Bailee Madison got her start in acting at an early age. From as early as 6 years old, Bailee acted in a wide variety of projects, including the award-winning drama, Brothers, to a recurring role as Maxine Russo on Wizards of Waverly Place. Now 18, Bailee is starring in the horror film The Strangers: Prey at Night, a sequel to the 2008 film The Strangers. Here’s our interview with Bailee on her experience filming the new horror film and she’s most excited for people to see.
HC: So this isn’t your first turn with horror, how did this experience compare with doing Don’t be Afraid of the Dark or R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour when you were little?
BM: Haunting Hour was kid’s horror, so it was very different from The Strangers, but it was really fun for me to do, especially at such a young age. I was only 6 at the time. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was my first time tapping into the horror landscape and it was an honor to work with Guillermo Del Toro. It also taught me so many things I’ve carried with me throughout the years, especially on set. In terms of comparison, I was a 9-year-old kid in this scary world and attacked by these creatures. In The Strangers: Prey at Night, I’m 15 and being victimized by just three people who attack for no reason. I think, just being these people ups the stakes in a very different way, so this feels like my first real entrance into the horror landscape.
HC: What were your thoughts seeing the first movie and was there anything from it you wanted to carry over to this sequel?
BM: When I got the script, I hadn’t seen the first one yet since I was only 8 years old when it first came out. (laughs) I hope no 8-year-olds watched it. It was important to me, though, before carrying on with this film, to watch the original and do my research to learn more about it. Watching it, I thought, “yes I get it, I get why people are so into this.” There’s real terror in seeing these two characters get torn apart by these masked individuals for absolutely no reason besides just to kill for fun. I watched the behind-the-scenes videos and interviews and was totally enamored with the concept.
There’s so much about this movie that is a nod to the first film. There’s the same emotion and tension going on–we’re just bringing it to a new audience that didn’t catch the first one. There are also just little things, like how my character Kinsey has this plaid shirt tied around her waist. It’s kind of a nod to Liv Tyler and the plaid shirt she wore in the first film. There are more little things like that for fans of the original to find.
HC: Did you take any inspiration from other famous horror movies?
BM: I watched some here and there and I read a lot of horror scripts, but none of them really spoke to me like this one. This one just felt different. The characters are complicated and we get these relationships. There’s a sister and her brother, and this husband who loves his wife. We go in caring about them and everything goes so terribly wrong. It’s a kind of dread and discomfort that was really exciting to me. So I relied heavily on the original strangers in terms of watching something before. For my character Kinsey, I also researched a lot of Debbie Harry for her style and tried to carry that through.
HC: Kinsey seems like such a great character, but are there other parts in the movie do you think would fun to try out?
BM: Um – I love Kinsey! (laughs) Am I allowed to just say that? Kinsey is someone who, in a lot of ways, is a complete stranger to me, and as an actor that was a dream. It was so fun to dive into this complicated character; she’s weird and also kind of a badass. All in all, just a dream to get to play.
HC: Did being on set put you on edge or do you get used to all the gore after a while?
BM: I had the most incredible time filming this. I wanted to be pushed emotionally and physically like this for a long time. And it was so cool to see the production; I would see all the different kinds of fake blood and be like “oh my god there’s this many kinds of blood? Let me see!” I just took it all in, I felt like a kid in a candy store or kid in a horror world (laughs). The stunt coordinator would come up to me and say like, “if you don’t hit this mark exactly at this time, the car on fire could actually set you on fire. So please don’t miss it.” And I would just keep going and be like, “okay great, let’s do this.” It was challenging but I was just so excited to do it all. If I was ever on edge, it was because I wanted to do the best job possible.
HC: What sets this movie apart from other horror?
BM: People have a good time watching this film, they cheer and applaud. They feel hope and of course tense at times. The characters also fight like hell to live. The cinematography and 80s music also sets a fun and dynamic vibe for the film. Mostly though, it’s a fun film that doesn’t take itself too seriously and I think audiences will enjoy that.
The Strangers: Prey at Night is now playing in theaters.
[Feature Image as seen on Bailee’s Instagram]