EXCLUSIVE: Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale), Froy Gutierrez (Cruel Summer) and Gabriel Basso (Hillbilly Elegy) have been tapped to star in a Lionsgate remake of the 2008 horror The Strangers, which has entered production in Slovakia. Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger) is directing the film, which will be the first in a trilogy, having locked in a deal to helm the subsequent pair.
The original film The Strangers was a home invasion pic, which Bryan Bertino wrote and directed in his feature debut, with Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman starring. It registered as a sleeper hit upon its May 2008 release via Universal Pictures and came to be appreciated in the years following as a cult classic, with the sequel The Strangers: Prey at Night being released in March of 2018.
The new Strangers film will follow Petsch’s character as she drives cross-country with her longtime boyfriend (Gutierrez) to begin a new life in the Pacific Northwest. When their car breaks down in Venus, Oregon, they’re forced to spend the night in a secluded Airbnb, where they are terrorized from dusk till dawn by three masked strangers. Lionsgate plans from there to expanding the story in new and unexpected ways with its sequels.
Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland (The Freak Brothers, Due Date) wrote the franchise launcher, to be distributed worldwide by Lionsgate. Courtney Solomon (Cake, After film franchise) is producing alongside Mark Canton (Power Universe, 300), Christopher Milburn (The Protégé, Unhinged), Gary Raskin (Midway), Charlie Dombeck (The War with Grandpa) and Alastair Birlingham (Moonfall). Andrei Boncea, Dorothy Canton, and Roy Lee are exec producing, with Rafaella Biscayn, the Slovakia-based Frame Film SK, Johanna Harlin, Juan Garcia Peredo and Alberto Burgueno serving as co-producers.
“My mother instilled the love of movies in me through the world of Hitchcock and other masters of suspense and horror. My breakthrough to Hollywood happened with the success of A Nightmare on Elm Street 4,” noted Renny Harlin. “It is only fitting that I get to return to my favorite genre with the incredibly well written trilogy of The Strangers. The characters and the storyline are all grounded in reality and offer me an endless tapestry of haunting visuals in bringing these movies alive.”
“When setting out to remake The Strangers, we felt there was a bigger story to be told, which could be as powerful, chilling, and terrifying as the original and could really expand that world,” said Solomon. “Shooting this story as a trilogy allows us to create a hyperreal and terrifying character study. We’re fortunate to be joining forces with Madelaine Petsch, an amazing talent whose character is the driving force of this story.”
“When you’ve got two horror aficionados like Courtney Solomon and Renny Harlin coming together, you’ve got all you need to create some incredibly smart, lean-forward-in-your-seat, addictively thrilling entertainment,” remarked Mark Canton. “Fans of the original film will be blown away; new audiences will discover the intensely unnerving world of The Strangers.”
“The Strangers taps into such primal fears that it will always be relevant,” added Lionsgate’s EVP of Acquisitions & Co-Productions, Eda Kowan. “But what truly sets this project apart is the way the filmmakers have expanded the story and given these characters a new life.”
Petsch stars as Cheryl Blossom on The CW’s Riverdale and can also currently be seen in the rom-com About Fate, from United Artists Releasing. Additional film credits include Jane, Sightless and Polaroid.
Gutierrez plays Jamie Henson on the Freeform series Cruel Summer, which has been renewed for a second season, and has also been seen on shows like Light as a Feather, Teen Wolf and One Day at a Time. Also coming up for the actor is the long anticipated Hocus Pocus 2, which is slated for release on Disney+ on September 30th.
Basso recently led Ron Howard’s drama Hillbilly Elegy and has also been seen in films like The Kings of Summer and Super 8, among others. He’s otherwise best known for his role as Adam — the son of Laura Linney’s Cathy — on Showtime’s series The Big C. The actor will next be seen in Mouly Surya’s action-thriller Trigger Warning and the Netflix series, The Night Agent.
Harlin is a writer, director and producer who has most recently helmed features including Class Reunion 3, The Misfits, Bodies at Rest, Legend of the Ancient Sword, Skiptrace and The Legend of Hercules. Other notable directing credits include 12 Rounds, Cleaner, The Covenant, Exorcist: The Beginning, Mindhunters, Driven, Cutthroat Island, Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Additional upcoming projects for the multi-hyphenate include the horror pic The Refuge and the action-thriller, The Bricklayer.
Petsch is represented by CAA, Mosaic and Goodman, Genow, Schenkman; Gutierrez by CAA, GTC Artists and Untitled Entertainment; Basso by WME, Sugar23 and Yorn, Levine, Barnes; Renny Harlin by UTA and McPherson Rane; and Cohen and Freedland by Gersh.