Twenty-five-year-old actress Samaire Armstrong has an announcement to make, and it might horrify some people.
"I've decided that I'll never do another scary film," she recently declared, her voice cracking. "No way."
Perhaps that statement will only truly horrify Armstrong's agent. Nonetheless, it's a startling pledge from an attractive, teen-movie-ready actress at a time when flicks like "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "When a Stranger Calls" are transforming starlets like Jessica Biel and Camilla Belle into hot commodities in Hollywood. Armstrong seems sincere, however, as she promotes her nightmarish movie "Stay Alive."
"I really didn't fully think out how I was going to deal with this," the former co-star of "The O.C." explained. "I really don't like scary movies, and it's becoming more and more clear every time somebody asks me [about 'Stay Alive' that] this is an actuality: I've made a scary movie and I need to deal with it. But I can't watch it. And when people ask me questions, it's like, 'Oh God, I have to relive these events.' "
The monster who seems to be spooking Armstrong is the Blood Countess, a 17th century noblewoman who haunts Armstrong's character, Abigail, and her friends (including Sophia Bush and Frankie Muniz) through a videogame that causes actual, as opposed to virtual, death. The game, of course, is the teen-targeted creation of a team of Hollywood writers. The legend of Countess Elizabeth Bathory-Nadasdy, however, is quite real — some scholars contend that she was a primary source for Bram Stoker's "Dracula."
"She [was] the serial murderer of her time," Armstrong said, taking a deep breath. "She was a Transylvanian countess who opened a finishing school to kill young girls and drain their blood and bathe in it. ('Stay Alive') transforms that scenario to New Orleans."
In order to master the compulsory "scream queen" shriek, Armstrong only had to contemplate the fact that Countess Bathory once walked the earth. And in order to play a gaming enthusiast, the actress had to make up for a lack of experience that has rendered her unable to distinguish "Final Fantasy" from "Frogger."
"I don't play," she admitted. "I used to hate being ignored by boyfriends who would play. I did like to play with the kids who played on the set a little, but I mostly watched. I really hate losing, and I don't have the patience to understand the instructions.
"Maybe if someone made a video game [about] pink pretty things, I'd play it," Armstrong laughed.
If she did play, however, Armstrong insisted that the last game she'd ever go near is the "Stay Alive" video game. "No way. You could die! You're at a creepy cemetery on a plot of land that you have to explore, which belongs to the countess. There's these children [you encounter] and you don't know if they're good or bad or if you should help them or not, because they might kill you. Then there's this dungeon that you get stuck in. You're unraveling the life and the existence of the countess, and what each thing represents in her life, and [you have to figure out how] these tools [work] to keep your life."
Armstrong is particularly impressed with one of her co-star's desire to make his first horror role a memorable one. "Frankie Muniz is amazing at everything he does," Armstrong marveled. "Many people don't know that he can play the piano like you wouldn't believe, and he can bowl and play basketball like you wouldn't believe. He was really diligent about the work that he put into it, because he wanted to make sure everything he did was right."
With Muniz intent on being taken seriously as a horror star, and Armstrong and Bush attempting to bring realism to the portrayal of game-savvy young ladies, "Stay Alive" required a bit more effort than typically associated with slasher flicks. As such, Armstrong is proud of the final horror movie of her career (or so she claims).
In the near future, Armstrong said, she'll do her best to avoid thinking about "Stay Alive," as well as look for some more romantic-comedy scripts (she teamed with Lindsay Lohan for May's "Just My Luck"), and bypass scary movies and videogames altogether.
Asked if there were any games that she would be willing to play, Armstrong thought for a moment and then named the least scary one she could think of. "Tetris," she laughed. "I like that game because you have to be quick on your toes, and I like shapes.
"I'll do intense characters and roles, but no supernatural [roles]. 'Stay Alive' is the only one," Armstrong insisted. Then, as if to convince herself of her resolution one final time, the actress uttered another sentence you aren't likely to hear from any other Hollywood actor anytime soon.
"Hopefully," she giggled, "there won't be a sequel."
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