September 13, 2015 05:05 PM

How unnerving is the new thriller Green Room? Scary enough to get under Captain Picard’s skin.

In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE, Patrick Stewart says that when he read the script from writer-director Jeremy Saulnier (Blue Ruin), he was so rattled he quickly set about securing his house.

“I began reading just as dusk was falling,” says Stewart, “and around about page 40, I closed the script and I got up and I went around my house – because I was alone–making sure that all the doors and windows were locked.”

As if that weren’t enough, “then I switched on all the perimeter lights around my house,” he added. “I don’t do that! The movie had undermined me and made me feel so unsafe, I knew without a doubt it was what I wanted to do next.”

In the film, which opened the Toronto Film Festival’s Midnight Madness screenings to rapt reviews, Stewart plays a successful businessman. “But something happens – which is no fault of his, or no concern of his, really – which threatens his livelihood, his career, his business, everything is at stake,” says Stewart.

“So he has to quietly, methodically work out a plan in which he can prevent the collapse of his existence from happening. Unfortunately, in order to bring this about, these four young people have to die.”

Wait, what?

“It’s the downside of taking care of himself,” Stewart deadpans.

Director Saulnier is known for jarring, engrossing films, and Green Room sounds no different. Certainly, Stewart found his character’s moral conundrum irresistible.

“I thought it would be interesting to [play] a decent, quiet, thoughtful individual, who is really trying to do the best he can in a difficult situation,” says Stewart, “which happens to involve machetes, pit bulls and box cutters.”

For full coverage of the 2015 Toronto Film Festival – including the hottest premieres, the biggest stars and the buzziest films – check out people.com/tiff, instyle.com and ew.com

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