Making his first feature a horror movie wasn't the result of extensive deliberation on the part of Michael Swaim and his frequent creative partner Abe Epperson--in fact, he had to take a crash course in horror to prepare for the slasher comedy "Kill Me Now." He and Epperson sat down to watch a bunch of horror movies, picked at patterns and things they wanted to add structurally and then, in his words, "added a bunch of d**k jokes."
"Kill Me Now" is the feature writing-producing debut for Swaim, whose face you might have seen a here and there on Cracked.com where he serves as the comedy site's Head of Video while also appearing in the "Agents of Cracked" shorts. "We can be in any environment, we can make it funny, we can make it work."
When I asked what movies made it into the research pile for "Kill Me Now," Swaim rattled off some of the essentials: "Halloween," "Friday the 13th," "Nightmare on Elm Street." But be ready for a bit of horror heresy: not only was this the first time Swaim was seeing these films, but he didn't really think all that much of Misters Voorhees, Meyers, and Krueger. "I gotta say, as someone with no nostalgia that didn't watch them originally--just crap," he tells me, "just crap, just boring," although he did like one film: Alexandre Aja's "High Tension." I can't tell how much of this is a put-on, but Swaim did credit each with being instructive in teaching him the language of horror movies, their unique rhythms and tropes.
The film sees a group of partygoers menaced by the erudite Driller Killer (Brett Fancy), who's carrying out a homicidal vendetta against the world's worst and most dimwitted. At the top of the list: a party full of drunk and stoned teens attended by Swaim's acerbic Dennis and his sad sack buddy Noah (Jacob Reed), the latter only going in the hopes of getting back together with his ex.
Swaim tells me that he didn't originally intend to be in "Kill Me Now"--for a while he was being considered for other roles in the film or possibly not being in it at all. Part of that came down the the seat-of-their-pants style of production for "Kill Me Now," which saw the movie go fairly quickly from an idea on the page don on spec to a feature that had to get made. He jokes that for his next feature, he'd love it if they could just do "a great, hilarious movie that involves four people in a house." To all of those would-be filmmakers out there, Swaim suggests doing ample pre-production ("Pre-production was not as thorough as we'd [have liked]"), and know what every shot looks like, and this is one you don't expect--have hand sanitizer available, especially if you don't want your ensemble cast to get sick within a couple of days of the start of shooting.
"Almost foolishly, without thinking it would be made or exist in the real world, we kind of wrote the movie without a budget," Swaim says, offering that they filled the cast with friends and funny people from the Internet that they knew.
The one exception was actor Brett Fancy, whose brutal killer becomes increasingly hapless in the face of drunken, gun-toting teens is someone that Swaim wanted viewers to almost sympathize with. Swaim hopes that the final film gives audiences some insight into the killer--indeed, the action cuts frequently from the terrified partygoers to the killer in his van or stalking around in the woods, plotting his next move (or ranting at the voices in his head). While Swaim says that his next project may reunite him with the cast of "Kill Me Now," for the time being he says we shouldn't hold our breath for more from the Driller Killer.
"Kill Me Now" will made its big screen premiere and you can bring it to your city via Tugg.com. It will be available soon on VOD.