When “You’re Not Supposed to Be Here” writer Lauren Caster went on a camping trip to one of the Bureau of Land Management’s many camp grounds, she was struck by the sparse facilities nearby, whose sense of isolation would be haunting during a pregnancy.
“There’s a lot of towns around there that sometimes aren’t welcoming to people visiting,” Caster told TheWrap. “Once I was pregnant, I had all these emotions, and I felt isolated and vulnerable.”
Leaning into Jordan Peele-esque themes, the Lifetime thriller, which premieres Nov. 4, centers on pregnant lesbian couple Zoe (Chrishell Stause) and Kennedy (Diora Baird), who attempt to disconnect from their stressful lives and reconnect with each other by going on a weekend getaway to a cabin in the woods, courtesy of Kennedy’s boss. While the spouses lean on the vacation to alleviate their problems, Zoe begins to feel unsettled when they are greeted by anything but welcoming arms by the town.
With some of the ominous interactions with the town’s citizens — including a woman grabbing Zoe’s arm and warning her “you’re not supposed to be here” in a pharmacy — feeling like blatant homophobia to the couple, Caster aimed to portray the real-life fears and issues facing the LGBTQ+ community.
“Especially as a little girl growing up, I would have loved to seen a film like this — it would have really meant a lot for me,” Caster said of “You’re Not Supposed to Be Here,” which was developed from her winning concept from TheWrapWomen and Lifetime PitchFest for Emerging Female Filmmakers in 2021, and was written by Erica Lane.
Prior to their weekend getaway, Zoe, who is entering into the third trimester of her pregnancy, has struggled to find quality time with Kennedy, whose high-stress job requires a solid fraction of her attention at any given moment during Zoe’s pregnancy.
“Just like any new parents, they have the stress of work, they have the stress of trying to make time for each other in the midst of a newborn life,” director Nicole L. Thompson told TheWrap.
To complicate matters further, Zoe has dealt with miscarriages in the past, leading her anxiety to go into overdrive as she alerts Kennedy to virtually every potential issue — most of which are false alarms.
“When I was pregnant with my daughter — and I had miscarriages before — I had so much anxiety and fear,” Caster said. “Right before you give birth, innate in us this human drive kicks in and you’re freaking out — you’re like, ‘how are we gonna build a life and do all these things?'”
With Zoe on edge even before their trip, entering Wildwood — the town where Kennedy’s boss has loaned them his cabin for the weekend — throws some classic Lifetime twists and turns at the pair, which Thompson foreshadowed through varying visual styles. “Maybe there’s some Dutch angles coming in, or maybe, at the height of the drama, switching to more of a handheld field, so the audience can be on the edge of their seats to realize that this tension is something that you can feel through the screen,” Thompson said.
While Zoe internalizes each and every strange interaction as an ominous sign of malicious intent ahead, Kennedy, who continues to struggle with balancing her work and her weekend away with her partner, assures her everything is as it should be.
“Zoe has this internal conflict — She doubting herself,” Thompson said. “Sometimes that’s how it is in relationships — you have these little hunches and feelings, and sometimes your partner does not recognize that hunch or feeling and kind of brushes it off.”
Best known for “Selling Sunset” and “Days of Our Lives,” Stause’s performance prompts the audience to trust her hunches according to Thompson, who notes that “Chrishell brings a softness to Zoe that makes you want to know what’s going on.” “She connected with the character on this level that feels very genuine,” Thompson added.
“You’re Not Supposed to Be Here” also rounds out its cast with Curtis Hamilton, who can be seen in Issa Rae’s “Insecure,” who sprinkles a dose of comic relief into the Lifetime thriller as he plays Adam, Zoe’s best friend and go-to support system amid any conflicts with Kennedy, leading to a fraught relationship between Adam and Kennedy.
“Not only is he the comic relief, but also he and Kennedy don’t quite get along, and it just adds even more tension to what’s already [going on] before you’re about to have a baby and you’re being feeling isolated,” Caster said.
“You’re Not Supposed to Be Here” premieres Nov. 4 on Lifetime.
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