"It was never in question that this would be as bloody as it is." Moritz Mohr on Boy Kills World

“It was never in question that this would be as bloody as it is.” Moritz Mohr on Boy Kills World

Brutal, bloody and funny. Boy Kills World holds no punches (pun 100% intended). We sat down with its director Moritz Mohr to find out more.

Directed by Moritz Mohr, produced by Sam Raimi and starring Bill Skarsgård, Boy Kills World follows ‘Boy’ (played by Skarsgård) who vows revenge after his family is murdered by Hilda Van Der Koy (Famke Janssen), the deranged matriarch of a corrupt post-apocalyptic dynasty that left the boy orphaned, deaf and voiceless.

Driven by his inner voice (played by Archer’s and Bob’s Burger’s H. Jon Benjamin), one which he co-opted from his favorite childhood video game , Boy trains with a mysterious shaman (Yayan Ruhian) to become an instrument of death and is set loose on the eve of the annual culling of dissidents. Bedlam ensues as Boy commits bloody martial arts mayhem, inciting a wrath of carnage and blood-letting. As he tries to get his bearings in this delirious realm, Boy soon falls in with a desperate resistance group, all the while bickering with the apparent ghost of his rebellious little sister…

The movie was made after Mohr, fight choreographer Dawid Szatarski and screenwriter Arend Remmers produced a proof-of-concept trailer for just $20,000. We sat down with Mohr to find out more about making the bloody action movie, what it’s like working with Sam Raimi and Bill Skarsgård and why he wanted to create a “fucked up fairytale”.

How did everything get started for you with Boy Kills World?

Me and some guys I know were wanting to do something that we actually liked. That’s when we shot this trailer. It took about a year and then basically on a whim, I went to LA. I didn’t think I would sell it and make the movie, it was like, ‘maybe it’ll get me a job’ because I’d shown it to people before and they were like ‘this is kind of good’ nothing like “this is amazing, we should make this!’ It was sort of a lackluster reaction most of the time.

So I went over there and showed it to people and to my surprise, they loved it! It was a completely different beast than back in Germany. Four meetings later, I was sitting in Sam Raimi’s office, and we were off to the races.

The movie was made after the filmmakers created a proof-of-concept video for just $20,000.

What was it like working with Sam Raimi?

It has been amazing, especially in pre-production and post-production. He’s generally a bit hands-off but he’s very involved when it comes to the story in the script phase. And then again at the editing phase, he very much supports the director’s vision. He doesn’t come down with a big hammer going like ‘we got to do it like this’ but he’s always there. So it has been really great. Since he’s one of my personal heroes, it was amazing for me.

What were your influences for the movie?

There are a lot. I always pitched it as a fucked up fairy tale comic book movie without a comic book. The influences are your basic Seventies kung fu movies, where the student and the master prepare the student to avenge his parents. That’s a trope we basically took straight from the Seventies kung fu movies.

I’ve also watched a tonne of Korean movies – Park Chan-Wook is one of my favourites. Also a lot of video games, a lot of anime – especially in the action where we try to ground it but we also stylize it and then we meet somewhere in the middle. There are a lot of influences in the anime realm. The action designer and me are both big anime fans, so we had that in common.

The visual style of it is really dark but colourful, and that also comes from a comic book world.

The visual style of the movie is dark yet colourful.

What was it like working with Bill Skarsgård and what were the challenges of portraying a central character that can’t hear or speak?

It’s not that hard. We thought the not speaking would be this big challenge because there are these dialogues between his sister and him where she speaks but he doesn’t. So we just improvised it basically. Bill did the lines once and then the next time we shot it without the lines, he mimicked the lines again without saying them. The timing was not as bad because we could manipulate it when we edited the movie. So we overthought the whole thing, we thought it would be harder than it actually was!

Bill doing that was just incredible because he’s a fantastic actor. Giving him those restrictions… you need an outlet in another way and I think he found a great one. Between his performance on a dramatic level and his performance on an action level, he just knocked it out of the park.

H. Jon Benjamin is the voice of Boy. Had you watched Archer and Bob’s Burgers before casting him?

That was exactly what I what I did. I love Archer, I love Bob’s Burgers. I have been a big fan for years. In the original proof of concept trailer, we had this Marlboro Man thing going on. It was ‘I took my voice from a cigarette commercial’ and then we changed it to ‘I took my voice from my favourite video game’.

Then it just struck me. We basically just called Jon and he was like ‘yeah, sounds cool’ and that was that! It was a dream come true for me.

H. Jon Benjamin is the voice of Boy (played by Bill Skarsgård).

Speaking of Jon, there’s also a lot of humour in the movie. Was that important for you to incorporate?

Oh yeah! It was always an actual comedy. Quite frankly, there were even more jokes that we cut out because people didn’t laugh or it didn’t work. But it was always striking that balance between funny and dramatic because, in the beginning, I was like ‘in a perfect world, people will laugh and cry within the same 20 minutes. Let’s go for that’ and then you have to get the balance right. And if I did, I don’t know. I hope I got at least halfway there. But that was the plan.

And those action scenes… Boy Kills World isn’t for the faint-hearted! Were you always going to go big on the violence and gore?

Exactly! In the proof of concept that was already there – going bloody and nuts and making these action sequences really pop and special. That was always there. There was never a PG 13 Boy Kills World, not even for one second, and luckily everybody agreed on that. That’s not normal –  usually, you have to talk about it and then you discuss it with the studio but it’s to Sam Raimi’s credit because we all know what Sam Raimi stands for, so it was never in question that this would be as bloody as it is. And that made me very happy.

Boy Kills World is only in UK and Irish cinemas on 26 April 26. Read our review here