Controversial ‘Del Playa’ Horror Film to be Released on Friday

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Shomik Mukherjee
News Editor

The horror film Del Playa, which shares similarities with the events of the 2014 Isla Vista killings, will be released on Friday, director Shaun Hart confirmed Thursday morning.  

Del Playa tells the tale of a romantically-jilted young male who exacts murderous revenge on a slew of partying college students. The premise resembles the events of May 2014 and the titular Del Playa Drive is the oceanside street upon which the real-life perpetrator carried out part of his attacks.

A synopsis on the film’s official website confirms the movie is “set in the vibrant party atmosphere of UC Santa Barbara’s adjacent town,” and the film’s working tagline reads: “Monsters aren’t born. They are created.” About “50 percent” of the film was shot in I.V., including many of the party scenes used in the film, Hart told The Bottom Line on Thursday.  

“I love I.V.,” said Hart, who graduated from the university in 2007. “Santa Barbara’s my home.” He called I.V. a “beautiful, laid-back, creative, scientific” community and said the events of May 2014 were akin to a “storm showing up at your doorstep.”

Hart pointed to a string of mass killings over the years, including the Columbine massacre and the 2001 I.V. killing spree, which ultimately resulted in the perpetrator being ruled insane.

“If you look at the parallels,” Hart said, “the digital era has made things more angsty. Everyone can view each other’s curtailed lifestyles and perfect relationships. What happens if you’re lesser than that?”

He emphasized that the world of social media “constantly inundates” the community with the notion of social status, which he said he noticed when websites like MySpace and Facebook became popular during his UCSB days.

“That’s no justification at all for what happened,” Hart said. “It was heinous and sick — and really sad.”

Del Playa will be available for streaming on major online platforms like iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon Instant, and others, Hart said. 

The film’s initial announcement two years ago drew tremendous ire from I.V. residents and students. A change.org petition to “halt” the release garnered over 29,000 online supporters. The efforts temporarily worked, as Hart shelved the project until the backlash cooled off.

When Hart reintroduced the film’s release to the public in December, the backlash swiftly returned, and a second petition — started and publicized by former Associated Students President Jonathan Abboud — called for Hart to either stop the film from coming out completely or donate all of its proceeds to the “Isla Vista community.”

“I’m disappointed,” Abboud told The Bottom Line, “that anyone would want to publish [the film] at all.” Abboud said he had contacted Hart in January to discuss creating something positive out of the situation. Hart was initially receptive, Abboud said, but “disappeared” a few weeks later and stopped responding.

“He doesn’t care even after we gave him a chance,” Abboud said. He went on to say that boycotting streaming services for showing the film would take an organized effort. If anyone tries to show the film in I.V., he said, there would be either a protest or an alternative event to detract from the screening.

“It’d be great if there was a documentary to really show what happened,” he said. “But [Del Playa] is not that.”

 


UPDATE:

July 21, 11:14 a.m.: The article has been updated after The Bottom Line confirmed the film will be released on certain streaming services.

Shomik Mukherjee
Shomik Mukherjee has worked at The Bottom Line since the first week of his first year at UCSB. In his spare time, he enjoys telling people that. Mukherjee can be reached at news@bottomlineucsb.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Boycotting the film is probably the most effective way of ensuring it doesn’t gain very much traction, although I’m not going to complain about people protesting it if they see fit. The story is in poor taste and Hart’s apology claiming it wasn’t based on the IV tragedy is lackluster given the entire premise seems to be drawing from the IV tragedy and the individual who carried it out. The fact that it was primarily filmed in IV and the events seem to take place in a non-school setting (ie. on a beachfront, not in the halls of a high school) shows that this is capitalizing on that tragedy. It wouldn’t be notable if it weren’t.

    This entire mindset of “monsters” being “created” applied in contexts like these is disgusting, honestly. Young men are not being “denied” anything because they aren’t getting attention from the women that they find attractive. That operates on the idea that men are entitled to the attention of the women they are attracted to, which is simply not the case. How often do we hear of women going on killing sprees because her crush didn’t like her back and she didn’t feel as pretty as other girls? It may happen, but the social response would definitely not be as quick to rationalize it because we don’t view women as being entitled to men’s attention. Women have to work for it. Men are supposed to just be given it.

    Continuing to encourage this self-victimizing mentality is extremely dangerous. It is not a valid line of thought to take rejection and lash out at others in such an egregious manner. We all deal with disappointments and many of us go through points in our lives where we are unhappy, lonely, and otherwise feel like we’re not living the life we want to be living. That does not give any of us the right to abuse and harm those around us, especially not out of some self-righteous spite because we’re so arrogant we think we’re being oppressed simply because someone doesn’t want to have sex with us and we don’t go on many dates.

    People like the pathetic loser who carried out the IV tragedy are not monsters. They are cowardly humans who are more willing to punish others than they are willing to improve themselves. This type of violence should not be pathologized, excused, or validated in any way. These people need to be held accountable for their actions and should not be allowed to hide behind falsified claims of mental illness as a cop-out. It’s offensive to the memories of those lost, their families, and people who actually suffer from illnesses they have no choice in.

    I hope this flops and Hart’s career takes a hit. This is low.

  2. There is a big difference between films whose purpose is to touch on socially important topics and personal vision of the situation by the director of the film. The IV tragedy horrified the society, but, as for me, it isn`t the topic for horror film. Some topics are just better not to affect.

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