David Fincher Month continues With: 'PANIC ROOM'

by Joey Paur


Three years after ‘Fight Club' in 2002 David Fincher made a movie that I didn't expect. A little thriller by the name of ‘Panic Room'. At the time it just didn't seem to fit what he was doing as a director. The last film he did was ‘Fight Club' and this movie just seemed so different and small for a guy of his caliber. But after seeing this movie I was once again blown away by Fincher's amazing talent as a director. The guy has an incredible imagination and vision with his films.

The basic run down of Panic Room: It's about a mother and her daughter who move into a new big house. There is a great deal of money stashed away in the house that some people want. So 3 men break in to take it, the thing is they have no idea that someone has moved into this house. During this event the mother and daughter end up locking themselves in a panic room for protection. Well, the money that the robbers are after happens to be locked away in that panic room. It is from this point the movie really takes off on a sprint. Maybe the robbers should have come back and broke in the next day when no one was home. But then we would have this awesome movie to watch.

The movie stars Jodie Foster, Kristin Stewart, Forest Whiaker, Jared Leto, and Dwight Yoakam. The acting in the movie is done extremely well. I thought Jared Leto was the weakest link. He was a little to over-the-top to make his character fully believable.

The story may be simple, but it is the way they filmed this movie that is its genius. If you have not watched the Special Edition version of ‘Panic Room' and it's special features you have to. It will give you a whole new level of appreciation for this movie. I was shocked at what it took to make this movie because the movie is pretty much shot in one house. They built this whole life size 4 story home in a sound stage along with a city block of other houses. The House they built was a break away house so they could take pieces of it apart for certain shots and then get put back together again.

The whole reason for all of the work that went into this film was so Fincher could do the camera work he wanted to do and pull of shots that would be impossible without the help of the way the house was built and the special effects used. Why did the movie need those amazing shots? It allowed Fincher to tell his story in a very unique way. The audience was able to view where all the characters were in a single shot. Like a game of chess, you know where all the pieces are while watching the movie, even though none of the characters knew what we knew until they knew it. Check this out. This is the amazing opening title sequence for the film and one of the continuous shots I am talking about.

I think ‘Panic Room' is David Finchers most underrated film. This movie is an amazing work of art. It's got a great story, great characters, and it's incredibly suspenseful. David Fincher pulled off something amazing when he made this movie. I implore you, please go out and get the Special Edition 3 disc Panic Room DVD. Watch the special features first then watch the movie. It may take a couple days but if you love movies, or are an aspiring filmmaker it's a must watch. I promise it will be a whole new Panic Room experience for you.

Now here is some information you might not know about the movie that makes for great trivia.

  • Nicole Kidman was originally cast in the role of Meg Altman and Hayden Panettiere was cast as her daughter, Sarah. Before filming began, Panettiere was replaced with Kristen Stewart. Then, only eighteen days into filming, Kidman had to leave the film as well, due to a recurring knee injury, suffered during the filming of Moulin Rouge! (2001). David Fincher suggested that the studio close the production and collect the insurance, but the studio decided to go on. Jodie Foster was offered the role. She was due to be the president of the Cannes Film Festival jury but withdrew to work with Fincher, with whom she was originally supposed to work on The Game (1997) in the role eventually played by 'Sean Penn'. Foster had only nine days to prepare for the role.


  • Jodie Foster was pregnant with her second child during filming. Because of this, reshoots had to be made in the autumn of 2001 after she had given birth, as principal photography took longer than planned.


  • During the opening credits, the phrase "Face Your Fears" flashes across one of the teletrons.


  • Writer David Koepp got the idea for the film from an article in The New York Times about "safe rooms" and getting stuck inside an elevator in his own brownstone.


  • According to David Fincher, Kristen Stewart grew more than three inches during filming of this project. She was smaller than Jodie Foster when the production satrted and towered over her when the final shots were done.


  • All of the indoor scenes were shot entirely in the sequence in which they appear in the finished film.


  • Because the sets had been designed with Nicole Kidman in mind, who is much taller than Jodie Foster, the green safety lasers on the panic room door ended up exactly at the level of Foster's eyes, constantly blinding her as she entered and exited the room.


  • Forest Whitaker's character was initially imagined by screenwriter David Koepp as an unpleasant white-collar compulsive gambler, in Koepp's own words someone like "Humphrey Bogart in one of his less pleasant roles."


  • David Koepp wrote the first draft of the script in six days

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