The Return of Terror: The Strangers Step Out of the Shadows at WonderCon 2024

Author: Tania Escobar

Do you know The Strangers

If you’ve never heard of The Strangers as a horror movie, it’s time to brush up on your slasher knowledge. Unlike the popular slashers that most people know off the top of their heads, The Strangers have managed to hide in the shadows and away from the impending doom of reboots and sequels.

As we reach the halfway mark to Halloween, this is the perfect time to catch you up: The Strangers, the first film, came out in 2008 when horror thriller franchises like Saw rose at the box office. Unlike the typical slasher, The Strangers received another film ten years later, in 2018, with The Strangers: Pray at Night, which gave justice to its predecessor for being better than the first film.

Six years later, in 2024, we’re getting The Strangers: Chapter 1.

On a Saturday afternoon at WonderCon, room North 200B was graced with stars Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez, alongside director Renny Harlin and producer Courtney Solomon. In this room, attendees learned of The Strangers: Chapter 1. Here’s what unfolded during the panel discussion on March 30th, which teased not just the film but the continuation of a horrifying saga.

The most prominent note the filmmakers can’t stress enough is that this is not a remake, nor a prequel, and it’s definitely not a sequel. Chapter 1 is a retelling of the original story. “We don’t know if they’re the same strangers.” It’s never specified in the two previous films who The Strangers are, and maybe the identities are better kept a secret.

The same goes for motives of killing. Most popular slashers usually have a motive in some way, shape, or form. The filmmakers for the new re-telling of The Strangers wanted to keep it as close as possible to the original 2008 film, keeping the same iconic line from the 2008 and 2018 films. “Because you were home…” sets the dark tone of the film and the fear these simple masks give.

“The original was senseless and cruel with no rhyme or reason… this can happen to anyone tonight… You can live anywhere, and these people can show up.” This motive, or lack thereof, is probably why this film series has stood firm and lasted the test of time among the general horror trends. 

A title like Chapter 1 begs the question, will there be more?

Definitely implying more chapters, Harlin said that the final product of this story was a script with a total of 280 pages, which accumulated to a 4.5-hour-long movie. It would have been too long of a horror movie, but Harlin had the idea of splitting the film into three.

Another thing the filmmakers wanted to stress is that “this is not a trilogy.” Harlin explained that all three movies were shot and filmed back to back. It took the film crew 52 days to shoot all three films, 30 of which were filmed in Slovakia.

Harlin called this “a beast of a movie, the challenge of a lifetime.” There are some big shoes to fill and justice to be served to the last Strangers film that was even better than the original. 

Filmmakers asked the studio holder of the film not to release the movies one year apart but instead to release them several months apart. They wanted the film to come out close together so we could stay on a cliffhanger and remember what happened. This tactic guarantees that audiences feel anticipation for what’s coming next.

Harlin revealed that Chapter 2 will come out in the fall perfectly for Halloween. And if you’re well versed in Strangers lore, we find out who Tamra is and why they ask for her in every film in the following chapters.

Mark your calendars and lock your doors. Catch The Strangers: Chapter 1 in theaters everywhere on May 17th, 2024.

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