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

‘From a House on Willow Street’ | Eagle Entertainment

TRW: I was gonna ask about that. Some of that makeup is really grotesque and realistic. When you’re acting opposite that kind of makeup, is it as stressful as it looks?

SV: It’s just hideous, to be honest. It’s just hideous. You can’t look at somebody normally when they’ve got black ink, gore, muck coming out of their mouths and dripping down their faces. And they’ve got oil all through their hair so it looks really wet and dirty, and the blood! It was more for this one, like the way that they had inserted pieces of glass into people’s faces. And the 3D prosthetics was just amazing. It took so long, the way they so intricately drew the veins, on top of those contact lenses that they had to wear. I’m so glad I wasn’t possessed and had to transform into a demon because these actors took hours, not only getting the makeup on but getting the makeup off. We were sitting in tents in the middle of the forest overnight in zero-degree freezing cold temperatures covered in blood. It was quite uncomfortable for everyone, so I appreciated that these guys were willing to sit through that. Like, naked, because they have to have makeup from head to toe, so you’re sitting there freezing for hours. You just don’t really think about what everyone’s going through behind the scenes to make this look as real as possible.

TRW: While everyone else was getting their makeup done, sitting there naked and freezing, were you just there with your coffee? Sitting there like, ‘Ha!’

SV: (laughs) Exactly! I was dressed in my Ugg boots and my massive jacket. You know, the on-set coat. It’s South Africa so they are prepared for the weather because it does get brutal. So we were in warming coats and I had hot coffee and hot chocolate on rotation.

TRW: So this was shot completely in South Africa?

SV: It was all shot in Johannesburg.

TRW: How was that experience? Had you been there before?

SV: I’d never been to Johannesburg. I did go to South Africa once before, last time was for Blue Crush 2 and that was a very different experience because it was on a beautiful beach in Davenport Edward right down the South. It was like the last time I was battling hyperthermia and great white sharks and the ocean, and this time it was lions and demons in the forest. And both times had freezing cold temperatures. But Johannesburg, I realised quite quickly that it’s a very, very dangerous place. Every single crew member that I spoke to on set had at least once in their life been held up at gunpoint or knifepoint. They were lucky enough to tell the story, but you shouldn’t have to tell that story. There’s a very usual rule in South Africa. Like coming home from set. It would be very late, because obviously horror movies are mostly overnight shoots, so you’re starting at 6pm and ending at 6am. And there’s this rule that you’re allowed to run red lights between the hours of midnight and 5am because it’s safer to do that than to actually stop, because that’s when you would be held up at gun point. There were certain laws that you see and you just go, ‘My god, this country is so different to Australia.’ The danger is real.

Even in the place that we were shooting, in the warehouse. It was the first time they had allowed a film crew to be in this specific warehouse in 50 years. The last crew that was in there, a crew member fell off the high rafters and died. So this place felt legitimately haunted. Going in there, being the first people in there for the first time in so long, it took them a week just to clean out the rubbish and the debris and the dust and the soot that was in there; it was so so dirty. In those scenes where I’m crawling through tunnels and vents, they are vents that hadn’t been emptied in 50 years. They were spider infested and just–. I swear there were ghosts in there for real! Definitely!

‘From a House on Willow Street’ | Eagle Entertainment

TRW: Funny you say that, I had a question here that you just answered: ‘That warehouse is pretty gloomy. Is it as unsettling in real life?’

SV: It was worse – the basement especially. In the scene where I’m in there and it catches on fire and it gets real smoky and I can’t get out. That basement was completely spider infested. And the problem with me and spiders is that I’ve been 100%, completely arachnophobic ever since an experience in Australia where I woke up with a huntsman on my face. I’ve never been the same since. So it was very easy to act terrified. As horrible as what you kind of put yourself through, it was a very method acting way of getting terror across: put yourself in a spider-infested basement when you’re arachnophobic and set it on fire! (laughs)

TRW: Do you think your director took that into consideration? Like, “You know what, I’m going to get a place where someone has died and is covered in spiders–“

SV: This place was completely perfect for the setting. It was so ugly and old and abandoned, and it looked like it was in the middle of nowhere. They didn’t have to do anything to it! They didn’t have to dress the set at all. So in that respect it saves a ton of money, you don’t have to bring in all these props, it’s all just there. Just bring in a couple of lights because it’s dark anyway, and just shoot the damn thing!

Interview continues on Page 3…