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Totally Killer Director on Tackling Horror and Changing Harry Styles’ Timeline

[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Totally Killer.]

Once all the slashing is done and the day is saved in the Blumhouse production Totally Killer, teenage Jamie (Kiernan Shipka) finally has a chance to breathe in the present, and figure out how, exactly, she just changed her original timeline by traveling back to 1987. And it turns out she didn’t just save her mother (Julie Bowen) from a brutal slaying, but… Harry Styles’ career is different?

This is according to director Nahnatchka Khan, who laughs as she reflects on the notebook written by Jamie’s best friend’s mother Lauren (Kimberly Huie), who’s Jamie’s only guide to the differences with her new reality. “There’s stuff that didn’t really make it onto the screen, that we were just talking about, that was in that book. Like somebody in the art department got obsessed with how Harry Styles’s career would have been different because of what Jamie did.”

The connection, Khan says, is “convoluted,” but involves how nascent rocker Eddie Royal (Tate Chernen)’s band changed in the new reality: “There was some connection from A Waterbed Away to One Direction in there. There are so many supplemental materials that we can put out about how Totally Killer’s timeline affects Harry Styles.”

Harry Styles’ new path in life is just one of the details that couldn’t make it to the screen, as part of the film’s cheeky conclusion. It’s a tonally apt end for the horror comedy, a genre that can be a tonally tricky one, because the balance between the two genres can be hard to calibrate.

Khan says that the approach that worked for her was “not starting from a place of moodiness and darkness, but leading with the comedy first, so that those scares and those slasher kills can land. And then not checking your swing when you go to those kills. That’s not where you play the comedy — like, the comedy comes from these surrounding things and creating a space where all those things are possible at the same time.”

“And then, also,” she says, “time travel.”