Shadow Hill is a taut, atmospheric, psychological thriller which tells the compelling story of a 30-year-old woman, Marlin Vorona who is seemingly suffering from schizophrenia. As she deals with this, the lines between fact and fantasy begin to blur, as while she’s fighting the terror that lives within her mind, her younger sister, Patty and her friends are dealing with an evil spirit who has returned seeking vengeance.
In tribute to a master, and one of my cinematic inspirations, Alfred Hitchcock, as well as one of my favorite authors, Edgar Allen Poe, I want to uses touches of both their visual style (Alfred’s on screen; Edgar’s on the page) to take the audience into Marlin’s head. With a distinctive look defined between the real world in the film and that within Marlin’s head, over the course of the film, through subtle cinematic shifts in lighting and tone, the audience will come to question what is real and what is happening, whether Marlin’s reality, or the reality of Patty and her friends fighting for their lives, is in fact the truth or a lie – as such keeping them on the edge of their seats.
Just as a singer will take a classic song and alter it to supposedly “make it their own,” with Shadow Hill, both visual, tonally and atmospherically, I want to pay tribute to such films as The Birds, The Others, and to the mentally visual and striking words comprising Poe’s work, while at the same time adding in my own unique touches, making Shadow Hill “my own.”
Within the peaceful, serene confines of the rural haven of small town Shadow Hill, South Dakota, a nightmare is slowing brewing. As the brisk air of late October brings about a darker season, twenty-something loner Malin Vorona battles her own inner demons. Unable to avoid the signs of impending doom, this troubled young woman knows in her heart that the inevitable is about to begin.
Dr. Elias Clark, her long-time, dedicated psychiatrist attempts to find the key to healing Malin of a life of horrendous abuse, although Malin believes that this problem is not in her mind. Her unsettling worlds of reality and fantasy are blending together increasingly day by day. Desperately trying to continue a normal existence through her worries, she engages in her typical routine and goes to work at her position as housekeeper and nanny for well-to-do widower John Annington and his lovable eight year-old daughter Adele.
Meanwhile, Malin’s teenage sister Patty does her best to console her troubled boyfriend Reilly Wendt, who has become obsessed with an urban legend surrounding the Kilian house – an abandoned rural property across town with a dark and mysterious history. Their plans at the property are quickly disrupted by a trio of classmate bullies led by the military-fixated town spoiled brat Byron Unger.
The confrontation between the disgruntled teens becomes the background to more visitors on the lonesome estate grounds, including the sassy and smooth local realtor Lexa Hoffman and her protégé Darris Donnelly, a transplant from Des Moines. Observing the entire impromptu gathering from a family farm across the way is the wise, older Otto Slade, a local Native American with a vast knowledge of the spiritual world that will soon be needed greatly.
That same night, Malin’s worst fears and intuitions finally come true as her beloved younger sister Patty and the group of eclectic locals at the Kilian property find themselves trapped inside the ominous house, threatened by a powerful supernatural force that has returned from the grave. Inside their fragile refuge, the clan of unlikely personalities struggles to coexist and work together in order to find the truth and survive the night. As terror builds and options dwindle, the worlds of reality and fantasy seem no longer distinguishable, leaving the audience questioning what is real and what is not.