Something wicked is coming in The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia. Based on a true story, the film follows the Wyrick family – Andy (Chad Michael Murray), wife Lisa (Abigail Spencer), daughter Heidi (Emily Alyn Lind) and his sister-in-law Joyce (Katee Sackhoff) - as they move into their new Georgian home. Things quickly go to hell as Heidi starts receiving ghostly visitors, the female family members experience chilling visions and an evil force, with shocking ties to the land, threatens to tear them apart. The Haunting in Connecticut 2 is out in limited release and VOD platforms today.
Best known for his role as Lucas Scott on the long-running TV series One Tree Hill, the amicable Murray chatted exclusively with me about returning to the horror genre and what made Ghosts of Georgia stand out.
After the House of Wax remake and now The Haunting in Connecticut 2, what makes a good horror movie for you?
The best thing for me watching a horror film is being able to put yourself in that person’s shoes. Having that human element makes it real. When we become fearful of something because it seems so close to us, I think it affects us a little bit more.
Do you remember the first horror movie that freaked you out?
I remember watching Friday the 13th when I was real young. That freaked me out. Then I become a huge, huge Halloween fan and still love it to this day. The one movie, even now that I am older I still can’t watch, is The Exorcist.
Does having a project like this that is based on a true story add some weight or credibility to the story?
Yeah, there’s no doubt it does. People like hearing about different stories that have occurred to various people in the world. That gives it that human element, knowing that pieces of these events are true. For me, I read the script and saw the opportunity to be the sane one in this crazy world, or at least that’s what I assume, that my wife, my daughter and my sister-in-law are all schizophrenic. I saw that as a really interesting challenge to have to be the sane one in a paranormal world.
Did you do any special research for your role or have discussions with the real Andy?
It’s funny. Andy was the only one we didn’t meet. He actually passed away, God rest his soul, maybe a year ago. He didn’t really want to get that close to it. But I did meet Heidi, who has now grown up. We met Lisa Wyrick. They came to set. It was interesting. You would never for a second get they were any different than anyone else. They were ordinary, everyday people, who had an extraordinary story.
In the film, Andy is skeptical about his family’s visions and the strange phenomena surrounding him. What finally makes him a believer?
The moment he buys in is when he sees his daughter stuck at the bottom of a well. There’s just no way she could have gotten down there being 8 years old. It didn’t make sense to him. He knew regardless of whether it was a ghost or something else, something wasn’t right. And this property wasn’t helping the situation, so I think, “It’s time to pack up and get out.”
How demanding was it to shoot on location in Louisiana?
The things that got in people’s way were a lot of the sequences were (done) in two feet of mud. It may not look it on screen, but it was below 20 degrees. It was cold out. I actually thought it was kind of refreshing, but I can imagine everyone else sitting still was freezing their tails off. I was running all night, so personally I enjoyed it.
This is Tom Elkins’ directorial debut. How did he do?
He leads with his heart. Tom really does. He’s a really good man. He’s also an editor by trade, so he knows what he wants and knows how he wants to get it and knows how he wants to cut it together. At the end of the day, he knew how to cut corners and say,
“Well, I can do this and this and this and do this.” He had a short list all made up. When we did get bogged down in the mud, which would happen because we were in it for a couple of weeks, he was able to cut around things that maybe we weren’t going to be able to do because of time constraints.
Tom mentioned devil worshipping and sacrifices had once taken place on those grounds. Did anything bizarre happen while you were there?
I’ll be honest. That’s news to me, man. I guess I didn’t ask the right questions. Whoops. No, no, not at all. I had an incredible time. I enjoyed everybody’s company. It was a really cool family environment. I met Emily when she was born basically. Her mother was on One Tree Hill in season one when little Emily was born. She was the first baby I ever held. It’s pretty funny. Eight years later, she’s playing my daughter.
You’ve now lived in both your forays into horror.
(laughter) I’m going to try to keep that streak alive, my friend. It’s okay. I’m not too big on the whole movie death thing.
Half the fun of watching flicks like House of Wax is seeing how the characters are going to be dispatched…
That’s what you see. What fantastic and ingenious ways can we kill somebody? I think it’s absolutely fantastic. I’ve written a lop-sided one (a script) of my own that’s awful and graphic and God knows if I’ll ever try and do anything with it, but when you sit there and go “What did I just think of?” that just goes to show how sick this world is. You know somebody out there is actually thinking “That’s what I could do.” That’s the only funky thing about horror films; you find new ways to kill people. Saw, for instance… Oh my God! You sit there going, “Someone must be having some serious nightmares.”
Ending on a fun note, your House of Wax co-stars Paris Hilton and Jared Padalecki reunited on his TV series, Supernatural. Would you ever consider guest-starring as a demon for an episode?
I loved Jared. I love Jensen (Ackles). I love those guys. We talked about, “Hey, maybe we should cross paths and do some type of arc.” I don’t think I’m that scary. I really don’t know if I can play some demonic demon. I don’t know if I could do it. But if the opportunity arises and I get the chance to work with Jared again, I might take it.
Brag a little. If you were an otherworldly villain on Supernatural, would you be able to kick some Padalecki butt?
HA! In the film or television world, yes. In the real world, that would be a giant “No!” Have you seen the size of Jared Padalecki? He is 6’5 and a monster of a man. I just saw him at Comic Con this last summer and we hung out one night. He just picked me up and tossed me around like I was nothing. And I’m not a small guy either. I’m 6’1. He’s a monster of a man. So, yes Jared, I would kick your ass. Lovingly.