After being acclaimed for Back homeEli Horowitz makes his directorial debut with Gone into the night. The mystery-thriller centers on a couple who visit a remote cabin they rented that is inhabited by a mysterious young couple and the subsequent fallout of sharing it together for a night.
Winona Ryder leads the cast of Gone into the night alongside John Gallagher Jr., Brianne Tju, Dermot Mulroney and Owen Teague.
In anticipation of the film’s release, Screen Rant sat down exclusively with co-writer/director Eli Horowitz to discuss Gone into the nightmaking his directorial debut, Back homethe future and more.
Screen Rant: I Had No Idea What I Was Getting Into When I Started Gone into the night up, and I was really surprised by everything about it. How was the concept born?
Eli Horowitz: Well, the simple, practical answer – for me there are often deeper feelings that sneak in through the back door, or at least a side door, and I just have to start something very practical. So for that, it’s a low-budget independent film and I actually bought this little cabin 10 years ago, it’s a mobile home in the woods in the Redwoods that I fitted out with friends. I’m there sometimes and sometimes I rent it out and I do Airbnb, so I’m always worried about not being as organized, kind of doubling it. It seemed like an easy, classic genre debut that we could then take in unexpected directions.
How did you then come up with the intricacies of this mystery, because I love the way it unfolds in a non-linear narrative?
Eli Horowitz: It was really just trying to get a head start, a head start, a head start. Me and my co-writer, Matt Derby, had a vague idea of the end we were trying to feel towards and the issues, questions and emotions we were heading towards. But we also just tried to be like, “What’s one thing that could happen next,” and really let it have its own way. So that really helped us, I think, to come up with an unexpected change. I don’t even know the moment, it just came to a point in the story where I thought, “Well, what happened?” and I had the impression that the spectator could also wonder.
The other thing we were trying to do with it was to play around with, “What kind of movie am I watching? What kind of movie is this?” Because sometimes it’s kinda boring, when you basically know the way and you don’t know the ending, but you can plan the next hour and you just see how they executed it or how bad it is fun or whatever. I wanted something where you couldn’t quite do that, so playing with time really allows you to change all of your assumptions and really undermine your expectations and play with that.
Even if you’re familiar with the mystery genre, what about Back homewhat do you think are some of the biggest creative challenges that bring all of your goals together?
Eli Horowitz: Definitely the end, I think when it all comes to a head and it gets a bit, I don’t want to say too much, but I think Matt and I would feel more comfortable with little hints and bits of mystery and intrigue and when things need to pop, go a little wild. This is where we’re like, “Are we really doing this? Okay, I guess we’re really doing this.” This is where, for me, my strengths and weaknesses as a writer got trickier.
This is your first feature film in the director’s chair. What about that project that really spoke to you about finally taking that leap to feature length?
Eli Horowitz: The first thing was like, “Am I capable of this?” I was just trying to figure out how to do it, because I got there relatively late in life. I edited and designed books for about 10 years, then I wrote them and did weird digital projects for 10 years, and I fell into that world through Homecoming, this podcast that I co-created that became a TV show.
The whole thing was kind of a deep learning experience. It was more just: “Can I do this, am I ready to do this, do I like it, am I good at it?
I think one of the greatest things about this movie is its visual presentation. How was it for you to determine the look, did you have any specific inspirations that you drew on?
Eli Horowitz: Well, David Bolen, my DP, was amazing and I definitely couldn’t have done this without him. He was co-director in many ways. The same way we were talking with the writing, for the look and feel of it, we wanted to play with, “What kind of thing is this?”
In some ways it feels more like an indie drama and at times it gets a little pulpier. And even in the scenes we tried to make it change with the color balance and things like that. You get pulled into a more genre specific movie and then you get pulled over and over again and we tried to get the look of that [be] really efficient. It’s also almost entirely portable, which we think could really keep it grounded in the characters, which is something we really wanted to do.
Speaking of characters, the actors in this movie are all amazing and I enjoyed their various jobs before that. How did you find your cast for this film?
Eli Horowitz: It all started with Winona and, of course, that was the craziest hit. I wrote her a note, basically, but I’d never met her or something, and then four days later it was like 11 at night and I was in bed and got this texted from an unknown number and it was just, “My man, it’s Winona, let’s go. I love the script.” Then it was a year of all sorts until we got it right but once she was in it was pretty easy to start accumulating people around her and I’m so excited about the people we had.
Dermot Mulroney, of course, is a legend himself and I worked with him on Homecoming, the TV show, and then John Gallagher Jr. is such an amazing actor, and then those two – I consider them kids because i am old [Chuckles] – Brianne Tju and Owen Teague, they’re both 21 or 22, but they’re so professional and so playful and they’ve done such a good job. We really wanted, in the script and in the casting, to have this age range very evenly distributed, we have them in their 20s, John in his 30s, Winona in his 40s and Dermot in his 50s, because that relates a lot to the ground. We wanted, without even having to discuss it in the script itself, for the casting itself to bring it out.
Did the actors have the possibility to play with the characters and to dialogue a little in the scene, or was it mainly on the scenario?
Eli Horowitz: It was mostly on the script, except sometimes with Owen and Brianne, we kind of let it work because, without going into too much detail, they have agendas that don’t always come to fruition from the start.
So just letting it roll for a bit after the scripted scene we would have little moments what they were doing [with] their characters, even though this script didn’t reveal it yet and we got a lot of great material out of it. They did a lot of work individually and with each other to develop some sort of backstory for their characters and weird secrets that they just kind of had, I think, added to the texture of the roles.
We mentioned Back home many times, and it’s been a while since season 2 came out. We haven’t really heard about the future. Is there a future in your mind for the show?
Eli Horowitz: I mean, I guess the future is long. [Chuckles] So anything can happen. Until someone says no, there’s always a yes, right? I don’t know, man. It’s a mystery to me too. [Laughs]
Gone into the night Synopsis
Arriving at a secluded cabin in the redwoods, Kath (Winona Ryder) and her boyfriend (John Gallagher Jr.) find a mysterious young couple (Owen Teague and Brianne Tju) already there — the rental has apparently been double-booked. Having nowhere to go, they decide to share the cabin with these strangers. When her boyfriend mysteriously disappears with the young woman, Kath becomes obsessed and hires an unlikely supporter (Dermot Mulroney) to find an explanation for their sudden breakup, but the truth is far stranger than she could have ever imagined. .
Check back soon for more interviews with the cast of Gone into the night.
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Gone into the night hits digital and VOD platforms on August 2.
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