'Darkness Waits' premieres Saturday at Waynesboro Theatre
WAYNESBORO, Pa. — Move over Hollywood, Waynesboro is rolling out the red carpet for the public premiere of “Darkness Waits,” an independent film made by Waynesboro couple Libby McDermott and Matthew Stahley.
“It feels great to make a movie in my hometown. I had a lot of help from people I have known here for many years or grew up with. It’s a good feeling when longtime friends or acquaintances support you and your dreams,” said Stahley, who was the cinematographer on the film.
The horror/thriller/comedy, and a follow-up to the couple’s 2013 cult favorite “Dead Woman’s Hollow,” will premiere on Saturday, Aug. 17, at 10 p.m. at the Waynesboro Theatre.
Tickets are $15 plus a $2.55 fee and can be purchased exclusively on Eventbrite.
The film is a production of Libmatic Films (which is a play on Libby and Matt’s names), along with Colorfully Dark Productions.
Before the showing, the public is invited to a free meet and greet with cast and crew from 8 to 9:30 p.m. at Music Makers, 46 W. Main St., Waynesboro.
Bill Kohler, director of economic development for Mainstreet Waynesboro, who is helping to promote the local film said Saturday’s premiere is a once in a lifetime opportunity to walk the red carpet and help support local artists.
“We’re excited that Waynesboro Theatre was able to be the site of a movie that was shot in Waynesboro by Waynesboro people. It’s just cool to see something that you don’t get to see very often — a movie filmed in your town showing at your town’s movie theater,” Kohler said.
The film is a five-year labor of love for McDermott, who directed the movie, and Stahley.
“Come see the show to support local artists. Their support helps other artists, musicians and filmmakers in the area know that they have a local platform to showcase their work which small towns like Waynesboro need to help build their artistic and creative communities. It can encourage those artists not to give up on their dreams,” Stahley said.
The movie is a spinoff of “Dead Woman’s Hollow,” but McDermott said you didn’t have to see the first movie to enjoy “Darkness Waits.”
“It can stand on its own,” she said.
If you have seen the first movie, McDermott said you’ll recognize some familiar faces from the first movie that will return for the second one.
The new film follows five college students who embark on a paranormal investigation of Dead Woman’s Hollow Road, a hub of mysterious deaths and strange phenomena along the Appalachian Trail. The probe turns deadly when people in their camp begin dying. For those still alive, their only hope for survival is a wet behind the ears sheriff who must come to terms with the fact that the darkness surrounding his quiet town isn’t supernatural, but evil that’s very real, according to a news release from Libmatic Films.
Greencastle native Waylon K. Smith is reprising his role as wet behind the ears Deputy Sherriff Buck Rogers for the new film.
He met McDermott and Stahley through a friend and was shocked by the quality films the local couple was turning out.
“I’ve always been a fan of movies, but it seemed like something impossible for normal people (to be a part of), and then I see these people in Waynesboro making these great movies and I thought ‘Wow, this is amazing,’” he said.
Smith said the movie captures the beauty of Waynesboro.
“I think people are going to appreciate the movie. When you grow up in a town, it’s easy for the town to disappear because you see it all the time. But when you look at it through an artist’s eye with Matt (Stahley) or Libby (McDermott), I think you’ll see the area in a new light,” Smith said.
Smith also wrote the song “Darkness Waits,” that will play during opening credits for the film.
While McDermott would love to see the film shown in theaters all over the world, her motivation for making the movie was a personal one.
“For me, it’s storytelling. A way to capture life and moments around me — and to make my whole world a part of what I love,” she said.
Shooting in their town, just made sense for the couple.
“The town is beautiful and ever since I saw the clock tower for the first time, I just wanted to capture it. So, I had to capture it,” she said.
Filming took place in many local spots around town like Mathias Restaurant, which closed last year after decades in business, the Waynesboro Borough Hall and locations in Michaux State Forest.
“You will definitely recognize Waynesboro (in the film),” said McDermott.
The film is rated R for sexual content and brief nudity. No one under 18 will be admitted to the theater, without a parent or guardian present, she said.
After the film’s premiere, McDermott will shop the movie at film festivals hoping to share it with a wider viewing audience.
Top photo: “Darkness Waits” director Libby McDermott and her husband and cinematographer Matthew Stahley, both of Waynesboro, Pa., standing in front of the Waynesboro Theatre. (Photo by David Mackley)