Casting for the title role in this teen thriller came via helicopter. Having had little success in traditional methods of location selection, the production team took to the air in search of a suitably edgy, unconventional house in which two recently orphaned children (played by Leelee Sobieski and Trevor Morgan) would be uncomfortably accommodated with their new guardians.
The building needed to be glamorous and fashionable to initially seem like good fortune but as more is revealed about the children’s dire situation the house needed to take on a more sinister quality. The answer came when Belzberg Architects's Mataja Residence was spotted perched atop a craggy mountain overlooking Mullholand Canyon. A sharply contemporary design, it’s angular roofs and jagged plan (which in reality allow it to cap the ridge with a language similar to that of the rocky natural terrain) could provide a menacing element for film while the salubrious car accommodations fitted well with the recurring car and driving motif throughout the story.
The house is not particularly glassy - it’s most prominent feature is the integration of the natural rock boulders, which give internal spaces character and a sense of grounding. The use of formed concrete also provides a strong connection with the site and a palette of materials compliant with fire standards which limited the use of combustible materials.
If the interior seems a bit disappointing in the film, it’s because only exterior shots were filmed on location, the rest was filmed on a purpose built soundstage at Sony pictures, to a design slightly heavy handed with metaphors – overhead walkways and vertical strip windows conger up a prison vernacular, but then perhaps this obviousness is warranted given the target teen audience.
Thankyou to Belzberg Architects for permission to use photos.