Domhnall Gleeson has urged moviegoers to think of his spooky new film The Little Stranger not as a horror, but more as a “drama for grown ups” with supernatural elements
The Ex Machina star has teamed up with Room director Lenny Abrahamson for the adaptation of Sarah Waters’ hit novel, which hits UK cinemas today. Early trailers sold the film as a straight horror, rather than the nuanced, gothic period chiller it really is.
“Lenny makes films for grown ups,” explains 35-year-old Gleeson, who plays Doctor Faraday in the film.
“It’s got that level of class, as well as being about class. It feels like a grown up film, and they’re hard to sell, but you hope that if you make them, that people will come see them, and I think he’s done something special with this.”
In the film, Gleeson’s character finds himself drawn into the strange world of the upper crust Ayres family and their estate, the dilapidated Hundreds Hall. Something is haunting the stately home, and its inhabitants, but it’s Faraday’s childhood memories of the place that cut the deepest.
The supernatural element is just small part of the story that tackles class and gender politics in post-war Britain.
“I would love to be in one of those kinds of horror films,” admits Gleeson, “which is all about the scares, and all about that sort of thing, but the filmmaker, Lenny Abrahamson, he’s one of the best filmmakers in the world, so I knew there’d be more to it.”
Abrahamson, who received a Best Director Oscar nomination in 2016 for Room, has suggested the marketing of the film as a straight horror “damaged” the film’s box office chances in America.
“I didn’t think they should go that way,” Abrahamson told Yahoo Movies UK.
“I think if you look at the tradition of really good gothic literature, if by horror, that’s what people meant, then I think it’s a label that you could wear proudly for [The Little Stranger]. But I think, these days, if you say horror, what you mean is something like The Conjuring.
“And if you go into this film expecting The Conjuring, you’ll go ‘hang on a second, that was a bad version of that kind of film. It wasn’t scary enough.’ I think here they’ve been careful to avoid that [here], and I think that is really useful.”
The Little Stranger is in cinemas now.