You're Next finally rolls out into UK cinemas this week, after stopping off at FrightFest this past weekend, and it's something of a real treat for all movie fans. The amazing lead, Sharni Vinson, who has recently signed on for a Female Expendables film, kicks serious arse in the film, and takes names, and sitting down with her, the first thing of note was that a Wolf Mask from You're Next was just lying on the table, staring at us. (Fun fact, the interview is as enjoyable in audio form as it is in text, so if you fancy a listen, click here)
Have you been wearing this mask?
All around London, it's terrifying. People aren't really sure what it is yet so it's good. We're still being inconspicuous. The kids respond well to it actually, which is unusual. We had a couple of parents come up to me yesterday on behalf of their children going "Where can I get my child one of those" and I'm thinking 'Oh, I don't know if you want to'. But they'll be for sale on Halloween I'm sure.
You are horribly violent in this film, how do you feel about massacring people?
Ain't that great? I think it's great, I mean it's about time that a female stood up and believably fought back. I think we're used to seeing a lot of females overly sexualised in these roles and unnecessarily showing a lot of skin or lasting to the end when they don't necessarily deserve to, so I think it's really nice to actually get behind a character like this and feel by the end, as an audience, justified that the journey was, for some reason, worth it.
And brandishing weapons. How much fun is that?
So fun. I never had more fun in my life than learning how to twirl a knife, but I don't think I've ever freaked out any set more than walking around the set with a real knife, just practicing. Because people were just getting out of my way fast, "Don't trust her with that knife, she's just learning how to use it". I wouldn't actually either, and there was a fire-poker on set that I was totally getting into with my baton twirling skills, but then when I dropped it, it wasn't just that I dropped it, it would go flying, "Heads! Sorry."
So did anyone die on set?
Nobody died on set, that was good, that was really good. Oh no, we had a lot of wasps die on set. We were invaded. Within the home invasion movie, there was an invasion of wasps at the time that we were shooting the movie, so at one point we all were the crazy killers, walking around with bug spray and these swat things. All the wasps were next.
Did you wear masks as well for that?
We should have been, and then shot that as a sequel.
How did you get involved with the film?
It was different, kind of a bit of a different way to come into this one than previous experiences. A good friend of mine, Casey Adams, is a stuntman in LA and he was friends with the producers, through the process of the trial and errors of casting this film and specifically this role, they were very specific with what they were looking for, and they were tiring of seeing girls continually coming in to a room and, in their words, 'posing tough'. Not necessarily believably being that girl. What they were trying to find, then, was more of the physicality of the role. They approached my friend Casey and asked him if he knew any stuntwomen that could act, because they wanted that physicality first and foremost to get that believability of the fact that she did grow up on a Survivalist compound and things like that. He recommended me, not that I'm a stuntwoman, but I've always wanted to be, and I'm willing to throw myself off a building and I'll do anything. He basically said "I don't know any stuntwomen that are legitimate actors but I have an actress friend that literally will do anything you ask of her when it comes to all that stuff" so that's how my name got brought up.
Then I came in the room and fortunately they had seen Step Up 3D so they were a little more aware of the exact physicality that I brought to that role, and the way that dancing now coincides with a lot of the action realm. Martial arts, if you can kick your leg up here, then you're going to believably look better when you try to do a martial arts spin. It's just a great crossover that worked in my advantage.
Were you always meant to be Australian in the film?
No, the character was written as American. I rehearsed and tried to perfect my American accent going into the room, and I was so set that that's what they wanted. Once I got in there they were like "Just be Australian". Oh no, I forgot how to do that because I practiced it another way. It was the worst audition of my life because I think I spoke in some kind of half-arsed South African in the middle of somewhere accent, that I didn't know if it was an accent at the time, and I completely threw myself. I didn't know AJ Bowen was going to be in the room at the audition, and he was, so it was a virtual chemistry read, that threw me because I just watched A Horrible Way To Die the night before and I was like "This guy's psycho". All these things are going through my head in the audition, and they loved the Australian thing so that's what they wanted. We just tweaked the script to write it in so that she was from Australia.
How was working on the set with AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg and Ti West, any backseat directing going on?
You'd think so. I think the thing that was so cool is that because half of the actors are directors as well, it gave our cast a much broader knowledge of how to shoot a horror movie. Because these are specifically horror directors as well,and they know what works and why and what doesn't and why, and they all have such individual great personalities that they just brought forward into these roles. Nobody was trying to step on Adam [Wingard, director]'s toes, that's for sure. Everybody knows, they've worked with Adam, very close-knit family there, and everybody has ultimate respect for one another, in the sense of nobody trod on his toes. He's the director, we all would give him our individual input to the extreme of what we wanted to bring out in our characters, it was very much a collaborative effort for this film, and I think that's why it works.
How long did it take to get there, was there a lot of rehearsing as a family or were you dropped in?
I did a few days in the martial arts studio with the stunt co-ordinator, just to get the agility of the character and more of the reaction time of how fast she is to get out of the way and respond to noises and movements, so I was trying to get my head into the mentality of a character that had grown up on a Survivalist compound and what that meant for her brain more-so than her physical. I felt that the physical was there, but it was all up here, how do I mentally prepare myself for this role. So I gave her a sixth sense in a way, she can hear noises as they're happening if not just before. She's the first to respond and immediately so.
Where she's trying to be normal in the family situation and then this kicks in?
Exactly. I wanted to give her a normality so the audience could like her, first of all, which is unusual, to actually like the characters that you're watching, I think. We all tried to give our characters a likability, a relatability, a normality so the audience could go 'this is a normal, dysfunctional family that we've all seen before' but this takes it to the extreme a little on how dysfunctional they really are, and then that works in the playoff of when all the action and drama starts unfolding, that we still have that family jargon going on. Between the brothers, "I'm not fat anymore" and "I am fat" "You can't run, I'm the fastest runner". This is real stuff that just so happens to be going on in this out-there environment and circumstance. Things like that, I think, play off so well to the crowd.
And how have people been responding? A lot of applause and laughter in the film?
I think that's been the most rewarding part of the movie. The movie was specifically made for the Midnight Madness crowd at Toronto, and that's where we then premiered, and that was, to date, one of my most memorable screenings because it was the first screening and we had the entire audience in the masks, which was really scary in itself. To look out at an audience and they were all in the masks was just bizarre. But there's nothing more rewarding than seeing the audience you've made the movie for react the way you hoped, and the movie plays just as well today, two years later, as it did in Toronto in 2011. In that sense, I've watched it play and play and play and if it's possible the reactions only get bigger and better. I feel like we've almost proven ourselves, without coming out yet, as a classic horror film because it plays just as well now as it did two years ago, so that's a really good thing for us I think.
What have you been doing in the last two years?
I know. Waiting. Just, doing this [Puts on the mask] I've just been walking around like this, scaring people.
Is that how you get roles now?
I just walk into all my auditions with this on and I say "This is my new persona, take it or leave it".
You're Next is out in cinemas across the UK on Wednesday 28th August, and it is a must-see.