MVPs of Horror: Lin Shaye on the 'Insidious' strangling scene that left her with real 'necklace of bruises'

Kevin Polowy
·Senior Correspondent, Yahoo Entertainment

Thanks in large part to her beloved role as demonologist extraordinaire Elise Rainier in the Insidious series, Lin Shaye has become one of our biggest MVPs of Horror — a veritable scream queen, according to Wikipedia. (In fact, Shaye, who has also appeared in Nightmare on Elm Street, Critters, 2001 Maniacs, and Ouija movies, has become such a force in the genre that she’s serving as an ambassador for Screamfest, which began Oct. 9 in Los Angeles.)

The Insidious movies, about evil spirits from an astral dimension that inhabit people’s bodies, have presented intense physical challenges for Shaye — and have left marks as a result. She filmed three different strangling scenes: In the terrifying climax to Insidious (2010), her character is choked to death by a possessed Josh Lambert (Patrick Wilson). In the 2015 prequel, Insidious: Chapter 3, she’s strangled simultaneously by the Bride in Black and herself. When asked which of those scenes was most difficult to shoot, Shaye told Yahoo Entertainment that her neck was black and blue after the scene opposite Wilson (watch above).

“I had fingerprints literally like a necklace, a bruise all the way around my neck,” Shaye said. “I don’t even know if I ever told Patrick that.”

To be clear, Shaye is not in any way being accusatory of Wilson, which is apparent from her cheerful, laugh-filled detailing of the shoot. Also, despite saying Wilson “really went for it,” she spelled it out. “He didn’t hurt me,” she said.

The actress, 75, said that in filming strangling scenes, the onus typically falls on the victim, not the strangler, to sell the horror. “There is a trick. You obviously aren’t going to strangle your actor, so most of the energy is supposed to come basically from me. He’s [bringing] what looks like is all the energy, he has to hold back but keep his hands — not limp, but not [tight],” she said. “I’m creating the trauma in what I’m doing more than him.”

Shaye said she recently revisited the James Wan-directed Insidious, which spawned one sequel and two prequels, with a fifth entry planned for 2021.

“And it scared the s*** out of me. I didn’t remember how violent it was until I saw it again. Except I did remember my necklace of bruises.”

Screamfest runs through Oct. 18 at the TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood.

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