Adolescence is scary, especially when you start to experience changes in your body and begin to grasp the concept of sex. As Short of the Week alum, Matt Kazman (Flagpole) explores in his latest dark coming-of-age comedy KILLER, navigating that new world can be a bit catastrophic – or at least for a prepubescent boy named Dusty who has come to the unthinkably hilarious conclusion that whenever he masterbates, someone dies in the world. Yes, dies.
Comedically, Kazman’s subtle humor compliments both the sad reality of Dusty’s mother’s sudden death while also playing up the cringe-worthiness of amateur sexual exploration. When it comes to understanding sex, Kazman perfectly captures how as children turning into adults, our thoughts may be innocently incorrect for lack of anyone to really talk to about the subject but our equally inexperienced peers. As Kazman emphasizes with Dusty’s friend Joe, a kid may actually believe every word his mother says about masterbation in her attempts to deter him from doing it.
Of course, poor Joe may not realize it’s false information, but the trickle down effect to his peers, particularly Dusty, is remarkably believable. After all, Joe’s mom did say that every time you touch yourself someone dies and Dusty’s mom did just that.
Kazman explains where the idea for KILLER came from: “Thankfully, “Killer” isn’t based on a personal experience, but it came from a personal place. When I was a kid, I’d hear all these theories about sex, and life in general, from friends, older siblings, etc. As a result, I’d make up my own ideas about these things without actually knowing anything, and once I got older, I’d obviously figure out that some of those ideas were misguided. I think that’s a major part of growing up – finding out that some of your notions about life are wrong. Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometime’s it’s not. I wanted to make a movie about how bittersweet that can be.”
Uniquely, Kazman’s film isn’t afraid to be sad, and while KILLER may be a dark comedy about pre-teen masterbation, it’s also about embracing grief. The juxtaposition between Dusty’s reality and that of his father’s is heartbreakingly different. So while Dusty’s newfound killer-masterbator superpower makes it hard not to laugh behind your hand with mirth, his father’s somewhat failed attempts to step up as a parent will sober you. When Dusty finally tries to defeat his schoolyard nemesis by masterbating at him, it’s Dusty’s dad that ultimately grounds him back in reality. You’ll be thoroughly charmed by their much needed and very awkward step toward a better, more open relationship with one another.
KILLER made a splash on the festival circuit including the Sundance Film Festival and the Seattle International Film Festival, where it picked up the Narrative Short Grand Jury Prize. While he has no new filmmaking news to share, we’re sure that will change in the very near future and we definitely can’t wait to see what he comes out with next!