Nick Moran isn’t a fan of scary movies.
He warns that his latest film is “no La La Land musical” but after filming Don’t Knock Twice, he’s converted. “It’s a very well executed horror film,” the actor told the Weekender.
This film, written by BAFTA winners Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler, and directed by Caradog James (the Machine, Little White Lies), follows Jess, a successful American sculptor who has recently returned to the UK to rebuild her relationship with her daughter Chloe, who she was forced to give up nine years ago.
What Jess doesn’t know is that Chloe is scared a supernatural curse has claimed the life of her boyfriend, Danny, and is now coming for her.
Chloe and Danny visited an abandoned house of rumoured witch Ginger. Local legend says that if you knock on her door then the vengeful ghost will snatch you away to her hellish limbo.
The film was shot in the south of Wales; Nick plays a policeman.
“It’s definitely not a La La land musical! It is what it is. Horror is not really my favourite kind of movie but I appreciate the quality of any good film,” he said. “What I like is horror fans. They’re so positive and so engaged, they love the genre, and they’re not scathing like arthouse cinema fans. They want to be entertained and enjoy themselves. These have been the most positive, most upbeat people and yet they’re into these unpleasant, slashy horror films. They’re so into dark, macabre things.”
This the first horror gig for the actor, who is known for his roles in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – parts one and two – and Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, where he plays Eddy the card sharp.
“You don’t do horror movie acting,” he explained. “I play a policeman who thinks a child has gone missing. Other people add in the scary bits. I’m a straight man, very straight laced, then I get dragged to hell whether I like it or not. I know now there’s a portal to hell, and it’s in south Wales.”
The East Ender has spent his fair share of time on location in Wales, where filmmakers get a tax break from the Welsh film commission.
When I ask him what he thinks of Wales he answers wryly “I’d rather be in London.”
The performer was previously shacked up south of the river, long before the pop-ups and brunch bars.
“I lived in Stockwell when it was dreadful,” he said. “It was very character building and a lot of fun. I was lowering the tone; it’s all gentrified now and I don’t know how to take that. It was a really scary place for a long time. It always used to have a big yellow and red ‘witnesses wanted for murder’ sign outside the tube station and all they did was change the date.”
Elsewhere, the actor recently finished filming for the upcoming BBC One drama Babs, where he plays Dame Barbara Windsor’s father.
“It’s a bit like a Christmas Carole, me and Barbara looking back on life,” he explained. “It’s a two-hour TV biography that couldn’t be more different from Don’t Knock Twice,” he laughed. “Barbara’s never dragged anyone to hell!”
The biopic was filmed in Catford Town Hall, and is due to air over the Easter holidays.
The actor has four projects coming out at the same time.
“It’s a mixed bag, you don’t know how it’ll go,” he said. “You bet your house thinking ‘this is going to be an amazing film’ and then some executive cuts it up, and turns it into a load of rubbish.”
There’s a lot of Don’t Knock Twice that Nick wasn’t in; so he watched the final cut with fresh eyes.
“So I’ve no idea what’s going on, or all the tricks of how to make a spooky film. I was really impressed by how they’ve done it,” he said.
“The film is really well done, well delivered, people who like horror are going to like it. It’s not naff, it’s not cheesy, it’s a really solid decent bit of filmmaking.”
Of his co-star Lucy Boynton, who plays Chloe, Nick said, “Lucy is going to be a star. She was wonderful, Katee [Sackhoff] is great. It’s a tremendous mother and daughter story. The Mum descends into hell to save her daughter.
“It’s not just a bunch of blokes running around being macho.”
Don’t Knock Twice is in cinemas from March 31.