New Thriller Billionaire Ransom Is a Cross Between the Hunger Games and I Know What You Did Last Summer
Almost 19 years ago, I Know What You Did Last Summer captivated audiences with its all-star teen cast, terrifyingly mysterious plot, and basic all-around ’90s goodness. Now, the director of the cult classic, Jim Gillespie, is back with another film in the same dramatic vein. His latest movie, Billionaire Ransom (titled Take Down outside of North and South America), hits select theaters and VOD today, Aug. 19, following a group of troubled rich kids who are held hostage at their remote rehab school in Scotland. Gossip Girl star Ed Westwick portrays the leader of the kidnappers, while Shadowhunters star Dominic Sherwood and American Gothic’s Elliot Knight play two of the students in danger.
InStyle recently caught up with Knight, and he told us that the flick is seriously goosebump-inducing. “It is very much a teen thriller like I Know What You Did Last Summer,” he said. “But it’s also a coming-of-age story, in a way, as the characters learn to fend for themselves.” And while it may be hard to want to root for the brattier characters at the beginning of the film, they just might grow on you as they work to reform their ways.
“Imagine a camp for bad kids—only this is a special, luxurious, exclusive camp for the bad kids of people with money,” said Knight. “It's is all about rehabilitating yourself from within—your personality, your behavior, how you fit into society, and how you appreciate the value of yourself—so it’s pretty well-intentioned. But it’s this group of misfit kids who have been spoiled, and now it’s time for them to figure things out for themselves.”
To do that, the students become completely disconnected from their everyday lives. “The campus is located on an isolated island where there are no phones or internet, and there’s no communication with the outside world,” said Knight. “But someone who knows that these kids are on the island decides that it’s the perfect setup to kidnap them and pull the world’s biggest ransom. And the kidnappers can demand as much money as they want for each kid, because the parents are all so rich.”
From there, the teens spring into fight-or-flight mode. “Our characters are basically trying to survive the invasion of this island that we’ve been dumped on,” said Knight, adding that the cast bonded while shooting in the U.K. in 2014. “It was a lot of fun to film,” he said. “Dom [Sherwood] and I met on the set and became really good friends, and we see each other all the time now.”
In fact, it’s one of Sherwood’s scenes that Knight expects some viewers will enjoy most. “I’d say the biggest thing you guys can look forward to seeing is probably Dom chopping wood with his shirt off,” said Knight. “People will love that, of course—but there are also a lot of really cool action sequences that are fun to watch. It’s almost like an indie Hunger Games, in a sense, and the idea of that is pretty exciting.”
Billionaire Ransom hits select theaters, VOD, and iTunes today, Aug. 19.