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Arts and Entertainment

Horror Movie Inspired By Isla Vista Killings Sparks Outrage

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An indie horror film inspired partly by last year's Isla Vista killings has sparked outrage, with people accusing the film of profiting off the tragedy.Del Playa, directed by Shaun Hart and produced by Berger Bros. Entertainment, released its trailer on Wednesday and, at first glance, seems like your typical slasher flick where attractive young women become the victims of a young male killer. However, the scenes of the killer getting rejected by his potential victims recall Isla Vista shooter Elliot Rodger's angst against women. Even the film's title directly references the events, named after the street on Isla Vista where the killings took place.

Isla Vista is a community neighboring UC Santa Barbara and is largely made up of college students. Elliot Rodger was living in Isla Vista when the shooting took place, and had dropped out of Santa Barbara City College.

The trailer for Del Playa

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"The film Del Playa intentionally seeks to commoditize the death of six beloved students, and makes light of the tragedy faced by the entire Isla Vista/UCSB community," says a Change.org petition looking to stop the release of the film. "Releasing such a film merely 18 months after this tragedy recreates the helplessness and horror felt by the Isla Vista community."

"When I first heard about the movie, it disgusted me," Kate Nollner, a UCSB alumna and author of the online petition told the Santa Barbara Independent. "And when I watched the trailer, it felt like that night was happening all over again—I was back in a place of helplessness."

It is not unusual for micro-budget horror films to be inspired by or directly reference current or recent events. See: Bath Salts Zombies, or a movie in the works about Elisa Lam. For the over 21,000 people that have signed the petition, Del Playa is still "too soon."

In response to the backlash, director Shaun Hart wrote on the Berger Bros.' Facebook page:


First and foremost, I would like to publicly apologize to everyone who has been offended in any way by our making of this film. It was never our intent to monopolize on the tragic shootings in Isla Vista that took place last year. While I do admit there is the connection of Santa Barbara, this film is not about Elliot Rodger. The fictional character in the film is not meant to portray anyone in particular. It is meant to portray incidents that take place, not only in Santa Barbara, but across the country on a daily basis. 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.

As a graduate of UCSB and a former resident of Del Playa, that day was a knife to my heart. For me, the actions of one individual tainted a lot of good memories of an innocent time and brought darkness to a place that should only be home to the hopes and dreams of the young.

For all touched by the tragedy at DP, know this: I stand right there with you. And share love and compassion for our fallen Gauchos.