“I remember we were all walking around Park Slope and the number of babies that you see, it can seem sort of like a horror film,” Jungermann said of the film’s setting. “So, it just kind of writes itself.”Not that this is a conventional horror film. Just like Appropriate Behavior and The Slope did, Women Who Kill pokes fun at things like the local food coop, though in this case it’s the Greene Hill Coop instead of the Park Slope one. (Other locations used during the 21-day shoot include Brooklyn Grange, Gorilla Coffee, and Prospect Park.) It’s at the coop where Morgan, who is played by Jungermann to be every bit as emotionally aloof as the character she played in The Slope, meets Simone, a Winona Ryder-esque bad girl/mystery woman played by Sheila Vand (A Girl Who Walks Home Alone at Night). Simone, it turns out, is a fan of the Women Who Kill podcast that Morgan does with her ex, Jean (played by Ann Carr, who you may remember from an episode of The Slope).
Originally, the Jean and Morgan characters weren’t going to be podcasters, Jungermann revealed Friday. “It started out really boring,” she told the crowd at Bow Tie Cinemas in Chelsea. “They were grad students like I was. Thank god that didn’t happen.” The idea of having them host a popular murder podcast arose after Jungermann started listening to Serial.As Morgan falls for Simone without bothering to find out much about her, Jean the codependent ex gets jealous, at first, and then downright concerned. Her obsessive googling reveals that Morgan’s new flame isn’t who she says she is—in fact, it seems she’s the daughter of one of the serial killers that appeared on the podcast. Could she be a serial killer herself?
At first, Morgan dismisses the theory as yet another manifestation of Jean’s clinginess and her need to overanalyze and overshare – part of the reason it didn’t work out with her. Morgan believes firmly that “mystery keeps relationships alive,” and she doesn’t care to know whether Simone is a femme fatale. “I’d rather be with somebody that scares me to death than somebody that bores me to death,” she says as a burn to Jean.
In fact, Morgan is so emotionally guarded that an audience member asked if she was written to be “autistic or just really awkward.” After the cast had a good laugh at that, Jungermann explained, “I wrote her to be a little bit of an asshole.” Throughout the film, Morgan’s friend Alex (played by the awesome Shannon O’Neill of UCB and Broad City) tries to reign her in and prevent her from being one of “these people that create anxiety that isn’t really there,” as Jungermann put it. (Along with O’Neill, there are some other familiar faces in the cast, including Deborah Rush, aka Jerri Blank’s mom in Strangers With Candy, and Bushwick artist Phoenix Lindsey-Hall.)As Simone gets closer, the intimacy-averse, self-sabotaging Morgan becomes increasingly convinced that her lover really is a woman who kills. Especially when it seems she has the same fixation with fingernail clippings that her murderous mother did.
Jungermann explained the fingernails thing: “I was trying to think of serial killers that could kill their victims in a way that was almost, kind of, this lesbian joke,” she said, recalling the time she learned from The Maury Povich Show, before she came out, that lesbians keep their fingers trimmed for sex. Given that this inside joke doubles as a creepy plot element, it’s not surprising that Jungermann cites the Coen Brothers as a “big influence.”
Jungermann joked about a Women Who Kill sequel, but even if that doesn’t happen, the creator of The Slope and F to 7th will keep working online. “A web series is sort of energetic and fast and furious, and you don’t have to be precious about anything– you really shouldn’t be,” she said. “With a feature it’s an enormous machine of many moving parts, and you have to kind of see it as a whole. It takes a lot more stamina. And, I don’t know, it just kind of changed me as a person. I think it altered my brain a little bit.”