you and make you rethink the entire watching experience from a different perspective. That’s why I encourage the audience to see the movie 5 or 6 times to get all of the information…that was a joke.

Cody: [laughs]

Chasten Harmon in THE MISTRESS (2023)

Greg: No, you can watch it twice. That’s enough. I set out to make a horror film that wasn’t a horror film, that really was a very material supernatural thriller disguised as a horror film and it tricks and confuses the audience into believing they’re watching a horror film. Now spoiler alert I suppose - hopefully this won’t ruin the experience - it is open for interpretation absolutely, but from my perspective, I wanted to play with all of the horror tropes that we’re used to seeing, all of the cliches and the formulas that we’ve seen in a million horror movies before. And instead of trying to do something completely different, I decided to embrace all of my favorite tropes in a very tongue and cheek way.

John Magaro & Kat Cunning in THE MISTRESS (2023)

Greg: There are subtle and sometimes not so subtle references to many horror films and many horror tropes, including the basic premise of a young married couple moving into their first home together. The fact that he’s a writer is also a cliche that I wanted to play with. I looked at the great horror films that I loved, that weren’t supernatural but were scary and made you think they were supernatural. If you take Psycho for example, which was a big inspiration for this movie, you don’t know what you’re watching. The movie never really lets you feel comfortable with any genre. But you think you are in a horror film. Especially when you see this looming Victorian house behind the motel that surely must be haunted, because why else would it look like that if wasn’t haunted? But it’s not haunted and in fact there’s nothing supernatural in Psycho at all. That was a big inspiration for me. Stealing from my favorite films. Psycho being one of them.

Aylya Marzolf in THE MISTRESS (2023)

Cody: Okay, so – you don’t believe in ghosts then?

Greg: I mean anytime you want to come over and take a tour and see if you feel anything.

Cody: Count me in!

Greg: You have to spend a night in the attic alone, and if you can survive that experience, then I will give you a tour.

Cody: [laughs] I would do it! I do stuff like this all the time. I travel around to haunted places and stay overnight.

Greg: You might not see ghosts but you’ll definitely see rats, which could be worse.

Cody: Spiders would probably be the worst.

Greg: Oh you’ll see those too, but rats for me are worse than seeing the devil. I’ll take Satan over them anytime.

Aylya Marzolf & John Magaro in THE MISTRESS (2023)

Cody: [laughs] When you were moving into the house, did you hear any weird stories about the house? Did you find any weird pictures or objects or anything like the newlyweds in the movie do?

Greg: Yes and no. Yes, there were very old antique items left behind, little things, tools. We found things that we didn’t even know what they were, like weird little machines we found in the attic. Rusted cast iron machines that we still can’t figure out what they do. They almost look like a car jack for a horse and buggy. Little things like that. Nothing as luscious as a box of love letters. But we certainly found things like a 19th century hammer and we found a book at some point. There were only two families in this house before we moved in. Several generations, but only two families. So really only two owners before us. It really kind of blows your mind when you think about it because you think it is so old and ancient, but a person can live one hundred years so this house is really one and a half lifetime’s old.


Cody: How did you find your house?

Greg: The story of how we found it is more interesting than anything else, because it is kind of a horror-adjacent story. I’ve lived in Echo Park now for going on twenty years. One of my closest friends is an actress who almost works exclusively in the horror genre, Fiona [Dourif]. Right now she’s starring in the Chucky TV Series and she comes from an acting family. Her father [Brad Dourif] was actually the voice of Chucky in the original Child’s Play movie. Anyway, my now wife and I went to pick our friend, Fiona, up for lunch one day about 10 years ago and we pulled in front of her apartment. Right next door to her apartment was this house and we couldn’t believe it. There’s a lot of Victorians in this neighborhood, but this one is very unique because it’s the only wildly ornate Queen Anne around here. So we were just enthralled. Fiona comes out and we’re like, “What the hell is that house?” And she says, “Yeah, I think it’s available.” So that set the ball rolling and set the wheels in motion and we were able to move in.

The Mistress has won awards at the Los Angeles International Film Festival, the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival and the Sevilla Indie Film Festival. It has been part of the Official Selection at the Los Angeles Horror Film Festival, Tucson Film and Music Festival, Unrestricted View Horror Film Festival and the Polish International Film Festival.


The Mistress recently opened in theaters and on VOD via Blue Fox Entertainment on July 28th.


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