Interview with costume designer Whitney Anne Adams for Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin - Whitney Anne Adams/Paramount+
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin - Whitney Anne Adams/Paramount+ /

If you watched Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, you undoubtedly noticed the Amish clothing worn by many of the characters.1428 Elm spoke to the film’s costume designer, Whitney Anne Adams. Whitney is no stranger to costuming for horror films. In addition to Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, Whitney has worked on films such as Freaky and Happy Death Day 2 U.

Read on to find out why those Amish costumes in Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin look authentic.

Interview with costume designer Whitney Anne Adams for Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin – Whitney Anne Adams/Paramount+ /

1428 ELM: You were the costume designer most recently for Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, and you also worked on Happy Death Day 2 U and Freaky. That’s an impressive horror resume!

WHITNEY ANNE ADAMS: I love Chris Landon. I’ll do anything with him!

1428 ELM: Are you especially drawn to horror film projects, or does that just seem to be what you have fallen into?

WHITNEY: I’ve always been drawn to horror. When I was in middle school, I was Ghostface three years in a row at Halloween, and it’s something I’ve always loved. In elementary school, I started reading all these teenage slasher novels, and then my teachers had a parent-teacher conference to be like: is she okay? My parents were like, “Well, she’s reading, right?” So, horror’s always been a big part of my life.

1428 ELM: Me too! When I was in high school, I had the world’s best English teacher, and she used to require us to do book report tests. She had an approved list of books, but you could submit one to her if you wanted to do it. I asked her if I could do a report on The Shining, and she let me.

WHITNEY: That’s amazing. I love it. We had one of those logs where you were supposed to log all the books you had read. I think I was in fourth grade, and I had logged all these Fear Street novels. I filled the entire sheet. And they were like, “Well, she’s reading.”

1428 ELM: Exactly! So, you’re probably excited about the new Scream film coming out.

WHITNEY: Oh, I am so excited. I can’t wait for it to come out. Scream is my favorite horror movie. The whole series is dear to my heart. The first DVD I ever bought was Scream 3. They’re all just so much fun, I love them, and I can’t wait to see what Radio Silence does with this one.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin – Whitney Anne Adams/Paramount+ /

1428 ELM: From a costume designer’s standpoint, what makes working on a horror film different from working in other genres?

WHITNEY: Well, horror is so much about, okay, how many multiples do we need, who’s dying, what’s happening? There are always distressing problems, and how bloody does this get? You have to go through the whole script and break it down. Okay, this is how this costume evolves throughout the movie.

Say in Freaky, most of the film took place in one day, so you’re starting in these nice clothes, or at least they’re not dirty, and by the end of it, they’re dirty, they’re ripped, they’re covered in blood. So you have to track that progression.

Vince Vaughn wears one thing the whole movie, but he had 20 different iterations as the movie progressed. By the end of the movie, he’s been shot and all of that, so you have to spend a lot of time sitting down and tracking all of them.

1428 ELM: Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is the latest installment in an extremely popular found footage film series. Tell me a little bit about your experience working on that one.

WHITNEY: This was quite a challenge. We were in upstate New York. We’re based in Buffalo, but we filmed on a real Amish farm in the middle of nowhere. We were about an hour and a half from Buffalo.

The family who had lived there had recently left, so we had a completely accurate farm that our amazing production designer John Collins completely perfected the look of for our purposes. But, no electricity, in the middle of nowhere, you know there are no street lights, so we were driving about an hour to and from the set every day.

It was winter, and there was snow, and it was quite a challenge to be traipsing through the mud and the snow every single day. It was very much a challenge. And all of our Amish clothes we built from scratch, we wanted them to look worn and aged and lived in.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin
Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin – Whitney Anne Adams/Paramount+ /

1428 ELM: That goes into the next question that I have for you. As well as being a horror nerd, I am also a theatre kid, and I’ve always been fascinated with costuming. As you’re working on these costumes for films, do you have to build a lot of them, or can you just purchase some of them off the rack?

WHITNEY: Every film is completely different. In Freaky, we barely built anything, I think we built part of the beaver mascot costume, and that was about it. Everything else was purchased. Storyline-wise, that was what made sense.

But in Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin, we literally made every single Amish costume in this movie. The shirts, the pants, the suspenders were even made from scratch. We had a local leatherworker in Buffalo make all our suspenders. Literally every single thing you see on every single person in the Amish community we built.

1428 ELM: Well, they certainly looked very authentic.

WHITNEY: Oh, thank you. There was a lot of time spent with people in the Amish community, the people who know them, and a lot of digging into culture.

And in the movie, they’re not real Amish, but they’re pretending to be, we wanted to make sure they were as accurate as possible, but there are slight things that are different from real Amish. They can camouflage for most of the real world, but real Amish will know that they are not truly Amish clothes, but they look pretty darn realistic.

1428 ELM: You did have people in the Amish community who were cooperative and helped you out with all of this?

WHITNEY: Yes, all of our hats were made by people in the Amish community, all of our clothes were made by a clothing company in upstate New York that works with the Amish a lot, so it was very accurate to real life. And each Amish community has their own Bishop, and the Bishop sort of determines, okay, this is what our community wears dress-wise. I got to be the quote-unquote “Amish Bishop” of our community and decide what everyone wore. So, the first female Bishop ever!

For me, I took a lot of liberties for the fabric choices, because in Amish communities, they use a lot of polyester, or things that are mixed with polyester, because you don’t have to iron them as much, it dries more quickly, but the look of polyester doesn’t look great on film. So, I did everything organic. The denim is 100% cotton, so it broke down a lot easier. And we wanted to make them very insular like they don’t go to town. They stay within their own community, so they wear the same clothes until they literally fall apart, which is very different from traditional Amish communities.

It was a great experience sort of diving into that culture. Before I had done an Indian movie, so I dove into that culture. I love that part of my job. You immerse yourself and learn so much about a specific community. It’s very much an education, learning about people who are different from yourself.

Half of my job is being a psychologist anyway [Laughs]. If I understand as much as I possibly can, I can better judge what this person will be wearing and why they choose to wear what they wear.

1428 ELM: Well, before we wrap things up, do you have any other projects coming up soon. Are you working on something currently that you can talk about?

WHITNEY: Yes! I’m at the very tail end of Chris Landon’s next movie. He’s writing and directing a movie for Netflix called We Have a Ghost. It’s a family adventure movie. We’re on day 62 of 65, so we’re almost there.

Next. Midnight Mass interview with Jonathan Wales. dark

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Paranormal Activity: Next of Kin is streaming on Paramount +.