Why you should care
Because you’ll want to watch it again.
When I call Corey Asraf and John Swab — co-writers and co-directors of the blistering crime drama Let Me Make You a Martyr, which stars goth-rock icon Marilyn Manson as the homicidal hit man Pope and Sons of Anarchy alumnus Mark Boone Junior as Larry Glass, a sleazy local drug lord — they are driving south to Austin, Texas, to catch the sold-out theatrical release of their movie at the Alamo Drafthouse. The cerebral revenge film is one part Inception and two parts Pulp Fiction, a mesmerizing and violent tale of two adopted siblings who fall in love, get on drugs and plan to kill Glass, their abusive drug lord daddy.
“In the film, I feel like everyone is dying for something whether they want to or not … whether it’s noble or not,” Swab says. “In the world of addiction and abuse, Corey and I really wanted to tell something that was … true to those kind of struggles. That was our main focus.”
The dialogue-heavy and Tarantino-esque plot follows Drew and June, Glass’ adopted kids, as they try to right the wrongs of their lives while staying alive and making it to a better place. It’s a slice of lost Americana with a bunch of WTF moments, a nonlinear narrative infused with a dose of surrealism not typically found in the crime genre.
“John’s writing has a lot of exposition,” Asraf says. “It’s very subtle and [the film is] definitely worth a second watch because the second time is where you really get the poetry.” There are also “a lot of nuggets and Easter eggs” placed throughout, “so when someone goes back and watches the film again, they’ll come away with new insights,” Swab adds.
Marilyn Manson has been getting all the press for his performance, but Mark Boone Junior kills it as the conflicted father.
A lot of the story is told in flashback via Drew Glass, played by fellow SOA alum Niko Nicotera, while in an interrogation room and seemingly answering for all the murders committed up to that point. But all is not as it seems. “We didn’t want to let on early in the film that there was a supernatural element to that room.” Asraf says. The filmmakers wanted it to “feel a little spooky,” he says, but not give the supernatural twist away.
“The Gatekeeper’s [police interrogator’s] name is never said, but it’s Charon … the boatman in Greek mythology that takes you across the River Styx,” Swab says. The interrogator’s role is to evaluate the actions of the characters — Drew specifically — and determine their fate in the afterlife. It’s a major heaven-or-hell type of dilemma that teeters in the balance for the length of the movie.
Marilyn Manson has been getting all the press for his performance, but Mark Boone Junior kills it as the conflicted father. “Boone is such a great actor,” Swab says. “It’s a really complicated character, but he played it with a delicacy and a humor that we wouldn’t have got anywhere else.”
And without Boone, the filmmakers wouldn’t have landed Manson, who was born to play the backwoods Native American assassin Pope. The actor originally picked to play the role dropped out two days before the shoot was scheduled to start. “We were kind of fucked, and we went to Boone and we presented our problem, and he said, ‘How about Manson?’ ” Swab recounts. At that point, they didn’t have any other options, but at the same time, it was an idea they never would’ve thought of otherwise. “Manson did a great job, and he added a whole other type of texture to the film with his persona,” Swab says.
The result: a thought-provoking film that is definitely worth a watch (or two).
Let Me Make You a Martyr will be available on June 6 on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and some cable providers.