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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday March 25, 2020 


It looks like your typical suburban house with an average garden, but the cute little cubbyhouse at the end of it is the gateway to hell. Andrew L. Urban visits the Gold Coast set of this new Australian horror thriller, starring Joshua Leonard (The Blair Witch Project) and Belinda McClory (The Matrix).

Up here on the Gold Coast, just a 40 minute drive from Coolangatta airport, the sun, even though it’s early spring, is already hot enough to burn a film star. Fair haired Josh Leonard, the world famous cameraman of Blair Witch Project fame, is squinting in the brightness. This brightness will soon give way to darkness, as the demons from the Cubbyhouse threaten to …. But I’m getting ahead of myself, which is dangerous when demons are about.

"great big vines that shoot up your trouser leg….ugghh!"

Josh is between scenes when I sit myself down in one of those director’s chairs and pull up another one for him. The crew is busy behind him, as they set up for one of the film’s pre-demonic scenes. (And I made damn sure I wasn’t around when the demonic possession stuff was being done: all that screaming, great big vines that shoot up your trouser leg….ugghh!)

Australians have seen nothing of Leonard since Blair Witch Project, but this is in fact his 10th film since. Oddly enough, he didn’t set out to be an actor at all. He was a novice cameraman, which is why he got the role (as a novice cameraman) in Blair Witch Project. But now he’s converted. He had a support role alongside Robert DeNiro in Man of Honour and with Matt Dillon in the Martin Scorsese produced Deuces Wild. Cubbyhouse brings him back to the thriller genre.

In Cubbyhouse, he plays Danny, "an American kid," he explains, "and when his folks get divorced he comes to Australia, which is where his mother comes from. They move into this house and the house previously had been used for Satanic rituals and some of that comes back to haunt them. But I give the script credit for having real, three dimensional characters with real emotions and responses, rather than – as many films might – focus on the gratuitous elements."

"Josh is great," says director Murray Fahey. "He’s relaxed and great to have on the set. He’s got a really nice handle on who his character Danny is…"

Danny is the eldest son of the Graham family, who after relocating their home from Los Angeles to the Gold Coast, expect there to be a few cultural differences - but not the demonic presence that resides at the bottom of the garden. The evil force exists in the form of a derelict children’s playhouse, or Cubbyhouse, which Danny suspects is actually a gateway to Hell. When his younger brother and sister (plyed by local youngsters Joshua Tainish – Biagi and Amy Reti) start to become possessed, Danny must battle the growing evil before all Hell breaks loose.

"The demons are infernal, not internal"

Belinda McClory, who has made such diverse films as the low budget, high impact Australian drama, Redball and the big budget Hollywood blockbuster, The Matrix, is busy playing mum in the kitchen as the family resettles in their new home. She is going through the scene with Fahey, blocking her moves in the kitchen of the hired house. Unlike in a studio, a real kitchen poses physical restraints, but McClory has it down pat. She turns, smiles, flicks her fingers (actor-speak for the line of dialogue she has at that point) and hits her mark for the camera.

She recalls the memorable West Hollywood premiere of The Matrix, in which McClory plays Switch, a revolutionary in the company of Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne). "It was a bit scary; I hadn’t been warned how vocal the American audiences can get…when we got out of the limo there were a couple of thousand people and they just screamed!"

In Redball, McClory plays a female detective who has to deal with demons of a different kind; and she knows that scene well, because her own father had been a police officer. But in Cubbyhouse, the demons are infernal, not internal.

"an all-Australian production"

Cubbyhouse is an all-Australian production (except for Leonard) and features elaborate special effects (including that possessed vine I mentioned earlier) created by Complete Post and Pro FX, whose team’s credits include Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Starship Troopers, Deep Blue Sea, Contact, Romeo + Juliet and Peter Jackson’s The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy.

Director Murray Fahey is an accomplished actor and director whose previous feature films include Dags and Sex Is A Four Letter Word. Producers Chris Brown (Mona Lisa, The Company Of Wolves, Absolute Beginners, Komodo and most recently the award-winning Scarfies) and David Hannay (Stone, Mapantsula, Kadaicha, Vicious, Gross Misconduct) bring their considerable experience to the project.

Cubbyhouse was written by Ian Coughlan and Murray Fahey, and co-stars Lauren Hewett (Ocean Girl) as the pretty neighbour, Jerome Ehlers and Craig McLachlan.

As did The Blair Witch Project, Cubbyhouse has quickly created its own website, at www.cubbyhouse-themovie.com which will keep visitors updated on the progress of the film as it is made; all you have to do is join the mailing list. If you dare . . .

Publication date: November 30, 2000

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