Nat Faxon and Jim Rash Dare You to Enter the ‘Dead Mall’
For the vast majority of pop-culture consumers, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash are little more than the sort of distinctive character actors that make you go “It’s that guy!” when they appear onscreen. Rash earned himself a bit of cult adoration as the extravagantly pansexual Dean Craig Pelton on Community and Faxon played the lead in the short-lived but better-than-you’d-have-thought sitcom Ben and Kate. In actuality, however, they’re the fabulously successful screenwriting team who won the Academy Award in 2011 for adapting The Descendants and then won over crowds at Sundance two years later with their coming-of-age comedy The Way Way Back. They’re on a level of distinct talent wherein their mere involvement with a project is enough to generate excitement among movie types.
And so today’s announcement from Deadline that the Rash-Faxon dynamic duo has taken on a new film arrives awash with anticipation for another lived-in comedy probably steeped in its own sense of place, following The Descendants’ affectionate depiction of Honolulu and the small-town Americana of The Way Way Back. Their new project has been revealed to be Dead Mall, a horror-comedy that retains the faceless suburban sprawl of their previous script. The dead mall phenomenon has cropped up in declining towns across America during recent years, wherever dipping numbers in foot traffic have led to a chain-reaction collapse for the stores that lease space in the mall. These hollowed-out complexes are weirdly haunting, fading monuments to capitalism and vulgarity, and they’ll make the perfect setting for the slasher game of cat-and-mouse Faxon and Rash have in mind. It’s worth noting that a precedent for this concept was previously seen in Dawn of the Dead, which also claimed a vacant mall as the site of a grisly showdown (albeit with zombies, while it sounds like Faxon and Rash’s script will focus on a single murderous stalker). Malls are scary enough as it is, what with all the pre-teens, and pudgy cops riding around on Segways. A dead mall, though? That’s a whole new set of horrors.