Some horror movies are meant to scare viewers out of themselves, providing an escape into underworlds with otherworldly creatures and things most believe could never actually happen. Ghosts, werewolves, aliens, and the like give a fun kind of fright. They make the world seem like a simpler and less scary place. But there’s another type of horror film, the kind that reminds people how big and terrifying this world really is. These are the kinds of films that remind audiences of the concepts of chaos and our own mortality–that anything can happen to anyone, no matter how careful they are.
The Strangers was that kind of film. It introduced audiences to a new kind of terror in the genre: random acts of violence. For the most part, before The Strangers, victims in slasher flicks had it coming when they broke slasher movie rules; characters must be virgins, don’t engage in substance use, don’t split up, don’t investigate, etcetera, etcetera. But The Strangers changed the game. It showed that real life isn’t a movie, there are no tropes to guide people. One night, on a night like any other, a masked murderer can just show up to a home and kill whoever’s inside. It’s a more than unsettling dose of reality.
Although it became a cult classic after its release, The Strangers is now due for an expansion. Its sequel, The Strangers: Prey at Night, received mixed reviews, with some critics calling it clichéd and subpar compared to the first film. Now, Lionsgate is working to revive the franchise into a rebooted trilogy, going back to the beginning of the story. With a high-quality team of expert horror creators and producers, the new Strangers will expand its story world and dive deeper into its characterization. The new project is intended to invite both new audiences and established fans into a bigger, more terrifying world than the first two films could build. Set to release in 2024, here’s everything we know so far about The Strangers: Chapter 1.
Editor’s Note: This piece was updated on October 15, 2023.
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Is There a Release Date for ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’?
Image via Lionsgate
As of right now, we don’t have a concrete release date for The Strangers: Chapter 1 or its two sequels, but Lionsgate has teased that the first film will arrive sometime in 2024. It also has not yet been revealed whether or not the films will receive an exclusive theatrical release.
All three movies were filmed subsequently, a rarity in horror and in film in general. This is the only time a horror franchise has been filmed this way besides Netflix’s Fear Street trilogy. The Strangers trilogy will be a huge project with likely a huge cinematic payoff.
Is There a Trailer for ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’?
While a trailer has not been released, Lionsgate did release a clip from the film on October 12, during the film’s panel at New York Comic Con. The creepy clip has the film’s leading lady talking with a mysterious visitor at her door.
What Is the Plot of ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’?
Image via Lionsgate
The official plot synopsis for The Strangers: Chapter 1 reads:
From master director Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2, The Exorcist: The Beginning) comes a new trilogy of terror. In Chapter I, Madelaine Petsch (TV’s “Riverdale”) stars as a young woman starting a new life with her fiancé. Suddenly, during a road trip stop in a remote vacation rental in the woods, they become the prey of a mysterious gang of masked strangers who attack without warning or reason. What begins as a fight to stay alive becomes one woman’s journey of courage and cunning in this horror series bridging three compelling films.
Although The Strangers has stuck to a specific plot formula, the point of this new trilogy is to broaden The Strangers’ “storyverse” and explore a more in-depth character study. It’s an opportunity for this slasher film franchise to take things to a new level, operating in the same pioneering position as the original 2008 film, which completely changed future horror with its new “it could happen to anyone” concept.
During the film’s panel at NYCC, it was revealed that all three films will take place in the time span of just a few days and that the third film will explore the origin of the Strangers from the original film.
Who Is Starring in ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’?
A batch of fresh faces will be appearing in The Strangers remake. Madelaine Petsch (Riverdale) stars in the lead role as Maya. In an interview with Collider’s Perri Nemiroff, Petsch assured longtime fans that they have nothing to worry about with the new films:
“I’d like to first tell that person that I too feel that way about the original Strangers. When I got sent the trilogy of scripts, I said, ‘This feels like a behemoth that maybe shouldn’t be touched.’ I really felt that way as well and I was very resistant to the idea. And then I clicked on the first script and it all made sense to me. You’re getting so much more backstory. You’re getting so much more character development. I think my biggest pet peeve with the old one now is that you’re not really emotionally invested in those characters. So, yes, it’s terrifying, but you don’t know why they’re fighting originally. You don’t know what their relationship is. They’re kind of already at odds with each other, and so there’s not a lot of investment into Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. You’re just terrified for them and with them, and so I think we built a world that delves into it more. It’s not exactly a remake because it’s different characters, but it’s the same concept and idea, and I think people will feel like it’s an homage. They’re gonna feel like we handled the material with care and I think [they’re gonna feel] like we’ve dove deeper into it. So if anything, it should make Strangers OG fans really excited because you get more answers, you get more mystery and you get more scares, which is why we watch them.”
Froy Gutierrez (Cruel Summer) is playing Ryan, Maya’s long-term boyfriend. For more named characters, there is Rachel Shenton (All Creatures Great and Small) playing Debbie, Florian Clare (Industry) playing Chris Sampson, Ben Cartwright (Sherlock Holmes) playing Rudy, Rebecka Johnston (Midsommar) as Lucy, Miles Yekinni (Britannia) as Marcus, and Janis Ahern (Tom & Jerry) as Carol. Also, cast in the movie with their characters yet to be revealed, there is Gabriel Basso (Super 8), Ema Horvath (What Lies Below), Ella Bruccoleri (All Creatures Great and Small), Ryan Bown (Everything I Know About Love), Brooke Lena Johnson (You), Stevee Davies (Belgravia), and Brian Law (Doctor Who).
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Who Is Making ‘The Strangers: Chapter 1’?
Image via Lionsgate
Horror and action director Renny Harlin is directing the new Strangers trilogy. He is known for hit films like The Misfits, The Covenant, Mindhunters, Exorcist: The Beginning, and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. The trilogy was written by first-time screenwriter Amber Loutfi and Due Date scribes Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland.
Producer Courtney Solomon, who has headed a multitude of horror films, is joined on the production team by Mark Canton (300), Christopher Milburn (The Protégé), Charlie Dombek (The Informer), and Alastair Birlingham (Moonfall).
Most of the filmmakers on this team have been a part of some major hit films and big horror projects, so The Strangers remake is bound to be a success.