The Strangers Movie Was Originally ‘Four and a Half Hours Long,’ So Was Cut Into Three Chapters


  • Producer Courtney Solomon and director Renny Harlin are retelling, not remaking,
    The Strangers
    in a giant movie trilogy.
  • Harlin emphasizes that he will maintain the original film’s sense of terror and senselessness in the upcoming chapters, which were all filmed together over 52 days.
  • Madelaine Petsch plays Maya in the first chapter, surviving the night with her partner in crazy circumstances.

Speaking at a recent panel for The Strangers: Chapter 1 at Wondercon 2024, several of the talented people involved in the upcoming horror film trilogy discussed the reasoning behind its existence and the surprisingly large story they’re trying to tell. Producer Courtney Solomon, director Renny Harlin, and actor Madelaine Petsch were among the panelists.

Solomon explained that they wanted to “retell the original, not remake it, just retell it in our own way to serve as what ended up being a giant movie. The script was 280 pages when he did it. And then it’s like a four and a half hour movie, so we had to divide it into three chapters because it was just too long to play in movie theaters and nobody could actually sit and watch it.” They elaborated:

But to answer your question, it’s a retelling of the original. We loved where the Strangers sort of came from in that original, and what that mythos became. And so that’s where we wanted to start at in telling sort of a much broader story that actually follows one character through what I would call a real downward slope.

Renny Harlin is an interesting choice to direct the trilogy, but he certainly has the bona fides. His past films include Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2, Deep Blue Sea, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and perhaps most importantly with regard to The Strangers, Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Harlin spoke about his intentions behind this new “retelling,” saying:

What I loved about the original
was that it was one of the scariest movies I had ever seen. It was senseless. It was cruel

. There was no rhyme or reason why they are doing it to these poor people. We wanted to keep that sense from the original film, that this could happen to any of us […] We are not copying the original movie, we are not making the same movie again.”


What Made The Strangers Such a Terrifying Film?

One of the most terrifying films ever made, we take a look back at the 2008 horror flick!

Madelaine Petsch Runs from The Strangers

Madelaine Petsch said that making three films at the same time was certainly a challenge: “We didn’t have the luxury of time on these films. We had 52 days to shoot three of them.”

“When I was a child, I watched every horror film at Blockbuster when I was a kid, and nothing scared me except for The Strangers,” explained Petsch. And so, when I got our 280-page script in my inbox, I felt like, ‘Who could possibly think they could take on The Strangers? It’s amazing. I would call it a perfect horror film. Can’t be redone.'” She continued:

“And I spoke with Renny and Courtney, and we discussed what we were trying to do with Maya, the character that I play.
She is just going to do a job interview in Portland, and her partner’s car breaks down. And they have to kind of make it through the night
, survive the night in these incredibly crazy circumstances. But that’s just a launch pad for the story we’re trying to tell.
The first chapter is just the beginning
, and that is what excited me most about this.”

We’re excited, too. The Strangers: Chapter 1 is in theaters May 17, 2024. You can watch the trailer below:


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