My Animal Stars Talk the Film's Unconventional Love Story

Amandla Stenberg and Bobbi Salvör Menuez open up about their compelling on-screen romance.

Debuting earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, My Animal won over audiences and critics for its ambitious blend of genres to make for an entirely unique experience. The horror genre has been known to find ways to approach incredibly human stories in ways other genres can't, with My Animal's approach to burgeoning love and how stigmas in social communities can manifest in unexpected ways setting itself apart from more traditional takes on these concepts. A key component of the film's success is the on-screen dynamic between stars Amandla Stenberg and Bobbi Salvör Menuez, who detailed their experiences of bringing the story to life earlier this year. My Animal is set to hit select theaters on September 8th and hits Digital HD on September 15th.

"Myself and [director] Jacqueline [Castel] and [writer] Jae [Matthews], and even talking to Amandla, there was so much imagining beyond what was on the screen," Menuez shared with of their character's unseen origins before what we see in the film. "There is the prelude and thinking about what was Heather's life like up until she hit puberty and the reality of her being a werewolf struck, and how everything in her world changed when that reality came into focus. I think it was really exciting to think about." 

They continued, "Although there's so much heartbreak in the queer story that unfolds, it was really, I think, special for me and Amandla to talk about and imagine the futures of these characters and being like, 'You know what? Maybe these people are going to get out of this town, and maybe they're going to have other great loves, and maybe they'll find each other and have a special friendship, and this isn't the end of their lives.' I thought it was really exciting to imagine beyond into the future and into the past of these characters, for sure."

The film is described, "Tormented by a hidden family curse, Heather (Menuez) is forced to live a secluded life on the outskirts of a small town. When she falls for the rebellious Jonny (Stenberg), their connection threatens to unravel Heather's suppressed desires, tempting her to unleash the animal within."

As far as how the horror genre allows for relational dynamics to be explored in unconventional ways, Stenberg detailed, "I feel like since the beginning of horror, monsters have always provided fantastic metaphors, whether that's contending with the monster inside of you or a political monster or a structure. That's always been a really salient way of making that kind of point. I think that the werewolf metaphor as a way of exploring queerness was something that felt so obvious but had never occurred to me before, and immediately, it got me so excited about being a part of this project. I think being able to explore queerness in fantastical and magical ways with imagination and world-building is so exciting, while also still being able to construct a classic drama. I think there are so many elements of being queer that are magical and surreal, and so I felt like the genre really befitted the narrative."

My Animal is set to hit select theaters on September 8th and hits Digital HD on September 15th.

Are you looking forward to the new movie? Let us know in the comments or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things horror and Star Wars! 

Editor's note: This interview was conducted prior to the SAG actors' strike.