“Blow the Man Down,” a small-town thriller debuting on Amazon Friday, may not be a Massachusetts film, but it feels like one.
The movie is set in a small fictional fishing town in Maine, and it was filmed in Cundy’s Harbor in the real town of Harpswell. But co-writer/director Bridget Savage Cole is from Beverly, and the film’s setting will remind you of many places down the road.
The tale is about about two sisters, Mary Beth and Priscilla Connolly (played by Morgan Saylor and Sophie Lowe), who must cover up a crime. As they try to save themselves, they learn secrets about the older women in their small community. It’s those seemingly harmless matriarchs — played by veteran actresses Margo Martindale and June Squibb — who become the center of attention.
Director-writers Cole and Danielle Krudy were supposed to celebrate the release of their film this weekend. Now, like most, they’re inside. Still, they’re thrilled to share their suspenseful, darkly comedic take about a murder in a fishing town. They took a phone interview about it from their homes on Tuesday.
Q. Can the two of you speak to the geographic influences on “Blow the Man Down”?
DK: My mom’s family is from the East Coast. I spent my summers there. My mom was born in Maine; her family grew up in Connecticut, and I would go to [Groton Long Point], by Mystic. I was an outsider in a really tight-knit beach community, and really watching what it meant to be a New Englander from the outside in. It made a really strong impression.
BSC: I’m from Beverly, went to Beverly High. I used to work at a seafood restaurant in Gloucester. I also lived in Bar Harbor, Maine, for a year. It was good to have Krudy’s voice in the mix because sometimes the things we were writing about were so familiar to me that I’d miss the charm.
Q. How was it to shoot in Maine — and how long did you have there?
BSC: The shoot was 25 days. We had two nor’easters while we were shooting. One of them we were able to anticipate, and the other kind of took us by surprise.
Q. There’s this feeling that the story could be anywhere, and it feels like Massachusetts sometimes. The Patriots joke in the film does make it universal to a region.
BSC: It might be more Massachusetts than we ever meant for it to be. I mean, that is really what we know. It’s a larger-than-life plot, but we think of it as a personal story. It’s really inspired by our female relatives, how they actually talk and how they interact.
DK: You see what you want to see in it too, because there are qualities that are universal to this regional area. When we got to Harpswell, and to Cundy’s Harbor, the women — they were running the show.
Q. The film is described as a story about two sisters, one of whom meets a terrible man, does a crime, and then they both have to cover it up. But the heart of the film seems to be the older women in town who are low-key in charge of everything.
DK: You kind of need both generations to get the full meaning of the story. We think the sisters are important entry points because it’s really a changing of the guard in this town. But, of course, a story about the older women is a story that’s not told as often. It’s shining a light on women who are usually background characters.
BSC: And we invite people to underestimate those women. These are the kind of characters who have been underestimated in other movies. You know, the grandma making pie. Usually, it’s tangential to the actual plot, which is being forwarded by the men at the table. We kind of wanted to invite people to look at these domestic, feminine spaces and say, “Well, you know, maybe they’re not so benign.” For better and worse.
Q. You have Margo Martindale on one side of town, and then June Squibb leads a group of recognizable actresses (Annette O’Toole and Marceline Hugot) on the other. How did you land this cast?
DK: We always really wanted women who you could really believe were real women. June Squibb came on quite early — our executive producer had worked with her on “Nebraska.” That was really exciting and meaningful because … she could pass as a sweet grandma, who, you know, could, subvert your expectations.
Q. Despite this being a film about murder, crime, and small-town secrets, it’s funny. And it’s New England humor, which is tough to explain. Bridget, how do you define New England humor?
BSC: Well, you know I’m biased. I think people from New England are just generally funnier than people from elsewhere. You know, it’s part of the pastime, which is being sarcastic and poking fun at each other. Everybody has this great comedic timing. There’s something in the water.
DK: We like to call it salty humor. You can take the woman out of New England, but my mother, who lives in Cleveland, is still very salty.
Q. People have to stay home right now, which means no release party. How will you celebrate this accomplishment?
BSC: We were supposed to have a premiere in New York. That’s not happening. We’re in LA. We’re in our houses. I thought about maybe wearing my dress on Friday, just by myself. But … it shouldn’t be sad.
DK: Yeah. We always think it’s a good time for movies. Our hearts are with the people who had their film festivals and their film premieres delayed. We’ve been on that road and know how hard you work to get there.
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