B-D Chats With ‘Strangers’ Director Bryan Bertino

Last week SpookyDan had the chance to chat with Bryan Bertino, director of Rogue Pictures’ The Strangers, which arrives in theaters everywhere this Friday (May 30). Inside you can read about what it takes to scare an audience and more.
Bertino tells us that the element of fear is what drives his creativity. “You know I love the ones I love. I am much more interested in the seventies genre films more so than the ones that are made today. There is no doubt in my mind that I will be writing horror films for some time because I enjoy FEAR, I enjoy the element of fear.

In THE STRANGERS a couple (Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman) in a remote suburban house are targeted by three dangerous masked strangers. The resulting clashes force the couple to go well beyond what they thought themselves capable of in order to survive.

Getting the opportunity to direct a big feature film doesn’t happen every day, Bertino talked a bit about how fortunate he was to score the job and how the dream came to be.

You know I have been very fortunate, very lucky that people respond to not just the words that I write but the way that I talk about things and my ideas about things,” he tells us. “I was in a situation in which for a couple of years they were looking for a director that the production company and the studios agreed would understood what this movie is. After a couple years of trying to find the right one, they went back to me, the original writer to talk about what the film is. I went back in, and when I left they called my agent and told them that they wanted me. I am very fortunate to get the opportunity…

The main selling point for this new home invasion flick is that the three stalkers/killers are wearing creepy masks. Bertino talks about who designed the masks and where the idea came from.

Many people were involved, but I want to give credit to an artist named Helen Ward, we sat down and mapped them out. She is such a talented artist; she took the script and our conversations and turned them into what you see. The masks definatly turned out to be what I had envisioned in my head, in terms of the homemade look, like something you could by in a Wal-Mart. There is something really frightening about the idea that anyone can put on a mask, but it’s what you choose do when it’s on that can be quite scary.

When you finally see THE STRANGERS, something you’ll notice is the pace of the film, which was influenced by `70s films.

As I mentioned, I am way more influenced in the seventies genre films, you go back to ALIEN and it’s 30-minutes before anything bad happens,” Bertino explains. “I think for me personally I like the idea of a slow burn. You are lulling people into the world. My hope is that I have actually kind of tricked you into being calm, and you are there. For me, as much as it’s a slow burn, when it picks up speed it picks up tension as the movie goes. It’s a relatively short film because it’s intense in that way. The fact that I have not done this before has made the film feel more raw. In some ways I like that it’s rough around the edges, that’s something that I am really proud of.

Now that Bertino is pumping out the next genre slasher, he is now trying to figure out what to do next. “I have a lot of possibilities right now. You know, after doing it once I know how hard it is and how much you have to fight. You have to work with so many different people to get your ideas out there, and the long hours and the whole process. It has to be a project that YOU believe in 100%. For me I went back to writing, and now I am just very specific, I have passed on a lot of things. Because I loved directing and I want to do a good job.

When asked about the possibility of STRANGERS TOYS, Bertino exclaims “There has been plenty of talk about it! [My] fingers [are] crossed,” he continues, “there will be more talk depending on how the movie does. But I can honestly say that I have always thought about the possibility of people running around with THOSE masks and trick or treating!

Even if you don’t like the movie, the idea of having these masks lurking around the neighborhood is enough to make your skin crawl. Check out THE STRANGERS in theaters May 30.