There's a scene in "The Possession," a new horror film out this week, where a car is unexpectedly, completely out of the blue, t-boned at an intersection. This has become a favorite technique for directors looking to add some shock value to their films over the years -- but the first time I can remember t-boning being used to great effect was, of all things, the 1992 Cameron Crowe film "Singles." And, yes, both "The Possession" and "Singles" -- which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year -- star Kyra Sedgwick.
In "The Possession" -- loosely based on reported events surrounding a Dybbuk box (a box where evil demons are stored, according to Jewish folklore) -- Sedgwick plays Stephanie Brenek, a divorced mother whose daughter, Em (Natasha Calis), starts to exhibit strange behavior after Em and her father (jeffery Dean Morgan) purchase a Dybbuk box at a garage sale. Here, the Emmy winner discusses why starring in a horror movie appealed to her -- and reveals her favorite horror films -- and looks back at the legacy of "Singles" 20 years later.
I've spent the last hour reading through the alleged real-life accounts of the Dybbuk box. After, I had to adjust my blinds so I'd get more light into my apartment.
Yeah, yeah. It is creepy. It's creepier when it's based on a true story, isn't it?
It is. I don't know what's true and what's not, but I do know that I don't want to own a Dybbuk box.
Why did you decide to do a horror movie? Was this something you've wanted to do?
I've always loved horror movies. Some of my most vivid memories are "The Exorcist" and "The Omen" and "Poltergeist" and "The Shining." And those are really strong, brilliant films. And I always thought it would be so great. You know, my job as an actress is to make people feel things and the idea of making people feel really scared is exciting. You know, I love that idea. And while this movie definitely does not reinvent the genre in any way, I felt like it was a good solid story. And I felt like if everyone was really committed and a bunch of good actors are involved, then I would jump on board. I saw Natasha's screen test and I thought she was amazing. And I knew without a strong actor in that role, you really don't have anything. And Jeffrey Dean Morgan, aside from being one of the nicest guys you've ever met, is just a really fine actor. I want to do all sorts of movies, so this is just another notch in my belt.
It's interesting because a movie like "Poltergeist" didn't have a lot of things jumping out from behind a corner. It was more psychological. This film seems to play on those type of themes.
Yeah. I love the fact that there are not a lot of special effects and CGI. And a lot of it is psychological and it's harder to earn that. And I think it's also kind of a great metaphor for the splitting up -- the tearing apart of a family. Once a family is split apart, people are more vulnerable for bad things to happen to them. And I think we have a little bit of that in there. And I think this movie could almost stand on its own without the horror aspect of it. You know, these people are going through a really, really difficult time. And they are clear characters that are well drawn and well acted.
When you're filming a movie like this, are there scenes that are frightening to film? Or, on set, are you just too close to what's going on?
Well, I think that you feel a little creeped out. You're definitely calling upon any scary moment that you've ever had. When I was doing the kitchen scene [in which Sedgwick's character is confronted by her possessed daughter], you have to bring yourself into that high level of anxiety and fear. That's real. You can act it, sure. Technically. But it's much better if you can go there.
True story: When I first moved to New York eight years ago, you were the first notable person that walked by me on the street. Which was one of those "Welcome to New York" moments.
Oh! I'm glad.
Did you have that when you moved here?
Just the other day I was walking on the East Side and I saw Woody Allen. And I still think -- and I know he lives in New York -- but there's just something cool about seeing Woody Allen.
"Singles" is an influential movie, even though not many people saw it when it came out. Twenty years later, what's your opinion of its legacy.
That movie is timeless. I mean, I have 20 year olds come up to me now and say, "Oh my God, that's my life." You know, without cell phones and computers, which make it different. But there's just something really provocative about being in your 20s, trying to figure it out, trying to have relationships, getting involved with not the right person -- you know, getting back together. I think there's just something; just some really universal themes in that movie. And really specific to that time in one's life in your 20s.
I remember that summer everyone was listening to the soundtrack, but not everyone was seeing the movie. Where you always confident that it would eventually catch on?
No, I don't think I was. I felt like Cameron Crowe was a really special writer. I mean, I knew it because when you read his lines, they just tripped right off of your tongue. They were poetic, but really grounded in reality. Everyone had a different voice in the film. All of the characters had a very specific, different voice. So I knew that he was going to be an important writer and director. I was surprised that the movie didn't do well. Everyone was. I remember MTV pushed and pushed and pushed the movie because they thought it was so amazing and they thought it spoke to so many people. But, I think I was so thrilled that it had a whole other life and the fact that it really stood the test of time. There's not that many movies that really stand the test of time like that, so I'm really proud of it.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but you had to fight for that role. You had a lot of competition.
You know, I was blissfully ignorant, I think, at the time. I think Jennifer Jason Leigh was suppose to be that part and she fell out for some reason. And then, I don't know. I met on it -- or, maybe, he called me. He must have seen me in something. Maybe it was "Born on the Fourth of July"? I don't remember. I thought I was the only one auditioning for it! [Laughs] But, probably everyone wanted to do it.
That's probably the best attitude. "Obviously there's no one else but me."
Yeah! "Of course he's going to want me. Why wouldn't he?"
Mike Ryan is senior entertainment writer for The Huffington Post. You can contact him directly on Twitter.
As if we could ignore it; the ominous introduction to the world of "Poltergeist" taught us to turn the TV off before we go to bed.
There's no crazy special effects and no monsters are displayed on camera, but Zelda Rubinstein's monologue -- along with Jerry Goldsmith's score -- is creepy enough to get the job done.
You can't have an effective third-act-twist without some projectile corpses.
The "Poltergeist" sequels may get increasingly hokey, but at least they gave us a memorable movie villain with Julian Beck's portrayal of a cult leader-turned-vengeful spirit.
The whole movie hints at who or what is on the other side, and our only clear look at its inhabitants, is pants-wettingly terrifying.
One of the goriest scenes in movies history earns "Poltergeist" its hard R-rating -- wait, what? This movie was PG?!