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