Johannes Roberts, the director that last year made us wonder if it’s safe to go in the water with 47 Meters Down, is now making us question if we’ll ever trust strangers again with Strangers: Prey at Night.
Johannes and I sat down to discuss The Strangers: Prey At Night. He also mentioned that he found inspiration in two of the genre’s most classic films.
The Strangers: Prey At Night centers on a family whose road trip takes a dangerous turn when they arrive at a secluded mobile home park to stay with some relatives and find it mysteriously deserted. Under the cover of darkness, three masked psychopaths pay them a visit to test the family’s every limit as they struggle to survive.
Christina Hendricks, Bailee Madison, Lewis Pullman, and Martin Henderson star. Emma Bellomy, Lea Enslin, Damien Maffei play the demented trio of killers.
Horror Fuel: “Earlier today I re-watched ’47 Meters Down’, I really like that movie.”
Johannes Roberts: “That movie was a tough one of epic proportions. I’m very glad it worked in the end.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m glad it did too. We don’t get enough good shark films. You are about to go through that all again for ’48 Meters Down’.”
Johannes Roberts: “Yes, I have to do something first, but we start that one later this year. It’s all in hidden caves, so it’ll be pretty scary.
Horror Fuel: “I can’t wait. I love sharks.”
Johannes Roberts: “Me too. I’m a big kid. I love sharks and dinosaurs.”
Horror Fuel: “Well, maybe one day we’ll see you do a film about dinosaur sharks.”
Johannes Roberts: “We’ll see.”
Horror Fuel: “You have a killer movie about to come out, ‘Strangers: Prey At Night”. The trailer looks great by the way.”
Johannes Roberts: “Thank you. The movie, it was opposite of ’47’, it worked just like a dream scenario. And now to see the posters up around town is great. I hope it works this weekend.”
Horror Fuel: “I know a lot of people are very excited about seeing it, including me.”
Johannes Roberts: “It’s an interesting one. I was nervous about taking it on. When it came to me I wasn’t sure if there was an audience still. The first seems to have stayed in people’s minds. A lot of people were too young to watch it the first time around, but it seems to have lived a life on cable. It’s kept it going.”
Horror Fuel: “The Strangers’ was unique and that has a way of sticking in the minds of horror fans.”
Johannes Roberts: “Absolutely.”
Horror Fuel: “Is true that the ‘Strangers’ franchise is based on a true story?”
Johannes Roberts: “That happened to Brian with creepy people coming to his house and there had been burglaries all around where he lived. That whole creepy scenario combined with the Charles Manson murders, so the story has been taken from various sources.
Horror Fuel: “Can you tell us about the characters?”
Johannes Roberts: “The setup is with a family that’s falling apart. They’re taking their teenage daughter away to boarding school because they just don’t know how to deal with her anymore. It’s a really interesting setup because the family is self-destructing while being faced with this terrible, terrifying foe. They have to come together and battle against this. It was a lot of fun to bring that to life.”
Horror Fuel: “It’s always great when there is extra tension between characters.”
Johannes Roberts: “Yeah. What I think works about the first movie is that you really love and believe in the characters. That’s really what I wanted to do.”
Horror Fuel: “What inspired changing the setting from a neighborhood like in the first film to an empty trailer park?”
Johannes Roberts: “It was Brian’s script that he wrote ten years ago. He felt it was a really interesting way to go for the sequel rather than just playing the same movie over.”
Horror Fuel: “Much of the sequel is set at night. How much more difficult is that to film compared to filming in the daytime?”
Johannes Roberts: “I love nights. It’s fun, but it is difficult in terms that you have to light it. We had to wait till the sun goes down and then the sun comes up very early. It really has a lot of challenges. I love doing night shoots. It’s hard on the crew though when you do a lot of shooting at night.”
Horror Fuel: “Judging by the trailer, there seems to be a lot more action in ‘Prey At Night’.”
Johannes Roberts: “The first movie was great and this one really fits into that world. It’s a slow build up to when the strangers are arriving and then it’s just full on. I think its tone is slightly different from the first one. It’s about a family fighting back wherein the first one there’s not a lot of fight, they just get tortured. I had a lot of fun. In my mind, I was remaking ‘Christine’. I use that truck all the time. I had great fun with that. There’s just huge set pieces with the swimming pool and the truck, it was a much bigger campus than the first movie.”
Horror Fuel: “If you had to describe ‘Strangers: Prey At Night’ in three words, what would they be?”
Johannes Roberts: “It’s fucking brilliant.”
Horror Fuel: “I like that answer [laughter].”
Johannes Roberts: “[laughter] It’s super scary.”
Horror Fuel: “There are a lot of vehicles crashes in this one. Is it really dangerous to do those on set?”
Johannes Roberts: “It is, but we have really great stuntmen. We had the same stunt guy, Cal Johnson, as the first one. There’s always an element of risk. When we were doing some of the fire explosions it got tricky. There’s definitely a big risk there.”
Horror Fuel: “It seems like the truck in the movie is its own character.”
Johannes Roberts: “One hundred percent. The movie owes a lot to ‘Christine’ and I had a lot of fun with that truck. I love that truck. Sometimes it feels a bit like ‘Jaws’. When you watch the movie the truck is prowling this trailer park a bit like a shark. It was a really cool thing to film and we kind of build the music into the truck. It has a really cool vibe to it.”
Horror Fuel: “How long is ‘Strangers’ set after the first film?”
Johannes Roberts: “We don’t really address that ever. The movie is within the world of ‘The Strangers’, but we never directly reference the first movie.
Horror Fuel: “By any chance, will we ever see Liv Tyler’s character again? And is there a chance we’ll get a third one?”
Johannes Roberts: “You never know. I’ve been in the room where these conversations happen. It’s not beyond possibility.”
Johannes Roberts: “I just really hope people get a kick out of this movie.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m sure we’ll love it.”
We will keep you posted as 48 Meters Down draws closer its release on June 28, 2019.