“When I was young, I was obsessed with horror movies,” says Sharni Vinson, star of last year’s home-invasion hit You’re Next. “I loved and adored them. To be making horror movies today is a dream come true. I’m fascinated by the whole process, from the script to the special effects, the whole process.”
The 30-year-old Australia native is currently promoting her latest film, a remake of the Down Under cult-classic Patrick, retitled Patrick: Evil Awakens. The original is years older than Vinson, but she embraced the idea of making a bigger, better version of this story about a comatose patient with malicious telekinetic powers.
“Patrick was Antony Ginnane’s baby,” says Vinson. “He was a producer on the original and wanted to do it again. The rest of the cast were great to work with. Rachel Griffiths and Charles Dance — it was an honour and joy to come onto the set. I learned so much from them. They are the best.”
Asked about the chilling intensity of Charles Dance’s mad scientist character, Vinson laughs.
“He’s not intense at all, really,” she says. “He’s charming and funny. He walks into the room and he’s friendly and amazing. He has a presence like royalty; he demands attention and he’s so good in these intense roles. But there’s no nastiness in him. He’s loveable.”
Describing herself as a big animal person, the greatest disadvantage to living in Los Angeles is not having her dog or the rest of her family close by.
“I grew up on the beach and our house was always open to friends and family. A few years ago I was quite settled in a job I had back home. I had a three-year contract for the TV series I did in Australia, Home and Away,” says Vinson. “In L.A., things are much less secure. It’s an up-in-the-air industry, one project to the next.”
Vinson’s most recent movie was Bait, the latest in a long line of shark-focused horror movies. In this particular fishy scenario, a seaside supermarket is flooded by a freak tsunami. After the inside of the store has been ripped apart, the survivors must fight for survival not only with the wreckage and rising floodwaters, but the occasional man-eating great white shark swimming up the breakfast cereal aisle.
“Bait is a fun film, light and entertaining. When we were making it, I was freezing during a lot of the scenes,” says Vinson. “The water was nice and warm — 26–27 degrees Fahrenheit in the tank. The problem was I couldn’t stay submerged. I’d just dunk myself, then sit on a shelf soaking wet.
“Here’s a funny thing about that movie. Eight months after we finished filming it, I had to fly to China for an additional two weeks of footage. It was just me. I had a little storyline that was strictly for the Asian market. And the movie became a No. 1 hit in China! It’s maybe the most successful thing I’ve ever done.”
Vinson’s role as the take-charge heroine Erin in the recent You’re Next was singled out by critics and fans last year. She joins a small pantheon of female tough guys, such as Sigourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton.
“There hasn’t been that many horror movies putting a woman in the protagonist role,” she says. “Luckily for me, I have been getting some really great roles dropped in my lap. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but it’s been great.
“My character of Erin in You’re Next is mentally tough — as well as physically. She just refuses to be the victim. She was not going to lie down and die. She had that mentality. That’s a lesson for life, too, and the one lesson I hope people can take from the movie.”
Vinson believes the team responsible for You’re Next is the reason for that film’s success.
“The director, producers, cameraman — there was an incredible cross-over of talent,” she says. “This group had a deeper understanding of the horror genre specifically, a deeper level of awareness of how to make a horror movie.”
Another project in the near future will probably be for director Daniel Lee.
“I’m waiting to hear back, but I think I’m going to be in China again mid-year,” she says. “I’m very excited to work on this project. Daniel makes very aesthetically pleasing movies, big martial arts movies. He’s a very well-respected director.”
The quality of her own work is evident and growing, but the question must be asked: will horror lose its newest female star to big-budget, mainstream flicks?
“I would never abandon the horror genre,” says Vinson. “I’ve loved these movies since I was five. I don’t think horror movies get the respect they deserve. We just had the Oscars come and go. Once again, it’s as if horror movies don’t count. I think that’s a shame.”
Having tasted the dangerous fruit of the remake tree, are there any roles in the horror realm Sharni would like to tackle?
“The original Resident Evil was pretty cool,” she says. “That would be fun.”
And just now Vinson says she’s having something of a career lull.
“It’s been a bit quiet lately,” she says. “I’m ready to work. Let’s put that out there and see what happens.”/JE