The Strangers Trilogy: Renny Harlin is planning a 4.5 hour mega-cut

The Strangers marks Renny Harlin’s return to the horror genre, and his three films are being planned as an odyssey.

Last Updated on June 5, 2024

The Strangers: Chapter 1 Horror Preview

Like many of you, I was scratching my head when I learned that director Renny Harlin would be making not one, not two, but three movies based on the horror cult classic The Strangers. While a pretty slick horror flick, the original spawned a modest follow-up that didn’t get a ton of buzz. When it came out, I figured it was a series that had run its course. It seems this is not so, with Lionsgate releasing a widely ambitious trilogy of horror films this year (it’s like the horror version of Kevin Costner’s Horizon). Notably, it marks the return of director Renny Harlin to the horror genre. Now mostly known for his action films, such as the classics Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger, The Long Kiss Goodnight, and many more – horror was where he made his original reputation. Prison, which gave Viggo Mortensen his first leading role, was a cult hit, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master was a smash. Since then, he’s dipped his toe back into the genre with movies like Deep Blue Sea and Mindhunters, but usually when they’re a hybrid with another genre. Not so for The Strangers trilogy, which is straight-up horror. According to a recent report in Variety, Harlin shot all three films in one fifty-two-day shoot, and he’s already planning to cut together a 4.5-hour version of the film (from a 285-page script), which will exist as a kind of horror odyssey. As he told Variety, “I definitely want to have that event and see if people take four and a half hours of dread and fear and terror and despair.”

In the interview, Harlin denies the movie is any kind of remake, with him evoking a lot of admiration for the original Bryan Bertino film, even admitting to being intimidated by its quality. “Simply doing a sequel or remake didn’t appeal to me, but this was such an opportunity to have four and a half hours of a case study of victims of a violent crime and the perpetrators and what makes them tick and how it affects a person who goes through this.”

Indeed, the producer Courtney Solomon admits its the hook of the original movie that’s proved to be irresistible: “It’s the primal nature of the original concept, these three random people and unexplained, random acts of violence, which is just so terrifying and real. I don’t know if you can improve upon that, so why don’t we take that basic premise as a starting point and modify it for a bigger story that becomes proper, character-driven horror.  

For a whole lot more on The Strangers: Chapter 1, which opens May 17th, stay tuned to JoBlo as our own Tyler Nichols is attending the premiere in Los Angeles this week. For more on Harlin’s take on The Strangers, check out our exclusive interview with him HERE.

Source: Variety

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.