Known for his work on “Eastbound and Down,” Steve Little takes the lead in “The Catechism Cataclysm,” a delightfully twisted horror-comedy from writer-director Todd Rohal. The film follows a bumbling Catholic priest (Little) who uses his forced sabbatical to track down a high school hero (Robert Longstreet) and take him camping. Naturally, all hell breaks loose. Little spoke with Metro about making the film, playing a priest and avoiding audience expectations.
While nothing terribly shocking happens for a lot of the movie, it’s shot through with horror movie cues.
I did think of it as a horror movie. It helped to always think that there’s going to be this heavy metal music throughout the movie — like when I was acting in it, before the music was made or whatever. At one of these Q&As someone raised their hand and was like, “I didn’t know it was going to be a horror movie.” The director, Todd Rohal, kind of thinks that’s like life. At the end of you’re life, you’re like, “Oh, I didn’t know this was a horror movie.” You know?
It does give you a great sense of dread going through the movie.
Yeah. Like, you know, a lighthearted priest to the letter character, and just that heavy metal going through. Heavy metal with a canoe and nature, it’s a nice weird mix. It was shot for really low-budget. One thing I like about it is for something that’s shot that low, it’s not, like, three guys in a room. We’re on this canoe, and these guys had to rig up contraptions to connect the raft to the canoe in order to get the shots. But it’s pretty out-there.
Have you gotten any flack for focusing your story on a not terribly bright priest?
It is a Catholic priest movie, but it is not what most people think of that. They think, “Oh, it’s making fun of Catholic priests.” I don’t think it’s like that, I think it’s just this guy who’s a goofball. I mean it’s funny because it’s sort of about a character that’s lost his faith and then goes on this adventure and finds it. I mean, I had discussions with Todd where we were like, “What are we trying to say here?” or “What’s going on in this scene?” And at times it felt like we were making a movie like a Kirk Cameron movie. Like, “Yes! That’s exactly right.”
Given the sinister tone of the movie, I was worried your character might snap at some point.
Yeah, I thought of Kathy Bates in “Misery,” where she’s using words like goofball and silly-billy or whatever, but then she smacks his legs across or whatever. I guess that’s a good thing, that you don’t know if my character is going to go nuts or whatever. Sweethearts go nuts too, I guess.
So what do you want the audience to take away from “the Catechism Cataclysm”?
That’s an interesting thing. We had some screenings and then I’d do a Q&A with Todd, the director, and the first question will be, “What was that about?” And Todd kind of laughs. He had a good quote where he said, “Well, you don’t listen to a Radiohead record and then go up to Thom Yorke and go, ‘Hey, what was it about?’” You make your own sort of judgments or take what you will from it. And even while doing it, I didn’t really have any thoughts like, ‘Oh I hope the audience gets this out of it or this out of it.’ It was more just like I hope they have a good time and I hope they enjoy it, and I hope they laugh, but I didn’t really have a goal. I guess I can’t control an audience’s reaction, really, so I try not to think of anything like that.