Mena Suvari struggles with her religious beliefs in Lifetime’s “House of Chains” preview (exclusive)

Mena Suvari struggles with her religious beliefs in Lifetime’s “House of Chains” preview (exclusive)

Mena Suvari is testing her limits this month with the release of house of chains, the fictional story of a troubled married couple who imprison their six children at home due to a cryptic religious ideology. ET has an exclusive look at the new Lifetime movie.

Suvari plays Laura, a seemingly normal suburban wife who, along with her husband, Tye (Greyston Holt), follows a strict set of religious beliefs that keep their six children isolated from the outside world.

The disturbing religious system leads Laura and Tye “down a path of child abuse, neglect and imprisonment,” the film’s press release reads. “In order to protect their younger siblings and break free from the chains their parents have created, the older children band together and risk a harrowing escape to alert the authorities and save their families.”

In the ET clip, Laura watches as her husband ties two of their children to the railing at the top of the stairs in the house. The whole family wears white linen clothes and stands in front of a wall covered floor to ceiling with framed photographs of the children.

“We found where the enemy planted his seeds of evil,” Tye said as he finished tying the rope around his son’s back. The line seems to imply that the children are responsible for some serious sin, but the rest of the group seems confused. “Now we can starve the infection out of the ground, but it will take seven days,” he continues, suggesting that the two children will have to stay attached to it for a full week.

Seven?Laura asks, appalled and seemingly scared. When Tye tells her it could be up to nine days, she reassures him, “No, seven is enough.”

As the rest of the family descends the stairs, leaving the two trapped children tied to the banister, the youngest yells at his mother. “Mom, just untie me for a minute.” Laura pauses, but continues down the stairs.

Last month, Suvari told ET that these portrayals of child abuse completely knocked her out during filming. “It was very, very intense,” she said. “I felt like I really needed to decompress for at least two hours every night.”

Suvari, who welcomed her first child, Christopher, with husband Michael Hope last year, said being an off-screen mother made it even harder to play an abusive one.

“I played a parent figure before becoming a mother in my own life, and it’s very different,” she explained. “I feel like you’re on the other side a bit, and that was very heartbreaking for me. It was very difficult.”

Nevertheless, the complexity of the project was worth it. “I really think trying to understand how people can find themselves in situations like this. I was really fascinated by Laura, and when you first meet her at the start of the movie, the situation she finds herself in and how she’s coping with it, a man who’s seemingly so sure of himself, and so strong, so confident, and she’s putting everything in him and investing everything in this relationship and how it’s gone so wrong.”

house of chains was written and directed by Stephen Tolkin. The film will premiere Saturday, September 10 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.

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