‘Insidious’ actress provides Cutlass with an inside scoop of new movie

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Used with permission by Focus Features

Stefanie Scott stars in the third chapter of the Insidious franchise which opens June 5, 2015.

Tess O'Brien, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Released in 2010, the terrifying blockbuster, “Insidious,” has garnered a widespread fan-base since its premiere. While earning mixed reviews from critics, the general population looked at the movie favorably. Thus, a sequel, titled “Insidious: Chapter 2,” premiered in 2013, and is soon to be followed by a prequel, “Insidious: Chapter 3,” which is set to be released on June 5, 2015.

The horror franchise centers around the Lamberts, a typical family, struggling to save their comatose son, Dalton, from malevolent spirits that wish to possess him. Due to his talent of astral-projection, the ability to detach the soul from the physical body, Dalton becomes lost in The Further, a realm for the dead, leaving his body vulnerable and open for possession.

To save their son, the Lamberts contact a paranormal investigator and family friend, Elise Rainier (Lin Shaye), in hopes that she will be able to help him find his way back. While the first two movies focus on the Lamberts and their struggles, the third is set to explain Elise’s backstory and motives.

Focusing on an entirely new case, “Insidious: Chapter 3” will show how Elise uses her supernatural talents to save a teenage girl from a dangerous entity that is targeting her. The girl, named Quinn, is played by Stefanie Scott, and will be the primary focus of the movie apart from Elise.

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On May 15, Scott participated in a conference call open to high schools of Illinois to talk about her new movie. Scott, who is best known for her role on Disney Channel’s “A.N.T. Farm,” shared her views on the movie with myself and several other high school journalists. Here are some of the highlights of the interview- some sentences are paraphrased for the sake of comprehension:

Q: I noticed from online that this seems to be one of your first horror movies. How are you able to transition from family and Disney to the horror genre? What did you do to prepare for the genre?

A: Yes. God, it was so fun. I’m really into any horror/thriller film. It’s definitely my kind of movie. And I love dark, creepy things, so I was just really excited to be a part of it. I was a big fan of the first two films. So, to prepare for it, the director, Leigh Whannell, went out and actually had me go see a psychic for the film, which is what my character does in the movie, which was a really intense experience. And yes, he predicted my future and people that I’d meet and so far everything that he said would happen has come true, which is kind of crazy.

Q: You listened to a lot of music to get into character as Quinn, including some vinyl from Leigh. So what was your favorite song from that playlist he made you? And are there any tracks that will stay on your phone after the role is done?

A: Oh my gosh, yes. He gave me so much to listen to. I think that’s what’s so beautiful about it and it’s that music is such a big part of our lives and the emotions that it brings onto you when you listen to it. So, a lot of the music he would give me would be to connect with my mother in the movie or like, before an emotional scene, something that kind of brought up emotions. I really liked Elliott Smith and The Pixies and Joni Mitchell… I don’t really have like one favorite. I’d probably say “Funky Gone to Heaven.” It’s probably one of my favorite songs anyway, it’s really fun… But I have to say, I think that my least favorite music was the death metal he made me listen to before the possession. It was horrifying. He locked me- he literally locked me in a dark room and listened to Swedish death metal.

Q: So, it’s kind of common with horror movies that the third installment, if movies do make it to a trilogy, kind of falls flat to the original movie. What do you think the director and maybe the casting crew has done to prevent that from happening?

A: I mean, in all honesty, in my opinion, it’s the most terrifying out of all three of them. I think because, you know, Leigh Whannell, he wrote the first two films and he was in them, but this is the first time he’s directing it himself so it’s really purely his voice… And so, I think, it’s definitely fresh. It’s the origin story, so it tells it from the beginning and it really does set up the other two movies. But what’s so great about it is that it’s definitely different and I think it’s the darkest out of all of them. I think what I love about this movie in particular is that the relationship it has to loss is different because it’s very real and grounded prior to all of the hauntings and possessions.

Q: I know in the previous films we saw how [Elise] lost her husband and so she kind of went down a negative path, but I know that your character, Quinn, lost her mother also. So, how do you think you all connected in the movie? What do you think the audience will see between you two and will learn from your relationship?

