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Julie Richards: Portrait Of A Massacre Survivor is a 2021 American teen slasher film written and directed by The Duffer Brothers, the creators of Stranger Things.

The film was produced by Jason Blum, James Wan and Lawrence Grey.

The film deals with an aftermath of a brutal string of murders in a small town that leaves a 15 year old girl traumatized and scarred from the horrific event which results in the loss of her friends and family. The girl then tells the story of the murders to her therapist who is not what he appears to be.

The film stars Millie Bobby Brown as the title role of Julie Richards with Alisha Boe, Skylar Gisondo, Liv Hewson, Graham Phillips, Isla Fisher, John Krasinski, Logan Miller, Katharine Langford, Hailee Steinfeld, Chandler Riggs, Leigh Whannell, Ioan Gruffudd, Zendaya, Ross Lynch and Dennis Quaid co-starring.

The film was distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, New Line Cinema, Atomic Monster Productions and Blumhouse Productions and was released on May 14th, 2021 to a very positive response from critics and audiences for it's maturity, sincerity and emontional resonance with Millie Bobby Brown's performance gaining critical acclaim.

The film was an impressive box office success, grossing $265 million worldwide becoming the highest grossing slasher film to date since 2018's Halloween.

Plot

The film opens on an aftermath of a bloodbath that took place at Millers Pond High School which left 20 students dead and only a few survived one of which is fifteen year old Julie Richards who also loses her parents in the killer's wrath. As a result, she becomes orphaned and adopted by the town's sheriff Scott Hale. One year later, Julie visits her therapist Dr. Harrison Bowman and tells him that she is over the deaths that haunted her home. When Dr. Bowman asks her to tell him about what happened, Julie begins to break down while trying to tell the story.

Her story began as flashbacks with her family moving into a new home in Millers Pond, New Hampshire and Julie meeting her next door neighbor and eventual best friend Andie Gable. The next day, Julie begins her first day at Millers Pond high school with Andie introducing her to their friends Amara Summers, Greg Fisher, Jennie Walker and Robbie Strickland who show her around the school.

During her time at school, Julie incurs the wrath of the school's most popular girl, Tracey Blake when she catches Julie talking and getting acquainted with her ex-boyfriend and captian of the football team, Lucas Carver. When Tracey tries to belittle Julie for stealing Lucas, a nasty catfight breaks out against Tracey and Andie who came to Julie's defense.

While walking home from school, Julie wonders why Tracey acts the way she does with Andie saying that Lucas broke up with her the previous year and wants him back. Since she got a black eye during the fight, Andie wishes Tracey would die but Julie calms her down. That night, Tracey is watching the movie Scream and hears a strange knocking at the door and answers to see a hooded figure standing out side the front door who asks her to use her phone.

When Tracey asks why, the figure pulls out a blood drenched hunting knife and replies that he killed someone. Tracey then fearfully slams the door and calls the police just as the figure begins to break down the down. The figure chases Tracey to the upstairs bathroom where she locks herself inside. She tries to escape through the window but the attacker breaks in and crushes her throat with the window. With her larynx now crushed and unable to scream and talk, Tracey fights back against her attacker but the attacker then gains the upper hand and stabs her to death.

The next day, news of Tracey's death hits the town hard especially Andie who never meant what she said about Tracey. With school suspended for the weekend, Julie spends the night at Andie's to talk about Tracey's death with Andie saying that the police found her body hanging from a ceiling fan in the living room. Meanwhile, Julie's father Nicholas Richards is on his way back from a meeting at his job until he gets a flat tire. While fixing the flat tire, Nicholas is suddenly attacked by Tracey's killer who bashes his head through the driver side window before slashing his throat on the broken glass.

