Blumhouse Productions is known as the studio for horror. The production house has churned out spooky hit after spooky hit over the last several years, but they sometimes produce other genres, too. The studio's latest is the supernatural thriller Don't Let Go, and it looks like it could be one of their most successful films yet. But is Don't Let Go based on anything? The film has a story that is both unique and familiar sounding, and while it obviously isn't a true story, it certainly seems as if it could have begun life as a novel.
In the film, David Oyelowo plays a detective who has a close relationship with his niece (Euphoria's Storm Reid). One day, he receives a frantic call from his niece asking for help. He hears gunshots and rushes to her house to discover that she, along with her mother and father, have all been murdered. No one knows who committed the crime, and so he becomes despondent. Then, he receives another call from niece's number. After suspiciously answering the phone, he learns that it's actually his dead niece on the other end. Except she's not dead — at least this version of her isn't. She's calling him from two weeks in the past, and he decides that he's going to help her solve her own murder while also instructing her on how to survive when the moment of her scheduled death arrives.
Although the story sounds like it would make for a great read, it isn't based on a book. Don't Let Go is actually an original story, written specifically for the screen. The film's director, Jacob Aaron Estes, rewrote its screenplay after receiving the original script from fellow screenwriter Drew Daywalt. Estes previously co-wrote the 2017 horror sequel Rings, while Daywalt is known for writing a number of online short horror films. Needless to say, both men seem to have a good idea of what puts an audience on edge.
Estes spoke more about the film's origins in an interview with Collider's Steve Weintraub, describing what first hooked him about Daywalt's original script and how he crafted the final film from it. "In [Daywalt's original] script there were these five pages which kinda lit me up which became the movie," Estes said. "And it was this idea that this family had undergone this huge trauma ... in the first moment of the movie basically, and then David's character Jack Radcliff, who's a cop, receives a phone call from the dead, apparently. And that struck me as an incredibly hopeful idea. In the middle of all this darkness, there was this ray of hope. That's the idea that kind of became the movie, and I just kept reiterating that ... I sort of took that idea and ran with it and ran with it and ran with it."
Estes has also talked about the theme of the film, essentially boiling it down to the idea that people have the ability to change things. "Ultimately, I believe the heart of [Don't Let Go] has to do with the fact that, as my character Jack Radcliff, played by David Oyelowo says in act three, 'You can change things,'" Estes wrote in a retrospective for Filmmaker Magazine. "Given that the theme appears bluntly in dialog, I’m not sure how 'hidden' this point of pride is, but the notion that we as people have agency to change things is something I really want to say to the world right now, and I’m glad to have the opportunity to put out a story that reminds us of it."
Don't Let Go may not be based on another work, but its universal theme of humanity's desire to change their reality definitely helps the film feel familiar, while its unique plot helps keep it fresh.