‘#AMFAD: All My Friends Are Dead’ Gets Bloody with Seven Deadly Sins-Inspired Killer [Interview]

A group of friends and influencers staying at an Airbnb are picked off one by one in #AMFAD: All My Friends Are Dead, directed by Marcus Dunstan (The Collector) and starring Jade Pettyjohn.

The upcoming slasher film, written by Josh Sims and Jessica Sarah Flaum, releases in select theaters, Digital and On Demand August 2.

The plot sees “a group of college friends rent an Airbnb for the biggest music festival of the year. A weekend of partying quickly takes a turn, as the group is murdered one by one, according to their sin.” Bloody Disgusting spoke with Marcus Dunstan and Jade Pettyjohn during the production of the film about the vibrant, candy-colored slasher with a bloody streak. 

Dunstan, having co-written Saw IV-3D, is no stranger to the realm of slashers and gory horror. #AMFAD presented the filmmaker with a chance to play with the slasher formula, especially through the prism of social media and influencer culture. For Dunstan, it was the idea of how social media offers a blank canvas for identity and reinvention.

He explains, “There’s a number of details about this one that made me lean in. It was a chance to do a murder mystery through the prism of a civilization that’s still forming in that ever-evolving youth culture and in the way that they can create these characters in their lives. There’s the person they were before they picked up their smartphone. Once they picked up the phone, they could be whoever they wanted. Then, there are ramifications to those actions that result in who they become. In this case, from a writing standpoint, there’s a great character arc; we begin a tale with who they were and catch up with who they are. Oh, and someone from somewhere may not be done with them yet.”

“I enjoyed putting Agatha Christie into something that has the nice torque of a murder mystery thriller engine,” Dunstan continues. We’ve had so much good fortune up here in Vancouver with production design, special effects, and mostly with cinematography and performance, raising all these components together. I find myself always reaching back to Mario Bava and Dario Argento to add a little bit of that style into it and bring that into the mix, which is great. So, the slasher mystery gets an upgrade with this.”

For star Jady Pettyjohn, #AMFAD kept her guessing, and that hooked her immediately. “I remember getting the script, and it was the first time in a really long time when I read the script and didn’t actually expect what ended up when it ended up happening,” she said with excitement. “I’m usually pretty good at predicting, like, ‘okay, the script’s gonna go here, gonna go there,’ and it just didn’t work out that way. I was so surprised. I love that feeling.”

She continues, “I felt like the script does a really great job of paying homage or an ode to the older ’80s horror films that we all love, but it puts a new twist on it that is unique and different. I loved that. Then also Sarah, specifically my character. She’s super interesting, and I’ve never played a character like her before. So, that combination of both was just sort of the perfect storm.” Sarah stands out immediately as the kind-hearted one of the group, but expect this bunch of friends to harbor a variety of dark secrets.

Dunstan is also no stranger to horror comedies, having recently helmed Unhuman, and details how #AMFAD will first lean into humor before pulling the rug out from under audiences.

He teases, “We want to introduce these characters at their most brash, their most loud; their false personas, if you will, the personas through the phone, the three by four window to their entire lives. In doing so, how are they entertainers to the populace of strangers watching them? It’s outrage humor like, ‘ooh, avarice, everything to come to the fore. Then to bring that a little bit into the second act, when things are getting a little more creepy. Well, the humor then becomes the stakes of how they innocently wander in by the time we have to get bloody and nasty. Then, the shock value, I think, replaces some of the jokes because you should surely be jumping and laughing at the same time. Then we’ve hit our stride.”

The filmmaker also knows that #AMFAD isn’t the first horror movie set in and around an Airbnb, or influencers, for that matter. 

“Well, the nice thing about this is I wanted to lean into some things we’ve heard of before in this, Dunstan says. “There has been Airbnb thrillers. This is a movie that takes place knowing there’s a movie called Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. This is a movie that takes place knowing there’s a movie called Seven. These people have been exposed to all that pop culture, and this is that little pocket that’s reacting to it, almost as if, like, ‘Wait, is this? Uh, is this someone trying to get attention for stuff that we already kind of know?’ Once we begin to card flip the twist, you see how that plays off.

It’s also worth noting that the killer themes their kills around the seven deadly sins, and that played a crucial role in the film’s visual language.

“Oh, in terms of the visuals, it was instantly collaborating with our production designer Trevor Johnston to come up with the benchmarks, Dunstan explains. “We wanted to build up and around the biblical interpretations of the deadly sin, going into the psychology of them and how some of each sin has been assigned a color spectrum throughout time. Some are kind of flip-flopped here and there. So then simply saying, ‘Okay, if this character is courting towards this particular sin, what is the color pattern of that sin? In doing so, there’ll be a flourish in the clothing and the act and whatnot. By the time you get to a potential demise or threat level, well, what if the lighting was also accompanying that? So it begins as a hint and graduates into a fever dream. You can turn the sound off and see the colors are also telling the story, and the set is also telling the story as something innocent, tiny, and offered through social media or whatnot, come back and it charges in as a reality and then all-encompassing, kind of like real punch of color, sound, and violence.

But how bloody will #AMFAD get, you might be wondering?

Pettyjohn laughs, “There are so many dead bodies behind this camera. But oh my god, it is so much fun. You know, obviously, the piece is really dark, and there’s lots of murder and blood and guts and stuff. But making a horror film is, in a weird way, incredibly joyful. We have such talented people that are doing just absolutely incredible work. It was so funny. I was having this conversation with the makeup artist, and she pulled out a chest full of different kinds of blood. Like, okay, where are we going to do it? Here, here, this, this consistency is perfect for this and all of that. And it’s an absolute joy, honestly, to play with so much blood and guts and special effects.”

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