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Boy Kills World Interview: Moritz Mohr & Simon Swart

 We interview Boy Kills World  director Moritz Mohr and producer Simon Swart to learn about the inspiration and craft behind their TIFF-premiering film.

Boy Kills World had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by Moritz Mohr in his feature-length debut, this Sam Raimi-produced action extravaganza stars Bill Skarsgård as a deaf-mute man whose family was killed in a dystopian world. After years of training in the jungle, he vows to hunt and kill the dictator responsible (Famke Janssen), plunging himself into a bloody, irreverent clash of characters that defies all description. Boy Kills World takes from what feels like dozens of different styles and combines them together to form something entirely its own, making it one of the most excitingly bonkers films to come out in years.

After seeing the film myself, I was given the opportunity to sit down for an interview with director Moritz Mohr and producer Simon Swart to ask them about the inspiration behind Boy Kills World, the process of bringing it to life, and where the film fits in today’s entertainment environment.


Boy Kills World clearly has many influences, from comic books to video games to martial arts movies. What were some of the biggest specific ones?

Moritz Mohr: One of the obvious answers is those old-school kung fu movies. The whole story is set up with a master that trained somebody to take revenge, which is classic 70s kung fu. We don’t call it a kung fu movie, but it has the DNA of one to some degree. Obviously, it’s also a revenge movie, harkening back to the great ones that came out decades ago, like Kill Bill and the Park Chan-wook Vengeance trilogy. Then you’ve got other action movies like John Wick or 300, with their slow-mo shots, or The Raid, with the breakneck, relentless action, that all build on what came before them and redefined action. We tried to stand on the shoulders of those past action movies, build from them, and do our own thing as well. I also grew up with Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, and I reference Mortal Kombat in the film even though I’m more of a Street Fighter guy.

Where did the idea come from to make Boy himself mute, in contrast to him quipping out in the open more traditionally?

M.M.: The basis was the silent hero cliché, where you get the action protagonist who’s mostly quiet but then just drops a one-liner. That’s something that isn’t normally done today, but we just found it very interesting and engaging to have a deaf-mute character, where we can only hear his inner voice and thoughts. It’s also funny because there are people out there who have someone talking to them so much, but they realize they haven’t said anything back in an hour. I thought the story and comedy would benefit from him not being able to communicate with other characters and having different problems with each of them.

Boy Kills World (Roadside Attractions)


One of the producers of Boy Meets World is Sam Raimi. Did he play a big role in helping out with the heavy blood and gore?

Moritz Mohr: He was super supportive, but more as a collaborator on the story during the script process, because he’s such a great storyteller. I’m very influenced by his work, with Evil Dead 2 being one of my favorite movies and me putting Evil Dead references in my earliest work. That kept up when I met him in real life when we started this project, six or seven years ago, which was the craziest day of my life. The Sam Raimi-esque moments in my films are me paying tribute to the man, and we knew we wanted to make Boy Kills World over-the-top violent but also stay on the fun side, like his Evil Dead movies.

How involved was Bill Skarsgård in the action?

M.M.: He wanted to do everything, but he wasn’t allowed to, and we couldn’t afford it timewise. At one point we knew and said that we’d need him on the main set and for his stunt double to do some of the B unit stuff. If you’re working on a budget, you have to be sensible even if your actor is willing to do everything. Bill still worked really hard the entire time; between all the normal acting and the action, he really didn’t have much of a break.

Simon Swart: I don’t know another actor who could have done this like Bill Skarsgård, being a silent actor and an action hero who could capture all these emotions in the middle of a fight scene. The challenge that provided became a common thread that I don’t think Moritz ever let go of with his cast. Bill wanted to keep one upping himself, and at one point we had to just tell him, “No, you shouldn’t do it. We have insurance policies. We have stunt doubles. You’re needed on the first unit right now; this is too dangerous.”

M.M.: If you literally just trip and hurt your ankle a bit, you’re out for the next day. That’s what we were worried about. Even something that minor can throw off the entire production, especially considering we were still under COVID conditions.


Boy Kills World is fun and crazy for the most part, but it turns more serious towards the end. How do you juggle those different tones and know which to lean into and when?

Moritz Mohr: Only you and the audience can tell me if it worked. It’s a tough call. I’m expecting someone to say, “Your tone is all over the place,” but it’s on purpose, and others have assured me that it does work when we presented the film to them. You can only do so much; you really have to just go ahead and try it to figure out if it works. My movies aren’t just one thing. It’s like Parasite or The Host, which is a family movie, a comedy, and a monster movie all mashed in there.

Simon Swart: We wanted to have a very clear creative vision for the pace and the timing. Moritz created the film in a way where you can look at the choreography and go, “Okay, I’m meant to be having fun. It’s not designed to be super realistic.” But at the same time, it does talk a little bit about the cost of revenge and contain the notion that revenge is often misguided, misinformed, and the product of being manipulated. That’s when you do get settled down to this emotional point where there’s a price to everything at the very end.

We’ve seen extremely weird, mold-shattering films be highly successful in the past few years. Do you think this is the perfect time for a movie like Boy Kills World to come out and find its audience?

M.M.: I love all of those movies and am really happy they’re finding success. But this wasn’t a case where we just wanted to make that kind of movie because others have shown that they’d sell. It was just always the kind of movie I want to see, and I guess a lot of people also feel that way.

loud and clear reviews Boy Kills World Interview: Moritz Mohr & Simon Swart - Yayan Ruhian as “Mentor” (Graham Bartholomew, TIFF 2023)
Boy Kills World Interview: Moritz Mohr & Simon Swart – Yayan Ruhian as “Mentor” (Graham Bartholomew, TIFF 2023)

S.S.: When we saw the Boy Kills World short that Moritz and his team created, we read the script, spoke to Sam Raimi and Roy Lee (another producer), we recognized immediately that there was nothing like this in the marketplace. We got excited that this is wild, crazy, fresh, and original. I’m loving some of the reviews that are saying, “It reminds me of this, this, and this.” Nobody’s saying, “It reminds me of just this.” That’s really what we were going for, whether it was in the stunt design that was worked out, or the dialogue, or the characters that were created.


Do you think your next project will be similar to Boy Kills World? Or will it be something completely different?

Moritz Mohr: I had so much fun doing Boy Kills World and I’m very proud of it. I’d love to stay in that general space, but maybe have some differences with the next movie like not having any voiceover. I want to continue to do something fun, entertaining, and out there. If we’re talking about a sequel, I don’t want to do the exact same thing. I think the best sequels are films like Aliens, where you get common themes and the same world, but the movie is its own thing.

Simon Swart: I think Moritz is going to be very busy. And I can tell you now that his next project will be so crazy and audacious, because I’ve got a sense of how his mind works. He’s going to do something unpredictable; that’s where he gets his jollies from.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Boy Kills World premiered at TIFF on September 10, 2023 and will be released in US theaters on April 26, 2024. Read our review of Boy Kills World.

Boy Kills World: TIFF Film Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
Film Review: Boy Kills World smashes a wide range of genres together to create a wonderfully crazy mosaic of action, gore, and imagination.
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