The Strangers Actress Madelaine Petsch Gives Perfect Response to Fans Worried About Reboot

By Russ Milheim Posted:
The Strangers, Madelaine Petsch

The Strangers: Chapter 1 star Madelaine Petsch has the perfect message for fans worried about one particular aspect of the franchise’s future.

For many, one of the things that made the 2008 The Strangers horror film was how The Strangers themselves were never identified and had no motivation—they were doing it because they could.

With a new trilogy of movies coming from Lionsgate, they hope to explore the titular group’s backstory further. However, lots of fans have been vocally against this, as they feel any explanation inherently goes against the innate terror of the original.

[ The Strangers: Chapter 1 Writers Reveal Why They Changed the Franchise's Most Famous Line ]

Madelaine Petsch Has Something to Say to Doubters

The Strangers 2024 wallpaper
The Strangers

The Direct participated in a roundtable interview for The Strangers: Chapter 1 where star Madelaine Petsch shared the perfect message for fans worried about these new films exploring the backstory of the titular horror icons.

Petsch, who plays Maya, posited that audiences should "watch the movies before com[ing] to conclusions," and that these films are "not answering everything:"

"I would start by saying watch the movies before you come to conclusions, because although we are kind of promising more answers, we're not answering everything. We all as the filmmakers and the actors understand that, the innate terror of the movies is that we don't really know much about them or why. So some questions will be answered, of course, to get more of, like, I guess a window into the machinations of The Strangers but we're not gonna lose the innate terror that is so visceral within the original, like we're aware of it."

Petch's Strangers co-star Froy Gutierrez was also on hand, and he talked about how his previous experience in the horror genre helped him for The Strangers: Chapter 1:

"I did a slasher in 2019 and then I did 'Teen Wolf', which is adjacent, and 'Cruel Summer' and 'Hocus Pocus 2.' But yeah, some of the smartest people and people I look up to creatively the most in my life are such horror avid fans. And so like, for me personally, I didn't grow up loving the genre, because I'm so skittish. So I've kind of learned to appreciate the genre and love it more and more through the people that I've worked with, in my career, and yeah, and now I'm such a horror fan. I just played ‘Outlast' the video game, which is a horror game."

Petsch added how, for her, it has helped having "stamina" thanks to her "previous horror experiences," and her time on Riverdale:

"I feel the thing that's helped me the most with having had previous horror experiences in my career is stamina. Like, to be a horror actor is like you have to have a lot of stamina in more ways than one. And so I think over the course of my career, I've been able to build up my stamina up to now be able to carry, you know, three films in 52 days of shooting with the stamina that I had kind of practiced, especially on a show like ‘Riverdale’ where it's like you're just running around, you know, screaming and doing crazy shit all the time."

For Gutierrez, the actor’s favorite moment to make a reality from the page to the screen was the scene that saw Maya and Ryan crawling through the crawlspace under the home:

"For me, it has to be the crawlspace sequence with the rats and the nail and the kind of slow pan up through the floorboards of the house. I just thought that was so cool. It was way beyond any expectations I could have had reading it on the page… and [Madeline] just killed it In that scene. It made me so concerned for her hand."

On making this retelling a unique film in of itself, Petsch noted how the original is "not something that needs to be remade:"

"All the filmmakers myself included and Froy as well after he booked it, we were all such great fans of the original and that's not something that needs to be remade. It is perfect the way it is. And so we wanted to breathe fresh life into it and in a modernization. And really, the whole point of this first film is to create the new, like the world that we want to build into for ['Chapters 2' and '3']. So, it is quite different…"

Fans of the original hoping for callbacks to the original movie should rest easy, with the actress reassuring that there are "a lot of homage pieces" and some recreated moments:

"We have a lot of homage pieces because, of course, these people who love the original, myself included, want to be heard and seen and want to see pieces that excite them and are like Easter eggs to them. But I think we breathe a new life into it, the characters are vastly different in their personalities and their choices that they make. But there are also pieces that are very, you know exactly what you saw in the original, which is kind of why we are calling it a retelling."

"The silhouette is very much the same," Gutierrez agreed, adding that "the choices and the cinematography feels different:"

"I agree. Yeah, like the silhouette is very much the same. But the way that it's filled in is entirely different, like the relationship dynamic is different. The choices and the cinematography feels different as well. And the action is also very different. So I think, yeah, I think we kind of set up being like, it was already done the best way it could be done in this shape. So we're going to try a different form."

For Petsch, the most challenging aspect was juggling both her acting and producing hats throughout the production, which led to a "lack of sleep:" 

"Honestly, the hardest part for me wasn't keeping track of where my character was. If I can credit myself on one thing, it's a fantastic note taker. So I have the craziest binder of notes... I look like a crazy person, but it really does help me when I'm working. The hardest part for me was the lack of sleep. And also, after we were done shooting every day, I would sit with Courtney [Harlin] and Renny [Harlin] and be like, 'Okay, let's talk about what we did. How can we evolve the story further?' And I would site and rewrite scenes with them, after the day was over, so it shortened my window for sleep and also, it was like turning my brain on after a long day of my brain being on as a different person."

But, at the end of the day, could either of them survive if put in the same situation their characters were in?

Gutierrez was quick to admit he "would tap out:"

"I don't think I would. I'd be out of there. I would tap out. I'd be like, y'all are doing too much."

Petsch shared that she thinks her "survival instinct would kick in:"

"But I actually think my survival instinct would kick in and I'd kind of like be a little badass. That's what I actually think. They don't call me little fighter for nothing."

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.