Some titles are just irresistible. Snakes On a Plane, for example, or Cockneys vs Zombies; they tell you just enough about the film that you know, more or less instantly, whether you’re going to want to watch them. Some Guy Who Kills People is a similarly on-the-nose title, but this indie comedy-horror has more going on beneath the surface than you’d expect. Lucy Davis, star of The Office and Shaun of the Dead, tells us why she fell in love with the script…
You play Stephanie, the love interest, in Some Guy Who Kills People. How did you come to be involved with the project?
My manager in LA sent me the script and I auditioned for it. Originally, the part was written for an American girl, and I went in with my best British accent, and they seemed to like it! I loved the script: I loved that it was dark, and funny, and that the humour was subtle. It’s very British, I think, in a way.
When I got the role, I thought ‘please let this come out how I want it to come out’, do you know what I mean? It’s about quirky people, and I love it when characters are like that, not just the cookie-cutter mainstream types, and I’m really pleased with how it came out. I think that’s because it was a low budget film. When it’s a low budget film, you don’t do it for the money – we were all there because we were all passionate about it, and I think that makes for a really good collaboration between the cast and crew, because we all do what we can. That’s what I love about these kinds of projects.
Did you get much input into your character, then, beside changing her nationality?
Not a lot; I talked to Jack Perez, the director, about how I saw her – which was that she’s a normal girl in a small town, possibly looking for something a bit different. And then there she is, at some dull party, when she meets Ken, dressed in an ice-cream cone costume looking forlorn and odd. She’s very like me in that way – I really get something from people who are like that, and I notice them more than the stereotypically good-looking guys, and I think she definitely pursues him, which I liked because it’s normally the other way around.
It’s a very sweet romance, but it’s also very awkward, isn’t it?
I liked that. I love the awkward moments – in any film or drama, when you’re sitting there watching somebody feeling awkward, those are the best moments. Unless it’s just awful, then it’s not! But I love watching shows like that.
The film is kind of a mixture of different genres, with elements of comedy, horror, and drama; how would you sum it up?
Probably as a comedy-horror, but there are very few films like that. It’s like Shaun Of The Dead, that I did, that was also a comedy-horror. What I like about it is that I find it very funny, and very touching, and I think there’s a lot of layers in it, not just horror. But the horror bits are quite graphic, actually, and I don’t know that I like watching it! So I think it manages to do both things quite well, instead of fudging one or the other and getting neither right.
Horror films are actually my favourite genre of movies to watch – proper horrors, like The Shining, not these slasher movies where it’s really quiet for a bit and then someone smashes a drum and makes you jump. That’s not horror to me. I like films that can get into your brain and leave you thinking. Very often I’ll be watching something like The Shining and thinking ‘is this a good idea? It’s 1am and I’m on my own’ but I can’t stop watching it, I love them.
That’s the best way to watch horror movies, though! You’ve got to creep yourself out or you’re not getting your money’s worth.
That’s it, yeah. Personally I don’t get that from slasher movies but I do get that from psychological thrillers, or, you know, films like The Exorcist. I love The Exorcist; I don’t love it towards the end when her head is spinning around and she’s covered in sick – personally, I’ve lost the creep factor then, but until that part, I’m fascinated by it and quite scared. I like being scared.
There’s a poignancy and sadness in Some Guy Who Kills People, as well…
I quite like that, though, I like that uncomfortableness in these things.
It’s not something you get very often in horror movies, is it?
It might just be me, but I did feel a little bit sorry for Michael Myers in Halloween. I’d watched all the Halloween films and you know that his childhood is horrific, and consequently, you think, aww, all he wants is someone to put their arms around him.
I love films where really, it’s just about the characters. Did you see Lars And The Real Girl? You have to see it, it’s so lovely. It’s Ryan Gosling, and he’s this antisocial guy who doesn’t really have any friends so he orders one of those life-sized dolls, and lives with this doll. It’s really funny, but at the same time there’s this amazing emotion in the film. Because the entire village agrees that if they accept him and his doll, at parties and church and whatever, then maybe it will eventually go away. And it does. But the story is about the people. And it turns around: you’re waiting to laugh at a man who lives with a doll and thinks the doll is real and what you get is this extremely poignant emotional message. I like films that surprise you.
Some Guy Who Kills People is kind of surprising in that way. The title makes you expect something different from what it actually is.
I think when I first saw the title I thought ‘this is either gonna be brilliant or it’s gonna be shite’. Fortunately, I loved it, and I think it’s touching, and yes, there’s some scenes that are quite horrific in the middle but the rest of it I really love. But it’s a catchy title, for sure.
You’ve been in a couple of comedy horrors, would you like to do a proper scary movie sometime?
Yeah, I would actually! I liked the Paranormal Activity movies – I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but I didn’t love the end of the first movie, where she turns into the demon and comes lunging at the camera, I was like ‘ugh, yeah now I’m done’ but fortunately it was the end! But up until then I loved it, I loved exploring what, really, none of us have an answer to, that’s quite fascinating to me. I’m wondering whether anyone’s going to do a film where maybe we do get an answer that’s acceptable.
You live and work in Los Angeles now: how different is it working on films in LA than in the UK?
I would say very little. Really, what determines any project that you do, frankly, is the budget. For example, with Some Guy, I think we filmed it all in three and a half weeks, and consequently, everyone was on board, putting all their effort and their passion into it.
Really, the biggest difference I can think of is the food. If you go to an American set they have vast amounts of food: they have craft service with rooms full of food, all day, every day, so when you first go in it’s like Christmas. And then you start to wish they didn’t have it there. As an actor, you have a lot of down time, when you’ve not got anything to do but you have to wait around, so you find your feet shuffling over to the food table, and then afterwards you’re like ‘why? Why?’
Finally, then, Some Guy Who Kills People is about someone who becomes so angry that he has to take revenge. What makes you angry enough that you’d want to go on the rampage?
Weirdly, I realised a while ago that I have a lot of difficulty with anger – in that I don’t have any. To a weird point. There has to be a time in everyone’s life when you get angry and I realised how little I do. And so I was like, what is it I’m scared of, of being angry? And I realised how uncomfortable the emotion makes me feel. I don’t like it; I don’t know what to do with myself when I feel it, I feel out of control. I realised I’ve never gone down the road of thinking ‘how do I make that person pay?’ And I don’t want to get to that point, because the only person it will really negatively affect is me.