Exploring Shudder’s The Boy Behind the Door

Congratulations and Positive Audience Response

The Boy Behind the Door, a horror/thriller film streamed on Shudder, has received an overwhelming positive response from viewers and critics alike. With an impressive 96% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has captivated audiences with its unique storyline and engaging characters. The question arises, why is this film resonating so well with viewers? The answer lies in the combination of an intense thriller experience and the powerful bond between two friends that drives the narrative forward.

Anachronistic Noir: The Look of the Film

The film’s visual aesthetic can be described as anachronistic noir. The production design and props incorporate elements from different eras, resulting in a captivating blend of styles. Cinematographer Julián Estrada’s masterful use of light sources adds a striking contrast to the overall look of the film. This distinctive visual style sets The Boy Behind the Door apart from traditional horror films and contributes to its gripping atmosphere.

Pre-production: Challenges and Solutions

During the pre-production phase, the production design team faced various challenges. One of the initial tasks was to plan and execute the trunk scenes involving the young boys at the beginning of the film. Finding the right vehicles and a trunk that could be modified to allow camera access required meticulous attention to detail. Additionally, adapting the existing house location to align with the design vision posed another significant challenge. The team had to work within the limitations of the location while transforming it into a fitting backdrop for the film.

Difficult Sequences: Collaboration and Creativity

Interviews with the directors, Justin Powell and David Charbonier, revealed the collaborative effort behind realizing the film’s more complicated sequences. The trunk scenes, in particular, demanded careful consideration of safety, practicality for cameras, and the eventual escape of the character Bobby. What initially seemed like a straightforward task quickly revealed itself to be a complex puzzle that required the team’s innovative problem-solving skills. The dedication to practical stunts and effects added an extra layer of challenge, prompting the creation of custom props and set pieces to make these sequences visually convincing.

Custom Set Pieces and Transforming Spaces

Numerous set pieces were custom-built to shape and alter the rooms and hallways within the film. The addition of a third-floor or attic space for the holding rooms required creative solutions since the original location lacked these areas. By utilizing existing hallways and closets on the second floor, the production design team skillfully integrated new wall sections to create the illusion of an attic space. The final holding room, where Kevin is chained, underwent a transformation as well. The team stripped everything from the room, constructing slanted, exposed wood ceiling sections to achieve a more attic-like atmosphere. Attention to detail extended to smaller elements, such as a wood butcher block island in the kitchen, which was made of soft foam to ensure the actors’ safety during stunts.

Directors’ Involvement and Design Vision

Despite being their debut feature, directors Justin Powell and David Charbonier actively participated in the production design process. From the early stages, they collaborated with the design team, exchanging ideas and references to establish the desired look and feel of the film. Daily communication and the shared vision allowed for effective decision-making regarding the color palette, fabric patterns, wallpapers, and overall set decoration. Their involvement reflects their commitment to crafting a cohesive visual narrative.

Challenges of Wallpaper and Wall Colors

The location’s resistance to making alterations posed a challenge to the production design team, especially in controlling the colors of the walls. To achieve the desired aesthetic, including the noir atmosphere, the team aimed to manipulate wall colors wherever possible. However, the delicate condition of the existing walls, with crumbling finishes, limited their options. Temporary wallpaper applications, often used in similar situations, proved too aggressive for the fragile surfaces of the house. As a result, the team chose a safer approach that provided additional challenges. Maintaining smooth wallpaper surfaces became a priority, requiring constant attention and adjustments due to the paper’s sensitivity to temperature and weather conditions. The art crew diligently worked to ensure impeccable wallpaper presentation shortly before each scene was filmed.

Creative Freedom in the Horror Genre

The horror genre offers a unique opportunity for creative professionals, such as production designers, to push boundaries and explore unconventional artistic choices. The stylized nature of horror projects allows for experimentation and innovation that may not be feasible in other genres. This freedom enables designers to flex their creative muscles and craft visually captivating experiences. For Ryan Brett Puckett, the production designer of The Boy Behind the Door, working on a horror film was a thrilling experience that allowed him to showcase his skills and exhibit his passion for the genre.

Location and Collaboration

The majority of The Boy Behind the Door was shot just west of Los Angeles. The chosen house location stood out as a strong contender from the beginning of the project. Ryan Brett Puckett, along with the rest of the team, actively participated in scouting and ultimately played a vital role in the selection process. Their commitment to finding the most suitable setting for the film solidified the unified vision they had for The Boy Behind the Door.

From The Boy Behind the Door to American Horror Story

In addition to his work on The Boy Behind the Door, Ryan Brett Puckett has also been involved in the production design of the upcoming season of American Horror Story. Collaborating with esteemed professionals such as Production Designer Chloe Arbiture and Art Director Jonathan Bell, the team has tirelessly worked on the series throughout the pandemic. With a shared passion for creating compelling visuals, the team eagerly anticipates the release of the new season premiering on August 25th.


The production design of Shudder’s The Boy Behind the Door showcases the meticulous attention to detail, creative problem-solving skills, and collaborative efforts that shaped this gripping horror/thriller film. Ryan Brett Puckett, the production designer, skillfully brought the directors’ vision to life through anachronistic noir aesthetics, custom set pieces, and innovative transformations of spaces. The challenges faced during pre-production and the careful execution of difficult sequences demonstrate the passion and commitment of the entire team. Furthermore, the film’s positive response from audiences can be attributed to its engaging storyline and the powerful connection between the central characters.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is The Boy Behind the Door based on a true story?

No, The Boy Behind the Door is purely a work of fiction. While the film may depict harrowing situations, it does not draw inspiration from real-life events.

2. How does the film balance horror and thriller elements?

The Boy Behind the Door cleverly intertwines horror and thriller elements to create a suspenseful and intense viewing experience. The horror aspects contribute to the film’s unsettling atmosphere, while the thriller elements keep the audience engaged through the characters’ journey and their quest for survival.

3. What makes The Boy Behind the Door different from other horror films?

The Boy Behind the Door stands out from other horror films due to its unique blend of anachronistic noir aesthetics and the strong bond between the central characters. This combination creates a distinct visual and emotional experience for viewers.

4. How does the production design contribute to the overall atmosphere of the film?

The production design of The Boy Behind the Door plays a crucial role in establishing the film’s atmosphere. The anachronistic noir visuals, custom set pieces, and attention to detail create a heightened sense of dread and tension, enriching the viewer’s immersion in the story.

5. What other projects has Ryan Brett Puckett been involved in?

Apart from The Boy Behind the Door, Ryan Brett Puckett has contributed to the production design of the upcoming season of American Horror Story, further showcasing his talent and dedication to creating visually captivating experiences.