NOTE: This interview was accomplished prior to the start of the SAG strike.When eight women gather for a festive bachelorette party at a remote farmhouse, there’s bound to be some fun and games. Well, games of a different sort in Neil LaBute’s new film, Fear the Night. LaBute, who gave birth to In the Company of Men, Your Friends & Neighbors, Nurse Betty, and other film and television projects, delivers a lean, retro 1970s-style thriller here with Maggie Q (Mission: Impossible III, Live Free or Die Hard) at the helm.
The gist and grit of the story is that this seemingly routine bachelorette party is soon interrupted by the arrival of masked intruders. These fellas are after something, of course, and as they surround the house, suddenly they’re shooting arrows into the place — and the guests. Thank goodness Tess (Maggie Q) is there. She’s a military vet, but can she lead these women to fight off the bad guys?
Fear the Night also stars Gia Crovatin and Travis Hammer, who opened up with MovieWeb in this exclusive interview.
Women Forced to Kick Ass
Fear the Night also stars Kat Foster and Highdee Kuan as Beth and Rose, respectively, as Tess’s sisters. There are some unresolved issues between the siblings, in particular, and Tess seems to drag herself to her more empathetic sister’s party. Gia Crovatin, a LaBute regular, stars as one of the guests, and ultimately plays a vital part in helping Tess once things become a matter of life and death.
“I love a movie with a lot of women in it, and I don’t want to watch a movie that’s just like a chick flick,” said Crovatin of what appealed to her about Neil LaBute’s script and her character, Mia. “I want to watch a movie with badass women. So, to see a survival story, where women of different backgrounds and histories come together and figure out how they’re going to survive is endlessly fascinating to me. And at a bachelorette party? Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? That was golden to me.”
It’s interesting to see LaBute’s spin on this film. This brand of home invasion flick is far different from some of his other films, where he delights in probing beneath the surface. Though you get that here, too, particularly in the interaction between Tess and Beth, and to some degree some of the vigilantes attempting to get in the house.
“I think Neil loves actors. He came from the theater. He’s a playwright, I think he’s endlessly fascinated by people,” noted Crovatin of the director. She continued:
There was a very conscious effort for him to want to write a movie about a group of women and to have them be the focal point. And I’ve said this before, but Neil’s mantra really is: ‘the best idea wins.’ He’s so beautiful and specific with language, but he’s not super tied to that. He wants you to come up with stuff and be open and available. He’s like, “Let’s tell the best story here.”
A Thriller with Big Twists
In fact, LaBute noted in a director’s statement that he hopes the film, “plays like a classic drive-in thriller, packed with great roles for the cast and a twisty, churning plot.” Fear the Night has that vibe, which was something that appealed to Travis Hammer, who took on the important role of Travis, one of head henchmen.
“This film is about what happens when people pick fights with the wrong other people,” shared Hammer. “It’s always interesting to see how that plays out. In the film, my cronies were like, ‘Hey kids, we’re gonna say mean things to you because we can.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, this is so wrong.’ And Neil LaBute says, ‘Let’s find out how wrong.’ That was fun.”
Hammer is a commanding presence here as the group of men resort to shooting arrows at and into the house; bullets would alert some neighbors down the way, we’re told. Both Crovatin and Hammer noted the intensity of the shoot, which ran just under a month and was shot almost entirely at night in 30-degree weather. Hammer explained:
“The physicality required in this was something, because it’s one thing to read a script from the comfort of your home and just think, ‘Oh yeah, lots of witty banter.’ Then you’re suddenly there and have been doing scenes for 10 hours, and it’s four in the morning, and it’s cold, and now you got to do a fight sequence. It’s weird, the translation of things that you thought were in your mind and what actually happens.”
On the Screen Actors Guild Strike
As previously noted, this interview took place on July 8, just prior to the official launch of the actors’ strike. Crovatin offered an impassioned take on the importance of negotiation and why both the actors’ strike and writers’ strike are important to reflect on.
“I’m really concerned about labor in America,” said Crovatin. “There’s been a long time of labor kind of going down in America, and not having as much power as they once had. You just see the importance of workers and people who aren’t at the tippy-tippy top of how they need to make a living and survive.” She added:
It’s vital to have a thriving middle class. And it’s vital to have workers who feel passionately and believe in what they do and would do just about anything to be able to do what they want to do. I think Travis and I are actors because we love working. We love telling stories, and I really hope we continue to do that in the fairest way possible for everybody involved.
To which Hammer smiled and mused: “I can’t say anything that would sound any better than what Gia just said.”
From Quiver Distribution, Fear the Night will be released in theaters, on digital, and on demand on July 21st, 2023.