In Mischa Barton’s new film, the girl who was once killed off the hit teen soap The OC in a tragic car accident is now the one trying to solve the murder of a high schooler who was killed by — you guessed it — a car accident. A Resurrection stars Barton as a high-school guidance counselor who is forced to deal with a bullying situation that quickly turns into a murder investigation when a student is run-over by a car allegedly driven by a group of mean cool kids. Eli, the victim’s brother (J. Michael Trautmann), takes his dying brother’s body to a witch, who implants a spirit in the body. According to the witch, six days after being buried, the boy will rise from the grave, and only after killing six people will the spirit leave the body. Conveniently, when Eli is bullied exactly six days after his brother’s burial, he manages for six people to be cornered at the school when the vengeful spirit of his brother comes knocking.
We caught up with Barton to discuss the film, including working with the late Michael Clark Duncan, who plays the school’s principal. Watch an exclusive video clip of the two of them together.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What drew you to this project?
MISCHA BARTON: [A Resurrection] was the beginning of my love of scary things. I liked the cast, I liked the vibe, and looking at it now, because it was actually [filmed] two and a half years ago, it has a bit less of a retro vibe than we thought but it still has something kind of classic horror scary about it.
Do you have a favorite horror film?
It’s a very specific genre. My favorites were always the classics like Rosemary’s Baby, the original Amityville Horror and stuff like that, so when we got around to doing this, what mattered to me really was just that we all got along and were agreeing on the kind of stuff that we wanted to do. And we did. We all were involved in it. It’s always better if you have a happy family.
You’ve worked on quite a few horror projects recently. Are you going to continue in that direction?
I’m not going to be doing any more genre horror stuff for the time. For me, what I enjoy about it is that you get to make fun of it and you have a good time. You’re doing these things, you all get to joke around and see if it’s going to be scary at the end of the day. That’s sort of the way it works. It takes hours to film some of these sequences, so it’s having fun with it.
What’s the most difficult thing about filming a horror movie?
Ramping up the energy and the things that aren’t there. It’s physically very draining always. I did another one with a French director years ago and I remember I was stuck in a pit, covered in dirt and chained to a wall. My hands were tied, and I left that set cut up and bruised and exhausted. You have to enjoy it and laugh at it and take it for what it is. It’s worse when there’s CGI because you don’t know what they’re going to do. With this, we went for a very classic feel, and I think it worked in a weird way.
There’s a lot of buzz around this being Michael Clarke Duncan’s final film.
He was such a lovely guy; he was a lovely lovely man. I really loved worked with him. He was such a gentle guy and such a sweet guy. Every time he was on set, we had good laughs and good vibes. It’s tragic. He was just such a nice guy. Nobody could say anything negative about Michael. We were so lucky to have him.
Would you ever return to TV?
I don’t ever say never anymore. After The OC and after The Beautiful Life, I felt the need to say No for a second and just do film. But if the right role comes along now in television, absolutely. It’s not where I started. I started in theater and in film so I went back to the roots. And there’s a good chance I’ll be doing some off Broadway this year in New York. I don’t really limit myself.