16-year old Kristen Stewart admits to being quite critical about the movies she is in. Yet the young actress – who made a strong impact back in 2002′s Panic Room – admits to be surprisingly happy with her latest film, The Messengers. “Every movie that I’ve ever done always looks fake in some way and this one just looks real. They did such a good job and the pacing of it is so eerie.”
The horror film, directed by the Asian horror masters, the Pang brothers, revolves around parents Roy (Dylan McDermott) and Denise (Penelope Ann Miller) who have packed up their family and moved to a spooky old house in the middle of nowhere. They think this might be the best way to reform their “troubled” teenage daughter, Jess (Stewart) and bring the family closer together. While her dad and his new hired hand, John (John Corbett), plant sunflowers getting ready for the summer harvest that could make or break them financially, Jess and her little brother Ben start seeing ghosts.
When acting in a horror movie such as this, Stewart says she is spontaneous, rather than intent on heavy preparation. “You can’t be a method actor in a movie like this, because everything is circumstantial that happens to this girl.”
Initially reticent about taking on The Messengers, Stewart says she succumbed simply because she loves the genre. “I always have loved horror movies and I really love that Asian influence over here right now. There have been a few movies and this is the Pangs’ first American release. I thought that was really exciting which was the main reason I wanted to do it, but I would do more horror movies. You don’t do stuff like this just because it’s good for your career, but because it’s fun.”
Another key, and creepy, element to the film is a flock of dark and foreboding crows that terrorise the family. “They become this permanent fixture,” she says. “At first I (Jess) see them as part of life on a sunflower farm, always flying around until I realize they always seem to be there when situations turn creepy. When my character first comes into the house, she’s checking it out and a black thing kind of flashes by the window. They’re very mysterious, very ominous and are always messing with my (character’s) head.”
Having seen the final film, Kristen is excited by how the Pang brothers have brought their unique horror style to a contemporary thriller set in middle America. “The film is rugged. It’s dirty. It is dark and sharp-looking. There are no soft edges. It is like everything on the farm — hard, like the scythes and the sickles and the old dead tractor.”
As successful young Kristen may be in front of the cameras, she also focusing on her studies “and ready to begin production on her next film, The Yellow Handkerchief. “It’s really sensitive, it really reaches out and it’s really desperate, I’m really excited about it.”
While enjoying acting, Stewart’s real passion is writing. “I really want to be a writer,” she says. When we last met on the set of The Messengers it was poetry, “but that was a phase, now I just want to write a novel.” But movies are in her blood, so her writing, she says, “may one day include a screenplay.” In the meantime, she says she hopes good roles for young actresses her own age remain challenging and provocative.
The Messengers is released in cinemas on 6 April