Slasher Showrunner Aaron Martin On Going All Out in Guilty Party

Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury

Just as everyone wants to be scared and grossed out in honor of Halloween, Netflix is serving up the perfect entree. All eight episodes of Slasher: Guilty Party are now available for streaming on Netflix and Netflix Canada. The second installment of the horror anthology series centers on a group of former summer camp counselors that must return to the isolated resort where they’ve buried a deep dark secret five years earlier. When they get to the resort, they find that it is now a spiritual commune, and before long both the former counselors and commune members find themselves being targeted by someone out for horrific revenge.

The scares and gore of Slasher’s first season are alive and well in this go-round thanks to showrunner Aaron Martin (Being Erica, Killjoys). Unlike the first time though, Martin assembled a staff of writers to join him in developing the thrills for a cast that includes some old and new faces to the Slasher world. Leslie Hope (24), Paula Brancati (Being Erica), Rebecca Liddiard (Alias Grace, Frankie Drake), Lovell Adams-Gray (Lost & Found’s Music Studios), Jim Watson (The Strain), Kaitlyn Leeb (Heartland) and Melinda Shankar (Degrassi) join Slasher veterans Christopher Jacot, Joanne Vannicola and Jefferson Brown who are in new roles.

Martin recently spoke exclusively with The TV Junkies about putting together that cast, where the idea for this season of Slasher came from and where the idea for some of the gross kills Slasher is well known for come from. Much like the first season of the series, Slasher: Guilty Party once again features a diverse cast and several LGBTQ characters. Martin touches on his approach to writing diverse characters and why it’s so important to him to continue to do so.

 

The TV Junkies: You’ve assembled a really fun and exciting cast for this go round. Can you talk a little about how you put this group together?

Aaron Martin: When we’re casting the show we’re basically looking at two different groups: there’s the former camp counselors from five years ago and then the people at the retreat We Live As One. The camp counselors we focused on actors in their 20s, some I had worked with before and others who were totally new to me. In We Live As One we had a broader range and there was a bunch of ages we could cast for that. So we had some people I had worked with before like Paula Brancati as Dawn and Joanne Vannicola who plays Renée. Then we brought back people from last year like Chris Jacot and even Dean McDermott has a really cool cameo. There were also people like Leslie Hope and Ty Olsson that I wanted to work with and now got a chance to on this season of Slasher.

TTVJ: Where did the idea for this season come from? Did you have a bad experience at summer camp, or maybe you hate doing yoga?

AM: I find camping in general disgusting, so no, I never went to summer camp. I don’t understand why you’d go out in the middle of the woods when you could go to a hotel? [laughs] Summer camp is a classic Slasher setting though, but I wanted to play with that and also update it a bit which is why in the present it’s a retreat full of people running away from their own pasts. So you have the five camp counselors running away from something they did five years ago, and then the people at We Live As One who have purposefully cut themselves off from the rest of the world for various reasons and mysteries.

Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury

TTVJ: This season of Slasher differs a little in that you didn’t write all the episodes. Why did you want to put together a room and bring on other voices this time?

AM: In Season 1 I wrote all eight because we had such a quick pickup and it was just faster for me to do all eight. It was interesting to do that, but the downside was that it was just my voice. I’m not the funniest writer in the world, so I got to bring in people like my friend James Hurst who I worked with since Degrassi. He’s a great writer and is also really funny so I got to bring that voice in. It was also really important to me to bring in some diverse voices so I have writers of color. I really needed female voices because so much of the story, even more when I was first thinking of it, was about sex, even though that somewhat disappeared as we developed the season. There’s so many strong female characters that I wanted to have strong female writers to bring them to life. It’s also just more fun!

TTVJ: Did being on Netflix this time around change how you guys approached writing the episodes at all?

AM: What Netflix allowed us to do is just push the envelope in terms of content. There’s a lot of swearing in the show because if you’re going to be hunted by a killer, you’re going to probably say the F word a lot. So it adds a level of reality to the show. We also were allowed to go full out on the kills.

TTVJ: Speaking of those kills, who hurt you? Were you responsible for coming up with them or did some of the other writers contribute those gross deaths?

AM: I’ll tell you one thing, Lucie Pagé who wrote Episode 5, she is the one that comes up with the most disgusting kills possible. [laughs] She’s worse than I am. I remember telling her for Episode 5 that I wanted someone tortured, and she sent the script back and I read it going ‘what is wrong with you?’ I love that though and it makes the show better.

Going back to Season 1 though, the stuff that scares me the most on the show is the stuff that could actually happen versus the crazy death by horrible devices. When you’re writing it and trying to figure out how to do it, it can actually be quite funny. Our director Felipe Rodriguez did a really great job though of going for it in those moments.

TTVJ: How does the cast react to those gruesome deaths?

AM: I think they all want to die a terrible death because it’s more fun. But then you have things like when we have someone running through a cold river, that are more fun on paper than in reality. It was winter and wet.

Shaftesbury
Shaftesbury

TTVJ: While you opened up the writing room, you did keep only one director this season. Why was that and how did Felipe come on board the project?

AM: We’re block shooting all eight episodes so we have to use one director, but it’s also good because it makes the show feel more like a feature. Felipe had done a really great feature called Kidnap Capital, which I watched and loved. In it, he was able to create a really dark sense of foreboding through two hours, and so I was confident he could do that throughout eight for us.

TTVJ: One thing I think is great about Slasher, and you do this on all your shows, is that you’ve got a diverse cast and several queer characters and it’s not a thing. They are just integrated, fully formed characters that are engrained in the story. What’s your secret so that we can spread that magic around to all of TV?

AM: The secret for me is that first of all you have to create characters that are three-dimensional that you know will be visible minorities or queer. The second thing you have to do is push the fact that they are visible minorities and their sexuality aside. You cast that way, but then just let them be any other character on the TV show. I am a gay man, but I’m not defined by that, so why should any of my characters be defined by their sexuality or their race?

TTVJ: Do you have plans to do another season?

AM: It would be a whole new story, but I don’t know when we’ll hear from Netflix about a renewal. I have ideas though and it’s fun to think up different horrible scenarios. The great thing about doing an anthology show is that you get to recreate it every year.

 

Have you caught Slasher: Guilty Party yet on Netflix? Share your thoughts below!

Slasher: Guilty Party is now available to stream on Netflix and Netflix.