We caught Who Invited Them back in June as part of 2022’s Overlook Film Festival, and were immediately grabbed by its biting humor and excellent ensemble. As a big fan of In The Dark, Allison was so excited to chat with Perry Mattfeld, one of the female leads in Who Invited Them! We discuss the end of her tenure as Murphy Mason, the close bond Perry has formed with the cast on set, wild spoilers, & a potential sequel!
After moving into their stunning new house and careful to remember that “a home is only as good as the friends who fill it,” Adam (Ryan Hansen, Friday the 13th, Veronica Mars) and Margo (Melissa Tang, A Good Day to Die Hard, The Kominsky Method) throw a massive housewarming party. It is so huge, in fact, that who can possibly keep track of the guest list? They realize neither of them know the random young couple that came to the “super curated gathering,” and weirdly enough they are last to linger inside the home. Introducing themselves as the neighbors, this sexy duo almost immediately seem to be playing mind games. The mysterious male with the perfect cheekbone structure is Tom (Timothy Granaderos, Monty in 13 Reasons Why, Hulu’s Plan B), and his alluring blonde girlfriend is Sasha (Perry Mattfeld, In the Dark, Shameless). But who invited them? Don’t miss our exclusive interview with Perry after the jump!
I wanted to start off by asking what pulled you into Duncan Birmingham’s orbit, and what was it like filming on location in L.A. post-Covid?
PERRY MATTFELD: Surprisingly, we shot the whole movie in two weeks. It was shot all overnight. This was September of last year—still mid-pandemic, post-lockdown. I don’t love scary movies myself. I’m a wuss. I get scared. When I read this script, I laughed out loud so many times. I couldn’t believe how funny it was. I think it’s really a skill to combine the thriller element with so much comedy. I definitely was immediately pulled towards it. Duncan is brilliant. It’s always really cool to have the writer be the director as well, because they can change the lines with you.
We inspired each other throughout the whole thing. When you shoot something like that, all overnight, in two weeks, with really four people… We got so close. No one else was awake. We were shooting from like 6pm to 4am. It was like a secret… we’re making this movie in secret while the rest of the world is asleep. It was really cool, and a really unique experience and obviously so much fun.
How did your years of playing Murphy Mason in In the Dark—who is known for lying and manipulating people—prepare you to play Sasha in this film?
PERRY: It was so fun to play something so different. I always think the most challenging scenes as an actor are when you’re acting as someone else who’s acting. Sasha, the entire film is pretending. by That’s such a double whammy of like pretending to pretend. While she’s so different from Murphy, it was fun to tap into that same element of playing a character who is manipulating another character pretending to be something they’re not. It was definitely fun, and a challenge to be in a pretty dress and just pretend to be this ritzy Hills housewife. Even though she’s not that either.
Unrelated to the film, but how does it feel saying goodbye to Murphy Mason after playing her for so many years? Anything you can tease about the finale?
PERRY: I’m still struggling with the fact that I said goodbye to that brown coat, and four years in that same outfit. My costume fittings for that show were always the shortest. I think we ended the show on a high. It’s by far our best season. It’s the strongest acting in my opinion. It’s the strongest writing, it’s the strongest storytelling. It’s the most dramatic, and most fulfilling. I don’t know if we could have topped this finale. I think the story where Murphy lands at the end of season four is a very emotional yet very fulfilling end to the story of In The Dark. I could have kept going for 20 years probably. I do think it’s kind of perfectly summed up to the point where obviously, there could be more, but we ended right at the peak.
From here on out, you can feel free to talk spoilers. The conversations felt very organic and natural, especially since the majority of Who Invited Them hinges on this vibe between the two “couples.” How much improv was involved, if any?
PERRY: That was kind of the bonus of having the writer also be the director. Duncan was there to let us play, and give us an idea. We had so much fun—he would just keep running in and saying ‘okay, now say this, now say that.’ We were able to improv and take his cues, and let him steer a scene in one direction, then change his mind, and then go back. We had all different kinds of options. There was definitely a lot of improv, and a lot of it came so naturally. We spent those 14 days overnight together just us four, so we got super close and ended up becoming friends. I know multiple people who have seen the film have said, ‘you guys seem like you’ve been friends for so long.’ We really did feel that we got along so well. It was like we all said after we finished that movie: this was one of the very special unique experience that we’ll never forget.
Even though Adam and Margo clearly have problems of their own, Tom and Sasha definitely spark something in the couple throughout the course of this twisted night. Do you think they view Tom and Sasha as a sort of mirror to their misspent youth, and an excuse to feed into their own dormant desires?
PERRY: I think that’s the whole point, like Tom and Sasha are just there to make them jealous, get under their skin, make them think that they’re old, that they’re boring, you know? See if they can turn them against each other. That was really fun to see throughout the film. You watch Adam and Margo think like, ‘can we keep up? Yeah, we can. We’re fun. Actually. No, we’re tired. Wait. Yeah, we like them. Right? Yeah, we’re just like them.’ That’s definitely part of the agenda for Tom and Sasha was just to be there to poke, poke, poke, poke, and see what they can get.
How do you think Sasha and Tom are so good at blending into the background when they have such explosive personalities?
