Joseph Kahn isn’t exactly what one might call a prolific filmmaker, with just three three films to his name to date. Of those, the hilariously unhinged slasher Detention is, clearly, of most interest to horror fans. A wildly underrated movie starring teen heartthrob Josh Hutcherson (who would parody his role in the brilliant Tragedy Girls), it promised great things for music video director Kahn.
Then, nothing. For years. Although he worked extensively between 2011 and 2018, when Bodied will be released, Kahn didn’t bless us with another movie. Thankfully, his latest, a battle rap masterclass brimming with vitriol over the current political climate and anchored by a revelatory performance from Disney alum Calum Worthy in the lead role, is an all-timer.
Wicked Horror deals in all things horror, so the film won’t be reviewed around these parts, but suffice to say it’s a must-watch (look out for it on YouTube, where it’s due for release exclusively on November 2). In spite of Bodied not even closely resembling a horror movie (it doesn’t even conform to Not Quite Horror standards), it showed at Frightfest 2018, packing out its sole Euro screening.
The synopsis from Frightfest hints that Kahn belongs at the festival even with a definitively non-horror movie:
FrightFest is delighted to welcome back rock video genius Joseph Kahn with his latest game-changing dynamo after the brilliant Detention. A progressive graduate student finds success and sparks outrage when his interest in battle rap as a thesis subject becomes a competitive obsession in this witty and energetic rise-of-the-underdog story, written by Kahn and Toronto rhymer Alex Larsen (aka Kid Twist). Featuring a superb cast of pretend and real-life battlers duking it out in a thrilling series of pugilistic verbal bouts, electric performances, countless cultural memes and a hip-hop–heavy soundtrack keep the buzz at a premium.
Directed by Kahn, and co-written with Alex Larsen, Bodied features Calum Worthy alongside a diverse mixture of actors and real-life battle rappers including Jackie Long, Rory Uphold, Jonathan Park, and Walter Perez. It sounds like a hard sell, but if you see one battle rap movie this year (or ever) make it this one and not 8 Mile (sorry Em).
When the opportunity came up to interview the great man, we couldn’t say no. So Wicked Horror caught up at Kahn at Frightfest 2018 in London to talk Bodied, getting Eminem’s blessing, and whether a long-awaited return to horror is on the cards.
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Interview conducted by: Joey Keogh
Camera: Richard Waters
Editing: Richard Waters