Exclusive: Bailee Madison Talks ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’

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Bailee Madison has been acting since she was young. She has worked alongside some very influential and talented people. Her new movie, The Strangers: Prey at Night, is out now in theatres. 

In the film, a family’s road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive. Johannes Roberts directs this horror film inspired by the 2008 smash hit The Strangers. 

Photo Credit: Todd Williamson

The Knockturnal: Tell us about your character in this film and your approach to playing her?

Bailee Madison: When we meet her we automatically get the sense that she is holding in an unhealthy amount of emotions inside of her … we know she is troubled. She is very isolated from her family, very disconnected from them, so all of these tragedies start to take place … She is also a very sharp, badass character, very fun to play … She is kind of different from anything I have ever played before … I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where her relationship lies between the other family members … because we each do our best to introduce the family as a whole before the tragedies start to take place.

The Knockturnal: What were your thoughts when you first read the script?

Bailee Madison: Oh my gosh, I was in love. I remember I was recovering from a tonsil surgery so I couldn’t talk and it was my third day in so I was still pretty hopped up on painkillers and I was like I have to get back to work, it’s been three days, I haven’t done anything, so I saw an email that went to me right before I went in for surgery, I decided to read the script and I read it in one sitting, in less than in hour. I was so drawn to the characters, the story, the people behind it, obviously. I was a fan of Christina Hendricks, I heard about Johannes Roberts, a film that he had coming out that year and was just drawn to the people involved and also there was a time when I was reading a lot of horror and nothing was really hitting it for me with what I wanted to do …  This was the one film that ticked off all my boxes, it felt smart to me and different.

The Knockturnal: This film is pretty heavy on atmosphere and thrills. What was the mood like on set?

Bailee Madison: The mood was actually so much fun, which is funny because here it could go either way. Everyone always says horror films can be exhausting to film, but can even be exhausting when you’re not filming or hey, it’s exhausting to film but you have a blast. It’s kind of a gamble. You have to say ok I’m prepared for either way because there’s no guarantee … but we were so fortunate to have an amazing crew that was so excited to make this movie. Johannes, our director, really established an incredible mood from day one that was just enjoyable for all of us. We had Scrabble nights on the weekend because we were on a nighttime schedule, we were up from 4 pm in the afternoon till 10 am … We would all come together and keep each other up, keep each other on a schedule and I was really fortunate. When it was time to hunker in and focus everyone was so ready to do so, so I am happy we got the best of both worlds.

The Knockturnal: So, this is your second mainstream horror film after Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Is there anything specific that attracts you to the horror genre?

Bailee Madison: The films could not be more separate. I almost feel like this is my true entry into the horror genre…Because I was 9 when I did Don’t be Afraid of the Dark and I also was being attacked by creatures, this film I’m being attacked by actual human beings…I feel like the stakes in this film could not be more real or more possible. But what I think I love about the horror world is how devoted the fans are. I really, really enjoy how they speak their mind. If they don’t like something they will say it, or if they like something they say it. They give you a true honest answer, so that is very exciting. Also as an actor, you’re hoping to get these characters that push you out of your comfort zone, throw yourself in a world you have never experienced before. 99% of the time you have never experienced what you are playing and that was fun to be able to cry and scream and be dripping with blood…that’s a really fun world to get to be a part of.

The Knockturnal: What would you say is your favorite horror movie?

Bailee Madison: The Shining would go down as my number 1. I think it was the first one I ever saw. I am doing throwbacks over here. The Purge … it scared me to death.

The Knockturnal: Do you think you would be scared of these masked killers in real life?

Bailee Madison: Oh my gosh of course, that’s the thing that no one understands is I can’t deal with masks … If I’m walking out on Halloween and someone is wearing a mask…I am done…When I told my family and friends I was going to be doing this movie they were like; “you’re literally going to be in your worst nightmare”…I said, I know, that’s why I think I really need to do this but I think what is so scary about these masks is the fact that it is so simple that you can do it, there’s really nothing fancy about it, that’s what makes it so frightening. 

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