SHOCK talks to SECRET SANTA director Mikey McMurran.
Making some homegrown waves lately is the Canadian indie slasher gem SECRET SANTA, the feature debut film from writer/director Mikey McMurran and produced by Autumn Cygnus/Beats in Heat (THE LATE MOVIE: PUSSYFOOT). This nasty little grindhouse throwback first breached the festival circuit as an Official Selection in the increasingly popular Blood in the Snow Fest in 2015. SECRET SANTA clinched the award for best score by Andre Becker (CHANNEL ZERO), and has been gathering steam ever since; there is buzz in the air and folks are talking. The SECRET SANTA team recently won Best Picture at the inaugural Toronto International Spring of Horror & Fantasy Film Festival 2016 and they arent stopping there. The film is now an Official Selection for the Legless Corpse Film Festival 2016 in Alabama, as well as this years’ Shock Stock in London, Ontario, Canada.
SHOCK spoke to Mikey McMurran
SHOCK: How did this project come about?
MIKEY McMURRAN: The idea for SECRET SANTA came out of frustration from working two retail jobs over Christ-mas. From the start of November through until New Years, all I heard in the mall I worked at was repeated Christmas carols and the stress of the shoppers. The film is a tip-of-the-hat to the 80s VHS slashers I loved watching when I was young; I just added comedy elements to the mix.
SHOCK: You have some gruesome practical FX; any gory details you can share?
McMURRAN: Carlos (FEMALE WEREWOLF) Henriques and The Butcher Shop did amazing effects on this film. I cant praise their work enough! The film would not be what it is without the nasty gore and carnage they produced. I dont want to give too much away, but we have some really cool, creative deaths in the film. I showed a first cut of the film to my family, and they squirmed at the death scenes. Carlos is very organized, and the most laid-back guy youd ever meet. He loved the idea of the film and that we were trying to create a sense of nostalgia for the horror fans of the late 70s/early 80s. He pulled no punches and created some of the nastiest work Ive ever seen!
SHOCK: Any tips of the hat to other Canadian slasher masterpieces like BLACK CHRISTMAS, MY BLOODY VALENTINE or PROM NIGHT?
McMURRAN: I absolutely love the Canadian slashers, and there are many little nods to them throughout the film. The two biggest inspirations for SECRET SANTA were PROM NIGHT and BLACK CHRISTMAS. Especially the cinematography; our DP Michael Malko did a fantastic job with the lighting. We went for a more old-school lighting scheme, using practical light sources like high-wattage bulbs in household lamps to create that 70s/80s horror look. We wanted to make it appear like we shot on 16mm and make it truly gritty, and that also goes for the music by Andre Becker. As much as we wanted to recreate a time in the genre we loved, we wanted to bring our own touch to the film, and that came with the humor. SECRET SANTA is as much a comedy as it is a horror movie. There are moments in this film that will make your jaw drop and cheeks blush. Just when we make you jump out of your seat in fear, well turn it around and make you chuckle.
SHOCK: The film is premiering at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival in Toronto this month. Is there a release date planned?
McMURRAN: Its an exciting time for SECRET SANTA. For a release date and distribution, well have to keep you updated once weve finished our festival run. We want as many people to see SECRET SANTA as possible, so we intend to enter as many festivals as possible, all over the globe.
SHOCK: Is there more to tell, any room for SECRET SANTA 2?
McMURRAN: Is there more to tell with SECRET SANTA? Absolutely! I cant give away what goes on in the film, but I have some prequel ideas rumbling inside my head. It all depends on the story. Well see!
Note: Portions of this feature appeared in DELIRIUM #9.