Shattering the Bubble: Director Luis Prieto discusses his new thriller 'Shattered'
January 12, 2022
The thriller Shattered, directed by Luis Prieto (Kidnap) and written by David Loughery (Fatale), keeps you on the edge of your seat while also giving you some things to think about.
When an isolated tech millionaire Chris (Cameron Monaghan, Shameless) encounters charming, sexy Sky (Lilly Krug), he falls under her spell despite not knowing anything about her. Passions escalate and an accident leads to Chris being injured, which in turn leads to Sky becoming his nurse. But it’s not long before her odd behavior and the death of her roommate cause Chris to suspect Sky has sinister intentions. Also co-starring Academy Award® nominee John Malkovich (RED), Frank Grillo (Avengers: Endgame) and Sasha Luss (Anna), Shattered values character and tension as much as spectacle, utilizing the limited locations of the film for maximum effect.
Prieto first read the script years ago: “The producers reached out to me [and] I read the script, and this is what happens in Hollywood: You say, ‘I love it,’ then nothing happens for a few years, and then all of sudden they call you and say, ‘Listen. Remember that script that you read? We’re ready to go. Want to do it?’”
Because of the small cast and contained locations, Shattered appears to have been a COVID-friendly production.
“It was a COVID shoot,” Prieto confirms. “We shot it in Montana in the spring of this year. In fact, that was one of the attractions of making this movie now, because most of the movie is contained. It was something we all knew we could get done even under COVID and know we could do it in a safe way — safe for everyone involved — and at the same time know that we would be able to complete it.”
The film is simultaneously contemporary and old school, calling to mind many erotic and contained thrillers of the past. Did certain films in these genres offer inspiration?
“Definitely,” Prieto says. “There are many, many films; the most important ones probably Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct. Two films that I grew up with and were fantastic thrillers. My film’s very modern in a way because it has something that we haven’t seen lately, but yet we did see maybe 30 years ago, or 20 years ago in the movie theater.”
The film’s protagonist, Chris, made his fortune from a digital surveillance company and tries to remain as isolated and protected from people as possible, but it proves to be futile. This reflects a society that finds solace online and lives in a bubble only to find it likewise futile. The outside world — as we discovered, especially in recent years — finds its way in despite our best efforts to keep it out.
“I think you said something very interesting that is in the film,” Prieto says. “The film has many layers, talks about many things, but this is definitely one of the most important things. We think that we can protect ourselves in our bubble and isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. And interestingly enough, when we relate to people today, sometimes it’s in peculiar ways. I’m thinking of those internet connections that people make whereas the protagonist in the film says, ‘Nobody is really who they say they are.’ We are being deceived by who we think we are. Everyone is very much into social media and very lonely with no real friends, and when you need a hand, they are not real hands to help you out. And there is a little bit of that in the film. It explores the fears that we could go through in the moment in history that we are living right now.”
There’s a moment in the film where Chris wakes up and his phone’s not there and it’s utilized as a thriller beat. It’s interesting to think this is something that would generally upset people. Not only is the anxiety of not having one’s phone or online access explored, but subsequently Chris’s own technology and gadgets are turned against him. Does our reliance on technology make us more vulnerable on a whole? Are we too reliant on technology?
“Completely: Some people will forget their wallet and it’s okay. They lose their phone and it’s not okay. And recently Facebook was down for a few hours and everyone is like, ‘Ohmygod! I can’t operate. My world is falling apart.’ Well, hello. If it’s falling apart it’s because we rely on it maybe too much, you know.”
In other words, technology should be just an addition to our lives and not what our lives rely on.
“They become fundamental in your life, and then all of the sudden one morning the system goes down for whatever reason, and then we’re helpless. We don’t know what to do. We don’t even remember the phone number of a loved one. You can’t call anyone because you don’t remember anyone’s number. We think that we have very private lives, but at the same time, they collect a lot of information about us and it’s traveling on our phone or maybe in the cloud; we use a lot of locks at home to make sure that we’re safe, but at the same time we have all kinds of technology with video cameras in the house and we feel very safe. Yet — as in the case of the film — the danger of society and the world is out there. So yes, there is an element of ‘Watch out for what you think is keeping you safe, because it might not keep you safe.’”
The antagonists, though shown to be psychotic, represent the have nots who need to deceive and transgress in order to create a balance of wealth. There’s a scene where one of them talks about looking up at Chris’s house on the hill and longing to have what he has. This brings the theme of class divide to the front and center of Shattered.
“It is an important element in the film,” Prieto says. “Many thrillers deal with this element. There is a robbery or there’s an assault and there isn’t that much into why it’s happening. Wherein this film, we do talk about why it happens. There are people who have and there are people who have not. And there will always be somebody who has more than we do and somebody who has less than we do, so as we will be always looking up to someone, someone will be looking up to us. So, each of us has more than someone else and we are Chris, and we have less than someone else, so we are the antagonists too. It’s an interesting layer in the script and in the movie.”
Because it’s a thriller you’re expecting a twist, but you don’t know exactly when it’s going to hit or how it’s going to hit. When the twist emerges it comes at an unexpected moment and in a surprising manner, proving timing plays a hand in the effectiveness of a twist, as does going with the flow of the movie.
“Obviously at the start, everything is in the script and everything makes complete sense in the script and everything works on the page,” Prieto explains, “but then you start filming. You have human beings interpreting what is written. And then you have a collective experience of making a film. And when you are cutting the film, you realize that the best thing you can do is actually go with the flow... At some point, the movie takes on its own personality. The important thing to do, I think, when you are cutting the movie is to recognize the personality of the movie and do whatever is needed to keep that personality, because by doing, that you’re actually being honest to the script. Sometimes it means you have to change whatever needs to be changed in order to make it work. So there’s usually an organic element in the process of making a film, where it’s not that you change the script — you don’t change the script — you grow with the script.”
Lionsgate will release Shattered in select theatres and on demand, January 14, and will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on February 22.
Written by: Edwin CannistraciEdwin Cannistraci is a professional screenwriter. His comedy specs PIERRE PIERRE and O’GUNN both sold with more than one A-list actor and director attached. In addition, he’s successfully pitched feature scripts, TV pilots and has landed various assignment jobs for Universal, Warner Bros, Paramount and Disney.