Opening in theaters today, “Beautiful Creatures” is a supernatural love story set in South Carolina.
In the film, 17-year-old Ethan Wate (Alden Ehrenreich) is desperate to get out of his small town. Things take a turn for Ethan when Macon Ravenwood, owner of gothic Ravenwood Manor comes into the town. Ethan has an immediate interest in Macon’s niece, Lena Duchannes (Alice Englert).
Lena is a caster, which means she has powers beyond her control. As Lena approaches her 16th birthday, her fate is about to be determined as she will bechosen by either the light or dark forces.
Although the film features industry greats like Emma Thompson, Viola Davis and Jeremy Irons, much of the cast are relative unknowns. For many of the young actors starring in “Beautiful Creatures,” the story is easy to identify with.
“I [had] this kind of restlessness and this desire for something more out of life than what you were given,” Ehrenreich says of himself when he was in high school.
“And that’s really what Ethan struggles [with]. He lives in this small minded town where everything is the same and he is just looking for something, you know, bigger, larger than life to rapture that monotony.”
For co-star Englert, the realness of the world, meshed with the supernatural elements, is what appealed to her.
“I thought that what made the supernatural quality of it really stand out to me was that it was still based in a human world,” said Englert.
“And it was the magic that seemed to not just be there as a spectacle, but to be an extension on these people and their lives and who they were made sense to me.”
For Englert, another huge plus was the amount of detail put into the human elements of the story.
The focus was not lost because of the CGI elements.
“The conversations we were having about character and scenes and dynamics were the same as they would be if we are making a $5 million character driven movie,” Englert says.
“We were really intent on finding the reality in it and the most offbeat, idiosyncratic conversion of what these characters and what this movie could be.”
Rising star Emmy Rossum (“Shameless,” “Phantom of the Opera”) plays Ridley Duchannes.
“Ridley is a dark caster,” Rossum explains. “She has been claimed for the dark side when she was 16. And so she has been kind of fully embracing that side of herself and she is a bit of a villain in the book and in the film.”
Though it has been frequently compared to the “Twilight” series, cast members of “Beautiful Creatures” believe the love story aspect is where the similarities end.
Rossum notes that a huge difference is the strong female lead.
“One of the things I loved about this story, which I think makes it different from a lot of the young adult novels and properties that are out there is that we are showing the females in the Duchannes family as the ones with all the power,” Rossum says. “I think that it’s important to empower young women- especially during an adolescent time.”
Ehrenreich believes the intended demographic of both the series’ books and film adaptations are the only similarities but does not believe that’s a bad thing due to the success of the “Twilight” series.
“Hopefully people feel a fraction of the enthusiasm for this film as they did for those films,” Ehrenreich says. “But to me this film has its own very distinct identity and voice.”