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Exclusive comments & photos, plus teaser & poster: A new slasher stalks the “DEATHWOODS”

Friday, February 23, 2024 | Uncategorized


He’s looking to carve out his own niche in the regional horror scene.

DEATHWOODS, which gets rolling in July near Nashville, Tennessee, is the latest fright feature to be helmed by a special makeup artist, in this case Deryk Wehrley, who is co-directing with Jake Kopronica. Wehrley, whose effects credits include FEAR CLINIC, CRUEL SUMMER and the upcoming CRUST, is also creating the gore for DEATHWOODS, which was scripted by Scott Conner and Kopronica. Conner is producing with Jaren Lewis, and the cast includes Kopronica, Felissa Rose, L.C. Holt (YOU’RE NEXT), Ice Nine Kills guitarist Miles Dimitri Baker, Celeste Blandon, MacKenzie Lee, Anna Clary and Jessa Flux. The synopsis: “Twenty years ago, a tragic event left a small Tennessee town in shock. Legends about that night and the horrific truth haunt the town and its surrounding area to this day. Ignoring the local legends, a group of friends embark on a camping trip to those very woods. One by one, they’re torn to pieces as they’re forced to face the ghosts of the past.”

Wehrley previously created the gore for the DEATHWOODS teaser trailer seen below. “It was a little bit crazy,” he tells RUE MORGUE, “because we had to film everything in two days due to scheduling. I had just gotten back from a shoot in New Jersey, landed in Ohio and then immediately turned around and drove down to Nashville to film. I was definitely able to achieve the look and feel we wanted for the practical effects. When we finished, I believed we had created something really fun, something I knew people would truly like. When I was approached about co-directing the feature, it was something I had to hop onto. I mean, I’ve been doing makeup for like 12 years now–it’s my bread and butter, it was my foot in the door–but at the end of the day, I’ve always wanted to direct. What a scenario: to be directing a film that I’m also creating all the special effects makeup for!”

“My involvement on the project was a bit fortuitous,” Starks says. “Jessa Flux and I had been talking on social media due to a post I made about producing a different film, and she made the remark that one day, she and I would work together. Almost immediately after that, Scott Conner reached out, asking me about producing DEATHWOODS. I was already aware of the project and had seen that teaser trailer, which was absolutely fantastic. The slasher subgenre is my favorite, always has been, so it was an easy decision. Plus, I love collaborating on exciting and fun projects, especially when it’s obvious the filmmakers have a clearcut vision. The exploitation approach for this project in particular brought to mind Eli Roth’s original THANKSGIVING trailer from GRINDHOUSE. Serving as an executive producer on DEATHWOODS will be a blast. It has a fun story, a solid lineup of onscreen deaths and a very cool-looking masked killer. With NEW FEARS EVE nearly completed and my involvement with THE BOY FROM BELOW [track back through our coverage starting here], DEATHWOODS marks the third slice-and-dice film I’m producing in 2024. As a slasher fan, it’s very exciting.”

“It was kind of funny,” Wehrley adds, “because P.J. and I had been talking for about a week just about filmmaking in general. He and I have worked with a lot of the same people, but our paths had never really crossed before, so it’s very exciting to have the opportunity to work with him on this crazy grindhouse slasher. I am really looking forward to this collaboration.”

An Indiegogo campaign launches today for DEATHWOODS; you can check it out here.


Michael Gingold
Michael Gingold (RUE MORGUE's Head Writer) has been covering the world of horror cinema for over three decades, and in addition to his work for RUE MORGUE, he has been a longtime writer and editor for FANGORIA magazine and its website. He has also written for BIRTH.MOVIES.DEATH, SCREAM,, TIME OUT, DELIRIUM, MOVIEMAKER and others. He is the author of the AD NAUSEAM books (1984 Publishing) and THE FRIGHTFEST GUIDE TO MONSTER MOVIES (FAB Press), and he has contributed documentaries, featurettes and liner notes to numerous Blu-rays, including the award-winning feature-length doc TWISTED TALE: THE UNMAKING OF "SPOOKIES" (Vinegar Syndrome).