Danielle Harris has been acting since she was a preteen. She began her career in horror and made a triumphant return to the genre in the ’90s. Since then, she has earned her stripes as a scream queen and worked steadily in horror films ever since. She has emerged as one of the most beloved and recognizable actresses working in the genre film arena today. When we spoke with her, Harris opened up to us about playing the final girl in a variety of features, working with the Soska sisters, and how See No Evil 2 compares to the original.
Harris’ new film, See No Evil 2 directly follows the events of the first See No Evil picture. Jacob Goodnight is taken to the city morgue where he subsequently rises from the dead and begins another killing spree. This time, his victims include a medical student working in the morgue (Harris) and a group of her friends that show up to surprise her for her birthday.
Wicked horror: I read that you sought out the Soska sisters and approached them about joining the cast of See No Evil 2. What was your experience working with them.
Danielle Harris: They’re f**king crazy! Just kidding. No, they kind of are. That’s what I love about them. They’re really passionate and really excited. They have such enthusiasm and knowledge of what they love and what they do. They would try to break things down to me by using other movies. They would ask me if I’d ever seen some obscure French film and I would be like ‘No, I’ve never seen that.’ They are just fan girls. It’s pretty cool. I’d wanted to take a break from that final girl role. I’d done it for so long and it’s a lot of work. I wanted to take a little bit of a break and I heard that they were doing this movie. I was such a fan of American Mary and so I couldn’t take a break until I had the chance to work with a female director and now I get two for the price of one. I kind of had to hop on board.
WH: I’ve heard that working with the Soska sisters is kind of like working with one director in the sense that they are usually of one mind. Did you find that to be the case?
Danielle Harris: Yeah. I think that they know their roles really well and they know what they are both good at and what they are not and they compliment each other really well. One of the girls will be focused on really working with the actors and the other would be with the DP setting up the tone and the vibe of the scene. It’s beneficial because on such a short shoot, it’s very overwhelming for a director to have to wear that many hats. I think it made it a lot easier. One of them was always there if we needed them.
WH: How would you compare See No Evil 2 to the first installment in the series?
Danielle Harris: I think the Soska twins have a different style that I really love. The style of the movie is very different. Jacob Goodnight is bigger and badder. I think that there are some really cool and innovative deaths in this movie where the first one seemed fitting for the time it came out. But I think a lot has changed since then. The sequel is a bit revamped. It would be great as a standalone and it works great as a sequel. It takes place directly after the first one, which I am always a big fan of. It just helps when movies do that, I think. I think it’s a really fun and really cool movie. I went to a screening last night and fans seemed to love it.
WH: I think you make a good point about it being updated for contemporary audiences. The last film was more in the vein of torture cinema and the sequel moved away from that.
Danielle Harris: Yeah. I think that’s what was kind of hot at that time. Movies have thankfully gotten away from that and kind of focused more on being suspenseful and getting back to the Hitchcockian or Carpenter-esque vibe. You still have the big booms and the score and the sex and the nudity. You have to have that stuff but I don’t think that we need to have such excess or overstimulation. I think we really kind of need to go back to the way it was.
WH: I appreciated that this film seems to focus more on its characters and their relationships with one another. I was pleasantly surprised by that.
Danielle Harris: That doesn’t usually happen, you know. The characters are usually just bodies to kill. But everyone was such a specific character and the casting was really good. I love what Katharine Isabelle did. I love watching her character. If I wasn’t Amy, then I would have definitely been a really fun role for me to play but I feel like I’m more Amy anyway.
WH: Without giving away any spoilers, were you surprised by the ending of the film when you read the script?
Danielle Harris: The first script that I read was exactly what I expected and then everything kind of got changed. Originally, Amy was there celebrating her 21st birthday. It was originally written as a much younger group, like the first film. Like you said, there is much more of a focus on story and characters. We weren’t just a bunch of bodies running around and getting slaughtered. I was an advocate for not having the film go with the typical ending that everyone was expecting. So I was looking for the reaction last night when things kind of shifted. A buddy of mine was sitting behind me and he cheered at the way it turned out. I turned around and I was like ‘Hey! Really?’. He was just excited that the ending was different. I think that’s really cool that they took a chance and did that.
WH: I was really pleased with the way that things turned out. It was so unexpected.
Danielle Harris: They took a chance by making it a little different. I wouldn’t have wanted it to be the other way around because it would be like every other movie that I’ve done. Which is fine and cool but I’ve done that so much that I wanted to do something different.
WH: I read that you ultimately want to get back into directing as soon as possible. So, I am curious if you have plans to direct again in the near future and if so, what are you going to be working on next? And do you plan on sticking within the horror genre?
Danielle Harris: Yes. I think it would be a shame for me not to do what I know so well. I have an opportunity to take chances and do things that are not necessarily safe. I have a fan base that supports everything I do, so I kind of have that confidence because of that and can really just go for it. I optioned a script a few months ago and we’re just looking for a home for it right now. We’ve been shopping it around. It’s more of a psychological thriller. But it’s dark and twisted and dirty and f**ked up. I love it. It’s definitely in the style of Hitchcock or Carpenter. So we’re looking for a home and trying to get that going. It’s difficult because people sort of want a new killer of a new franchise and I want to do something a little different. So I want to wait and make sure it finds the right place. But I definitely want to get behind the camera and ideally would be directing by spring.