Evil Dead and Don’t Breathe director Fede Alvarez is returning to the thriller genre with the latest Lisbeth Salander entry, The Girl In The Spider’s Web, starring Claire Foy as the new Salander. Sony released the first trailer and the preview shows Foy as the Stieg Larsson-created hacker and vigilante, a role previously played by Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace in 2011’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the Swedish adaptation of the Millennium book series, respectively.
Foy seems like a fine choice for Salander. This is an Emmy award winning actress who has shown unperceived depth in almost everything she has appeared in. Rooney was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal in Dragon Tattoo, which was directed by David Fincher. But its Alvarez who shines, appearing to be a truly inspired choice as director. The feeling of Fincher’s cool, digital compositions are still there but as the trailer unfolds it becomes obvious that this is an altogether “Fede Alvarez-ian” film, brimming with his sadistic style and penchant for taking the thriller genre into empowering female horror.
The Girl In The Spider’s Web (2018)
With both Fincher and Mara opting not to return, Sony decided to pursue another installment without their involvement and from the looks of it, so far that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Alvarez took over the project, assembling an eclectic cast of great actors. Claes Bang (who did a great job being the kind of guy you love to hate in The Square) landed the role as one of the antagonists in the film while Get Out and Atlanta MVP Lakeith Stanfield came aboard as NSA security expert Alona Casales, who is pursuing Lisbeth Salander. Stephen Merchant plays a computer engineer Alvarez says “triggers the big plot of the movie” with Sylvia Hoeks waxing menacingly (much like she effectively did in Blade Runner 2049) as Lisbeth’s evil twin. Finally, Norwegian actor Sverrir Gudnason (Borg vs. McEnroe) fills the shoes of Mikael Blomquist, previously played by Daniel Craig and the late Michael Nyqvist (John Wick Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol).
Don’t Breathe (2016)
Rocky (Jane Levy), her boyfriend Money (Daniel Zovatto) and compatriot Alex (Dylan Minnette) rob houses in wealthy suburban homes in Detroit. The trio decides to break into a desolate, rundown house in the heart of Detroit, one with no neighbors and few active utilities. The home is occupied by a blind man (played with visceral power by Stephen Lang), whose daughter was killed in a car accident. The stash in the home is the settlement that Lang’s character received due to his daughter’s accident. What proceeds from there is one helluva tense, expertly built and staged little thriller in which the blind man was vastly underestimated.
There’s a significant twist in Don’t Breathe‘s third act that produces shock value and allows for even more disturbing material later on. Rocky and Alex evade the Blind Man in his basement but are shocked to come upon a restrained, gagged woman in a homemade padded cell. This is Cindy, the rich young woman, held captive by the Blind Man after she went missing. The Blind Man mistakenly shoots and kills Cindy, and chaos ensues. After more bloodshed and tussle, Rocky awakens to find that she is now tethered in his padded room. Restrained, the Blind Man reveals that Cindy was carrying his child to Rocky, but is now dead. He prepares to artificially inseminate Rocky with a turkey baster, explaining that she will give him a child to replace his deceased daughter. The turn takes Lang’s role from antagonist – a guy just trying to fend off some B&E’ers – to definitive villain, one that he physically inhabits with the same gusto as a Burt Lancaster or Charles Bronson.
Shared Visual Symmetry
The marketing of Don’t Breathe did a fantastic job of not revealing too much outside of the setup and teases of its execution. Left out was the third act twist, which took things from tense and thrilling into horrific and even depraved. It was a treat for genre fans to see such a well-executed movie that, even when it felt like it could, didn’t fly off the bars in the third act. Similarly, most of this first trailer for The Girl In The Spider’s Web highlights one sequence from the film and, again, it’s simply there to set up the film’s theme and distill it down to a single, driving sequence. “People complain that a lot of trailers just spoil too much,” says Alvarez in an interview with EW. “Every time a trailer comes out, they go, ‘Oh, they’ve spoiled the whole movie!’ So, we are really trying not to do that. I think, basically, it gives you a glimpse of the style of this movie, the tone we’re going for, and hopefully shows people how different it is from any previous incarnations.”
But it’s in that third act twist in Don’t Breathe that really comes to mind when seeing the first trailer for The Girl In The Spider‘s Web. The trailer starts with Lisbeth restraining a man who is brutalizing a woman we later find out is his wife. She is in full vigilante mode, distilling justice on shitty men. She tethers him up like a hog on a wire and persists on electronically transferring all his funds and tazing his nether regions. The visual echoes Rocky’s predicament in the third act of Don’t Breathe but here a female victim role is replaced by a male attacker role. Alverez subverts his own narrative drive which usually focuses on women overcoming odds with either a supernatural or superhuman male attacker.
Other Instances of Visual Symmetry
Alverez isn’t just riffing on his own work though, the director has also taken cues from the Gothic, homaging a scene from Francis Ford Coppolla’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula in which Vlad Dracula’s wife, Elisabeta, flings herself off the side of the castle after receiving a false report of his death. The same shot is echoed in part of the trailer which finds a young girl (most likely in flashback) tumbling, almost listlessly over the edge of a similar structure into the misty ground below.
After this first trailer, Alvarez and Co. have peaked our interest. This doesn’t just look like a simple cash grab but a project that, for those involved, had a passion and dedication to put the time into making. Foy looks entirely game and for the sake of consistency, we’ll reiterate that Alvarez’s direction and script involvement has us excited. Don’t Breathe was a pleasant surprise for many when it came to the sum of its parts, and although the stakes seem a little higher now, we could find ourselves pleasantly surprised once again with The Girl In The Spider’s Web.
Don’t Breathe is available on home video and several streaming platforms and The Girl In The Spider’s Web, which Alvarez co-wrote with Steven Knight and Jay Basu (based on David Lagercrantz’s novel), is slated for release on November 9.
Images: Son, Screen Gems