Women who kill; Writer-director-actor Ingrid Jungermann takes us into the world of her first feature film.

If you’re not familiar with the work of filmmaker Ingrid Jungermann, try to imagine a lesbian Woody Allen who chooses to make Brooklyn’s queer girl milieu—rather than upscale heterosexual Manhattan—her subject. Add a liberal dash of deadpan hipster-dyke satire, a dose of Jungermann’s inherent filmic flair, and you have a body of work that is gaining critical and audience attention.

Women Who Kill is the first feature from writer/director/actor Jungermann whose previous work includes two critically-acclaimed web series, The Slope, and F to 7th. Women Who Kill stars Jungermann, alongside screen veterans Annette O’Toole and Deborah Rush, with Ann Carr, Sheila Vand, and Shannon O’Neill. Funny, brooding, recognizable and surprising, Women Who Kill won the award for Best Screenplay, U.S. Narrative Feature Film at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival.

We caught up with Jungermann to discuss this breakout comedy-horror feature which follows Morgan, a commitment-phobic lesbian who falls for Simone, a cute but mysterious girl at their local food co-op, but Morgan’s co-dependent ex-girlfriend Jean, believes Morgan’s new flame is a murderer.

Women Who Kill is fun, fascinating and strangely frightening. Where does the basic premise come from?

Mainly it was inspired by my previous relationships—the challenges intertwined with commitment, love, marriage, attraction, etc. I find there are a lot of rules around who and how we should love, which is puzzling since we’re all such different people with different needs and desires.

Horror comedies are a great genre for examining subcultures, social tensions—such as the film Get Out. Is there something specific you wanted to get across using this form? Is it metaphoric for you? 

This movie is one big metaphor. Essentially it’s a queer rom-com which means the horror/suspense elements are, in my experience, innate. Growing up in Florida with a religious background, it took me many years to heal from being told that being queer equals you were going to hell. From early on, there’s a death/doom feeling associated with love.

So Morgan is coming from that place; her fear of commitment isn’t based on her current situation, it’s based on a history of thinking something bad is lurking just around the corner even if it’s just an opportunity for love and happiness.

I enjoyed the elements satirizing lesbian culture: co-dependent exes, softball, getting drunk at Ginger’s, obsessive new love, every lesbian knowing every other lesbian, and queer podcasts… Have these tropes passed into mainstream culture enough to be recognizable or are you claiming lesbian culture as your subject matter in a way that you’d care to elaborate on?

I don’t know that these stereotypes/tropes are part of mainstream culture. In order for that to happen, we’d have to have more queer shows and films distributed. That’s not to say they aren’t out there and that audiences don’t want to see them, it’s that the gatekeepers just don’t see the worth of us.

A lot of the jokes I write are for queer people and if they are missed by mainstream culture, that’s fine. It’s like a little wink to the community that has supported me all these years. That said, outside of some inside humor, I think the overall story is universal as I’m interested in telling stories that connect our experiences rather than divide them.

Annette O’Toole is excellent as usual, and appears to be having a lot of fun playing a lascivious professor serial killer! Where does her character come from?

She’s fantastic. And I think she did have fun. Her character came out of the desire to write female characters who are monsters, who are fierce and violent and full of rage. Why do male characters get to have all the fun? I’m tired of seeing female characters as victims; I’m tired of seeing tough female characters only being tough as a response to violence against them.

What is it about Brooklyn and hipster culture lately that is conducive to the murder mystery?

Because the murder mystery is full of drama and tension. In gentrified, urban neighborhoods, there’s not exactly life/death stakes. The combination of the two is funny because it’s calling out privilege.

You’ve refined your deadpan persona even further in this project. I loved the scene in the strip club where Morgan stares out the older dyke who is sitting alone. That moment pushes Morgan deeper into her relationship with Simone, but you’re also creating characters that we don’t ordinarily see. Will we be seeing more of Morgan?

Yes, that scene is sort of the heart of the film. Morgan is seeing her future self. I’m not sure when we will see Morgan again. Part of me thinks this story isn’t over, but maybe I’ll revisit it at a later time. My next project is in development at QC Entertainment. I’m really excited about it as it’s a satire playing with Hollywood rom-com tropes.

Speaking of rom-coms, you quite literally take a ‘stab’ at lesbian romantic comedies in Women Who Kill. You layer different modes in this film that some reviewers have called uneven, but to me, it just feels original. Can you comment on that?

I appreciate that you don’t think it’s uneven. I don’t think this film is for everyone. For me, tone is just who you are at your core. You can’t really escape it or explain it, you just try to tell your story and sometimes people want to hear it and sometimes they don’t.

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