In Adam Salky’s latest film, INTRUSION, Meera (Freida Pinto) and Henry Parsons (Logan Marshall-Green) move to a small town in New Mexico seeking peace and togetherness. Instead, they become victims of a random act of violence that disrupts their lives and unearths secrets of their pasts. As their trust erodes, suspicions rise, testing their marriage as it becomes clear the home invasion was not random at all.
Recently, Nightmarish Conjurings’ Shannon McGrew had the chance to speak with Director Adam Salky about INTRUSION where they discussed everything from what initially drew him to the script, working with Logan Marshall-Green and Freida Pinto, and the camerawork decisions that went into capturing that final scene.
Editor’s Note: There are spoilers featured in this interview. You have been warned.
Hey Adam, thank you so much for speaking with me today. To kick things off, what was it about Chris Sparling’s script that interested you in wanting to direct the film?
Adam Salky: There were really two things. The first thing that interested me was that just reading it was in and of itself a thrilling suspenseful experience. The script kept me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t know where it was going to go. I grew up on ’90s thrillers like Seven, Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge; these are just movies that I really loved. And I thought that this film really kind of felt like a contemporary example of one of those films. So, I was immediately interested. The second thing is that I’m interested in genre filmmaking, but specifically in what I have started calling personal genre filmmaking. Ultimately, the movie is about the journey of the main character who has recently survived cancer, and her journey from traumatized victim to an empowered survivor really reflected the journey of one of my best friends who went through that same experience at the same age as the Meera character, played by Freida Pinto. Just watching my friend go through that experience of terror every day, not knowing if this thing is going to come back or what’s going to happen, I saw it change her ultimately for the better. She really became such a stronger person. That journey I thought was really well reflected in the screenplay.
I’m a massive fan of Logan Marshall-Green due to his roles in films like The Invitation and Upgrade, and was very excited to see Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionnaire) take on a horror-thriller such as this. How was it working with both of them on this project?
Adam Salky: I’m a very lucky director. I could not have asked for better collaborators with which to make this film first and foremost, because they were really my first choices. They were really the people that I thought really embodied the characters and would take this film, the story, to an elevated place. But, on top of that, we filmed in March 2020 during the pandemic and they were totally game and brave and bold and willing to give it their all during that crazy time.
When it came to Logan Marshall-Green’s character, was there a lot of research into the type of person he plays? Did you grab inspiration from any other iconic villains to help inform his role?
Adam Salky: I did do some pretty extensive research into the villainy that is in this movie. When I make a film, I strive to design a unique experience for the audience and that goes to my work with the actors as well. Working with Logan and Freida on their characters and all the actors is really just about what is unique to that character. What drives them, who are they as people? And it’s actually not so much about necessarily likening it to a character in another film or even a character from history. Our conversations were very specific to who Henry was and why he was the way he was. And for Logan, who’s an actor who I’ve always thought was a chameleon who’s different in every role, he had that natural unknowability which I feel really helped create the character. The film is so much about the intrinsic unknowability of people and that was a thematic core to Chris Sparling’s script that was something that really resonated with me. I’ve always been intrigued by that idea of just how well can you really know anyone because we all are very complex. We all have different thoughts and feelings that we don’t necessarily put forward in the moment. So, I’ve always found that to be a fascinating concept. And that’s another reason why I made this film.
The house that Henry and Meera live in is a character in and of itself. I loved not only the design of it but also how isolating the location is. And though modernism typically has a cold vibe, this house had a tinge of warmth to it. Can you talk about bringing this house to life?
Adam Salky: So, the questions and the things you’re saying, you’re making me very happy because you’re basically describing concepts that we tried to create. The house is a practical location we found in Albuquerque, New Mexico. It was a literal needle in a haystack because the dominant architectural style in Albuquerque is Pueblo Revival, which is cool. It just wasn’t what I had envisioned for the film idealistically. So, we were able to find the house but I did want to share that our production designer, Brandon Tonner-Connolly…the house is 10,000 square feet and our production designer Brandon Tonner-Connolly completely remade the inside to reflect this couple which was a mixture, from a design point of view, of cool and warm color temperatures, so that you could reflect that back to me is just a great design success. The home is supposed to be a safe place, right? The home is supposed to be where we go to be in our own cocoon and to be protected with those that we love. One of the hair-raising aspects of the script, when I read it in the story, is that there’s going to be a home invasion that’s going to dramatically affect this couple and what they come to learn about themselves in this town. So, it really is kind of playing on fears of safety, fears of intimacy tied together by home, which is supposed to be where the heart is.
One of my favorite visual moments in the film is when Meera finds a piece of damaging evidence. Leading up to that point there is some dramatic camerawork used. Can you talk about the significance of that scene?
Adam Salky: You’re talking about one of my favorite moments in the film, both stylistically and thematically and from a production design point of view [Laughs]. I just want to throw out that that was a shot with a lot of consternation about it. It had to be filmed at the end of the day, we were using very expensive equipment, the clock is ticking and there was a lot of questioning about whether we could even achieve it. When we filmed the first take, the whole crew clapped and it was one of those great moments of bonding where we, as a team, were coalescing to accomplish something that we were excited about. But essentially the moment that you’re referring to is when Meera discovers a pretty devastating piece of evidence that moves her forward in her investigation. And, at that moment, her world is literally being turned upside down. And also, at the end of that moment, she thematically descends into hell. Those were the ideas that I had about that moment and that led me to create a visual where the camera is actually going to do both of those things in the context of the sequence.
As we’ve talked about earlier, there are so many important themes at play. Is there anything that you hope people will take away after watching this?
Adam Salky: Sure, two things. First, which we’ve mentioned before in our discussion is this idea of can you really know anyone? But the second, which we haven’t talked about yet, is ultimately there is a note of empowerment at the end of the film for Meera. She really goes from traumatized victim to an empowered survivor by the end of the film. So, there is a little note of hope at the end there.
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