Recently released on VOD is the horror comedy Kill Me Now, directed by first-time filmmaker Travis Long and written by Michael Swaim.
Swaim co-stars in the film as the wisecracking sidekick who must help his buddy and the rest of his friends survive an attack by the notorious “Driller Killer.”
Kill Me Now also stars Jacob Reed, Brett Fancy and Beck Bennett and follows a group of recent high school grads who must face off against one of the deadliest serial killers of all time during the party of the year, resulting in a lot of bloodshed and tons of hilarity.
Dread Central recently chatted with Swaim in honor of Indie Horror Month about his first feature film project, what the “Cracked” alum had to say about his experiences writing and co-starring in the indie horror comedy and whether or not he’s planning on a sequel to Kill Me Now. Check out our exclusive interview with Swaim below, and look for the flick on VOD platforms everywhere now.
Dread Central: I thought you guys made a fun little movie with Kill Me Now and enjoyed a lot of the humor you had in the story. Was it difficult for you to find that balance? Although I’m sure your background in comedy probably came in handy.
Michael Swaim: That was very important when I was writing this with my partner Abe (Epperson)- we wanted to make sure that we did both the comedy and the horror elements just right. We wanted to make sure we did the smart thing when it came to writing these characters and to keep things unexpected and funny too. We had to make sure that we played this real enough to understand why our killer was justified in killing in some ways which is where a lot of the comedy came from.
The killer’s certainly one of the most interesting aspects for me of the movie; essentially what we tried to do and what we were interested in was the idea of the hunter becoming the hunted, and building a realistic horror movie universe where you’re scared of the monster. Then at some point in the movie, the monster becomes the victim of the original victims and so we wanted to get scenes where the killer’s on the run and you’re siding with him. It was a huge challenge to see if we could pull that trick of getting the audience to root for the killer by the end of the movie.
Dread Central: I thought Brett, who played your killer was a lot of fun- where did you guys find him?
Michael Swaim: He’s an English actor; we flew him out for this- in fact, he was the only person in the cast who wasn’t a close friend of mine. We knew almost immediately that this was our guy; just one look from him and you’ll feel like you’re in a real horror movie. This was a character that had to be scary but also had to be charismatic and intelligent as well, and Brett was a perfect mix of all three.
Let me tell you just how prepared Brett was for this movie; when he arrived on set, I saw that he had written more notes down in his script than he had actual lines of dialogue. It was a huge thrill to see someone so committed to this role, and what he was able to do with this character was just a huge thrill to watch.
Dread Central: You mentioned that you worked almost entirely with a cast and crew of close friends for Kill Me Now; did any of them inspire the characters at all? Did you write Dennis for yourself too then?
Michael Swaim: You know, I don’t know anyone else’s writing process but these are totally fictional characters. When we were done writing, Abe and I then looked it over and thought about which of our friends is most like a particular character and cast it through that process. Originally when we were writing the script, I thought I’d be the main guy in Kill Me Now because I sort of wrote him based on how I was back then.
But after we read it, we realized I wasn’t really the right type for this character, and thankfully Jacob Reed came on for the role because he really becomes this lovable loser in this story. Because of how we wrote the character of Dennis and the fact that I’m so gawky and lanky anyway, it just worked so well this way that I’d play the other guy and not Noah. It was totally the right decision.
Dread Central: Being from Illinois, I just have to ask- why did you guys choose Effingham as your location to shoot? I think it’s a town I drove through once and I lived there almost my entire life.
Michael Swaim: Yeah, there’s just not a lot of anything surrounding the town; there’s like two highways crossing and that’s about it. It really was like a summer camp experience; it was kind of like being stuck inside this weird little bubble for three weeks. I never went out; we’d be shooting all night and then sleep all day so it wasn’t like I really had a lot of down time. But Effingham was like the director’s town; we had a 90k budget for Kill Me Now and the only reason it was possible for us to make this movie was because Travis and his family practically owns the town. He really got us connections and that kind of support we got from the community was incredible. We were so lucky.
Dread Central: Had you known Travis previous to working on Kill Me Now?
Michael Swaim: I did a little bit but not from movies at all; this was his first film as well. He was a fan of my writing from Cracked; he reached out to me and asked if we had a screenplay because he wanted to direct something that I wrote. We couldn’t have been luckier the way it all worked out because we had just finished Kill Me Now.
And Travis really involved us as collaborators throughout the entire production process; usually the writer is invisible by and large, but on this he would always keep us involved. He’s also a powerhouse producer who totally organized everything on this from the locations to the crew to meals- Travis did it all. This movie had a huge ensemble cast too; it’s stunning to look back and realize how difficult the logistics were to get this movie made but somehow Travis made it work.
Dread Central: I take it this was a labor of love for everyone involved?
Michael Swaim: It really was; it was kind of life changing to witness. There really is no feeling like seeing a creative work come to life because of these people who sacrificed their health and sanity to make it happen. Our cast was amazing and sacrificed so much; everyone got sick of course and we had people throwing up between takes and then just going right back to work for the next take when they were done. The cast and the crew were all lovely to work with and extremely dedicated.
Dread Central: Have you guys talked about a sequel at all to Kill Me Now?
Michael Swaim: It would really depend on interest but I know we’d love to come back and have some fun writing a sequel. I know we’d all love to get back and work together again so we just have to see if the fans discover this movie and if they end up enjoying it. We definitely hope they do because we’d love to come back for more.
In the not-too-distant past, with the help of a windowless van and a jar of chloroform, a group of Internet sketch comedians were hauled off to the backwoods of Illinois to shoot their first movie! The horror comedy features Streamy and Webby Award winner Michael Swaim (“Agents of Cracked”) and the casts of “Those Aren’t Muskets!,” “Good Neighbor,” “Tremendosaur,” “Team Tiger Awesome,” and “Horsehead Businessman.”
Kill Me Now chronicles one unforgettable night in the lives of a ragtag group of small-town teens. It’s a night that will prove equally unforgettable for the sinister Driller Killer (Brett Fancy – “EastEnders,” “Luther”), a deranged serial killer bent on ridding the world of vapidity and dumbassedness (everyone else). When he comes upon the kids’ all-night graduation party–conveniently held at a cabin deep in the woods–he finds both in spades. Unfortunately, Mr. Killer is about to learn something crappy bumper stickers learned long ago: stupid people can be deadly in large numbers. Kill Me Now blends horror, comedy, depth and plain jackassery to form a brew so potent you won’t know whether to laugh, scream, or think about, like, life and stuff. The movie features performances from a staggering array of the Internet’s hottest up-and-coming comedians, writing from the guys behind “Those Aren’t Muskets!” and Cracked.com, direction from a dude whose previous work includes hardcore, joint-smokin’, Twista-havin’, Kanye-featurin’ rap videos, and at least one scene where a chick totally gets a drill to the brain. But it’s funny!
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