A: Yes, I mean, right when the movie opens, I feel like we were meant to meet. They have- they both need each other. Quinn needs Elise in order to have closure with her mother and Elise really needs Quinn to get back into the spiritual psychic world and to do what she was put on this earth to do. So there is a really beautiful connection there and really quite the unlikely team but also, I love how we’re both fragile people. Quinn is young and naive and yet she’s got so much hurt. But I don’t think that’s like the average pair you’d see leading a movie and being able to be brave enough to fight back. So I think that’s what’s really cool about Quinn and Elise and them being together.

I find so much interest in the afterlife and I think what’s so interesting about it is that none of us know. I mean, we’ll never know and that’s the cool mystery about it.”

— Stefanie Scott

Q: So, since the “Insidious” movies are so terrifying, did the process of filming ever scare you? Or did you ever get scared while working on a horror movie set?

A: Overall, it was probably one of the best summers of my life. I had so much fun shooting the movie, so it was never too scary to the point where when I went home I didn’t want to go back the next day. But it was overall a very creepy feeling on set because it’s kept very cold and dark and foggy. Leigh loved to actually scare me with air horns and stuff or hide the demon somewhere in the set without me knowing and have him pop out at different times, so it was a little scary in that way.

Q: How does this chapter of “Insidious” compare to the other movies?

A: I personally think it’s the scariest set of all three. It’s definitely the darkest. I love how it really does set up the other two movies but it makes complete sense if you haven’t seen the first and the second. It still has the same feel of The Further except I find it a little bit more gritty. Overall, it’s really chilling.

Q: What was it like for you to work with actors like Lin Shaye and Dermot Mulroney, more veteran actors who have been acting for decades?

A: Oh my gosh, it was amazing. I love Lin Shaye, I really felt like she was kind of like a mentor in the beginning of the movie because I had never done a horror film before and she has. She was such a huge part of the last two films, so I mean it was amazing to team up with her and work with her throughout the whole process and even just be on set hanging out and hearing her stories. It was really magical. And Dermot was wonderful. He’s done a billion movies, so I feel like I really learned a lot from him just by being around him. He was really wonderful to work with and they’re both so professional.

Q: How do you think you would react to your character’s situation if it was you in real life? Do you believe in the possibility of an afterlife?

A: Yes, I have no idea how I’d react to this situation. I mean, Quinn is so brave to fight through it and to keep going. I can only hope that I’d be as brave as she is and try to figure it out. I think that’s what’s so scary about it, is that it latches itself onto you and you literally can’t move to get away from it. I think I’d be terrified. But, I find so much interest in the afterlife and I think what’s so interesting about it is that none of us know. I mean, we’ll never know and that’s the cool mystery about it.

Q: Recently, there’s been a lot of cultural buzz surrounding actresses like Miley Cyrus and other child Disney stars who break into more serious acting. Do you feel like this was your breakaway from Disney into more serious acting? And do you feel like you’re going to return to family films afterwards?

A: I really don’t think it has anything to do with breaking away. I think it just has to do with growing up. That was basically my time in high school, and I’ve graduated and moved on to doing work that I really love and I’m really passionate about. I love telling real stories about real people that people can relate to and make them feel. So, I think it has more to do with it than just choosing projects based on family. I think it has to do with just reading a script and if I want to tell that story of if I’d be the right person to tell that story.

I love telling real stories about real people that people can relate to and make them feel.”

— Stefanie Scott

Q: How does “Insidious” stand out between films in the horror aspect?

A: I think what really stands out about it is it’s a relatable story. It’s not like the classic cliche film about moving into a new home… the entity latches itself and literally sucks the life out of them and there’s nothing you can do to get away from it. You can’t even die to get away from it because then you’d be in The Further, so I think that’s what kind of separates it is also the fact that it’s not gory, it’s more psychological and it’s something that stays with you. You start to ask yourself a lot of questions about what could be on the other side and what could be real.
If you’re interested in Scott’s commentary, you can see the movie yourself, as “Insidious: Chapter 3” premieres on June 5. Happy haunting!