Rachel Bloom knows a thing or two about playing an obsessive spurned lover, thanks to three seasons of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. But in the mystery-comedy Most Likely to Murder, her debut film, she’s the object of affection.
Bloom plays Kara, the high school sweetheart of Billy (Adam Pally, of Happy Endings), who returns to their small hometown intent on turning his life around after screwing up adulthood with a failed nightclub business. Billy, though, isn’t just trying to get back in Kara’s good graces — he’s also attempting to prove that Kara’s new boyfriend, former high school outcast Lowell (Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser), is behind a local murder. (Yeah, it’s twisted.)
Helmed by first-time director (and Bloom’s husband) Dan Gregor and written by Gregor and Doug Mand (the pair have worked together on episodes of How I Met Your Mother and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend), the film examines what it’s like after the best years of your life as a teenager have gone by and you’re struggling to stay on top however you can, even if it means going after your old target.
“It’s about people trying to start fresh,” Bloom tells EW. “It’s about one person in the past who comes back into this town, is trying to drag everyone who’s moved on from him back to where he is. It’s weird because he’s the protagonist, but in many ways he’s the villain of the movie.”
In other words, Billy is not only trying to recapture his glory days, but also trying to forget that he screwed everything up for himself after he left. It’s a concept Pally says drew the filmmakers to crafting the story in the first place. “I think a lot of people feel like, ‘Yeah, I left my small town in the dust, and now I’m coming back to it,’ and then when they get there, they’re like, ‘Oh no, my life was good here. I was lofty,’” Pally says. “That, I think, was the gist of the idea.”
Still, does the small town of Valley Stream, Long Island, really need a major homecoming and a murder mystery? Both Bloom and Pally call the film a “comedy noir,” and point out that mixing the two genres gave them room to play with the dark humor inherent in adulthood. “I think we’re able to be a little more ambiguous about whether or not I am really the hero of the story,” Pally says. Besides, he jokes, “I think we came up with this when we were obsessed with Serial.”
“Billy’s fixation on the murder plot is a fixation with his own past,” Bloom adds. “If he can prove this murder plot is true, everyone will love him. What he’s trying to do is reach back to the past, whereas my character is only reaching towards the future and resents being dragged back towards the past in this plot.” In other words, this might as well be called Crazy Ex-Boyfriend.
Below, EW has an exclusive first look at Bloom and Pally in a scene from the film:
Most Likely to Murder will make its world premiere at SXSW, and will be released May 1 on Digital and On Demand.