Director Grant Singer’s debut feature film, Reptile, landed on Netflix last week and quickly climbed up the charts to become the most-streamed movie in the UK and USA.
This detective thriller stars Benicio Del Toro as Detective Tom Nichols. Del Toro reunites with his Excess Baggage co-star Alicia Silverstone, who plays Judy Nichols, Tom’s wife. Apart from their on-screen chemistry, viewers have been loving the murder mystery set in the small town of Scarborough, Maine.
Well, speaking to Netflix, Singer revealed how he drew inspiration from several iconic movies that have left an indelible mark on his creative psyche. These films have influenced the narrative, character development, and overall atmosphere of Reptile.
Here are the five movies that inspired Grant Singer during the making of Reptile.
In Cold Blood inspired Reptile’s story
Richard Brooks’ 1967 adaptation of Truman Capote’s true crime novel serves as a significant influence on Reptile. Singer said, “We definitely watched In Cold Blood,” he continued, “We did a lot of research, practical research, learning about certain cases and doing research with actual law enforcement detectives.”
In Cold Blood is based on the true crime story of the 1959 Clutter family murders, focusing on killers Perry Smith and Richard Hickock and their subsequent convictions.
The Night of the Hunter inspired Reptile’s atmosphere
Another film Singer mentions is Charles Laughton’s 1955 atmospheric masterpiece, The Night of the Hunter, which played a pivotal role in shaping the dark and haunting ambience of Reptile. This film follows a serial killer who preys on a widow and her children, creating an “expressionistic sense of dread” that resonates throughout Singer’s work.
The Conversation inspired Reptile’s energy
Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 conspiracy thriller provided Singer with the energy needed for the cat-and-mouse game in Reptile. The film’s portrayal of a surveillance expert, dogged by fears he’s accidentally recorded a murder, mirrors the tension and paranoia present in Singer’s detective thriller, “Specifically in that movie, how [Francis Ford] Coppola portrays the hunter as the hunted.”
Zodiac inspired Reptile’s sensibility
Singer, who initially gained recognition in music videos, found inspiration in David Fincher’s 2007 film Zodiac. This movie, based on the investigation of the Zodiac killings, explores the complexities of true crime where not everything adds up neatly. Singer said, “I wanted to make a movie that was more real-life and evoked aspects of true crime, which is to say not everything adds up, not everything makes sense.” Reptile captures this element of uncertainty, making viewers question the guilt and innocence of the characters.
Rosemary’s Baby inspired Reptile’s characters
Reptile takes a dark and conspiratorial turn as Detective Nichols’ murder case unravels into a web of conspiracy and suspicion. Singer likens this to Roman Polanski’s 1968 film Rosemary’s Baby, where the revelation of demonic neighbours collaborating to groom an unborn child mirrors the widening net of “culpability” in Reptile. The film keeps audiences guessing till the end.