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Girls Gone Bad (2022)

Girl Gone Bad (2023) – Kevin Schultz Flips the Script on Slashers

Girl Gone Bad – Twisting the Slasher Formula

Girl Gone Bad flips the script on the typical low-budget slasher by letting the emotions of a heartbroken 16-year-old girl run amok as she fights back against a desperate killer. Thanks to a solid directorial effort by Canadian Kevin Schultz and a powerhouse lead acting performance by Alison Thornton, Girl Gone Bad hits the bloody ground running, swerving from home invasion and hostage horror to psychological thriller without ever leaving the roadway.

The film can be rented or purchased on Amazon in the U.S. and the U.K., and on Google Movies, iTunes, and YouTube Movies in Canada. 

Gritty and suspenseful, Girl Gone Bad opens with a creatively shot pre-credit scene showing a masked man axing a teenage girl’s father right behind the couch. The teenager named Amanda doesn’t hear the commotion because she’s listening to music with her earphones. Just before the ax falls on her head, she takes a selfie with her smartphone, unwittingly capturing the killer in the background. The killer then checks her phone to see where Amanda sent the photo. 

As luck would have it, the photo is sent to Samantha who’s in love with Amanda. The two planned to meet the night of the killing for their first intimate encounter since their parents are going out later. Soon, Samantha is fighting for her life as the killer breaks into her home and tries to cover his tracks by murdering her. 

However, Samantha battles back and knocks the killer unconscious. Instead of calling the police, she ties him up in her basement. When the captured killer wakes up, Samantha uses battery cables to shock him and asks, “Do you get who’s in charge right now?” 

Yes, we do. And the killer learns quickly that Samantha means business. Besides the battery cables, Samantha uses a cast iron skillet and a corkscrew among other means of torture and abuse. There’s also a very clever edit of her about to pull out the killer’s fingernail that cuts to a slice of pizza being grabbed from the box. 

Girl Gone Bad does a masterful job of showing the tender relationship between Samantha and Amanda in brief flashbacks while also revealing the killer’s shocking occupation and motive for killing Amanda. The climax is intense as Samantha mentally unravels under the rage-filled desire to avenge her first love Amanda – and that desire doesn’t stop with just the killer.

Kevin Schultz Making Waves With His Debut

Girl Gone Bad is a strong first feature for Schultz, who also wrote the film. He’s previously directed shorts and music videos since starting his career in TV and film in 2012. His filmmaking influences include William Friedkin, Sidney Lumet, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, Edgar Wright, Bong Joon Ho, Denis Villeneuve, and Steven Spielberg.

Girls Gone Bad - Director Kevin Schultz
Girl Gone Bad Director, Kevin Schultz

“I love horror and have more horror films in my mind,” Schultz told MalevolentDark.com in an exclusive interview. “That said, I’m a cinema fan in general and have some other ideas in mind. Horror would probably be classified as my favorite genre, but my favorite filmmakers have been the biggest influence to me are from all over the genre spectrum. One of them is Sidney Lumet, for instance, as much as Friedkin or Raimi.” 

Girl Gone Bad delves deeper emotionally than typical low-budget slashers, particularly with regards to bullying and its effect on the teenage psyche. It explores cognitive dissonance and how someone can rationalize violence against another person. 

“I come from a town that was reasonably small but not so small anymore,” Schultz said. “So being the weird kid for any reason such as mine, where I was lanky, tall, with long curly hair, a black fedora – I wanted to look like Humphrey Bogart – and a different tie every day to school… let’s just say yes, I was bullied. The effect always led me with questions about the idea of it and how people get so targeted towards others. One thing I have always found fascinating from then to now is how people have a tendency to go well past their projected values and morals the very moment they feel justified. It’s like a weirdly feral reaction we have. It’s one we have as teens, and that as a whole we never really grew out of. To be able to mix these thoughts into a coming-of-age horror was just too interesting to me not to tackle.” 

Another interesting thought is how the idea of two teenage girls secretly in love evolved into a feature-length slasher? Well, it didn’t start out that way. 

“The very first initial thought,” Schultz said, “was when I was watching Halloween and thought ‘What if it was Michael running away from Laurie?’ Now obviously the movie has progressed far from that, but that initial ‘what if’ sparked the whole thought process. Samantha and Amanda were always in the script, but the truth is them being in love was draft two by suggestion of my partner Kayla. She’s right about most things, and that was one of them. From that suggestion, the roots of their personal story blossomed immediately.” 

Alison Thornton, Powerhouse

In her emotionally charged performance, Thornton really captures the intensity of teen angst, carrying the bulk of the film’s acting load. She’s had numerous roles in TV series, most notably Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, Dare Me, and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. 

 

alison thornton
Alison Thornton delivers a powerhouse performance in Girl Gone Bad.

 

“Alison was an absolute powerhouse,” Schultz said. “Every single day she came to set and just became Samantha. She had so much excitement over the project from the day we cast her. I had worked with Alison on a TV series called ‘Girlfriends Guide to Divorce,’ and when Giovanna Morales Vargas and I were starting the process of producing this, she was on the top of my list. I reached out to her, and the next day she told me to give her a call, and she just truly understood what we were doing and who the character was. And it’s no secret she occupies like 99 percent of the screen time, but she never gave less than 110 percent, and it shows.”

Thornton’s Samantha was not the only character with a motive. Schultz infused his villain, played by Nemo Cartwright, with a realistic motive plus a surprising background. It added a depth and degree of understanding to the killer’s actions. 

“I think there are different camps of horror that lend themselves to better villains,” Schultz said. “For instance, Jason Voorhees is not a character I need deep analysis on. That’s not why I watch Friday the 13th. The same can’t be said about Saw, where John Kramer has such deeper motivation and I expect that from Tobin Bell. When it comes to my film, I was looking at movies more like Hard Candy. The villain needed to believe what they were doing was justified, but that’s not the film itself or me saying that it is. Goes with the comment I made earlier about people going feral when they feel validated in doing so. I wouldn’t personally say what happened to him justifies his actions, but I needed the character themselves to believe it.” 

The film tackles harsh truths about the human capacity for cruelty while being filmed inside the claustrophobic quarters of a house and its basement. What were the toughest scenes for Schultz to write and to film? 

“Writing? That is a tie between a particular scene in the basement, where Samantha gets the killer to talk,” Schultz said. “That monologue was purposefully non-poignant, very crass, and felt gross to write. Additionally, the monologue in the kitchen in the end, which I won’t say here because of spoilers.
“Shooting? Well, the basement scenes in the middle of August in the heat, with 10 people in there with no ventilation, and fog was probably one of the hardest. But as far as actual shooting is concerned, it was actually all the scenes upstairs. So bathroom, bedroom, hallway. Very small location to move around.” 

Looking Forward

With Girl Gone Bad under his belt, Schultz is looking forward to future projects. 

“I have an Exorcism Horror Comedy that we’re working to get off the ground,” Schultz said. “I have a podcast called Martini Window, which is a film podcast where we discuss another film each episode with a guest. Working on a few scripts. One is an action thriller in the same vein as Taken or Death Wish, another could be described as Breakfast Club meets Phone Booth. So … you know … if anyone reading this wants to make a movie?” 

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