Once Afraid of Horror, a Park Cities Native Now Toplines a New Terror Trilogy

Froy Gutierrez’s star continues rise with a lead role in expanded remake of ‘The Strangers’

Froy Gutierrez admits he was skittish as a youngster, to the extent that watching the M. Night Shyamalan thriller Signs with a cousin became overwhelming.

The Dallas native and star of The Strangers: Chapter 1 never figured his first cinematic lead role would come in a horror movie — let alone three of them. But a lot has changed about Gutierrez, and his genre sensibilities, since those formative years.

“It took me a while to come back to it,” Gutierrez said. “As I got older, I learned about the ways horror can be very important and allowed you to explore things you couldn’t explore in other genres. It was so much more than scares.”

The story follows Gen Z lovers Maya (Madelaine Petsch) and Ryan (Gutierrez) as their car breaks down in rural Oregon, forcing them to spend the night at a remote cabin, where they are terrorized by masked intruders and forced to fight for their lives.

The film is the first segment of a new trilogy expanding upon the mythology of the eponymous 2008 horror film, which starred Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman. Gutierrez hadn’t seen the original prior to recording an audition tape from his mother’s home in Dallas, which might have been advantageous in the eyes of director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2).

“I was aware of how much of a cult classic it was,” Gutierrez said. “I was worried that if I watched the movie, I was going to try and do what Scott Speedman did. This is a different character, and the dynamics are different. It was important for me to just be Ryan and find Ryan.”

All three films were shot simultaneously (the other two will be released in the coming months). In a few instances, they shot different sequences for all three installments in the same day.

Gutierrez is best known for his roles on MTV’s Teen Wolf and Freeform’s Cruel Summer. That experience in television prompted a comparison to shooting an entire season’s worth of episodes at once.

“It was a big shock to the system. I knew I would be living on adrenaline and nightmare fuel for two months,” he said. “It’s a huge challenge to take on.”

Gutierrez, 26, grew up with a passion for both acting and music in a bilingual and bicultural family split between Texas and Mexico. Much of that time was spent in the Park Cities at University Park Elementary. Following his freshman year at Highland Park High School, he transferred full-time to Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.

His start came in local stage productions such as the musical Teen Brain at Dallas Children’s Theater, during which he was discovered by an agent.

“I’ve always felt really supported by the Dallas theater community,” Gutierrez said. “At Booker T., I had such incredible teachers and mentors. I’m really grateful that I was able to be part of such a robust theater scene.”

Gutierrez’s other film work includes the low-budget 2020 slasher film Initiation and the Halloween comedy Hocus Pocus 2, a streaming sequel to a movie released before he was born.

After The Strangers: Chapter 1, which was released on May 17, Gutierrez is returning to TV with a supporting role in the new Tim Allen network sitcom pilot Shifting Gears

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