SCREAM QUEEN

IN-DE­MAND TOWNSVILLE AC­TOR HAR­RIET DYER ADDS HOR­ROR TO HER RE­SUME

Townsville Bulletin - Townsville Eye - - FRONT PAGE - WORDS: NEALA JOHN­SON Killing Ground is show­ing at the Great Bar­rier Reef Film Fes­ti­val on Sun­day, Septem­ber 10, at Ar­ca­dia Vil­lage Ho­tel, Mag­netic Is­land. More info gbrff.com.au. tick­ets avail­able from townsvil­let­ick­ets.com.au

Har­riet Dyer, in her own words, is “a scary movie kind of chick”. For her 14th birth­day slum­ber party, Dyer in­vited her friends over to watch Kubrick/King hor­ror clas­sic The Shin­ing.

“I turn around half­way through and no one else was there; ev­ery­one had gone to an­other room to look at their belly­but­tons, they didn’t want to watch the movie,” she re­calls with a laugh.

“But I was so en­grossed I had no idea.”

Wind the clock for­ward 14 years and Dyer, star of Chan­nel 9’s Love Child and new Stan comedy series The Other Guy, is star­ring in her own scary movie.

Killing Ground, which pre­miered at Sun­dance in Jan­uary to rave re­views from US crit­ics, is the story of two ur­ban­ite campers, Sam (Dyer) and Ian (Ian Mead­ows), who pitch their tent by a river, not far from an­other tent. The next morn­ing, with still no sign of the other tent’s own­ers, Sam and Ian grow un­easy.

Then a small child ap­pears, dis­tressed and alone, set­ting off a ter­ri­fy­ing chain of events.

“I earned my supper on this one,” Dyer says.

“It’s very phys­i­cal. Ev­ery­thing you see, we did 10 takes of it. It was a very long time to be keep­ing that level of in­ten­sity and fear.

“I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘God, I feel like I’ve been hys­ter­i­cal for the last few weeks, maybe I’ll try and give it a dif­fer­ent colour’ — I got a bit ac­tory on it. But any time I did, Damien (Power, writer-direc­tor) was like, ‘Um, you’ve got a gun to your head ...’

“I was try­ing to give dif­fer­ent colours but, re­ally, when you’re get­ting ter­rorised, there’s only one colour to give.”

The hor­ror in Killing Ground is more it-could-hap­pen than pos­sessed doll or evil clown — so much so that you may won­der why any­one would put them­selves through it. “It’s a dif­fer­ent set of skills,” Dyer ex­plains.

“I had to call on cer­tain parts of my­self that I haven’t had to do be­fore.”

Play­ing a strong fe­male — “not the clas­sic blonde who’s run­ning away and pow­er­less” — was an­other lure. “Damien wrote a kick-ass woman there.”

The butts in Sam’s line of fire in Killing Ground are played by Aaron Gle­nane and Aaron Ped­er­sen. The pair kept their co-stars on edge dur­ing the shoot.

“The four of us — me, Ian and the two Aarons — went to a pub one night and they didn’t talk to us,” Dyer says.

“They sat across and talked in low whis­pers and Ian and I were like, ‘Oh, all right’. What­ever gets you there.”

Syd­ney-based Dyer has headed to the US to try her luck. But not be­fore she steps up from spook­ing girl­friends to scar­ing the en­tire na­tion.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to Aus­tralia see­ing Killing Ground,” she says.

“It was a bit po­lar­is­ing in the US be­cause it’s quite vi­o­lent and Amer­i­cans get scared of en­joy­ing vi­o­lence be­cause there is so much in that coun­try. It’s a bit of a nov­elty for us be­cause we have slightly less psy­chos. Although, Ade­laide is the mur­der cap­i­tal or what­ever they say ...”

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