The next morning on Saturday, Sheriff Hale stops by Julie's house and informs her mother Leslie Richards that her husband had disappeared the previous night which upsets Julie who overheard the conversation. Later that day, Lucas asks Julie on a date to the movies that night and Julie at first declines because of Tracey but he reassures her that she won't bother them due to her death. While at the movies, she and Lucas run into Amara, Robbie and Lucas's friend Kurt O'Neil during a showing of Alexandre Aja's Crawl and they enjoy the movie together. After the movies, Lucas takes Julie home where they have sex in Julie's room.

On Sunday morning, Julie, Amara, Andie and Jennie spend their day at the beach with Robbie, Kurt, Greg and Jennie's boyfriend Shawn Merring. The fun ends when Jennie catches Shawn cheating on her with Tracey's best friend Ellen Brooks who is grieving over the loss of her friend. A massive fight breaks out between Jennie, Shawn and Ellen which is broken up by their friends and Jennie breaks up with Shawn. After the kids leave the beach without Shawn, he and Ellen head to the bathroom to have sex to spite Jennie but Ellen stops him due to moralities which angers him and causing him to storm out.

When Ellen tries to follow him, she gets attacked by the killer who slashes her back when she tries to escape. Due to her slashed back, Ellen attempts to crawl to safety but the killer catches up and stabs her to death. A furious Shawn makes it to his car to change back into his clothes until he hears Ellen's pain filled screams and races back to the beach to find the bathroom covered in blood and Ellen missing. After an hour of searching for Ellen, Shawn finds her body buried in the sand and is suddenly killed by the killer before he has time to react.

That evening, Julie is again approached by Sheriff Hale and Deputy Hutch Perry about the disappearance of Shawn and Ellen but Julie didn't know anything about their disappearances but she did see them at the beach that day. Sheriff Hale gets notified by a cop that he found Ellen and Shawn dead at the beach. After Hale and Perry leave, Julie is attacked by the killer who managed to sneak into the house while Julie was busy with the cops. After a long chase, Julie manages to escape the house and flees to Andie's house where she calls the police.

The killer flees as the police invade the house as Leslie comes home to find Julie gone and freaks out with Hale trying to calm her down but Julie and Andie appear and tell Hale about the attack. As a result, Julie is placed on protection with her friends visiting regularly. Two days later, school is back in session and the school board organizes a memorial dance the following night to honor Tracey, Ellen and Shawn. Julie decides to go with Lucas to the dance but Hale tells her that she is still on police protection but allows Perry to keep an eye on Julie and radio him if anything goes wrong.

When the night of the dance come around, Julie and Lucas are escorted to the dance by Leslie and Perry. Julie and Lucas meet up with Andie, Robbie, Amara, Kurt, Jennie and Greg at the dance which is located in the gym. Meanwhile, Hale is on his way to the dance until he spots a car parked on the side of the road and recognizes it as Nicholas's car and goes to investigate. He finds Nicholas's dead body in the car's trunk and orders his units to the crime scene immediately.

After being notified about Nicholas's whereabouts, Leslie breaks down over her husband's death and decides to tell Julie but Perry won't allow her to do so due to her daughter having a good time. Leslie and Perry give into their feelings and have sex in his police cruiser while the killer stands outside the car watching them make love. Back at the dance, Julie opens up to Lucas about how she moved to Millers Pond with her father being offered a job at a company and moved from Chicago to New Hampshire. Andie and Robbie appear and tell them that Amara and Greg are missing.

Meanwhile, Amara and Greg sneak out of the dance to have sex in the weight room. During sex, the killer sneaks into the weight room and stabs Greg through the throat, killing him and forcing Amara to flee. The killer then chases Amara through the halls of the school until she is eventually caught by the killer who finds her in the school's art room where she is garroted to death with a clay cutting wire.

Back at the dance, Jennie and Kurt open up about their broken relationships with Kurt inadvertently revealing that he is gay which shocks Jennie who then quickly accepts homosexuality. Meanwhile, Julie, Andie, Lucas and Robbie leave the dance to warn Leslie and Perry about Amara's and Greg's disappearance but finds them dead in the car with multiple stab wounds, which devastates Julie to see her mother dead. Andie then reaches for the radio on Perry's shirt and alerts Hale on the situation with him saying he is on his way. The four head back inside to find Amara and Greg but they find Amara decapitated in the art room.

