There were some comedic moments and we filmed some of them, but we decided to cut them out of the film. Although they were funny, once that feeling of holding your breath set in, these scenes no longer had their place. We wanted to create a relentless 90-minute thriller that puts constant pressure on our protagonist. My last few films were funny or gory or both. I wanted to play another song.
It wasn’t difficult, because Kaitlyn [Dever] can do a lot with a little. Her performance is physical and she communicates with her body and her eyes. Even though she doesn’t speak, we hear her grunting, breathing, screaming, crying… The aliens also talk to her throughout. She just doesn’t understand them. With my cinematographer Aaron Morton, we wanted to find the best way to tell the story with the camera. And we probably would have made the same decisions if she had continued the monologues. I’m proud to have made a film almost without words, but I didn’t do it for that reason.
Two aspects intrigued Kaitlyn from the start. First of all, Brynn is a complex and unusual character for an alien film. I like to believe that she would also have played Brynn in a drama presented at the Sundance festival. The other factor that appealed to her was that it was a physically demanding role. She hadn’t yet had the chance to run and launch and be suspended by cables in a movie. To show another side of his game, fighting against an invincible enemy, was a privilege. I think her performance doesn’t clash with what she did in Unbelievable, Dopesick or many of her films, because it is nuanced and powerful. The difference is she’s in a genre film and getting her ass kicked.
We can see it like this. I like to think that the worst trials that happen to us are those that reveal who we are and even if they are difficult, they can help us understand certain things. Brynn’s past is not common for this type of film. The events she experiences allow her to confront what she went through previously and lead her to a conclusion that I hope will surprise people.
Because that’s how I like them! Every year, we are offered new aliens with particular and unique traits. I like District 9 and Invasion on Apple TV, but I grew up with The X-Files and wanted gray creatures that came flying saucers. When I sold my script, I told the studio that I missed the good old aliens. Creating a world for them to inhabit took me back to my childhood and it was wonderful.
It is time that we come to a fair agreement. Us, and the actors! Kaitlyn cannot promote the film due to demands from her union and I fully support her. It’s a shame, because we work very hard and I believe we deserve everything we ask for.