Interview: Actress Sharni Vinson Talks ‘From a House on Willow Street’

Sharni Vinson in ‘From a House on Willow Street’ | Eagle Entertainment

Aussie actress Sharni Vinson has been making her mark on the horror genre over the last few years.

The Home and Away alum jumped to US screens with appearances in CSI: NY and NCIS and followed them up with her big-screen debut, Step Up 3D. Since then, Vinson has been enjoying quite the horror run, starring in the much-loved You’re Next, the ‘sharks in a supermarket’ horror film Bait, and the 2013 remake of the ’78 horror film Patrick.

It hasn’t all been horror though, the actress has also scored roles in the sequel Blue Crush 2 and the Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrien Brody-starring Chinese-Hong Kong epic Dragon Blade. Vinson is heading back to the small screen as a speedster superhero (as she explains in the interview below), but before that, we’ll see Vinson in the upcoming horror film From a House on Willow Street.

Filmed entirely in Johannesburg, South Africa, From a House on Willow Street tells of what goes down when a young woman is kidnapped for ransom. The tables soon start turning when the captors find that this young woman may be harbouring a very dark secret.

We had a chat to Vinson and discussed From a House on Willow Street, the South Africa shoot, being scared on set, the horror genre and what she looks for in a role, among other things.

In Australia, Eagle Entertainment will be releasing the film on DVD, Blu-ray & Digital in May 2017. In the US, From a House on Willow Street opens in select cinemas and digital platforms on March 23, 2017.

‘From a House on Willow Street’ | Eagle Entertainment

TRW: What attracted you to From A House On Willow Street?

SV: Usually with the films I pick I look at the roles first, then the overall script of course, but I delve more into the role and think of what I could bring to a character. Or if I believed I could tackle it, could it be done well. I’m very drawn to action-esque roles. I grew up super physical and I get very bored on set, so I like to constantly be doing something. I find that in taking on your more heavy-duty, physical roles, that you get to work very closely with the stunt team, who are always my most exciting people. Specifically with Willow Street there were definitely things that drew me to the role. For instance, the on-set weapons handler was an ex-army ranger, so he was the one that was there 24/7 with the weapons. He taught me how to fire a rifle and I couldn’t have learnt from a better instructor. So there were things like that that I loved.

In elements of horror, the paranormal has always intrigued me. I like the fact that in this particular script that you have a situation where it’s like a kidnapping-ransom gone horribly wrong and the tables are turned on the kidnappers they almost become like the kidnappees. They have to escape the same girl they just took hostage. I like when things sort of flip and you can take a simple storyline like a home-invasion thriller and turn it into something that is a little bit different. So I look for elements like that, but mostly it’s the role that I like and I thought Hazel was pretty interesting. There’s a backstory, these roles don’t always necessarily start out or end tough, but there’s a journey in between. And with her there was a cool backstory with her parents and I thought there was enough emotion in it that it wasn’t just a one-level paranormal horror movie for this character.

TRW: That’s true. Hazel starts off as a type of tough badass, but around the quarter or half way mark, when we start finding out more about her, she becomes more layered and has to become tough in a completely different way towards the end.

SV: Absolutely, I’m always looking for an arc and something that, you know, as an actor makes sense that I can tackle within that role, and I love the backstory that brought the emotion to it. It always makes sense to me when in a horror movie people are doing something for an actual reason as opposed to just doing it. So I thought the backstory was solid and that it all makes sense; if the house is haunted, and the people who are in there are already grieving and are vulnerable, these are the types of people that evil spirits can easily latch onto and make your greatest fears come to life. That’s what was happening with each character through the movie. I appreciated that every character had a journey in that sense.

‘From a House on Willow Street’ | Eagle Entertainment

TRW: As someone who loves horror I get pretty nitpicky when plots are made around purely coincidental points. For a while there, I was like, ‘These robbers just coincidentally picked the wrong house?’ But there is more of an explanation, which I appreciated as a horror fan.

SV: Yeah, exactly. I grew up loving horror movies and I’m a horror fan myself, so when I look at these scripts or whatever roles I like to think from the audience’s point of view. Like, would I enjoy watching this, is this a smart move or is this the right decision? You never call the audience stupid, you know. Horror movie audiences are actually some of the smartest there are. They know what is coming before it’s happened.

TRW: Yeah, they’re pretty ruthless as well.

SV: They are ruthless, so you have to constantly attach the element of surprise and think outside the box with certain things. I think that we tried to do that and it was fun. All in all it was very fun. The special effects, the makeup, the team on set. They literally spent six hours transforming a single actor from a human to a full-fledged demon. By the end they were terrifying looking.

Interview continues on Page 2…