It’s not everyday that you find yourself at the mercy of those who wish you harm. Perhaps it’s never happened to you ... or maybe it has. Do you know what you would do if you suddenly found yourself the prey in a twisted game of survival? Would you have the strength of body and mind to persevere?

Reagan Farrow (Murray Gray) is confronted by these very questions in Unsullied. Co-written and directed by former Cardinals defensive end and NFL Super Bowl Champion, Simeon Rice, Unsullied takes the traditional damsel-in-distress trope and turns it on its head.

“Let me get you ready,” Rice told GetOut. “You’re in for the story of your life. It’s the ultimate game of kill or be killed — a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse; a high impact, high adrenaline film. It’s one of those films that grips you and doesn’t let go.”

As a lover of thrillers, Rice was inspired to write an action-packed suspense movie of his own after watching No Country For Old Men.

“I was saying to myself, ‘I want to write a film like that.’ I want to write a film that has that level of intensity and anxiety. So I began starting to write the movie.”

Retiring after a successful NFL career, Rice enrolled at The New York Film Academy where he studied film.

“I was always an artist. That’s what I did first. But I was a sketch artist — so I drew things.”

But he said that he always had a knack for words.

“I spoke in colors and that’s because I spoke from a visual standpoint. The way I speak in terms of a story is the way I see things, visually… It was the way I was wired.”

He’s written several scripts and sold a show to HBO. Unsullied is his first foray into feature film making.

In answer to why he wanted to write a thriller centered on a strong female lead, Rice said he wanted to create a character that inspires — a response to the male-hero dominated pantheon.

“Not a lot of women have a hero character to look up to. We do — men do. We have Batman, Superman, we have all these different hero types that we can watch on film and draw inspiration from.”

The lack of strong female heroes was something he discussed frequently with Murray Gray as they hashed out Reagan’s character.

“I told her that next year for Halloween I want little girls dressing up as Reagan Farrow.”

While Reagan initially finds herself the prey of some sociopaths, she discovers her own inner strength and courage to do the unthinkable. This is her origin story.

“Although you’re victimized,” Rice explained to Gray. “You don’t have to be the victim. Fight back. Don’t give up. Be hopeful.”

This is Gray’s first feature role, but she took to the role as Reagan like a season professional. Rice believes that this will be the catalyst that launches her straight to the top.

“She did such a flawless job creating this character,” Rice said.

While the story and the directing is Rice’s own, he was quick to say that it was merely a starting point, a “platform” from which the cast and crew took to with unwavering commitment. And while Rice said he is pleased with his accomplishment he was has to shine the spotlight on the team that brought his vision to life.

“I was more proud of Murray Gray, Rusty Joiner, James Gaudioso, Erin Boyes — Cindy (Karr) who plays Claudine Willfellow — I was so proud of those people. I was blessed by those people.”

Unsullied opens nationwide Aug. 28. It will be showing at AMC and Harkins Theatres. Check online for theater details and times. For trailers and more details about the film, visit unsulliedthefilm.com.

• Contact writer: 480-898-5629 or kmonahan@getoutaz.com.

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