Over 20,000 people have signed an online petition attempting to halt the release of an independent horror movie, complaining that its subject matter is too close to the real-life murders of six people in California last year.
Del Playa, which debuted its first trailer online Wednesday, centers around a college student who goes on a killing spree following romantic rejection and bullying from his peers. The movie takes its title from Del Playa Drive, a street in Isla Vista, Santa Barbara known to be popular with University of California, Santa Barbara students. The trailer features footage from the area in question.
In response to the trailer, former UCSB student Kate Nollner stared a Change.org petition asking production company Berger Bros Entertainment, director Shaun Hart and actor/producer Josh Berger to stop the movie’s release, claiming that the movie was obviously inspired by the May 23, 2014 shooting in Isla Vista by Elliot Rodger that left six dead and 14 wounded.
“It is clear that the creators of this film conceived their idea immediately after the Isla Vista shootings, seeking to profit off the horror felt by the students and community,” Nollner wrote in the petition, going on to say that the movie “intentionally seeks to commoditize the death of six beloved students, and makes light of the tragedy faced by the entire Isla Vista/UCSB community [and] not only justifies the motives behind the Isla Vista gunman, but also glorifies his actions.”
Talking to The Santa Barbara Independent, Nollner said that she would be willing to settle for a change in the movie’s title, and profits from the project going towards a memorial fund for victims and families affecting by the shooting. “They have the right to make the movie, but it shouldn’t be profiting off the death of students. It’s a horrible precedent to set,” she said.
In a statement released to the Independent, director Hart — himself a UCSB alumnus — apologized to those offended by the movie, but wrote that, “while I do admit there is the connection of Santa Barbara, this film is not about Elliot Rodger … Our intentions were not to make light of such a serious issue, but to engage our audience in an active discussion about bullying and violence.”