If you were in the building at WonderCon, there was one panel that you had to sit down for. Lionsgate brought out the goods when it came to The Strangers: Chapter 1 with a panel including director Renny Harlin, stars Madelaine Petsch and Froy Gutierrez, and producer Courtney Solomon. That wasn’t all, though; if you were lucky enough, you caught a glimpse of The Strangers hanging out around the panel and outside. I won’t lie. On my way out of the panel, Baghead scared the living daylights out of me.

Kicking off the panel, Renny Harlin stated that he’s learned a lot from the sequels he’s made in his career like Die Hard 2 and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. Following up on a movie like The Strangers, there’s a certain bit of expectation from fans, and you have to give them the experience they want. He followed up by saying the original film is one of the scariest movies ever.

The idea behind making these movies into a trilogy was out of necessity because the script was so massive. Courtney Solomon talked about how the script was over 300 pages. It was a grueling shoot that all the people involved with said was Apocalypse Now-esque with the rigors of shooting that much. However, Renny Harlin made sure to state that the film is grounded, and that smaller is better. That doesn’t mean that the films don’t get bigger and more epic as they go on though.

The Strangers: Chapter 1 would be nothing without its stars though. Madelaine Petsch plays Maya in the film. In both of the exclusive clips from the film that they showed off, she was being terrorized by Dollface or Baghead. Both amped up the tension and showed off some of the awesome practical effects in the film. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it doesn’t look like our two leads are leaving this movie squeaky clean and free of injuries.

Following Madelaine’s comments about the film, Renny Harlin went on to explain that they are not just copying the original film. He made sure to state, “We are not remaking the original,” to the audience. He also said, after a fan asked about any real-life crimes inspiring the film, that the movie is “definitely an amalgamation of real-life murders, but not based on any specific cases.”

Also, to wrap up the panel, Renny confirmed that he was still giving out MVP awards to the cast and crew after every day of filming. The award ended up being a nice bottle of vodka for whoever was really working hard, whether that was the craft services people, or someone cleaning the floors.

Courtney Solomon finished up by saying that they don’t know the exact release date for The Strangers: Chapter 2 or Chapter 3, but that Chapter 2 would release in Fall 2024.

The Strangers: Chapter 1 releases in theaters on May 17th, 2024.

For more on Horror, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.

Keep Reading: