LOS ANGELES — Coming in as a new cast-member in the fourth instalment of a horror franchise, an actress can’t feel too great about her chances of seeing the end credits. But Hayden Panettiere insists that in Scream 4, no one is safe. She sat down with Metro to tell us what little she could about the movie — and share some real-life horror stories of her own.
So what are you allowed to say about the plot of Scream 4?
Sidney Prescott comes back to her hometown, and it’s the anniversary. Then weird things start happening, and pranks start being made and [whispering] they come back. And then a lot of people die. But it’s like a giant game of Clue at the same time. Who’s the killer? Who’s going to die next? It plays off of these rules to the new way of making a horror film. Virgins can die now.
I’m not going to ask you if your character dies.
I know. [laughs] And it’s so funny because people come in and they ask it, and then they reword it three or four different ways to try to get it out. But nobody’s safe. Anyone can die.
And it’s a pretty big cast, too.
You’ve got a lot of people in there. You would literally run by somebody in the Holiday Inn — that’s where we were staying — and you’re like, “Hey! What are you doing here? You shooting a movie?” And they’re like, “Yeah, ‘Scream 4.’ You?” “Oh... oh. Me too! Who are you playing?”
What was the atmosphere like at the hotel?
Like camp. It was literally like camp. We had way too much fun. It was barely a movie. They were really welcoming. Like, Neve [Campbell] on the weekends would sometimes rent this big cabin on this big lake and invite the cast and crew out. We had a blast.
That sounds like the setting for a horror movie.
It does! While you’re doing a horror film, being out in the middle of the woods in the pitch black, sometimes you sit there and go, “Hmm, I really hope no one decides to be funny right now.” I don’t care if you are in a film and you know the person under the mask or you know that it’s all fake, that mask running towards you is one of the scarier things you’ll see.
So there’s less acting required in a scene like that?
Oh yeah. When you see it, it’s still scary. The simplicity of that mask has stuck around forever. And there’s something really scary about a guy with a mask trying to break into your house. I had somebody try to break into my house once, and I was by myself. And I remember how afraid I was. It’s one of my worst fears, that happening and just being helpless.
But everything turned out OK?
Everything turned out OK. It took me a while to get over it, so I actually wound up moving out of that house. I was just so terrified to go to sleep at night by myself. I had security that would sit on the street outside my house, I had my Tasers. It was a disaster. So I had to bail.
Did you have a dog?
I do. I have three dogs. You hear them bark, but they never bite anyone. But it’s just — you never know. Someone has a gun, they shoot the dog. People are crazy. And if somebody killed my dog, I would turn into The Exorcist.