When Nine Perfect Strangers was first released to Hulu, the genre of the series wasn’t immediately clear. Certainly, there was a mysterious vibe surrounding the wellness resort and its eccentric owner. This led many people to wonder if Nine Perfect Strangers would cross over into the genre of horror.
The series really isn’t scary at all, but that doesn’t mean horror movies didn’t have an influence. Director Jonathan Levine used thrillers and even some horror movies to help set the tone of the series.
What is ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’ about?
In Nine Perfect Strangers, nine unique guests arrive at a wellness retreat called Tranquillum House to confront their personal demons. Masha, the resort’s eccentric owner, is willing to do almost anything to help them heal. Not long after they arrive, psychedelic drugs are introduced into the guests’ therapy. At times, this makes the series a little creepy.
In one scene, Frances hallucinates that the man who scammed her on the internet visits her at Tranquillum. Masha hands her a sword and says, “kill him.” However, weird hallucinations are about as far as the series goes in terms of scariness. More than anything, Nine Perfect Strangers is about pain, compassion, and the different ways people deal with the heavy burdens of life.
Horror movies helped inform ‘Nine Perfect Strangers’
It’s hard to put Nine Perfect Strangers in a box and define it as just one genre. This is exactly what director Jonathan Levine intended. Levine told Collider interviews that he loved that the series is an “incredible mashup of different tones.”
“So I mean, there was no specific comparison for overarching tone.” Levine continued, “I looked at a lot of ’70s art thrillers, like Picnic at Hanging Rock, and Don’t Look Now, and stuff like that. I watched Midsommar a lot. I liked kind of thinking about Polanski stuff too, which is sort of funny and absurdist, but also creepy.”
Levine continued with his list of movies. “Okay. I watched Parasite, the Lars von Trier movie Melancholia, 3 Women, Get Out, The Lobster, and knowing that even if just like four percent of those things get into the material, it still kind of informs and elevates things in an interesting way for me.”
Levine especially took inspiration from ‘Midsommar’
In Ari Astor’s horror film Midsommar, a young group of Americans visits a remote cult in Sweden. Levine took a lot of inspiration from the film. “Midsommar, we certainly ripped off a lot,” he told Insider.
In one scene, Dani (Florence Pugh) takes psilocybin and initially enjoys a pleasant experience. However, the mention of the word “family” floods her with memories of the recent deaths of her parents and sister.
“That scene where Florence Pugh starts to trip… I watched that over and over again,” Levine told Insider. In Nine Perfect Strangers, the guests also take psilocybin, and the Marconi family are similarly mourning the death of a loved one.
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