‘Significant Other’ Team Talks Blending Comedy Into Their Sci-Fi Thriller (VIDEO)
Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy take on quite the terrifying topic in Robert Olsen and Dan Berk’s latest sci-fi thriller: marriage. In Significant Other, streaming now exclusively on Paramount+, Monroe and Lacy play Ruth and Harry, a couple on a backpacking trip in the Pacific Northwest that takes a sinister turn.
Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Significant Other proves you don’t need three hours to play out a detailed plot. With beloved films like It Follows under her belt, Monroe has made the horror/thriller genres her bread and butter. And Lacy returns to his “nice guy” persona for most of the flick, but there is, of course, a twist.
The stars and writers stopped by TV Insider’s New York Comic-Con 2022 suite to discuss the themes explored in the movie, from marriage being someone’s worst nightmare to the things women are expected to do for their male partners. As Olsen describes in the video interview, above, “We really wanted the character of Ruth to have some ideas about relationships that maybe don’t click with what society prescribes.”
“I think from a young age, a lot of people — mainly women — are being told you’ve got to get married. If you hit 30 and you’re not married, all of a sudden there’s all this pressure,” he says. “We wanted to make a movie that was born of the anxiety of that situation. The fact that she doesn’t necessarily want to get married, you can’t really escape those societal expectations. They just keep coming after you, which is sort of what happens in the movie.”
Monroe says the uniqueness of the writing is what drew her in for the project, plus the trust she has in Olsen and Berk, whom she worked with on 2019’s Villains. “I hadn’t really read anything quite like it,” she shares. “There are so many different genres in one story, which seemed incredibly challenging. But also having worked with these directors before, I knew if there was anyone that could pull it off, it’d be these two. One of my favorite things in movies are really good twists, and this movie definitely has that.”
Significant Other operates in three acts. In the beginning, Ruth’s panic disorder is triggered when Harry proposes. Not out of lack of love for him, but rather because she had made clear her feelings about marriage. Things take a turn in the second act, and then an even bigger one in the third, and Lacy agrees that the way the writers balanced the material made for “an awesome script.”
“I’d never seen an attempt to push this many genres braided around one another in the same project,” Lacy says. The Office alum is fresh off his first Emmy nomination for The White Lotus, and he says the pivot into villains he’s recently made (he plays the villain in Peacock‘s true-crime drama A Friend of the Family, streaming now) is “much more about that material … than me being like, ‘What’s the darkest thing going, and how can I get in there?'”
One unexpected genre blended into Significant Other? Humor. Berk says the original pitch line when selling the film was “Under the Skin meets The One I Love,” the latter of which is known for its blend of comedy. Other inspirations were Annihilation and Ex Machina, which both have scary creatures “really pushing a metaphor” and are “really theme-forward” like their scary beings.
“We personally love it when movies go somewhere unexpected, and not just in a twisty way, like the killer is somebody you didn’t expect, but almost in a genre way, where things open up and you’re like, ‘Oh! I’m watching this kind of movie? I had no idea after the first act,'” adds Olsen of the film’s funny moments. “We really wanted to play with that … There’s a long history of really good thrillers and horrors that do have a twinge of comedy in them.”
Learn more about the movies that inspired Significant Other in the full video interview, above.
Significant Other, Original Movie, Streaming Now, Paramount+