Watch The Weeknd’s insane, blood-splattered new music video

Bella Hadid stars as a stripper with a gun for ‘In the Night’ – we spoke to BRTHR, the directing duo behind it

Fresh off getting nominated for a Grammy for his alt-R&B masterpiece Beauty Behind the Madness, Abel Tesfaye – AKA The Weeknd – has just released a beautifully stylish, action-packed new visual to go with his track “In the Night”.

Starring LA model and social media icon Bella Hadid (who is also Tesfaye’s girlfriend), the six-minute video plays out like a surreal, neon-sheened 1980s gangster movie, with Hadid playing a stripper who becomes embroiled in a violent altercation. The fight culminates in Hadid’s character slashing the neck of an enemy, before shooting another enemy in the back of the head.

The video, which is swimming in cult film references, was directed by BRTHR, the visionary duo behind some of our favourite music vids, from Gems’ “Sinking Stone” to Charlie XCX’s “Breaking Up”. Known for their intensely cinematic, dreamlike aesthetic, the pair have been gradually setting the standard for the style, look and feel of modern music. We spoke to BRTHR about the ideas behind “In the Night”. 

Why did you both decide to work with The Weeknd?

BRTHR: It was a no-brainer. We had been talking for a while and Abel and La Mar (Abel’s creative director), pretty much told us to let loose – do whatever we want. We discussed some key ideas together and they were absolutely in for it. Also, who could ever forget Trilogy? We knew the upcoming album was going to be special.

Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind this video. How does it relate to the track?

BRTHR: The track has such an epic 1980s feel to it, and we are huge fans of that. Mood and style is the most important factor in a visual for us, and the track’s vibe sort of just inspired all of the imagery in the video. We knew we had to explore a strong performance with this vibe, and that was our starting point. The lyrical content inspired a loose narrative.

What is that loose narrative?

BRTHR: We like to explore loose, non-linear narratives, so it’s supposed to feel a little disjointed, but in a gist, it follows an underground brothel/strip club on a nondescript boat, and a revenge plot against dirty gangsters on the boat. The idea is that these girls are enslaved and Abel is an insider who has fallen in love with Bella Hadid’s character, who we see sort of as the leader of the girls.

The video is full of stylistic references. Which films were you most inspired by?

BRTHR: We are always inspired by directors who know how to create a distinct aesthetic and vibe. The film Taxi Driver was a huge inspiration in terms of the bloodshed and prostitution narrative, but also the New York feel that the film has. Other directors we are always inspired by are Wong Kar-wai, Harmony Korine, Guy Ritchie, Gaspar Noé and Quentin Tarantino. Weirdly, after we shot everything, things started reminding us more of Blade Runner, so that became an inspiration too. Last but not least, we were obviously inspired by Prince and Michael Jackson vids. We wanted to bring back the feel of those grand-scale music videos. 

You often use neon colours in your videos – what attracts you to this night-time aesthetic?

BRTHR: Neon is great because it can be so many things ­– it’s super-versatile. We like incorporating neon light colour to create contrasting moods with different colours, mostly. Cold versus warm is always considered in our work.   

I love the inclusion of the blood-red roses. Are they symbolic?

BRTHR: Rose petals flying around feels like a bunch of roses being ripped apart. We love how aggressive and pretty the imagery of that is. We feel like it fits within the visual universe of The Weeknd’s album title Beauty Behind The Madness. Other than that, we tend to incorporate roses in all of our videos. We’re huge fans of a good ol’ rose.