When writer and director K. Asher Levin cast Thomas Jane as his vampire hunter protagonist Elliot Jones and Malin Akerman in an against-type role as Beverly Rektor in his action horror comedy Slayers, it worked out better than he could imagine. In the film, Elliot made it his life's mission to take revenge on the bloodsuckers who murdered his teenage daughter. After years of tracking them, he has finally reached their secret and hidden base, but to get to them, he will need to use a motley crew of social media superstars. Enter 'The Stream Team': party-girl Jules (Abigail Breslin), gen-z pro-gamer Flynn (Kara Hayward), and their team of trend-makers and breakers! With a hundred million-plus combined followers, they have attracted the attention of reclusive billionaire Beverly Rektor, who invites them to party at her multimillion-dollar vacation compound, which is more than they bargained for. Levin spoke to Bleeding Cool about how Jane and Akerman made the film better than he imagined.
How Malin Akerman's Role in 'Slayers' Was Inspired By 'Death Becomes Her'
Bleeding Cool: I got some of those grindhouse vibes there. Can you break down the kind of physical presence that Thomas and Malin have on screen and how the supporting cast came together behind them?
Levin: Malin is a close friend of mine. She had never done a horror film, and we thought it would be fun to work together. She created an elevated element in the movie. She's so awesome and sexy, and this very sort of her character is heavily influenced by the Isabella Rossellini character from 'Death Becomes Her.' That's a touchstone for this film. The vaccine, specifically, is a 'Death Becomes Her'-kind of thing and a movie that has become more successful throughout the years and more beloved for its incredible tone. [Robert] Zemeckis sometimes has trouble rating in his tone one way or another, and sometimes the movies get messy. That's a really good example of a movie where the genre bends, but it works, and you're whole. He's created this universe, and you believe whatever's going on in that movie. [Malin's] character was very much that and Catherine Deneuve in 'The Hunger.'
I was lucky to get Thomas in the movie, and his character was always written like that, even when it was set in the sixties. I had always imagined it being the sort of Snake Plissken feel exuding a Kurt Russell and John Carpenter-type of character. There's no one better than Thomas Jane to carry the torch. It's not an impression because that's who Thomas is. He comes from a very old-fashioned school of hero, the sort of Robert Mitchum and a little John Wayne in terms of how he lives, looks at life and the world, and how he puts it into his characters. Once we got Thomas on the set and started seeing how it would work, the movie changed a lot. We added so much more of him when we came back in because we were all enamored by what he brought to the role. When we did the trailer scene, and he's telling her all about the Illuminati, I was like, "I got to figure out how to rewrite a lot of the movie to get more of this in because he's created this character that was better than I could have ever imagined.
Unexpected Surprises in Store
Slayers is a brilliant film. Is there anything else you want your audience to know about what they can expect?
I appreciate that so much. You'll have different experiences at home and in the theater. In the theater, it's very sensory. You'll want to watch it a bunch of times at home because there's so much there. We haven't touched upon the visuality of the film with all the graphic design elements. I like to tell others that this movie should feel like it's late at night. You can't go to sleep when you turn on your phone and search "vampire mythology." Then it's an hour and a half later, and you've gone to 85 websites and looked at a bunch of videos. Your mind is reeling from all the possibilities of what you looked at.
Slayers, which also stars Jack Donnelly and Lydia Hearst, is in theaters, digital, and on demand.