The Strangers: Chapter 1 Writers Reveal Why They Altered the Franchise's Most Famous Line (Exclusive)

By Russ Milheim Posted:
The Strangers Chapter 1 masked strangers

While on the red carpet of The Strangers: Chapter 1, the film's writers revealed why they made a massive change to an iconic line from the original.

Toward the end of the 2008 home invasion movie, after the victims are captured by The Strangers and tied up, Liv Tyler’s Kristen asks her attackers through tears why they are doing what they’re doing. 

Their response, cemented in horror cinema infamy and on Shudder's 'Top 101 Scariest Horror Movie Moments of All Time' list, is simple and terrifying: “Because you were home.”

However, for the remake of the upcoming Chapter 1 version of the story (or retelling, as the filmmakers call it), the same line was revealed in the trailer to have been changed to “Because you were here.”

The Strangers: Chapter 1 Red Carpet Reveals

The Strangers: Chapter One masks
The Strangers: Chapter 1

The Direct was in attendance for The Strangers: Chapter 1's red carpet event, where we spoke with the cast and filmmakers.

A major piece of insight came from co-writers Alan Freedland and Alan R. Cohen, who explained why they chose to change the iconic "Because you were home" line from the original film. 

Freedland explained how, in this new version of the film, "it’s not their home that they’re in," which led to them adjusting the line to more accurately reflect the circumstances:

"Well, in our version, it's not their home that they're in. They're in basically an Airbnb. So we changed it to 'Because you're here.' It just seemed a little more accurate. Because the, I don't want to give anything away, but the people in the mask would know that it's not their home."

Cohen said how, in the original film, the house belonged to "Scott Speedman’s character:"

"In the original, it was [in] Scott Speedman's character's... family. So that's why we had to change it."

Speaking with everyone on the red carpet, one thing became clear: there’s a long list of things that those involved with Chapter 1 are proud of.

For star Madelaine Petsch, she pointed out how they "had 52 days to shoot three films" and that she thinks "the fact that [they] finished them at all is a miracle."

"I think that there's something about how immersive horror can be and how you really have to pay attention to it in order to enjoy the experience. And I think that that's something that a lot of other genres don't have is you. It's so much about what's on-screen as much as it is about off-screen as well."

For Froy Gutierrez, who portrays Ryan, he was most proud of "the dynamic" between him and Madelaine Persch’s Maya:

"I think the dynamic that [Madelaine Petsch] and I were able to build with Maya and Ryan was something that we kind of found together and something that's very special to me and something that you get to kind of feel through the screen in a way, I'm really proud of that."

Writer Alan Freeland described how he is fond of the way these new movies will explore "deeper into these characters:"

"That we go deeper into these characters in this movie. It's not just straight horror, where you're going to be scared, but you're actually going to get a little bit more and learn about the people who don't have masks on. But you're also going to learn through the trilogy, about the people who do wear the masks."

Executive producer Dorothy Canton proclaimed how she’s "extremely proud of.. the build-up in the first movie:"

"I mean, I feel like every movie is so different. But at the same time is so great at like actually making it an event. So the build-up in the first movie is something that I feel like I'm extremely proud of."

Cohen shared a similar sentiment, with the writer being confident people will want to come back to see what happens next:

"And I think for the first chapter, we did a good job of setting up the mystery as to who it is behind the masks and why. And so, make you want to come back for ['Chapters 2' and '3'] to find out more of the backstory."

Pablo Sandstrom, who plays Neil, said he thinks they’ve successfully "[tried] to do something different without taking on its identity:"

"Taking a classic and just trying to make it justice. That's something that's really difficult. And I think we've accomplished it… I think it's really hard to take a movie that's so known and try to do something different without taking over its identity. And I think Renny [Harlin] has done a great job with it. And so is Madelaine [Petsch] and everybody else involved."

Producer Mark Canton noted how he doesn't feel they’ve done any "damage" to the original in creating this retelling:

"Well, I'm most proud of the fact that we made our own version of a classic without in any way, doing any damage. There's nothing that derivative, and in a way, they're totally connected in a way [that] there's a real movie for this time. So I'm proud of the little nuances that we did and the cast."

Director Renny Harlin elaborated on believing "that moviegoers will enjoy exploring" where the story goes "in the next two movies:"

"I think that we were able to pay homage to the original film and at the same time, put our own stamp on this premise and set up something that I believe that movie goers will enjoy exploring in the next two movies… I dare to say that, you know, this has never been tried before, where basically the three movies take place in five days. And it's one continuous story."

Harlin shared how "the interplay between [The Strangers]" will be developed even more “in the subsequent movies:”

"That was definitely our goal to make The Strangers real characters. And it started with the writing process, and then was very integral to the casting process. These are not just anybody's with a mask. These are brilliant actors who are able to act without showing their faces. It's all about the body language. And it's about the pace of the movement. And it's about the interplay between them... We will develop that even much more in the subsequent movies."

Obviously, the original 2008 movie is a horror classic for many. 

Lead co-star Gutierrez recalled how his favorite moment from the original with Liv Tyler’s character in the kitchen and a masked Stranger over her shoulder:

"Oh, I have to say my favorite moment is when Liv Tyler is in the kitchen. And you see the Scarecrow right behind her, over her shoulder. It's so creepy. So creepy to pick that up. I didn't even notice it my first time. But the second time I watched it, I was like, ‘That was there the whole time? Yeah, incredible moment."

For Sara Freedland, who plays Annie, her favorite moment is "that first break-in:"

"I think that first break-in is iconic. I mean the line—everyone knows it and it like reverberates within the fans. But I think you know watching [Liv Tyler] do that and like she's so expressive when it comes down to what ends up happening."

Brooke Lena Johnson (Danica) pointed to "the ending" of the original, which she called "really chilling:"

"I mean, I love the ending. I think, to be honest with you. I think it's a really chilling ending. And I think that's what you'll really get with the rest of the trilogy is you're kind of gonna get left on the cliffhangers so you should watch them."

Chapter 1 is only the beginning of a brand-new trilogy for the franchise, with Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 expected to arrive within a year.

Sandstrom teased that the next two entries "just go wild" and it somehow "gets darker:"

"It goes wild. It just goes wild. Like, you know, you think 'Chapter 1' is sort of like, oh my God, what's happening? It gets, it's already dark, it gets darker. So that's scary. That's really scary for me."

Freedland described the next two films as "character-based:"

"You know, it's a little bit more character-based horror in [Chapters 2 and 3] because we're trying to tell about the relationships between the characters and the backstory. So I think you'd look to some of the franchises where the sequels continued the stories."

Producer Dorothy Canton added that she feels future installments will have "elements of The Shining."

Cohen theorized that for audiences, watching all three will make for "a satisfying experience:"

"I think these movies are a little bit different. So you'll watch the first one, and you'll go, 'Okay, that I get,' and then the second one is still a scary movie, but it takes place--it has a little bit different vibe to it. So I think you'll watch all three, and it'll be a satisfying experience."

The Strangers: Chapter 1 hits theaters on Friday, May 17.

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- About The Author: Russ Milheim
Russ Milheim is the Industry Relations Coordinator at The Direct. On top of utilizing his expertise on the many corners of today’s entertainment to cover the latest news and theories, he establishes and maintains communication and relations between the outlet and the many studio and talent representatives.