I am always down for a new vampire film, especially when they’re flashy and over the top. Slayers, the latest from writer and director K Asher Levin gives us just that.
Per IMDb, “A group of superstar influencers are drawn to a reclusive billionaire’s mansion only to find themselves trapped in the lair of an evil vampire. The only way out is to be saved by a famous online gamer and an old school vampire hunter.”
To celebrate the release of Slayers, I chatted with K Asher about the inspiration behind the film, digital media, what’s up next, and more!
PopHorror: Slayers was a lot of fun with a great soundtrack.
K Asher Levin: Thank you.
PopHorror: What inspired the story, and how did the project come about?
K Asher Levin: There’s a couple of different elements of inspiration here. The initial inception of this film was inspired by my love Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the book – and a weird rabbit hole I went down about 12 years ago about the unofficial history of the last days of Howard Hughes at the Desert Inn. I had written a version of the script very early on that was focused on that in the late 60s at the Desert Inn as a sort of semi-modern retelling of Dracula.
PopHorror: Oh wow!
K Asher Levin: Obviously, that’s the movie I made, though I would love to make that movie one day. Maybe it will be a prequel to this. But this film then really took life after I had worked in the digital space for quite a while. I ran a big digital media company – a young adult company – called Brat for a while, and then I left. I had met all these influencers and I did some stuff for Snapchat, and I started to learn about the culture – the good and the bad, the very, very bad. When I revisited this script, I had a buddy I was working on another script with, and I said, “Hey, I have this idea for how to spin this.” He had been helping me out with some things in the digital space and had met a couple of these people. I said, “I really want to have the movie really be about the vampiric elements of media, digital media specifically but media in general. Media consumption, and the narratives that we create, and the world that we live in. A world where none of us really have a center of news. We all kind of have our own version of what’s going on in the world. Even friend to friend.” So the thought of an evil vampire illuminati that is at the center of all misinformation was really exciting to me. And then the Elliot character kind of was bred out of my own cynicism for the whole thing. I had always, even in the Howard Hughes version, I had always had this character.
This character, and the Flynn character, were always sort of storming the castle, and in that case, it was the penthouse at the Desert Inn. In this case it’s this lair, and it was this buddy-action thriller that happens in the back of the movie. In this version, when I was talking to my writing partner, Zack (Imbrogno), he said, “You have all these other characters that are sort of media adjacent. Wouldn’t it be fun if we based it on Alex Jones?” That was why we called him Elliot Jones. And it was much broader to begin with and I said, “Nah we can’t do that. But maybe we keep the essence of it.” From there, the movie evolved really. The inspiration was two-pronged. One, my love for vampire films with Bram Stoker’s Dracula as bible text, and then movies like Near Dark, and The Hunger, and Blade.
PopHorror: All great ones.
K Asher Levin: All great ones. There’s a little bit of The Hunger in the vaccine scene between Malin (Akerman) and Lydia (Hearst) in the wardrobe. Definitely sexual overtones in that scene that are very similar. And then Malin’s character in general is a nod to Catherine Deneuve and a little bit of Isabella Rossellini in Death Becomes Her. Those were sort of the touchstones. And then on the other side, on the high-minded thematic side, it was my real serious anger and disdain for our culture today and how guided it is by media, specifically digital media.
PopHorror: It’s amazing how digital media has infiltrated our lives lately, and how much people rely on that over other avenues.
K Asher Levin: It is a driver of capitalism, and today it is the chief driver of capitalism. We used to have a country that was built on industry, and now we have a country that is commodified by thought. And industry has moved to other places in the world. I think it’s important as storytellers, and unfortunately it doesn’t happen very often, to tell the story of where we are in the sort of late stages of capitalism that we live in right now.
PopHorror: Your cast was fantastic. What was your casting process like, and how did you decide on your leads?
K Asher Levin: It was really just a bunch of people I knew through people. Some people I knew directly. I like to work with people that I kind of understand what the performance is going to be before, and you can tell from the visuals, they are pretty ambitious. It’s hard on a smaller film to nail ambitious stuff when you have to explain to people how to act in scenes, and what you want from them. It’s easier when you can only do two or three takes on something and then move on to the next crazy shot. Honestly, that’s the real answer. It’s like playing basketball or something, a team that’s been together for a couple years. They’re going to run the plays better. That’s my philosophy.
PopHorror: I feel like, if I were a filmmaker, I would want to know how it’s going to go first too.
K Asher Levin: 100%. Honestly, it’s selfish and I work with the same actors a lot, and a lot of it is I don’t want to have to explain to a new person how I work, and I don’t want to have to learn how they work. I would rather have people on set that I already know. It’s more fun that way.
PopHorror: What is up next for you?
K Asher Levin: I have a film coming out at the beginning of next year. It’s a mystery comedy, sort of like Clue, but for millennials. It’s not as tony as Knives Out or Clue, but it deals with wealthy people – one who is an influencer – but wealthy shitty people in their 30s, and a dead body. And that’s pretty much what the movie is. It’s a lot of fun. It comes out early next year. I’m actually on location right now prepping for a film that I’m about to shoot in a couple weeks, that’s a bank robbery movie set in the 20s.
PopHorror: That’s exciting!
K Asher Levin: And don’t worry. I will be working on more horror adjacent movies soon. These are just the ones that are in the pipeline right now.
PopHorror: I appreciate that. Just one last question for you today. What is your favorite scary movie?
K Asher Levin: I hate to sound so top 40 and say Halloween, but it’s incredible. It’s just an amazing achievement. I’m just going to sound boring, but Halloween, Psycho, and Beetlejuice.
Thank you so much to K Asher for taking the time to speak with us. Slayers is available now on digital and On Demand.