Psychopaths, the latest film from writer/director Mickey Keating, recently enjoyed its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival. Daily Dead had the chance to speak with Keating and Psychopaths co-stars Ashley Bell and Larry Fessenden, and the trio discussed reteaming for their latest collaboration (both Bell and Fessenden were in Keating’s previous genre effort, Carnage Park) and what fans can expect from Keating’s latest slice of horror-fueled fun.

For those who may miss out on Psychopaths during Tribeca, the film heads to The Overlook Film Festival later this week.

Great to speak with you today, guys, and I can’t wait to see the movie. So, Mickey, can you discuss what inspired you this time around? From what I've seen from the clips and different publicity materials, this feels like a complete 180 from Carnage Park and your other previous projects.

Mickey Keating: Yeah, what was kind of fun for me was that Carnage Park is my love letter to the ’70s, and this is kind of like my celebration of the films of the ’80s and ’90s in terms of these heavy glamorous visuals and this crazy soundtrack—we even have 18 songs in the movie. And so I was looking to directors who, in that time period, really went wild with lighting and style and everything.

Ashley and Larry, you guys have worked with Mickey before, so what was different for you this time around? What did you see in the script for Psychopaths that hooked you, where you just knew this was something you wanted to be a part of?

Ashley Bell: I think for Psychopaths, I get to play a psychopath who’s stuck in a delusional reality where she thinks she's in a 1950s Hollywood musical. So, I sing and dance and kill people, and when I read that and all the different aspects of Alice, it's the kind of a role you dream will come along as an actor. In terms of working with Mickey, he has this core group of people he works with and after doing Carnage Park, I hoped I'd get to come back and be a part of this collaborative process that happens, that just allows you to go off the deep end and know you're going to be caught by those you’re working with. So it was another wonderful experience.

Larry Fessenden: Well, I came to the project early when it was in script form, and Mickey was looking for some production support. He had some investors, but he wasn't sure how to put it together. So he came to Glass Eye [Pictures]. We'd already done the movie Darling together, and I'd been watching Mickey and participating in his other films just as an actor. So it was great to get back involved. Jenn Wexler, who produced this for me, she went out to LA and set up the production with Mickey's core people. It's a real pleasure to work with a director that knows what they want and has a very clear vision. That's the case with Mickey. He's fun to talk about movies with and you just know there's a very efficient, engaged approach. Some directors aren't true to themselves, and you have to provide another form of support, but with Mickey, you just let him go and play in his sandbox and make sure he has all the tools you can afford at this budget level.

My agenda is to stay out of the way of the director, and just let them find their way through the project. And you know Mickey's unspoken secret weapon is Val [Krulfeifer], his editor, and she's awesome and tireless. It was really inspiring to see how much creativity came in during post-production on this one.

As a follow-up to that, because I know that you've had such an amazing career over the years in terms of what you've been able to do for the independent scene of filmmaking, whether it's behind the scenes or in front of the camera, when you're looking at different projects that come your way, are there things you look for when you're coming in as a producer? And I also want to just quickly say that another one you recently produced, Like Me, was so great and I absolutely loved your performance in that one as well.

Larry Fessenden: Fantastic. I'm delighted to hear that. I look for an authentic, very genuine, personal voice. If it’s in the genre, that’s an extra treat, but that's not always what motivates me. I like people who want to expose something about themselves or the language of cinema and give us something unique. Honestly, there's a lot of media out there. You can watch a great TV show anytime, stream anything, or watch the classics. So you need something to make a new piece specific and personal to it, and I enjoy working with someone like Mickey who is always going to bring his own sensibility to the project.

Mickey, it's been really fun to watch your career through the years and your output as a filmmaker is crazy, which I mean as a compliment. I'm curious, for you, is there a challenge at this stage in your career to tell new stories, and how do you find ways to keep everything new and exciting to you as a storyteller?

Mickey Keating: Well, I look at somebody like [Rainer Werner] Fassbinder, who made forty movies in ten years, or even Joe Swanberg who is working today. I'm very lucky to have come up in this generation of filmmaking where the technology is available to me. So, in my mind, 365 days of the year I’m squarely focused on making movies. I don't really have any other hobbies or interests. I only ever want to make movies, and when I'm not, I'm panicking. Someone like Joe Swanberg is a great reference for that because he's always exercising that creative muscle. One of my favorite directors of all time is Robert Altman, too, and he made seven movies in five years or something like that. So I think I'm just trying to keep up with the filmmakers I admire.

Ashley, your career's been incredibly fun to follow, and again, I think my favorite part of Carnage Park last year was that Mickey gave you a role that was so different than what we've seen from you before. Have you been enjoying the freedoms that come from working within the realm of independent filmmaking, where you get the chance to have fun with characters you may not necessarily see on the studio side of the business?

Ashley Bell: Absolutely. After The Last Exorcism 2, I kind of shied away form the genre. I wanted to do comedy and do Broadway, but when I read Carnage Park, I sped through it at like two in the morning, and I was sitting there with this excitement over the script. I knew I had to fight to play Vivian and once I met Mickey, the fact that he liked characters, real three-dimensional characters, that's always what I've wanted to do. And when Psychopaths came along, it was a real treat to be allowed to play a villain.

When I looked at the character of Alice in Psychopaths, I fell in love with her. She's not evil. She's just different. She just needs a friend. So, in working and talking and rehearsing with Mickey, it was kind of like finding what was broken inside of her and how she got broken. It was a tremendous treat and again, when you have a filmmaker like Mickey who's seen everything and knows so many things in cinema inside and out, so he knows the rules and then can just break them and innovate upon them, that's what's most exciting to me as a performer.


In case you missed it, check out a clip from Mickey Keating's Psychopaths, and stay tuned to Daily Dead for more of our coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival.

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.