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About The Production (Continued)
Equally vital to the production was the character of the "house with a past” itself. According to Figgis, the basis of the thriller genre rests on the idea of a group of innocents caught in a corrupt environment. "You are constantly playing a naïve innocence against a brooding darkness—like a building for instance. So one of the main characters in the movie was the house. Not only did I have to find the right actors, I also had to find the right house. I didn't want to shoot in a studio; I wanted to find a real house.” 

Scouting for the right house took place in Virginia, Montreal and Toronto, before the ideal site was discovered in a small town an hour southwest of Toronto. On seeing the property, production designer Leslie Dilley had what he describes as a "eureka moment. The more I walked around the place, I had the feeling that Richard must have lived in the house while he wrote the script. It was uncanny. It had everything that we had been looking for.” 

Well, not quite everything. The single-family property was actually in the process of being renovated by its owners; several rooms on the ground floor had already been restored. "I told them that I would have to undo everything they had done and make it somewhat dilapidated.” Fortunately, the owners agreed to the plan and the deal was made. 

Dilley and his team got to work. The owners' furniture was cleared out and the task of taking the house back to a state of disrepair began in earnest. Arches were designed and placed in the entranceway, and a stained-glass skylight was added to the ceiling. The artwork was stained, and distressed wallpaper was added to the walls to stimulate age. Broken pipes were inserted into the wall and ceiling of the kitchen. 

"The style of this house is perfect for the film. I'm bringing these innocent people into this house, and so creating the right atmosphere was essential,” says Figgis. "People talked about the house being haunted. Sharon saw a ghost and someone saw poltergeist movement in the bedroom upstairs. The house invites that kind of reaction. The house is big, the rooms are big, and the doors are big—the scale is perfect.

”W ork continued on the grounds of the property. The swimming pool was added, as was the steel gate dominating the driveway up to the house. Ivy was introduced to the house, and a "forest of weeds around the pool to give it that unused look.” Continues Dilley, "We added a rose garden walkway with broken-down lattice columns, which, in the end of the film when everything has been restored, is a beautiful rose arbor.” A family cemetery was also created within view of the house. To complete the picture, Dilley included a collapsed chapel. 

The design team also had to create the ‘devil's throat'—the natural fissure/well that features so prominently in the story. Dilley crafted a model using a clay cast, which was then transformed into fiberglass. The full size structure was placed in the ground, just below the water line. It was covered with leaves and branches to obscure it. The frogs in the surrounding woods were not fooled; each day crew members had to scoop numerous frogs from within the man-made structure. 

The cameras started to roll on August 6, 2002. Several cities in Ontario, Canada, including Blair, Cambridge and Toronto, were chosen for locations. 

Figgis had actors who responded well to the material, found the characters interesting, liked the idea of an ensemble, and wanted the opportunity to work with him. "It was a great positive basis to go into an ensemble shoot with,” he says. 

For the actors, Figgis was the consummate director. "It's a very cool kind of movie,” says Sharon Stone, "and Mike is always a little ahead of the times. He's an interesting filmmaker.” 

Quaid, who laughingly calls Figgis the "independent—‘just give me a 16 millimeter ca


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