Backstage in the gym, Jennie and Kurt figure out their differences and decide to give into their feelings. Before they can have sex, the killer appears and stabs Kurt to death while Jennie attempts to flee but finds a fire hatchet and attempts to fight back with it. While attempting to swing the hatchet at the killer, he catches the hatchet and hits Jennie in the face with the handle before driving the hatchet into her skull, killing her. The students hear the commotion behind the curtains on the stage which pull back to reveal the dead bodies of Kurt and Jennie, causing the students to be thrown in absolute panic.

Hale then arrives at the school to find the dead bodies of Leslie and Perry and finds the students running out of the school in fear. Hale radios his units to the school and goes in to find the remaining survivors. Back inside, the killer then kills his way through the students and finds Julie, Andie, Lucas and Robbie being swept away by the stampeding students. He pursues them and attacks them but is shot in the chest by Hale who came to the rescue. This gives Lucas the opportunity to beat up the killer but he is stabbed in the leg by the killer who kills him with a slash to the throat. An inconsolable Julie, Andie and Robbie escape the school while the killer is shot dead by Hale.

As Hale attempts to unmask the killer, the killer comes to and knocks out Hale before escaping and fleeing town. Julie, Andie and Robbie were left as survivors as other students are confirmed to be either dead or alive. With her life destroyed, Julie is left orphaned and was adopted by Hale.

The film then flashes back to present day with Julie finishing her story in fits of tears with Dr. Bowman trying his best to calm her down. After calming down, Julie tells Dr. Bowman that Hale taught how to fight back against strangers and it gave her an ambition to become a cop. When Dr. Bowman asks Julie about Robbie and Andie's whereabouts, she tells him that Andie moved away and Robbie committed suicide due to the deaths. Julie then replies that she and Andie are still close friends and are kept in contact with each other.

When Dr. Bowman asked Julie about the killer, Julie replied that they never caught him and disappeared after the murders have ended. Julie then somberly leaves but finds the door locked. A confused Julie then tells Dr. Bowman to unlock the door but he gives a malicious smile and brings out the killer's knife from his desk before replying that he has her right where he wants her. Realizing that Dr. Bowman is the killer, Julie then screams for Hale out the window but Dr. Bowman grabs her by the hair and throws her against the door.

Julie demands to know why he would want to kill her and her friends and family. Dr. Bowman reveals that he was a rapist and serial killer and had raped a prostitute named Sherrie Klein. His act of violence has left her pregnant with Julie. After Sherrie gave birth to Julie, she gave her up for adoption where Nicholas and Leslie adopted her and named her Julie. After finding out that his heinous act left him as a biological father, Dr. Bowman then took it upon himself to find Julie and reunite with her but when it's discovered that Julie is adopted, Dr. Bowman snapped and embarked on a killing spree which lead up to the massacre at the dance.

Shocked and horrified that her real mother is a prostitute and her real father is a rapist and murderer, Julie attempts to flee the room but Dr. Bowman slashes her arm but he is shot by a stun gun that Julie hid in her jacket pocket. Julie flees the room to find the building's employees were gruesomely murdered much to her horror. Dr. Bowman then pursues Julie through the therapy building until she reaches the front gates of the front doors where Hale is waiting for her. Hale sees Dr. Bowman attempting kill Julie and shoots him in the chest, seemingly killing him. Hale then rushes to her aid and Julie fills him in on the situation and on what she learned.

As Hale takes his time on taking in all of the terrifying info of Julie's origin, Dr. Bowman suddenly springs up and stabs Hale in the shoulder causing Julie to punch Dr. Bowman in the face. She then rips the knife out of Hale's shoulder and brutally stabs Dr. Bowman to death before slitting his throat. Hale then calls his units down to the therapy office saying that he found the killer. He then embraces Julie as she cries in his arms as the film ends.

