Fighting, fake blood and plenty of freak-outs: Cory Kays, a 2005 graduate of Nixa High School, recently won an award for ‘Best Lead Actor’ for his work in the 2019 horror film, “Straight Edge Kegger.”
The movie, according to IMDb, or the Internet Movie Database website, follows “a young punk and a houseful of drunks” as they square off against a gang of militant straight-edgers the main character’s left behind.
Kays, who played the starring role of Brad, was among three actors nominated for the award for Best Lead Actor. He was honored at the 10th Annual Horror Film Festival July 13, in Chicago.
“It’s a major honor for me,” Kays told the Christian County Headliner News. “I have worked very hard and made many sacrifices to pursue this dream. An honor like this is confirmation that I’m on the right path, which I appreciate so much.”
Kays told the Headliner News “Straight Edge Kegger” took about a year to film, beginning September 2017.
“‘Straight Edge Kegger’ was shot primarily over-night shoots, which meant a lot of staying up all night and wrapping for the day when the sun came up,” Kays said. “This was definitely a challenge, especially when we had daytime exterior scenes the following day.”
Kays’ other acting projects include 2018 movies “Looking for Andrew” and “Prodigy,” according to Headliner News archives. He began filming for “Straight Edge Kegger,” immediately after shooting “Prodigy.”
“I had to go from a father in his 30s, Erik in ‘Prodigy,’ to a young punk in his early 20s, Brad in ‘Straight Edge Kegger,’ in just a few days,” Kays said. “It was quite a challenge to jump in and out of such contrasting characters so quickly.”
Whereas “Prodigy” was could be classified as a religious film, “Straight Edge Kegger” is based on the straight edge subculture, a product of hardcore punk rock. Straight edge practicioners abstain from alcohol, tobacco and other recreational drugs. The straight edge lifestyle emerged during the 1980s, but by its second wave in the 90s, militant followers became more prominent. These straight-edgers followed a firm abstinence policy, further pushing for control over others through violence. It’s the same type of people Kays’ character battles in the film.
The actor’s IMDb profile lists additional roles, though the role of Brad in “Straight Edge Kegger” is perhaps among his most dark. The film includes loud music, violence, and—like most other horror movies—gore.
“Horror films can involve many close-up reaction shots, so you’re required to sell a lot of emotion without actually saying anything at times,” Kays said. “And most of the time, the audience sees what you don’t.”
Kays on his way
It isn’t Kays’ first time being recognized for his talents. His most recent award, in fact, was his third nomination for ‘Best Lead Actor.’
“The first two came at PDXtreme Film Fest in Portland, Oregon and Crimson Screen in Charleston, South Carolina,” Kays said. “My first nomination came from the performance in ‘Prodigy.’”
He was also recently nominated for ‘Best Hero’ and ‘Best On-Screen Duo’ with fellow actor Julian Alexander for his work in “Straight Edge Kegger” for GenreBlast Film Festival 2019 in Westchester, Virginia, to be held at the end of August.
“It’s been a pleasure getting to know and work with Cory, and he’s continued to be a champion for our flick as we make our way through the festival circuit,” writer and director for “Straight Edge Kegger” Jason Zink said in a press release. “We’re truly lucky to have him and I can’t wait to see what he does next.”
Kays says he’s currently preparing for a physically-demanding role. It will be shot in Asia.