There has been numerous holiday themed horror films, some of the classics include Black Christmas(1978), Silent Night, Deadly Night(1984), Jack Frost(1997) and more recently Krampus(2015). This holiday season Gravitas Ventures just released Mercy Christmas (Directed by Ryan Nelson) which is bound to make its mark on the niche genre. The film follows Michael Briskett (Steven Hubbell) as he meets the perfect woman and his ideal Christmas dream comes true when she invites him to her family’s holiday celebration. Michael’s dream shatters when he realizes that her family wants to eat him for Christmas dinner. The film also stars D.J. Hale whose other credits include Steps & Capps Crossing to name a few. We decided to speak with D.J. about his role in Mercy Christmas, read the full interview below.
-How did you get involved with Mercy Christmas?
I got called in to audition for Beth and Tarquin and was pretty pumped about it from looking at my audition sides and all the F*** you’s that immediately jumped off the page! I was a little worried in preparing for the audition though, because they literally were looking for someone like 18-40 years of age and ANY ethnicity, so the casting room was filled with every kind of “Eddie” you can imagine. I made the choice to just go in and be this crazy hot-headed twenty-one year old hustler and luckily things worked out in my favor!
-What were your initial thoughts when you first read the script?
Aw, man I loved it! It was completely insane. Dark, gruesome, comedic, even heartfelt and touching. I remember yelling and laughing out loud almost after every page and telling my girlfriend at the time “Babe, this movie is fucking AWESOME! Look at this!” I knew it was going to be great and people were going to love it. Beth and Ryan really did an amazing job piecing this story together… And of course the ending 🙂
-We don’t want to give too much away but your character gets more than one limb severed in the film. How difficult was it to film that particular scene?
It was extremely taxing. Good lord… Just having to think about what it would feel like to literally get your limbs hacked off while you are awake and there’s nothing you can do about it… Like how do you portray that? You can’t even really imagine what that would be like, so to be put in that situation and mental state was definitely hard. Ryan also helped tremendously by talking and shouting me through the moments and pushing me further than exhaustion, to where it’s like you just zone out and go on auto-pilot in full focus until the shot is done. He’s really, really good at that. Great Director. I love the guy!
-What was the most challenging part of playing Eddie? Punching an elderly woman in the face?
Yeah right, Granny had it coming! No, the most challenging part of the role hands down was the physical strain it put on my body. I mean after those shoot days I would be so tired and exhausted it felt like football practice. Eddie is just an unrelenting flame that keeps burning no matter what, so it was very important to just give as much energy as I possibly could. And then once the harness came on… Just ask Steve about that.
-Was there any fun behind the scenes moments while filming Mercy Christmas you can share?
I almost didn’t get to eat lunch one time because this bee kept harassing me and I am terrified of bee’s! I would move, it would fly towards me. I would move again, it would land on the table in front of my plate. This thing was just too aggressive, man!
-Are you personally a horror fan? If so, what are some of your favorites?
I enjoy horror films like any other genre. Of course I’m a fan of the classic serial killer thrillers like the Friday the 13th’s, Nightmare on Elm Street’s and of course Michael Myers in Halloween. My go to franchise would have to be the Saw movies though. Yes, they are bloody and gory and shocking but damn, how about the mind-fuck storytelling that gets unraveled throughout the films? It seriously puts in perspective the “cause and effect” portion of life and I really dig that… But Mercy Christmas trumps all.
-What’s next for you?
I just wrapped up my first stage performance in Las Vegas! I was “Jackie” in The Motherfucker With the Hat, which was an incredible experience. I am shooting my first feature film Product of my Environment which will be written, produced, directed and starring myself as the lead role. I have a couple pilots I am going to pitch, as well as web-series and possibly another feature film, so 2018 is going to be busy no doubt!
You can order Mercy Christmas on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/mercy-christmas/id1292460816.