PERRY: Tim was so fun! We both talked about a lot before we even started filming. If we are these distorted people, how do we ride that line between being subtle and carrying ourselves in a way that people will be drawn to us? Being slightly mysterious, but not overdoing it. At what point does the audience know they’re weird, or something’s wrong, but at the same time, it can’t be too much that Adam and Margo would immediately be like, ‘these people are crazy, right?’ The whole time, Tim and I were like, ‘where are the moments where the audience can see something that Margo and Adam don’t see?’ Or ‘where are the moments where we can be very subtle? Where are the moments where we need to let the audience know that something’s off?’
That was a challenge the whole time. Luckily, Duncan, who also really set up ways for us to [improv.] You think your conversation’s going well, and it’s all fun, and then Tom or Sasha, will say one thing that’s like, a little too far. Again, not in a threatening way. It’s this master manipulation process of Adam and Margto thinking, ‘well, then what’s wrong with me? If they think it’s funny, I should think it’s funny.’ Anyway, the subtlety thing was a very challenging but really fun thing to weigh between.
Was it confusing to get into Sasha’s headspace, considering that you had to believably be both Tom’s sibling and his spouse?
PERRY: That was another thing going back to that subtlety. If they’re supposed to be a couple, if I’m too touchy, are they going to think that is less believable? If I’m thinking like a married couple that’s been married with a kid, they might not be that all over each other, but maybe they wouldn’t be to make Adam and Margo jealous. Again, that subtlety of making sure we look like a believable couple, but also not going so over the top that it seems unrelatable to Adam and Margo. He was awesome. We both played around with looks to each other, just to make sure it always seemed like we were a very connected couple, and that we were a mom and dad who are just on the same page. It was totally insane and fun.
Where Tom schmoozes Adam to stroke his ego, Sasha encourages Margo’s darker side. What about Sasha do you think makes Margo more willing to let her inhibitions run free?
PERRY: I think even that scene in the garage where Sasha makes Margo feel a little self conscious about Adam being too jealous or too possessive… getting nostalgic about dancing at a concert. Adam should let you be yourself. It’s all a mind game. It’s all talking them up to feel like they’re being held back by the other person. Even though she’s not at all. They have a great relationship, it seems like! But I think convincing her that Adam is putting her in the mommy box, or is too controlling or too possessive, would make any woman feel like ‘I need to stand up for myself. I need to do more things for me’. So that definitely worked on Margo.
What was your first reaction when you read the big twist in the script?
PERRY: I didn’t even know like when it was coming. It’s crazy. The whole first two thirds of the movie, in a way, feel like a completely different movie than the very end of the film. I was shocked. Just when you think maybe something’s gonna happen, it doesn’t, then you think something’s going to happen then it doesn’t. Tom and Sasha leave the house, and you think they’re not going to be able to get into their house that looks like their keys aren’t working. Even when I was reading, I was like, ‘where’s it? Where’s that,’ but that’ll be fun for the audience to try to figure out when they think their instincts are right about Tom and Sasha.
Once the knives and ropes come out, both you and Timothy are able to tap into completely different sides of Sasha and Tom. What was your favorite side of Sasha to play?
PERRY: I think the bringing out—that is finally when you see that they are not these poised adult mom and dad at all. In fact, they’re kids, they’re still these underdeveloped, traumatized kids. Sasha starts painting a picture with blood, making a little art piece, like a kid. Once the facade is gone, that was fun that you get to see that the playfulness and the curiosity. They’re not self-conscious. They’re not self-aware anymore. They’re all of a sudden, just kids. They decide to paint a little picture with blood. They’re just going to do it, like kids would. That part was cool to bring out the playful kind of kid side after pretending to be this Hills wife the whole party. That part was cool.
Sasha and Tom discover retro board games at Adam and Margo’s house—what are some of your favorite board games?
PERRY: My whole family actually plays games all the time. I love a game called Spit, which is a card game. It’s so fun. We play Monopoly, we play a game called Mexican Train. Some of the games at their house are really cool. They had some really old school box games, which we actually did end up playing while the crew was setting up the night, in between takes and setups to onset.
The end teases a sibling manhunt, then the record doesn’t skip, and a glass of alcohol seems to indicate Sasha and Tom could be lurking nearby. Any hopes of a Who Invited Them 2?
PERRY: You know, that was definitely discussed. There’s definitely potential. It’s a perfect setup, obviously, for something else, so I think I know I would definitely be open to that. I know Tim would too. Mary Pat [Bentel], our producer who’s amazing, she also set up everything really well to make sure that there could be a sequel.
Before we close out, do you have any projects, current or upcoming, that you would like to put on everyone’s radar?
PERRY: I’m really excited for this. I’m excited because it’s just so different from In The Dark. So funny. In The dark, obviously, I’ve had opportunities to tap into comedy on that show as well. It’s nothing like Who Invited Them. Who Invited Them is so different, and it’s hard to describe the film. I have a hard time explaining to people what it is, and I’m like, ‘just watch it.’ But I am really proud of our last season of In The Dark, and that will be coming to Netflix in the next few weeks. I’m excited for people to be able to binge it, whether they’re starting from the beginning of season one or finishing out all four seasons, but really to get into it… to live with Murphy and Max and Felix and Leslie through the rest of the story, as that worlds kind of ends. I’m really excited for people to get to see that too.
It was truly a pleasure speaking with Perry, and Allison especially cannot wait for the forthcoming conclusion to In The Dark! Who Invited Them comes to Shudder on September 1st.
Don’t forget to check out our review of Who Invited Them back from 2022’s Outlook Film Festival.