As the seasons change, and Halloween approaches, there’s nothing like getting together with a group of friends and watching scary movies. Sometimes, watching someone jump in their seat is more entertaining than viewing the jump-causing moment on the screen.
For actor Ryan McCarten, the practice of watching horror films wasn’t as enjoyable as he through it would be.
"When I was 10 or 11, I always liked the idea of watching a scary movie," McCarten said. "But when I did, I would end up shaking for a week."
McCarten, known for his work on "Liv and Maddie" on the Disney Channel, has a starring role in the television-made film "R.L. Stine's Monsterville: Cabinet of Souls," now out on DVD.
"I think it’s a great film," McCarten said of the latest offering from the "Goosebumps" author. "The witch and the clown are pretty creepy, but they won’t keep you up all night."
McCarten said that he liked being involved in a spooky movie that young people can watch without getting terrified.
For those that grew up in the '90s with Nickelodeon, the "Goosebumps" TV show episodes were a must-watch. McCarten didn’t get the chance to see the original run, but he knew what he was getting into when he signed on to work in a story written by Stine.
"When I was in school, we always had a quota," he said of the number of books he and his classmates had to read. "We were always going and renting the ‘Goosebumps’ books at the library."
McCarten’s girlfriend Dove Cameron ("Descendants," "Liv and Maddie") also stars in the film, as the one who has to keep her friends safe from Dr. Hysteria and the traveling Hall of Horrors show that comes to the town of Danville. McCarten plays a demon named Hunter, who lures young souls into the cabinet for the family of evildoers to feed on.
"It was the best of all worlds to do what you love doing, and do it with the people you love," McCarten said of being able to work with Cameron.
For McCarten, he said that the cast went "all-in" with the story. In one dream sequence, he gets into a throw-down fight with actor Braeden Lemasters.
"Braden and I were like, ‘Let’s go for it,’ and we were throwing punches at each other," he said.
McCarten said he was attracted to the project for the opportunity to do things he hasn’t done before.
"It was just a great experience," the actor said. "I got to drive that car … and I never played a demon before. It was a lot of fun."
The film also stars Katherine McNamara, who can be seen on the big screen in "Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials," and Tiffany Espensen from "Kirby Buckets."
McCarten, a Minnesota-native, is working on his first solo album and started a band with Cameron. He said that music has always been there, but not something he’s focused on.
"Since I was 8, I’ve been involved in theater," McCarten said. The young actor said his parents were always supportive, and he would get out to perform where he could. But it never went beyond "a coffee shop here and there around Minneapolis."
His next acting project is a film he did for an equine organization in California that saves horses from slaughter.
"We volunteered our time," he said. "We want to bring awareness for the charity work the organization does."
For a final Halloween cinematic creep-out more for the adults in the house, the thriller "Extinction" might be worth scaring up from VOD or a DVD rental spot. Sensibility is probably the furthest thing to think of during an apocalypse, but it is at the center of the universe for the characters in this newer release to U.S. markets from Sony Home Entertainment.
In the fictional town of Harmony, two survivors set up a place in the cold countryside to wait out a zombie-filled end-of-the-world event. The relationship between the main characters is at best described as a dysfunctional family, and the reasons why unravel through the current situation while reflecting on past events. All points lead until now.
Television veterans Matthew Fox ("Lost") and Jeffrey Donovan ("Burn Notice") play Patrick and Jack, two friends that survived the society-breaking event, keeping themselves snowbound for nine years. Jack, who is raising a young girl named Lu, creates a bubble, a protective place to nurture her away from the zombies that ravaged everyone else. Patrick sticks by and travels the area, scavenging what he can find. Lu only knows of the lone man as the mysterious neighbor.
The thriller part of the film isn’t the monsters lurking in the world, but the darkness is created by the fear of the unknown and how these two men cope with the reality of their bleak existence.
The character study is the gem of the story. Lu, as the light of hope, pushes the men to be more than themselves, even though they have each failed her in their own ways.
Sensibility is found in the way the characters reconnect under pressures of loneliness, fear and the underlying hope that has driven each of them to last through another sunset.
These are pretty deep topics for a zombie thriller film.
Produced in Spain with an English-speaking cast, this film is a masterful piece of work created with sets, fake snow and computerized effects that add to the action and suspense. Director Miguel Angel Vivas, who hit the international stage with his horror, home-invasion movie "Kidnapped," uses the movie-making affects at his disposal and gets the most out of the actors to tell the wonderfully-tight and concise story that bridges horror, action and thriller genres. It is Fox and Donovan who sell it as believable for anyone who has gone through a strained friendship.
Spanish actress Clara Lago plays the lone woman, who appears in the last act to prove that not all hope is lost. Lu, played masterfully by young actress Quinn McColgan, will not be left alone in a world full of evolved monsters.
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