Natasha Henstridge attempts to survive one wild night in ‘Night of the Sicario’
April 23, 2021
Night of the Sicario follows a group at a retirement home just trying to ride out a hurricane. Things go sideways when members of a cartel show up because the determined Taylor Ward (Natasha Henstridge) has agreed to shelter two witnesses in a drug trial formerly under the protection of the DEA. After the primary witness is shot — and without a working hospital in sight — a DEA agent desperately drops his witness and his daughter in the care of an empathetic Ward, and then things are off to the races (if they weren’t already). It isn't an overstatement to say every moment of this movie is action-packed.
Director Joth Riggs says the non-stop suspense was intentional. His advice for other suspense writers and filmmakers: “Be relentless. You know it’s important to keep viewers on the edge of their seat and be curious about what happens next, and care about the characters, so the audience cares about what happens next. As soon as they stop caring about the characters, they stop caring about the film. Ultimately, you don’t want your audience ever sitting back in their seat.”
As Henstridge’s Ward bonds with the witness’s young daughter, Amelia (Addison Kendall), Riggs’s audience will undoubtedly be rooting for the pair to survive — along with all of Ward’s charges living in her unique mansion that serves as a refuge for older people in need. Riggs made the adjustment in the script to set the film at a retirement home when he found his key location.
“The house we found really became a character in the movie. I really enjoyed being able to craft unique characters who lived at the house, because this is a one-location movie. I also really enjoyed allowing these types of characters to participate in the outcome and be respected for their wisdom in the process.”
The single location is absolutely part of the fun of Night of the Sicario, with twenty-plus rooms and old, long hallways, Riggs had the chance to dream up all kinds of action sequences. “I’ve always liked consolidated stories that are told well. It’s really tricky to get it right, but I love the challenge of being able to utilize one location and still have enough story to pull the viewers along. With the added variable of the hurricane, there was enough space for the house to serve as a sanctuary for our main characters.”
While Roth’s film will likely be most remembered for its action sequences, Roth stressed he worked hard to build a backstory for every character. “I wanted everyone to be heard, and respected, and valued. I spent time giving the Sicarios a backstory. The main Sicario talked about his rough upbringing that led him into this life of crime. You may disagree with his life choices, but hopefully, you understand and gain perspective on why they do what they do. The more we understand what motivates people, the more we can figure out ways to work together in society.”
Ultimately, Night of the Sicario is a story of faith. The residents of the mansion must put their faith in Taylor and each other to survive. Amelia must put her faith in her father, and in Taylor. Taylor clearly has faith in God (always wearing a cross), and her family that came before her and built up the business and sanctuary mansion so well.
Roth states the theme is very intentional: “I wanted faith to be respected, and I wanted to be sure not to put people in a box, but instead to understand and respect each other. Taylor’s faith and her family, and her father who had started the business as a former missionary, are all factors that are really important to bring out, and I think that’s not what you normally see in an action film.”
While Roth has undeniably created a very unique and unexpected ensemble for an action film, Henstridge owns the film in the title role as Taylor. Roth effused that Henstridge is “fantastic and easy going. She’s done so much, so she’s so great to work with. Whatever you need to do she wants to make it happen.”
Roth, more than anything, is hopeful audiences “can sit back and enjoy the action after not going to the theater for some time.”
The film is in theaters on April 16 and On Demand & Digital April 20.
Written by: Lindsay StidhamLindsay holds an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. She has overseen two scripts from script to screen as a writer/ producer. SPOONER, starring Matthew Lillard (SLAMDANCE), and DOUCHEBAG (SUNDANCE) both released theatrically. Most recently Lindsay sold PLAY NICE starring Mary Lynn Rajskub. The series was distributed on Hulu. Recent directing endeavors include the Walla Walla premiering (and best screenplay nominated) TIL DEATH DO US PART, and the music video for Bible Belt’s Tomorrow All Today. Lindsay is currently working on an interactive romcom for the production company Effin' Funny, and a feature film script for Smarty Pants Pictures. Lindsay also currently works as an Adjunct Screenwriting Faculty member at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. You can follow her work here: https://lindsaystidham.onfabrik.com/