Vergennes’ Kyra Bradford plays the victim in a new indie thriller
VERGENNES — There is nothing nice about “Garrow” — an independent thriller/noir-style feature film based on the true events of Robert Garrow’s life. Nope, nothing at all. And there’s nothing nice about the role Vergennes actor Kyra Bradford plays either.
Fair warning: “Kyra doesn’t make it out of the movie alive,” said her mom, Sasha Bradford; who likes to set clear expectations for anyone interested in coming to the Vermont premiere at the Middlebury Marquis Theater on March 6.
This film centers around the three days of testimony on Garrow (an American spree killer who was active in New York in the early 1970s) as he admits to the murders of Alicia Hauck, Daniel Porter, Philip Domblewski and Susan Petz. As the trial proceeds the film flashes back to re-create the crime scenes.
“I play Alicia Hauck,” Kyra Bradford explained in a recent interview. “She’s one of Garrow’s victims… he drags me through a cemetery, throws me up against a tree and stabs me to death.”
Told ya — this definitely isn’t a Disney-princess role.
But Bradford doesn’t mind, and neither does her mom.
“She’s a very strong girl,” Sasha said, who raised her 13-year-old daughter along with her three older sons (now ages 19-26). “They never took it easy on her… but she would instigate.”
“Oh, yeah,” Kyra chimed in. “All the time.”
“Kyra’s also been wrestling since kindergarten, was the captain and quarterback of the seventh-grade Mount Abe/Vergennes football team and has 155 points in basketball so far this year,” boasted one proud Mama. “It’s all about her and supporting her in what she wants to do.”
So when Kyra decided she wanted to be in the movies, Sasha (a.k.a. Kyra’s agent) said “OK, let’s make this happen… We’ll do whatever it takes.”
Kyra’s first role was in an independent short film “The Darkest Risk” (2017) — she didn’t make it out of that film alive either. “Garrow” is her second film.
“Kyra came to audition for me when she was 10 years old,” said Lori Kelly-Bailey, writer and director of “Garrow.” “I was casting for a young boy in a baseball scene. She boldly stood before the camera and said quite frankly that she didn’t see why a girl couldn’t play the part. Well, who could argue with that? So, she became part of the ‘Garrow’ movie cast and has been with us ever since. As she grew both physically and as a fine actress, I cast her in the role of one of Garrow’s victims. Her scene recreates the rape and murder of Alicia Hauck.”
That baseball scene didn’t make it into the final edit of the film, but the murder scene did.
“We shot that scene in 2018,” said Kyra, who — strange as it may be — laughed when she was thinking back on it. “Jay tripped over a headstone when he was dragging me. It was hilarious.”
That’s Jay Alan Christianson (pictured, right, with Kyra), who plays Robert Garrow. Other Equity actors Philip Casnoff, Mark Valley, Terri Garber and Richard Waddingham also star in the film.
But in all seriousness, this role is not funny. Not in the least.
“This is someone’s child that was murdered,” Sasha reflected, adding that Alicia’s family still lives in the area where she was killed.
“My mom still can’t watch my scenes,” Kyra jabbed.
“It’s her screams that get me,” replied her mom.
Alicia’s death is “a very difficult scene even for a seasoned adult actor,” Bailey said. “Kyra nailed it!”
The film debuted on Dec. 1, 2018, at the Johnstown Movieplex in Johnstown, N.Y., and surprised everyone.
“Usually when a micro-budget indie film is completed and makes it to screen, you expect a handful of friends and relatives to come watch and then it’s over,” Bailey said. “Instead this film fully packs out every theater every time, and then gets held over for additional screenings. I can not explain how or why.”
Maybe it has something to do with how many people have connections to Garrow or to his case, including Bailey.
“I have no personal connection to Robert, but I have become good friends with his niece Christine Mandy,” said the 60-something-year-old Mineville, N.Y., native. “My family lived on Joyce Road just below where Robert Garrow’s family lived. My dad and Robert went to school together. Years later they worked together for a short time in the mines.”
Bailey for years toyed with the idea of taking Robert Garrow’s story to the screen, but she didn’t want to “just make another ‘Dateline / Documentary style’ movie.” So she began by seeking out folks who lived and worked around Garrow and his family. She spoke with her dad about his assessment of Garrow as a child, interviewed a victim that survived an attack by Garrow, then went to Hamilton County in the Adirondack Park and retrieved all the court documents (thousands of pages) and crime scene photos.
“It was at that point that I felt that I should center the movie around the three days of Robert on the stand graphically admitting to his crimes,” she explained. “Then I recreated those scenes as he remembered them.”
“I never thought this film would get this big,” said Kyra. “To be honest, I thought it was going to be over after that baseball scene.”
“It’s huge,” echoed Sasha. “This film is blowing up.”
But the fame isn’t going to Kyra’s head.
“I try to stay cool,” said the eighth-grader at Vergennes Union Middle School. “I work hard for what I want… And I hope that just because I’m in a movie it won’t change how people treat me.”
Where will Kyra and her mom go from here? Who knows, maybe a nice Disney role.
“Sure,” Kyra smiled. “I’d be up for that.”’
“Garrow” will be shown at the Marquis Theater in Middlebury three times next Wednesday, March 6: 1, 4 and 7 p.m.
Watch the trailer:
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