Cast

  • Millie Bobby Brown as Julie Richards
  • Dennis Quaid as Dr. Harrison Bowman
  • Alisha Boe as Amara Summers
  • Skyler Gisondo as Kurt O'Neil
  • Ross Lynch as Greg Fisher
  • Logan Miller as Lucas Carver
  • Hailee Steinfeld as Andrea "Andie" Gable
  • John Krasinski as Nicholas Richards
  • Isla Fisher as Leslie Richards
  • Graham Phillips as Shawn Merring
  • Zendaya as Jennie Walker
  • Katharine Langford as Tracey Blake
  • Liv Hewson as Ellen Brooks
  • Chandler Riggs as Robbie Strickland
  • Leigh Whannell as Deputy Hutch Perry
  • Ioan Gruffudd as Sheriff Scott Hale

Trivia

  • After production ended, Julie Richards: Portrait Of A Massacre Survivor was originally 135 minutes longer but the studio was forced to trim the film down to 105 minutes.
  • The Duffer Brothers developed the film after completing the upcoming fourth season of Stranger Things for Netflix. The film was originally developed as a psychological thriller but Ross Duffer thought the film would be better as a slasher film.
  • Joey King and Bailee Madison were both considered for the lead role of Julie Richards.
  • Millie Bobby Brown signed onto the film after reading the script and was instantly cast as Julie Richards due to her performance as Eleven from the Duffer Brothers own show, Stranger Things.
  • The film received positive reviews from critics and audiences for it's mature approach to the slasher genre and praised Millie Bobby Brown's performance. The film holds an 88% on Rotten Tomatoes with consensus saying, "With a solid story, a mature approach to a beloved horror subgenre and an emotional performance from Millie Bobby Brown, Julie Richards: Portrait Of A Massacre Survivor is a new kind of slasher film with a fresh new perspective and a beating heart that bleeds with sadness and dread."
  • Bryan Cranston was considered for the role of Dr. Harrison Bowman.
  • Isla Fisher said in an interview that this was her first horror film she starred in since the 2001 german slasher film, Swimming Pool.
  • The Duffer Brothers said in an interview that they're releasing a director's cut on DVD and Blu-ray which contains an amount of extended scenes that includes: Shawn's death scene which show him being stabbed in the back several times before being disemboweled after discovering Ellen's corpse buried in the sand which showed her body already cut open. The sex scene between Leslie and Deputy Perry was originally much longer with moderate to graphic nudity. A scene that takes place after the scuffle on the beach features Julie, Andie, Amara and a heartbroken Jennie shopping at the town mall for some dresses to wear for the memorial dance before going for some ice cream. The death scene for both Leslie and Deputy Perry during their sex scene which shows Perry dragged out of the car as he thrusts into Leslie only to be stabbed to death and castrated by the killer. Leslie then attempts to escape but is caught and stabbed by the killer who crushes her skull with the car door. The introduction of Tracey was much longer. There is a scene in which Julie and her parents pack up their stuff for New Hampshire and leave Chicago behind. All of those scenes were cut due to mediocre test screenings and pacing issues.
  • Julie Richards: Portrait Of A Massacre Survivor is rated R for strong brutal bloody violence, language, strong sexual content/nudity and a scene of abberant behavior.
  • This reunites Leigh Whannell, Chandler Riggs and Ioan Gruffudd since they worked together on the 2017 horror film, Keep Watching.
  • Shawn's death was one of the biggest's issues the MPAA had dealt with. The scene involved graphic close ups of the killer cutting open Shawn's stomach as he screams in pain. The MPAA found the scene to be very gruesome, graphic and upsetting and demanded the Duffer brothers to trim the scene to only show the knife connecting into Shawn's back before cutting to the image of the beach with sounds of Shawn's scream and him being gutted are still present.
  • Haley Lu Richardson auditioned for the role of Tracey Blake.
  • Jessica Sula auditioned for the roles of Amara Summers and Jennie Walker.
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