CHELMSFORD -- A lonely guy without friends or family around the holidays is invited to Christmas dinner by a sweet, new girl at work.

What could go wrong?

Well, a whole lot -- when he finds out that he is on the menu.

That's the premise behind "Mercy Christmas," an independent horror-comedy film from Gravitas Ventures and No Mercy Pictures released earlier this week starring Chelmsford native Casey O'Keefe.

"It does start off as your sweet girl-next-door role, and then it turns to sheer sociopath," O'Keefe said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where she's lived for the last six years. "I had fun with that."

O'Keefe, 30, plays the seemingly innocent and endearing Cindy, who Michael, played by Steven Hubbell, invites to a Christmas party at his house.

Chelmsford native Casey O Keefe, who stars as Cindy in  Mercy Christmas,  an independent horror-comedy film released by Gravitas Ventures and No Mercy
Chelmsford native Casey O Keefe, who stars as Cindy in Mercy Christmas, an independent horror-comedy film released by Gravitas Ventures and No Mercy Pictures Nov. 28. The movie is available ondemand on several cable TV and streaming services. COURTESY PHOTO
No one else shows up, so the two get to know one another and seem to really hit it off.

When Cindy learns he has no one to spend the holiday with, she invites Michael to her family's Christmas dinner. What begins as a romantic comedy quickly turns dark, when it becomes clear Cindy has other plans: she's going to feed him to her family of cannibals.

O'Keefe, a 2005 graduate of Chelmsford High School, got her start in the school's theater program. She went on to study theater arts performance at Hofstra University, where she earned her bachelor of fine arts in 2009.

In 2011, she decided to move to California to pursue her dream of being a film and TV actress.


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Since then, she's held a number of roles in independent films and TV shows, including episodes of "2 Broke Girls," "Grandfathered" and "The Young and the Restless."

O'Keefe said her role in "Mercy Christmas" was one of her favorites.

"It was fun to have a role that gave me lot to sink my teeth into, a well-written, strong female character," she said.

Twelve-plus-hour days on set can be long and grueling, but O'Keefe said she never got bored with this film, and the days flew by.

She said one of her favorite scenes to shoot was when the hostages fight back against the cannibals. She and actress Whitney Neilsen, playing Katherine, a hostage, battle it out.

"We had a stunt coordinator and a fight choreographer guiding us, but we were really fighting," O'Keefe said. "I was sore for like three days after. It was a lot of fun to film."

She said she loved having the opportunity work with Hubbell and Ryan and Beth Nelson, who wrote and directed the film.

The movie was released Tuesday on Video on Demand on several major TV platforms, including Comcast, Verizon Fios, DirecTV and Dish Network. It is also available on iTunes, Google Play, YouTube, Amazon Video on Demand, Microsoft, PlayStation, Vudu, Vimeo and Fandango Now.

For more information about the movie and O'Keefe, visit www.mercychristmasmovie.com and www.casey-okeefe.com.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.