The movie, giving “Back to the Future”-style with Scream comedic undertones, has a mashup of comedy and horror for major audiences on Prime Video.
35 years after the shocking murder of three teens, the infamous “Sweet Sixteen Killer“ returns on Halloween night to claim a fourth victim. 17-year-old Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) ignores her overprotective mom’s (Julie Bowen) warning and comes face to face with the masked maniac and on the run for her life, accidentally time travels back to 1987, the year of the original killings. Forced to navigate the unfamiliar and outrageous culture of the 1980s, Jamie teams up with her teen mom (Olivia Holt) to take down the killer once and for all before she’s stuck in the past forever.
Directed by Khan (“Always Be My Maybe”, “Fresh Off The Boat”) from a script by David Matalon & Sasha Perl-Raver and Jen D’Angelo, the film is a fresh take on a classic horror story complete with jump scares, Gen Z snark and authentic 80s vibes.
“I love the mashup space and I really loved the premise,” says director Nahnatchka Khan (“Always Be My Maybe”), who received the script when she was in the middle of filming her TV series “Young Rock” in Australia and not yet thinking about her next project. “It’s ‘Back to the Future’, but with a serial killer twist, and getting to go back in time and do some of those kills, 1980s-style, I thought it was so smart and clever. And I knew I wanted to bring in the sort of true crime craze that’s been going on, where people would have dedicated podcasts to the Sweet Sixteen Killer and crime timelines.”
Jason Blum, Producer, Founder & CEO Blumhouse, is the reason Totally Killer ended up in Khan’s inbox. “The team and I met with Nahnatchka after her hilarious comedy Always Be My Maybe had come out,” recalls Blum. “We love working with filmmakers who are looking to try new things and were thrilled she wanted to play in the sandbox with us. This script was the perfect fit for her sensibility – the story has great characters, humor, and heart wrapped in a horror-slasher. And Nahnatchka struck the right balance knowing when to play up laughs and build suspense towards those moments that make you jump.”
Kahn noted that a lot of the actors, including Shipka, were delights to work with on set and even admits that the project was very collaborative across the board.
According to Khan, Shipka’s command of the character was obvious from their first meeting over Zoom. “Usually in those initial meetings, it segues into notes that people have on their characters,” she says. “And to Kiernan’s credit, she was like, ‘I get it. I love this and that about the character. And there are little things here and there that you and I can work on together.’ She’s such a confident performer and actor, she was the perfect person for that role.”
“I think Natch did such a great job of maintaining that balance between the scares and the comedy,” says cinematographer Judd Overton, who worked with Khan previously on “Young Rock.” “The way that you get your laughs and the way you get the button on those jokes is actually very similar to how you set up the scares with the techniques you use and even the way you shoot them sometimes. Finding the mood and the tone of this film was the most important thing to me. Keeping the balance between those little comedy pops and then making sure that the killer is really scary and maintaining the threat of danger.”
“The movie is a fun rollercoaster for everybody,” Khan concludes.
“It’s communal, something that’s fun to experience with friends, family, however you watch,” she added. “There’s something for everybody in there, it’s a good time. Hopefully people enjoy this because we definitely enjoyed making it.”