"Monster House" is a PG-rated animated thriller about three kids who realize the creepy house in the neighborhood is really a living, scary monster. Spencer Locke stars as Jenny, one of a trio of kid heroes trying to alert oblivious grown-ups to the danger; the cast is fleshed out in animated motion-capture performances by the likes of Steve Buscemi, Nick Cannon, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Lee, Jon Heder, Catherine O’Hara, Kathleen Turner, and Fred Willard.
At just fourteen-years-old, the dynamic, blond teenager is, like her fellow "Monster" kid co-stars Mitchel Musso and Sam Lerner, already a vet of television shows like Disney’s "Phil of the Future." Locke is currently experiencing what is arguably the coolest summer vacation ever — on the Mexico set of "Resident Evil 3" after finishing ninth grade — and is gearing up to launch a press tour for "Monster House."
Executive producers Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis brought the unique animation process to "Monster House," using the same animation-over-motion capture technique used in Zemeckis’ "The Polar Express." To film these motion-capture performances in "Monster House," actors had to wear special suits and have reference dots glued to their faces; they also had to perform with wire-frame props that could be transformed digitally in post-production, and do all their scenes in an incredibly small 20′ x 20′ space, or "volume."
Locke found the motion-capture experience to be good exercise for her creativity. "In ‘Monster House,’ obviously I had to imagine everything, so that really getting there mentally was great training," she said. "We did the scenes together, motion capture, we did everything together in that small volume."
It’s a training in digital acting that Locke can put to good use in future roles, like the one she plays in "Resident Evil 3." "[‘Monster House’] helped a lot, because doing stuff this morning with the green screen [for ‘Resident Evil 3’], you have to imagine it," she said.
"It’s really cool that I had that experience coming on, really getting the imagination going," Locke continued.
What’s next for the high-schooler? "Vacation!" she said. "Actually, when I get home I get a week off, and then I’m going on a "Monster House" publicity tour, which is gonna be a blast, I can’t wait — I get to go all over the country!"
"Monster House" opens July 21 nationwide and in eye-popping IMAX 3D!