There’s always the risk of hunty drama when a group of gay male friends share a house during a holiday, but Into the Dark: Midnight Kiss takes things to another level entirely, adding a new guest to the mix: a very pissed-off psycho who has literally come to slay.
The latest feature-length installment of Hulu’s holiday-themed horror anthology series queers the living shit out of the slasher flick genre, with Iceland-born writer Erlingur Thoroddsen and director Carter Smith (The Ruins) delivering all the trimmings: ill-fated hookups, a contentious ex, screaming half-naked (or totes naked) victims, a murderer who absolutely must be into BDSM.
In the film, gay actors Augustus Prew, Scott Evans, Lukas Gage, Chester Lockhart, and Adam Faison, along with Ayden Mayeri as their female BFF, head to Palm Springs for a New Year’s Eve getaway and a game of “Midnight Kiss”—in which they have to secure a stranger to smooch when midnight strikes—only to find their lives threatened by a mysterious killer wearing a pup bondage mask.
Prew, the film’s lead, was recently seen hooking up with Ryan O’Connell in the first season of Netflix’s Special. He also has a role in the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show and stars in Mike Doyle’s queer rom-com Sell By, which has been making its rounds on the festival circuit this year.
The U.K. actor, who’s married to fellow actor Jeffery Self, spoke to NewNowNext about slasher equality, his real-life Palm Springs shenanigans, and just how naked he was during shooting.
Is this your first role in a proper horror film?
It’s my first slasher flick. I did a movie in 2012 called Animals, which was a noir sort of murder mystery and quite dark and creepy. But this is my first out-and-out, fun, B-movie slasher.
It’s rare to see a gay slasher film. I can only think of 2004’s Hellbent, which was very indie.
If you’re going to do this genre, you have to do it with Blumhouse, and other than 2015’s You’re Killing Me I can’t think of [a gay slasher movie] that’s been made by a mainstream platform. It felt this was a special project and an opportunity to reinvent the slasher narrative with a queer cast and story. I wanted to be a part of that. And who doesn’t like screaming around a house in Palm Springs for a month with no clothes on?
Gays need to be slashed too!
I want to be slashed! Why are only the straight people being slashed? It’s fun!
When you got the role, were you familiar with Carter’s The Ruins and super-creepy homoerotic short film, Bugcrush?
I had never seen Bugcrush. I saw and loved The Ruins and knew Carter by reputation. Working with him was spectacular. He’s so calm. The way they shoot Into the Dark is absolutely wild. They shoot the whole thing in three weeks, and for a 90-minute movie that’s insane—incredibly fast. As a consequence you have to trust everyone and go with it, and by sheer coincidence Scott Evans and I did Sell By together last summer, Ayden and I had multiple mutual friends, and Lukas and I already knew each other. The chemistry was already built in, and Carter gave us the freedom to let it fly. A lot in the movie is improvised. It was a group of friends I absolutely would want to be a part of.
Was there any Palm Springs mischief while shooting?
I will tell you this: That house was covered in spiders. Eight tarantulas, five black widows. I shit you not. And we’re all basically half-naked during the shoot, so it became a running joke of “Whose bum will be out today?”
I was amazed by all the nudity. Was everyone wearing cock socks?
Not always! I wasn’t. Not in that shower scene. I’m sure some genius will probably pause the movie at that moment and see I’m not wearing a cock sock.
Have you ever gone to Palm Springs or Fire Island with a group of friends?
Oh, yeah, we do that multiple times a year. I live two hours from Palm Springs, so, oh, yeah, big Palm Springs aficionados. We love it very much. Jeffery and I actually got our wedding suits from the Mr Turk boutique in Palm Springs.
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We did it!! We are officially married and I am the happiest and most lucky man alive! Thank you to @mrjasonmitchell for organizing the most unbelievably perfect wedding of our dreams- we couldn’t have done it without you, to @davidperlmanphotography for this fantastic shot, @mrturk for styling us like the magic man he is and for all of our family and friends who have supported us. It was so unbelievably special to be there with you all! SO. MUCH. LOVE. ❤️❤️❤️
No spoilers, of course, but did the actor who played the killer enjoy walking around in that mask and getup?
What do you think? Yes, he did. For some of the stunts it was a double. That mask was so tight and sweaty, it didn’t smell so good by the end of the shoot.
Is the group’s kissing game of smooching a stranger at midnight really that unusual?
Have you met gay people? Obviously we’re going to make out with someone at midnight! I was like, “They make such a big deal out of this game, but come on, guys, it’s not that big of a deal. You’re just making out with someone. Who gives a shit?”
Has the writer, Erlingur, never been to a gay New Year’s Eve party?
He’s from Iceland, so I guess a gay New Year’s Eve there isn’t like one at West Hollywood’s The Abbey. But the movie’s also about gay shame. It’s about these characters not loving themselves enough, and I thought that was kind of the point of it. Queer people can feel like they have to work harder because of this secret they’ve held for so long as kids. There’s a need to be loved, and jealousy if you don’t feel you’re loved enough. I liked that it didn’t shy away from that.
Would you like to be in more horror movies?
Absolutely. It gives you a chance to act a full range. The thing with slasher movies is they have to be self-aware and funny and strike that balance between being genuinely terrifying but knowing it’s only a movie. There’s a moment when the big reveal has just happened, and one character calls [the killer] a “psychopath bottom,” and everybody in the room looks at him. It’s the most terrifying moment of the movie, yet there’s this hilarious joke beat. It’s a good acting exercise to find that tone and maintain it.
Let’s play Scream! What’s your favorite scary movie?
That’s tough! I like The Shining—that’s classic. For a slasher that’s so bad it’s good, Scream 3. The really trashy one with the movie within a movie within a movie. I like how meta and weird it is, plus Parker Posey. That’s gonna win it for me.
Would you rather be stuck in a house with a slasher or Milo Yiannopoulos?
Ugh, fuck. That’s a shitty choice. I guess… Milo. Can we be in different rooms? Do I have to talk to him? If I don’t have to talk to him, I guess Milo.
Into the Dark: Midnight Kiss is streaming now on Hulu.