Why Haunting recalls Amityville for star Elias Koteas

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Elias Koteas, who co-stars in the upcoming fact-based supernatural horror film The Haunting in Connecticut, told SCI FI Wire that many people are describing the story as Poltergeist meets The Exorcist, but that it reminds him more of The Amityville Horror.

"From my point of view, the film resembles something that was shot in the '70s, perhaps," Koteas said in an exclusive interview. "The storyline was palpable, and, personally, it reminded me of The Amityville Horror. The idea behind it seems possible. It just seems possible that there could be trapped energy in a house and forces somehow communicating through somebody who might be close to death."

Koteas stars in the film as a dying priest who comes to the assistance of the Campbell family—Virginia Madsen as the mom and Kyle Gallner as her ailing son—who've moved into a haunted house. And haunted it is: The house was once a funeral parlor in which horrible things occurred.

SCI FI Wire spoke to Koteas (The Prophecy, Skinwalkers) last week by telephone. Following are edited excepts from our interview. The Haunting in Connecticut opens on March 27.

You'd worked with Virginia Madsen on The Prophecy. How did you enjoy working with her again and with Kyle Gallner?

Koteas: I loved it. Virginia looks more beautiful each year, and I just felt very at home with her. Kyle, I thought, was so great. He's just a young kid, and so in touch with himself. I wish I knew then, at his age, what I know now. I think he's got a great future ahead of him.

How complicated was the shooting of the exorcism sequences?

Koteas: It was very real and in the moment, and you have to somehow create this. At least the scenes I was involved in, we had to create the tension or fear or suspense. Whatever else is in there, the plasma, that was added later, and I wasn't a part of that. So it was about creating the tension on the set, with the actors, and that was very exciting. Everything else, the special effects, the music, that's done later and adds to it.

You're always working and have racked up a really interesting list of credits. You carry large roles in small films and small roles in large films. You play good guys and villains. If you were a star on the level of Tom Cruise, do you think it'd be possible to maintain the diversity of roles and films you've done?

Koteas: I wish I could play the everyman a little bit more consistently. I find that I'm so quirky. You've got to want my sort of energy in the film. Listen, it's good for the soul to work, and sometimes you hit it and sometimes you don't. Longevity is the key. Just keep hanging in there, man.