ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke to The Strangers: Chapter 1 producer Courtney Solomon about the first film in the horror trilogy. Solomon discussed the film’s meta opening and how the series will evolve over three films. Hitting theaters on May 17, the Renny Harlin-directed movie stars Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez.

“After their car breaks down in an eerie small town, a young couple (Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez) are forced to spend the night in a remote cabin. Panic ensues as they are terrorized by three masked strangers who strike with no mercy and seemingly no motive in The Strangers: Chapter 1, the chilling first entry of this upcoming horror feature film series,” says the synopsis.

Tyler Treese: I wanted to ask about that text at the beginning of The Strangers: Chapter 1, which I loved. It’s kind of meta. It says, “There’s been seven violent attacks since you started watching this film.” I thought that was such a cool way to get the viewer on edge. Can you speak to that decision?

Courtney Solomon: We were looking up stats to put on those cards, frankly, and doing a bunch of research. Literally, the whole thing about how many seconds and how often it happens, that’s literally with the runtime we did the math. There had been by the point we get to that point in the film, and so we were like, let’s just point it out to everybody, right? Because to really bring it home that, “Guess what? This is happening all the time.” Because it feels like no time that you’ve been watching the film at that point, and yet you see that, and it just, like you said, sinks in. So that’s where it came from.

This isn’t a slasher. There’s not death after death, but this is tense all the way through. What was kind of the biggest goal of Chapter 1 as a horror film?

It’s a giant script, right? So, it’s a 289-page script we wrote because we’re insane. Literally when it’s three chapters because it’s too long, but it’s one big story we are telling. So, it’s not literally this, but a script takes a three-act structure, as you know. Literally Chapter 1 is act one, Chapter 2 is act two. Chapter 3 is act three. Really, part of Chapter 3 is a bit of act two, right? So that’s, that’s what it is. It’s the setup, and we wanted to start where the original Strangers started because that was the setup.

Where our story delves further into who’s behind the mask without taking away, I’ve been asked this, so I’ll just say it upfront, the mystery of it at all. So when we go into that, they don’t give you a speech, they don’t suddenly start talking. They don’t do that. We maybe let you see some of the other kills that they’ve done. We maybe go back into time and through watching some of that, you get more insight into who these people are because again, we’re a parallel sort of storyline to the original, if you will. But we want to get behind the mask, and we wanted to really get into the mind of a victim that survives and is continuing to be pursued.

If that was happening to you for three or four days and you were locked in an environment that you couldn’t get out of legitimately, and these people were toying with you and ultimately gonna kill you, what would that do to you? Literally, what would that do to you? We spend the time to actually go through it with that protagonist as we also get to learn in a very clever way, a little bit more about our antagonists as well.

So we’ve got very much of a balance of this going on where you’re on this journey, and really what happens is the horror to what you were just saying, the suspense and the tension and the intensity. It’s even more in movie two, weirdly, and it’s a completely different movie. You’ll be refreshingly pleased that when you go in. You’re like, “Oh my God. They just kept going on this journey, and they applied the sort of baseline that they did in movie one to this and then took me somewhere new.”

Tyler Treese

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Chapter 1 Producer Courtney Solomon Talks Horror Trilogy