Eva Konstantopoulos’ ’05 dream came true last year when Netflix released her fictional story “Malevolent” into a film, eight years after the project started.
The horror film, adapted from Konstantopoulos’ book Hush, tells the story of two siblings tricking people into thinking they have paranormal activity in their homes, only to take advantage of them by promising help in exchange for money. The two encounter trouble once they enter an actual haunted house.
The Los Angeles–based writer was inspired to write the story after hearing an anecdote about children taking advantage of elderly people.
“It’s kind of a revenge story in that sense, like what if these kids got their comeuppance while taking advantage of these people?” Konstantopoulos said in a phone interview. “It stemmed from that, and I went from there.”
Konstantopoulos—a media studies and writing, literature and publishing double major—worked at the self-publishing company Author Solutions, LLC in 2011, when she began crafting the story “Hush.” Production company Sigma Films picked up the piece in 2012, developed the script into a film, and shot it in Scotland.
“I’ve always really loved stories, especially genre stories, stories that are grounded in reality but are slightly off or tilted. It’s how I process the world, or hard or complicated situations,” Konstantopoulos said. “I also like to sort of analyze and figure out what makes people tick—what I’ve always done and hopefully what I will keep doing.”
Netflix bought the film from Sigma Films and released it on Oct. 5, 2018. Konstantopoulos said this allowed the story to quickly reach a bigger audience.
Konstantopoulos was also excited to experience the filming process in Scotland after finishing the script.
“I was very happy with the actors they picked—I thought they were wonderful,” Konstantopoulos said. “It was a great experience to go there and see the built sets based on stuff you’ve imagined in your brain.”
Ben Lloyd-Hughes from Divergent and Florence Pugh from Netflix’s new historical action drama Outlaw King play the two main characters, who are siblings.
“I was really excited to see the finished product,” Konstantopoulos said. “There are a lot of stories that don’t find a home when you’re a writer. Sometimes you develop stories, and it doesn’t move forward. It was really cool to see this story find a home on Netflix where people can watch it—it’s a dream come true.”
Film producer Danny Sherman said he felt excited about the reach the story would receive from its distribution on such a large platform.
“I felt really good about it when it was done,” Sherman said in a phone interview. “We made it without distribution and sold it to Netflix, and it was the perfect pairing.”
Sigma Films originally hired Ben Ketai as the screenwriter. Ketai later left due to personal projects, according to Konstantopoulos. The production company, based in Glasgow, Scotland, decided to turn to Konstantopoulos for the rest of the screenplay.
“It was cool because they had Ketai write the first draft and then they let me revise it,” Konstantopoulos said. “When you’re writing, you have to take notes, and it’s a more collaborative process. You can’t be too precious about the words. Go along for the ride, and it makes the story better in the long run.”
Sherman and Konstantopoulos both said they enjoyed filming Malevolent in Scotland.
Konstantopoulos hopes to develop a new horror feature that would take place in Greece. As a Greek-American, Konstantopoulos wanted to craft a story that takes place in Greece for a long time.
Karen Mae Black ‘07 and Konstantopoulos met during their time at Emerson Los Angeles. Konstantopoulos said Black is one of her biggest supporters. Black said the two bonded right away and started to work together and read each other’s work throughout the years, acting as each other’s editors.
“We are really good at bouncing ideas off of each other—shortly after we met, we decided to write some things together,” Black said in a phone interview. “We became writing partners on a couple of projects and just kept on supporting each other.”
The pair worked together on the short film “Re/collection,” released in 2017. The script won the One Potato Short Screenplay Grant of $5,000 at the 2016 Sun Valley Film Festival, which went toward making the production possible.
Black said she admires Konstantopoulos’ commitment to write stories that hold truth to what impassions her, despite the industry’s conventions.
Genre works such as horror and suspense are usually written by men, Black said. Companies expect women in the industry to write “chick flicks” and romances, according to Black, but Konstantopoulos had a different vision for her career.
“Eva was writing genre pieces before this new wave of women finally broke into this industry,” Black said. “She was breaking those barriers despite what the industry was saying women should be writing.”