How ‘Don’t Look Back’ Turns Karen Videos Into a Horror Movie

2020 has seen a dramatic rise in videos of people behaving threateningly towards others. Some call White women in those videos Karens, but men have also been caught being aggressive towards supermarket staff and others regarding mask wearing or other issues. Jeffrey Reddick’s new horror movie Don’t Look Back came at just the right time to address this phenomenon.

Horror movie Don't Look Back
Kourtney Bell | Gravitas Ventures

A group of strangers witnesses a violent attack in broad daylight and do nothing but capture the assault on cell phone video. As the witnesses start dropping one by one, it’s unclear whether something supernatural is paying them back, or someone connected to the victim is out for revenge. Reddick spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet about his latest horrror movie, now available on VOD.

Jeffrey Reddick had the idea for ‘Don’t Look Back’ a long time ago

Videos catching crimes in the act are nothing new. Actually, Reddick first presented this idea as a horror short called Good Samaritan in 2014. By the time he was ready to film Don’t Look Back, there was no shortage of real world videos.

“I think horror movies and thrillers and movies in general, you try to reflect the times you’re in,” Reddick said. “When I wrote this, it was kind of a burgeoning phenomenon. It wasn’t like everybody seems now, if they see something bad, everybody’s hoping to get the video online first so they can go viral. Being virally famous seems to be a goal of people’s now. They don’t even think about what they’re filming. The apathy is just getting so much worse in society today. It’s disturbing.” 

The real life inspiration for ‘Don’t Look Back’

Even before cell phones, there were videos of events like the Rodney King beating. Reddick was inspired by the real life horror of Kitty Genovese, a woman murdered in 1964. The story went that her neighbors heard the attack and didn’t intervene. 

Don't Look Back: Han Soto and Kourtney Bell
Han Soto and Kourtney Bell | Gravitas Ventures

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I heard that when I was young and that story just always struck me. They did an in-depth documentary about how people had called the police but the reporter kind of sensationalized it at the time because that was a big headline. But that bystander effect, the idea that when you have a group of people seeing something happen, people freeze and somebody thinks somebody else is going to help so they’ll wait. There’s all kinds of different psychological things that happen but that Kitty Genovese story has just haunted me my whole life.

Jeffrey Reddick, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 9/21/2020

Jeffrey Reddick avoided the police issue

There’s a whole other phenomenon where people videotape encounters with the police so that if something goes wrong, they have it documented. Reddick was not prepared to delve into the issues involving police violence within Don’t Look Back.

“I didn’t feel we had enough story to really get into the victim,” Reddick said. “So, I wanted to make that assault as generic as possible. I didn’t want to have any racial or ethnic, gender, sexual orientation hints to it. The crime, it’s horrific, somebody dies but the reasoning is just simple, at least we think until we find out a little bit more. I wanted to stay away from any political thing about the crime itself because I didn’t feel like we had enough story time to do that kind of story justice.”

Don't Look Back: Skyler Hart and Kourtney Bell
Skyler Hart and Kourtney Bell | Gravitas Ventures

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That said, Reddick has ideas for Don’t Look Back 2 and beyond, which could get into dicier incidents of witnessing violence.

“If I’m blessed enough to continue to do more of these, I definitely would deal with the nature of the crime more going forward because I think we would have the story space to do it justice,” Reddick said. 

Jeffrey Reddick wishes there were more Karens in ‘Don’t Look Back’

Were Reddick making Don’t Look Back today, he would updated it to address more specifically the videos he’s seen this year. He hopes there are enough timeless incidents to captivate 2020 viewers. 

“There’s a montage scene where that woman on the street spits on Althea and I’m like that’s a Karen,” Reddick said. “We got a Karen in there. It’s just getting worse it seems like. When you’re balancing genres and you’re trying to say something, you try not to be heavy handed about it. It’s just very frustrating to see it getting worse. Hopefully at least people will take some kind of message from this film about helping.”