by Lilliana Spellman
Sitting down to watch The Killer of Grassy Ridge the first thing that's immediately noticeable is that it looks beautiful. It’s shot incredibly well and the camera angles, lighting and excellent sound all contribute to the strong atmosphere built during it's short 9 minute run time. From the opening scene we are left uneasy as we watch a man dig what looks to be, and likely is, a grave.
To go too much in to plot details would do the readers of this article a disservice, you need to experience this yourself. It's 100% a personal experience, but I will say that as the film continues so does the feeling of dread. As we’re shaken out of the moment, brought to a peaceful lull, put on edge and then pushed right the fuck over, the film leaves a lasting impression that doesn't soon go away.
I rarely double up on my viewings but this one had me hit replay immediately, I wanted to see what I had missed, what clues there could have been to this jaw dropping ending. THAT is in itself a sign of a good film. If you’re asking good questions, if you’re discussing it after watching, if you remember it later at all, these things point you towards the sure signs of more great cinema to come from the creator.
If this project is anything to go by, Kaotica Studios has a big future in horror or cinematography in general. The apparent passion for their work shines through in the aforementioned attention to detail and wonderful camera work and sound. The different cuts and the ominous facial expressions of the dead eyed main character drip with insane amounts of talent.
I had a quick chat with Johnny K to talk about the film and the process behind it.
Continue reading below for the full interview and links! so many links!
Lily: Speaking about the short film itself, was there any inspiration behind this or was it entirely from the mind?
Johnny K: Thanks! my biggest inspiration was that I just wanted to stop making excuses that my equipment wasn't good enough to go make my first movie! I wanted to finish something I started and gave myself two months to write it, shoot it and edit it, happy to say it was finished in 62 days.
Lily: Make your own damn movie style, I like it.
Johnny K: Other inspiration was seeing a photo of Michael Stumbo, a friend of mine with basically no acting experience, a picture of him made me want to take him out into the woods cover him with dirt, give him an axe and film him doing anything, because I knew it would look great on camera, the story grew from there.
Lily: The film has a really cool ending! Is there anything in particular that made you want to go that route?
Johnny K: We’re entering spoiler territory here so if you’ve not seen the film yet go watch it and come back to this in 10 minutes…
I will say that I knew Mike Stumbo would have alot of on screen time, which would break the horror film rule of the less you see the killer, the scarier they are, I also knew a movie from his POV just walking through the woods to kill someone would be very linear and boring so I needed something at the films climax to shake it up and make it memorable, I honesty never thought the twist was all that original or clever and that people would see it coming a mile away, I’m getting alot of comments on how much people are loving it which definitely makes me happy! To me the film was never about the twist, it was about conveying a spooky atmosphere and a sense of dread, I wanted to work on suspense, tension and pacing in the editing room for me the twist was just something mechanical that needed to happen for the stories sake. I never expected people to get as excited about it as they did! I also want to say that I knew Heather Stone could really pull off the full range of the character, she’s not an actress and this is her first time in a film but I knew right away that she could pull off all aspects of the character.
Lily: Everyone was great, she (Heather) was so innocent and he (Michael) was simply ominous as hell!
Johnny K: I thought so too! theres definitely a reason he’s all over the marketing and promotional material!
Lily: What was it like working on such a tight self enforced schedule? Would you do it again?
Johnny K: Ha! I would because that’s honestly the only way I’ll actually get things done, as creators, no matter what art you’re in to, we have a tendency to perfect things to death and constantly tweak things forever. I think part of being a productive artist is knowing when to stop screwing with your wok, if I give myself an aggressive timeframe, theres a better chance I’ll actually finish the project instead of letting it rot on my hard drive for the rest of my life as I try to make it better. I’d honestly rather make SOME good films now rather than ONE perfect one 15 years from now.
Lily: Do you see yourself Returning to this story?
Johnny K: I’ve actually been asked this by several people in the last few days. they all tell me that they think their is more story to be told but I’m not so convinced, I will say I’ve had some conversations with the actors about it, at the start of the film we learn that there have already been four victims...who were they, what are their stories, what makes the killer tick? I’m proud of this film and the last thing I want to do is start tarnishing it with endless sequels and prequels. I don’t EVER want to see "Killer of Grassy Ridge 7: Return to the Ridge" or anything like that. I’m already writing my next project and it has nothing to do with "Killer" but, never say never right?
The killer of Grassy Ridge is the first film by Johnny K, although it doesn't show. Recently awarded Best Debut Short at Moody Crab Film Fest and quickly gaining steam online you DO NOT want to miss this one. To see the short film, follow Johhny K, or check out what else he has in the works check out the links below!
The Killer of Grassy Ridge:
Johnny K on Twitter:
Kaotica Studios on Twitter:
Cool, now that you all have watched the movie, check out the original introduction to this article. I didn’t want to tarnish the first viewing experience by laying out these expectations in advance:
Never judge a book by its cover, a saying we all know and yet seldom applies in the
world of horror. Horror movies with a twist are a dime a dozen, usually screaming from
the very start straight into your face "NOTICE ME AND MY NOT SO SUBTLE
CLUE!" but with The Killer of Grassy Ridge we have a whole new beast.
Think back to the first time you watched the Sixth Sense, remember how you felt when the twist was revealed and you were left stunned as you pieced together each clue you felt so blind now for missing. The subtle nuances that on a second watch seem to stand out.
and the way it all just, made sense. it wasn't forced, tired or played out. It wasn't the
usual. It was new and fresh and man did we need it.