How ‘You Might Be The Killer’ Director Brett Simmons Introduced His Son to the Horror Genre

Brett Simmons

Welcome to my fourth installment in a series all about introducing kids to horror films. If you missed the first three in the series, be sure to go back and check out my initial piece, along with my follow up pieces featuring “Tales For A HalloweeNight” contributor James Ninness and Witchy Kitchen’s Carrie Scott. This week I’m excited to feature Writer/Director Brett Simmons whose work has included the films Husk, Animal, and the 2018 horror comedy You Might Be The Killer.

I was curious to hear how Brett, a horror director, and parent, went about introducing his kids to the genre and see if it differed from some of the other parents I’ve talked to as part of the series. After all, the man has made a name for himself creating the exact sort of films we’re discussing.

Brett is a father of three, but so far only his 11-year-old son Maverick has been introduced to the genre. “I also have two younger daughters,” explains Brett. “But they want nothing to do with horror (yet).”

Maverick got his first taste of horror around age nine when Brett introduced him to Steven Spielberg’s classic, Jaws. “It was actually first in a very intentional series of horror movies I exposed him to all in the same summer,” explains Brett. “The official ‘baby’s first horror movie’ roll out program was Jaws, then we watched Jaws 2, then Gremlins, and Killer Klowns From Outer Space.

Killer Klown waving

If you’re confused by the seemingly eclectic mix of films Brett chose to kick off his son’s journey into horror, there was a method to his madness. “I knew I didn’t want him to see anything too gory or in any way disturbing,” explains Brett. “I just wanted to expose him to the experience of feeling suspense and fear. Take him on a roller coaster ride. So Jaws felt like a great place to start because it’s gore-light and suspense-heavy. Jaws 2 ramps the gore up just a little bit more, and then Gremlins and Klowns add the element of creatures and scary figures that are much more present on screen.”

When it comes to the subject matter and deciding what his son can and cannot watch, Brett uses his own experiences as a gauge. “My son takes after me a lot,” Brett explains. “We both have really vivid imaginations. I remember when I was young that my dad exposed me to John Carpenter’s Halloween (probably at too young an age), and the imagery of Michael Myers plagued me for months. A photographic memory is a horrible thing when it comes to certain horror movies. So ever since my son was born, and knowing I wanted to eventually start exposing him to some of these movies I love, I’ve been most conscious about trying to be sensitive to the imagery he would see.”

When it comes to common themes that appear in horror films, such as murder or torture, Brett was able to introduce these themes early on, but through a different medium. “Murder is a topic that came up really young for my son because he (like me) loves Batman,” shares Brett. “So between the Batman comics and animated series, murder and morality came up super early with him. Torture too. Joker, as it turns out, is a great introduction to horror.”

The Joker from Batman The Animated Series laughing

So now, the million dollar question. As a horror writer and director does Brett let his kids watch his own movies? Turns out, he’s selective. “My family is super aware of my projects and see all the pieces and designs that come together throughout the process of my working on them, so I think there’s a familiarity that removes a little of the fear factor, or suspension of disbelief, especially for my son,” says Brett. “He actually watched the first rough cut of my last film You Might Be The Killer with me and was my harshest critic. He lit me up. Doesn’t help that he’s measuring it against Jaws. But I love that he’s gaining an appetite for the genre. He loves discussing it with me, asking questions, and it makes him really analytical. So being able to discuss my own projects is fun. It’s an opportunity to discuss my personal tastes, and for me to learn his as they’re developing.”

So what advice does Brett have for other parents considering introducing their kids to horror films? “I think the best advice I can give is to use your own experience with horror to help gauge what you think is appropriate and when,” says Brett. “Some parents avoid horror all together, and I just think it’s more about the right horror at the right time. Horror opens up great conversations about morality and life, good and evil. And I firmly believe in contrast being healthy. The dark stuff makes the bright brighter. Just gauge what makes the most sense at the right time.”

If you haven’t seen Brett’s latest film, You Might Be The Killer, it is currently available on Shudder and stars Fran Kranz (The Cabin in the Woods) and Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). “Maybe you’ll hate it as much as my son did,” jokes Brett. The film tells the story of Sam (Kranz), a camp counselor suffering from blackouts who finds himself surrounded by murder victims. He turns to his horror movie enthusiast friend (Hannigan) for advice, and to contend with the idea he may be the killer.

Brett has some other projects in the works, but nothing he can discuss just yet, so be sure to give him a follow on Twitter for the latest.

Send this to a friend