The film is the story of Katherine, a diamond heiress, who is kidnapped by four desperate people who are in need of a quick buck to buy them freedom.
When the time comes and they don’t get a response for their ransom demands they realise then that something is terribly wrong; which leads them to the discovery that their hostage is demented.
The film is a vision of a nightmare.
Up-and-coming Canadian actress, Carlynn Burchell - who plays one of the two leads - said she was excited by the prospect of playing a horror role.
“I actually really like working in horror as an actor. And I just realised that it’s a very different experience. There are so many people around you. There’s artificial lights on you and you’re stopping and restarting, it doesn’t really feel scary.
“The exciting thing about playing horror as an actor is that you go through many different emotions. You go from 0 to 100 in seconds,” she said.
Burchell added that in horror films there was extensive opportunity to grow as an actor - they were given the space to play around in bringing their roles to life. She added that she enjoyed playing characters who were odd; those who came from the underworld.
“Those are the characters you often find in horror movies. So there is a possibility that you’ll end up being typecast in the sub-genres of horror,” she explained.
This is a risk she’s more than willing to take.
The decision to cast two female leads was, according to director Alastair Orr, a deliberate one.
And the actresses, unlike the rest of the cast who are South African, are American and Canadian.
This will allow the film to broaden its international appeal.
Orr explained that he wanted duelling female characters at the centre of the movie.
“I wanted women that didn’t need men to save them. I also wanted them to make their own decisions and be responsible for their outcome, and then be the ones that try and x things.”
Finding the right balance between roguish kidnapper and sympathetic heroine wasn’t an easy task, however. Orr, being a big fan of You’re Next, sent the script to Sharni Vinson, who signed on for the opportunity to shoot in South Africa.
She had been to South Africa two years ago to shoot Blue Crush.
Orr’s agents in Los Angeles recommended Burchell for Katherine, who loved the mysterious layers of the role.
“She’s hiding a lot of things, a lot of secrets and a lot of pain. Throughout the movie, these things get uncovered,” says Burchell.
The film was shot in four different locations in South Africa, some of which are very historical, but also have their own haunted stories.
Burchell said her favourite part of shooting in South Africa was the country’s beauty. This allowed her the chance to explore the country.
“My favourite thing that I got to do was to go on a safari. That was incredible. South Africa is vast and bigger than Canada. It was incredible. I was in the country towards the end of June. The landscape was nothing like what we have in Canada, it was beautiful,” she said.
The film worked with a small budget, which forced them to think creatively.
Orr goes on to say: “I can stretch a budget, but I need to be trusted. What drew me to Zino (Ventura, the film producer) is that he let me run with things the way I wanted to.
“When you’re making a low-budget lm there’s only room for one vision, and people have to be aligned.
“You’ve got to nd people that are going to back you all the way and see the vision through. This is where Fat Cigar (Ventura’s Company) stood out for me when I was looking to make my next lm,” he said.
For Burchell, the appeal of watching the film is in enjoying the ride.
“Just have fun. If you’re a fan of the horror genre, go for the ride. You’ll blink and it’ll be over. We had our North American premiere in Toronto. My parents came, and they really enjoyed it. The make-up is incredible, where we shot, unbelievable, so it’s really interesting to watch. It’s a fun ride,” Burchell said.
From A House on Willow Street opens nationwide today.