"There are two things you can expect, when you come to see Go To Hell!" McKenzie tells me. "The first one is comedy and the second one is that you will literally shit yourself with horror. We wanted the show to be funny and terrifying. This time round we are at the Malthouse Theatre and there's going to be a good balance of lots of scares and lots of laughs."
It is not an easy thing to have your audience simultaneously jumping out of their skin while also having fits of laughter but Watson seem to tick all the right boxes when devising their shows. "Horror is actually easy to create in that, a lot of the time all you have to do to scare someone is turn the lights out. Also horror and comedy are really similar in that they are both subverting expectation. You laugh because you're surprised and you scream because you get a surprise," McKenzie explains. "That's why horror and comedy go so well together because they actually come from exactly the same place and I think that's the recipe. You don't try to be funny and you don't try to be scare people, what you try to do - or at least what we are going to try to do - is tell the audience a really good story and something that has a lot of suspense, stillness and fun."
Having created a show that relies on jumps and scares, there are undoubtedly some memorable reactions from audiences, but the one that stands out for McKenzie is from one audience member who didn't even see the show. "In the first horror show that we did, we didn't quite know what to expect and we wanted to make sure that we took care of people and we had a safety word, so if it got too scary or anyone was uncomfortable, they could use this safety word, which was cumberbatch and they would be escorted from the theatre."
"Only once did someone use the safety word, but the weird thing is they used it 30 seconds into the show before anything scary had happened. All we did was tell them it was going to be scary and there was a safety word and that was enough to frighten this poor lady who went "cumberbatch" and we said "really?" and she's like "yes I think it will be too much", and she left. Everyone else had a great time. There's no safety word for Go To Hell! though and that will be exciting," he laughs.
So what is it about horror that people love so much? Why do we want our heart to start racing, to cover our eyes and cower under a blanket as we watch people be stalked, killed and possessed? "Being scared and experiencing fear seem to come from a negative place, but a lot of the time being scared can be very helpful. We know to run from a wild animal that wants to kills us because we are frightened, and I think it connects with that primal instinct," McKenzie says. "I think in these modern times, our fear tends to be very cerebral; there's fear that the government wants too much control in our lives or fear of people wanting to hurt us, and I think the reason why we seek out these horror films is because it really does hark back to this primal instinct in all of us. I also think it's really closely related to comedy, laughing and getting scared is almost the same thing."
The one food I cannot live without is sushi, just mad for it. Don't know why. It's raw fish, it's easy, it's delicious.
My most cringeworthy moment on stage is when I was doing stand up I thought I'd be hilarious and walk up to the microphone and accidentally trip, hit myself on the head with the microphone and go down and pretend to be knocked out. So I did this and no one laughed, no one was even that much concerned either, and so after a while I just got up and got on with my set. Didn't have any laughs and so I got off and then one of the other comedians came up to me and said "you have a little blood running down your head from where the microphone has cut you." So for the entire five minutes I was up there I just had this single drop of blood down my face. So that was pretty bad. But I am a lot better at my job now.
During MICF, I really want to not suck. But all I can say is, people should get out and see as many shows as they can because it really is a great festival.
Venue: Malthouse Theatre, 113 Sturt Street, Southbank
Season: 30 March - 23 April | Tues - Sat 9.30pm, Sun 8:30pm
Length: 60 minutes
Tickets: $29 Full | $26 Conc | $24 Tightarse Tuesday and Preview
Bookings: MICF website