Natalia Dyer is no stranger to the strange.
With her breakout role as Nancy on Netflix’s Stranger Things, the 21-year-old actress has tackled supernatural demons and alternate dimensions, but her new film, Mountain Rest, threw her into another sort of bizarro world: the labyrinth of intricate family dynamics.
“There are dark tones, but they’re very human tones. The darkness comes from the complexity of the characters,” Dyer tells EW. “There’s definitely some mystery as Clara [Dyer’s character] is trying to figure out what’s going on.”
The Mountain Rest trailer, debuted exclusively above by EW, leaves viewers as in the dark as Dyer’s Clara, a teenage girl who travels with her single mother Frankie (Kate Lyn Sheil) to a remote mountain town for one last reunion with Clara’s estranged grandmother Ethel (Frances Conroy). Several characters refer to “the thing [Frankie] thinks Ethel did” to disintegrate their relationship, but the trailer — with elements of gritty Americana, slow-burning intimacy, and psychedelic fantasy — leaves the rest unsaid.
However, Dyer can reveal one of the film’s driving forces: female relationships. With writer and director Alex Eaton at the helm, the world of Mountain Rest is shaped, on and off screen, by women.
“Females see things differently. They have a different perspective on things,” Dyer said. “I think certain aspects of the characters are approached in different ways…. I think sometimes there’s more consideration for subtler emotions when a female is holding the reins. I think that was the case for me on this project. I could really talk and relate to these other women I was working with.”
Dyer said Eaton brought her personal life to set literally, coloring the story onscreen. Much of the film takes place in a cabin, which belongs to Eaton’s family in a small North Carolina town, and Eaton even cast her parents in small roles. Golden Globe winner Conroy (Six Feet Under) also helped guide Dyer and the rest of the cast through the character-driven film. “She’s so playful, and I think that’s so lovely and quite a lesson to be around,” Dyer said of Conroy. “You know, I’m young and still learning, and one of the biggest things I learned on set was to let go of your inhibitions and just try new things out, which [Conroy] definitely did.”
Mountain Rest, Eaton’s first film, debuted at this year’s Nashville International Film Festival and won the New Director’s Competition. The drama will be released theatrically in New York and available on iTunes, Prime Video, and Google Play on Dec. 7.
Watch the trailer above.