An new independent movie screening in Winston-Salem this weekend features several scene shot in Walnut Cove and Rural Hall.
The film, Sunset Edge, by filmmaker Daniel Peddle, is a southern Gothic tinged coming of age story located in an abandoned trailer park near Winston Salem.
The director describes the film as a Hitchcockian mash-up that upends teenage horror films.
“On a lazy afternoon, we follow four aimless suburban teenagers as they explore the ruins of an uninhabited trailer park,” he said. “As the unsuspecting teens find escape and companionship in this ghost town turned amusement park, a lonesome boy lurks amongst them, unearthing clues to his horrific past. Haunting, repressed memories resurface in the form of dreams, flashbacks and epiphanies as the boy attempts to reclaim his childhood home. Meanwhile the thrill-seeking kids get lost in the remnants and shadows of this long forgotten place. Ultimately both stories collide, catapulting all the players to an unforeseen destiny.”
Peddle, who grew up in the area, said part of the inspiration for the for the film came from family trips into stokes county tracking down ghost stories.
“Much of my inspiration still comes from my childhood where I freely roamed all the local fields, farms and woods,” he said. “This had a huge impact on my life. I found my solace in nature, sketching and taking photos. I worked as a stable boy for a few years and always loved animals. At a very early age, I became close to a lot of the old farmers and local widows and started documenting their “dying traditions”. Sunset Edge incorporates many of the visuals of my youth. On some levels the film also demonstrates how someone might become an artist through isolation. This film really explores so much about the South. It upends all the stereotypes of what a rural Southern person is.”
Peddle said that while the main film is based in an abandoned trailer park, he shot a number of scenes in Rural Hall and Walnut Cove areas as establishing shots to create a sense of a rural landscape.
“It was the area we would go to when we needed really lush iconic country scenery,” he said. “We focused a lot on Payne Road because it is known locally as a haunted road. It has recently been renamed Edwards Road, I believe. In a nutshell the ghost stories stems from the Lawson Murders on Christmas Day in 1929 near that vicinity. There is a bridge in the area where legend has it your car will stall when you cross it. We wanted to integrate in this area because our film also deals with a family murder and so it was just cool to have that extra layer of meaning, though likely very few people will make this connection.”
The film was shot in November of 2013 in the effort to create a more foreboding feeling from the landscape. Peddle said he had some challenges working out shooting locations, but eventually used his southern accent to sweet-talk landowners into agreeing to let them shoot on the properties.
In the film Peddle manipulates time and linearity to create a gripping, layered story. Using only available natural light, he doesn’t rely on special effects or gore to enhance the drama or tension. The sparse dialogue gives his characters a natural quality, permitting the audience the vantage point of unseen observer.
“When I discovered Sunset Edge, an abandoned trailer park in the rural South, I knew right away I had found the ‘stage for my play,’” he said. “That fated day, I was with my fifteen year old nephew, Jacob and a couple of his life-long buddies, Will and Blaine who skateboarded and poked about. Their frail adolescence against the rotting remains at sunset was so rich with creepy possibility and graphic urgency.
“We made this film with a skeleton crew, nearly no budget, and with a cast of locals having no previous professional acting experience,” he added. “Yet what we were missing in resources, we made up with ingenuity, talent, and what seemed like some sort of magic. Sunset Edge is a kind of Southern Gothic Graphic Novel preferring symbolic language to dialogue. A twisted plot reveals itself through dreamscapes and memories and lingers in your subconscious. For me the story was disturbingly personal but I feel the film’s timely themes of self-discovery amidst destruction and violence will touch many.”
Sunset Edge is showing at Aperture Cinema in Winston-Salem one night only on Sunday, Aug. 2, at 7:30 p.m. followed by question and answer session with Peddle. The movie will also be showing in Charlotte at the Regal Ballantyne Village Stadium 5 until Aug. 6. It opened in select theatres on May 29. For more information visit www.sunsetedgefilm.com.
Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.