Interview: Director Anthony DiBlasi Talks Indie Slasher MOST LIKELY TO DIE

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SHOCK chats up indie horror filmmaker Anthony DiBlasi about his dead teenager flick MOST LIKELY TO DIE.

MOST LIKELY TO DIE is Anthony DiBlasi’s latest horror film. DiBlasi is a solid director, having debuted with the horrifying and stunning Clive Barker adaptation DREAD in 2009. Since then, he’s stuck with what he knows, and what he’s good at: horror and thrillers, like CASSADEGA (2011), MISSIONARY (2013), and LAST SHIFT (2014). MOST LIKELY TO DIE, out now, is a true-to-form slasher film. I don’t like it as much as I liked DREAD, for instance, but DiBlasi is my friend so I can say that. Also, he married this amazing woman named Natalie Victoria on May 16, so I am sure he’s very happy right now and won’t care. Seriously, congrats, Anthony. Natalie is a total keeper.

DiBlasi joined us briefly during his wedding preparation to tell us a little about MOST LIKELY TO DIE and really to answer my questions.

SHOCK: Anthony, why is Jake Busey only in MOST LIKELY TO DIE for like 10 minutes?

ANTHONY DIBLASI: Unfortunately Jake’s lack of screen time was a byproduct of low budget indie film making! We had a few last minute scheduling conflicts and had to shift the shooting schedule around, which caused us to move Jake’s other scenes and because of his schedule we couldn’t get him back for another day. He was indeed supposed to be in the film more, but we had to rewrite a couple scenes to get around his absence. I shot this film in 11 days, that’s not easy, but something I’ve definitely become a custom to. But Jake’s absence is definitely something I wish I could have changed. 

SHOCK:  Who is Laura Brennan and how did you get her script? What did you think of it, and why did you want to make this horror film?

DIBLASI: Snowfall films, one of the producing teams on the movie had the script and had known Laura for a while. And when they gave me the script I think their first intention was to update it a bit, because I believe she wrote the script in the late 90’s or early 2000’s. But that’s exactly what I liked about it; it felt like a script written in that era so I wanted to keep that feeling to it. And for me, I grew up with slasher films, and when I would make home movies with my friends we would always make slashers, so this was a chance to put my child hood proclivities on the big screen. It was a blast creating a villain and working with the actor to bring that villain to life and figuring out how he was going to dispatch his prey. 

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SHOCK: I liken MOST LIKELY TO DIE unto a cross between SCREAM and TERROR TRAIN, but with no train or gorilla costume. Do you agree? Why or why not?

DIBLASI: Yeah definitely. My intention was to treat the cast and the look of the film as if they had jumped out of a 90’s who done it slasher. I wanted the style to be bright and sexy. Films like SCREAM and I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER were films that had a vibrant and very filmic look. And also SCREAM has probably the best ensemble cast out of any horror film ever made. I wanted you to actually like these people and not want to see them all get killed. But then the killer and they way he kills people I think definitely feels 80’s, like you said, TERROR TRAIN or FINAL EXAM. I made a choice to put this guy or girl in a cobalt blue graduation gown when the obvious choice would be black, but I thought, listen if we are going to have a killer running around in a graduation costume I’m going all the way with it. I wanted this character to be bigger than life and not taken too seriously.

SHOCK: Why do all those white people only have one black friend? And, why does Lamont not have any black friends?

DIBLASI: Good question. I think some of it was embracing the stereotype of the genre but putting it on it’s head a little bit. Lamont was written as a black character, but we auditioned black actors for all the other parts as well. At the end of the day we just picked the best actors that came in, at least for what I was looking for. I think Lamont probably has lots of black friends but they weren’t in yearbook class with him. When I read the script the first thing I said was, “Why are these people hanging out?” it didn’t really make sense. THE BREAKFAST CLUB exists because it’s detention. This is why I explored the yearbook committee aspect more and tied the indiscretions to being part of that committee. If we make a sequel, which will of course be the actual reunion. We’ll be seeing a lot more characters, many of them I planted the seeds for in this film. 

SHOCK: How did Perez Hilton end up cast as Freddie, and does he know he’s a comedic genius? What is your favorite moment from the film with him?

DIBLASI: He really is, I think he’s hilarious in the movie and he was just really willing to try anything. He came about from that conversation that I think a lot of indie films are having, should we cast a “personality” in the film, be it a youtube celebrity of a vine star or a reality star… blah blah blah. So we had an agent that was filtering down names like that to us, and Perez’s name came up, and I thought that was a great idea, he was interesting to me and we took a meeting and right away I saw a lot of layers in the guys. A natural pathos and a natural sense of comedy. And acting was what he always wanted to do, it’s what he went to school for, it’s just not where his career path took him, but it’s something he’s jumping back into. And doing so face first which I think is great. I assume most people will go into this movie thinking he’s a bit of stunt casting and will be killed off in the first act of the film but I can assure everyone that’s not the case at all. 

SHOCK: The story is a big ambiguous in terms of whether there were two killers or one killer. But it’s physically impossible for DJ to be ten miles down the hill killing Lamont and like thirty seconds before in the house stabbing Brad. Do you agree or disagree? Why or why not? 

DIBLASI:  I definitely agree. And It’s a bit ambiguous, but I think there’s enough there for people to talk about it. I don’t want to get into it too much cuz I don’t want to ruin it for people.

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SHOCK: This is the first time I have seen gay characters normalized in a slasher film. I’m quite pleased. Can you talk a bit about how MOST LIKELY TO DIE changes up stereotypes a bit? And does it reinforce some other horror movie character stereotypes at the same time?

DIBLASI: The script is based around these stereotypical characters for sure, and in my eyes that’s tradition, at least for what I was going for. Their yearbook superlatives are in a lot of ways derived from that stereotype, but I think that’s what happens in high school, our cliques become stereotypes. But hopefully we learn a little more about each character so they’re not just surface. But with Freddie for sure it was something Perez and I talked about in our first meeting. He was like “Id like to play Freddie as gay” and I thought that was a great idea, so I went into the script and had a few things rewritten. It’s really just an approach to how you deal with characters. Jade the same way, gay characters are no different than straight characters, there’s no reason to make them butch or feminine. You should just look at their narrative through line and direct them accordingly.  

SHOCK: How did the cell phone work all of a sudden and then not work again?

DIBLASI: I would definitely say it was tampered with, and became more of a prop for the killer than a working cell phone, but I definitely understand why you would ask that. 

SHOCK: Why do we only get one quick shot of a hot guy with his shirt off? Shouldn’t there be more sex and nudity overall, throughout this entire film?

DIBLASI: There’s a fair bit of skin, but yes there could always be more. But I figured that one hot guy, Jason Tobias, was soooo hot and ripped that it kind of made up for the lack of skin in the rest of the movie. 

SHOCK: Why should horror fans see this movie!? Pitch it:

DIBLASI: I think in the horror genre especially there’s this talk about a “fresh” take on something. A new spin. A twist. But you don’t hear that a lot in other genres, comedy, drama, westerns, thrillers even. Sometimes good storytelling is enough. And for me I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. I wanted to create good characters and tell a story that was traditionally of the genre. What I did want to give them was a new and interesting psycho killer to add to the roster, a batch of interesting kills that I feel like I hadn’t really seen before, and a group of characters that we were interested in seeing make it to the end.

MOST LIKELY TO DIE is out in select theaters now.