Of course, she was also worried about the cheese factor. “There was the danger of making something campy.” But after meeting first-time director Marcus Nispel, Biel changed her mind. “He was more interested in making a beautiful film, a psychological thriller,” she says. “There was so much attention paid to detail. Not many other horror movie directors are concerned with the way the light hits the sky.”
That much might be true, but Nispel’s artistic attentions are probably the last thing audiences will notice in the film, which hit theaters last Friday. Besides the spine-tingling suspense and whir of that menacing chainsaw, Biel’s performance is creating a loud buzz around town. She doesn’t screech like her horror movie predecessors, but plays it fearless as her friends are slaughtered all around her. “It definitely was a little scary sometimes, working with a live chainsaw. It gets your adrenaline going,” she says. “And being covered in blood all day was bizarre.”
The role is quite a leap from the teenage sweetheart Biel played on the WB hit “Seventh Heaven,” which she’s appeared on since she was 14. She left the show to attend Tufts University in 2000, where she completed 1 1/2 years before realizing that her clock was ticking in Hollywood. “I realized how important it is to take advantage of being young and to work now, since I might not work forever,” she says, though she hopes to transfer to UCLA, where she’s considering either music or ancient religion as a major. The former makes sense, since Biel plays the saxophone and has been singing since she was eight. As for the latter, “I just read ‘The Da Vinci Code’ and I am obsessed. I know it sounds silly to let a novel pick your major,” she admits.