Skip to main content

Significant Other filmmakers on forest shoots, big secrets, and that wild ending

Paramount+ thriller Significant Other arrived on the streaming service without much fanfare, but the relatively small film is a study in efficiency, delivering plenty of tense moments and satisfying scares in an 80-minute feature film filled with shocking twists and impressive performances.

Written and directed by filmmaking duo Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, Significant Other casts Maika Monroe (It Follows) and Jake Lacy (The White Lotus) as Ruth and Harry, a couple whose romantic hike into the forests of the Pacific Northwest takes a terrifying turn when they begin to suspect something sinister is in the woods with them. As the pair’s trip turns into a nightmare, the woods around them transform from a place of beauty to a forest of hidden terrors.

Related Videos

Note: The end of this article includes a vague description of the film’s ending, but might be considered spoiler territory for some readers. 

Maika Monroe stares blankly into the camera while Jake LAcy looks at her in a scene from Significant Other.

“We started to write this in the heat of lockdown in 2020,” Olsen told Digital Trends. “The films we were trying to get going were dead in the water because there were no films going into production. So we went into it like, ‘What would be the most COVID safety-friendly movie possible?'”

“We started with the idea that it would be out in the woods for the whole movie, always outside, with just two actors,” he continued. “Our first instinct was to try to make the movie for no money — just go out there and shoot it for really cheap. We wanted Maika, who we worked with before, to go play with us in the woods for a bit and shoot this quick film on our iPhones or whatever. But it grew from there, and we discovered some thematic things we wanted to explore in the script, and it became more involved the more we developed it.”

The expanding scope of the film pushed production back a bit, and by the time cameras began rolling, many of the COVID safety measures had been relaxed, allowing them to approach the project more like a traditional film from their side, even while the story retained its small, focused aesthetic.

For Monroe, that meant plenty of days spent shooting in the green — and often very cold and wet — forests of Oregon.

Maika Monroe, wearing a hiking pack, walks into the forest.

“Every day, you’d show up to work in some of the most beautiful nature I’ve ever seen,” recalled Monroe, who’s no stranger to horror films that put a clever spin on the genre’s tropes and audiences’ expectations. After earning heaps of praise for her performance in 2014’s brilliant thriller It Follows, Monroe once again plays a character with no shortage of emotional layers and insecurities brought to the surface by a mysterious, otherworldly threat. Navigating the very human, emotional arc of the film’s characters and the revelations that shape their experience in the forest became a delicate balancing act for the film’s leads, according to Monroe.

“I always love a challenge, and reading the script, I was like, ‘OK, this isn’t going to be easy.'” she said of her initial reaction to the story. “There’s a lot of leading the audience one way as something else is really happening, and finding the intricacies in that was incredibly interesting. [But] at the core of the story, Significant Other is about a relationship. It’s very simple. You want the audience to come on this ride with you and give in to what is happening, though, and to do that, you need it to be very grounded, too.”

And what started out as a convenient way to make a film while minimizing the risk of COVID eventually became a signature element of Significant Other, which unfolds in one of the most beautiful wilderness regions of the country, offering a fascinating juxtaposition of natural beauty and mortal terror.

Maika Monroe touchs a tree in th forest in a scene from Significant Other.

“It’s kind of cheating in a way, because the Pacific Northwest is just so gorgeous,” laughed Berk. “We were actually concerned at certain times in postproduction that some of the areas we were shooting looked like built sets — like Endor or something. We built almost the entire schedule around the time of day and where the light was going to be, and the directionality of how things were going to look as the light dappled through the trees and all of that stuff.”

The film also concludes on a somewhat open-ended note, leaving the door open to future storytelling opportunities set in the world of Significant Other. According to Olsen, the film’s shocking finale was a work in progress as they developed the story, and ultimately reflected the filmmakers’ desire to tell a story that expands as it’s told, growing with each twist and revelation.

“The climax of the movie was always what it is in the film, with the showdown that happens between the protagonist and antagonist,” explained Olsen. “But over time, there were a few different versions of how you land that plane, whether a character gets away, and how much the antagonist pursues the protagonist. In working with the executives at Paramount, we landed on the one that’s in there, which we really love and leaves the door open, should this story be continued at some point.”

“With this film, the whole process was about going a little bit bigger than you think it’s going to go,” he continued. “In the beginning, you think this is going to be this austere, A24-like, heady sci-fi thing, and then something happens, and all of a sudden you’re like, ‘Oh, wait, there’s a little bit more going on with this thing!’ And we wanted to take that to another level with the ending.”

Written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, Significant Other is available now on Paramount+ streaming service.

Significant Other (2022)
Significant Other
Genre Science Fiction, Thriller, Horror
Stars Maika Monroe, Jake Lacy, Teal Sherer
Directed by Robert Olsen, Dan Berk
Movie images and data from:
The Night Agent season 1’s ending, explained
Peter shows his badge in The Night Agent.

The Night Agent, one of the newest shows on Netflix, is admittedly centered around a played-out spy trope. But the twists, turns, and movie-like action sequences throughout the 10-episode first season of the action thriller make it a worthy watch.

Curious about how the show's first season ends? Digital Trends has all the spoilers about what happened in the season finale and what that means for a possible second season.
What The Night Agent is about

Read more
The best thrillers on Amazon Prime Video right now
A man runs from a UFO in Nope.

A good thriller film will stay in your head for weeks. And whether it’s a quiet bit of mystery or an action-heavy spectacle, it’s not hard to understand why these flicks cling to our brains. These are the types of movies that drop audiences in headfirst, give us as little or as much information as the filmmakers want us to have, then send us off on a harrowing journey of trope-laden puzzle-solving. At least that's generally the formula.

Are you looking for a great place to catch all the latest thrillers? Look no further than Amazon Prime Video. From A-list epics to shoestring slow-burns, the streamer has it all, and it’s our job to keep up with all the latest and greatest titles. Here are all the best thrillers on Prime Video this month.
Amazon Prime may have a robust catalog, but it doesn't have everything. Luckily, we've also curated roundups of the best thrillers on Netflix and the best thrillers on Hulu.

Read more
The best John Wick movies, ranked by box office gross
Keanu Reeves looks at the camera in John Wick 2.

Everyone loves a good action movie. From the original Terminator back in 1984 to last year's Brad Pitt-lead Bullet Train, audiences have flocked to see things get blown up real good for decades. It's no secret that action movies usually dominate the box office; after all, would you rather see Bruce Willis sneak around the Nakatomi building in Die Hard or a three-hour movie about shepherds in Siberia?

In the last decade, no action film franchise has quite dominated the charts as the John Wick franchise. From 2014's sleeper hit to 2023's John Wick: Chapter 4, these Keanu Reeves-starring action movies have quietly won over the hearts of fans worldwide. But which one is the most popular? Is it the sequel, John Wick: Chapter 2, or the original John Wick, one of the greatest action movies ever? Using each movie's worldwide box office gross, the following is a list of the most popular John Wick movies in ascending order.

Read more