"The Girl in the Cornfield" is a feature-length, low budget horror film by independent production company "Shady Dawn Pictures". It was released to the public on Friday, May 13th, 2016.
"One of the best horror films I've watched in a long time," one viewer in Texas commented after a private screening. Another viewer tweeted, "Without knowing what to expect, I came creeped out and thankful."
Best friends Heather and Corrine are on their way home around midnight with Heather's little sister Tiffany in the backseat. When Heather begins to fall asleep at the wheel she doesn't see a figure in a white dress stumbling onto the road until it's too late. After a vicious impact, they exit the car to help but the woman has vanished, leaving behind only a trail of blood. Unable to find her, the friends decide to report it to the police and return home.
But that night both of them realize that someone or something has followed them and its intentions are far more horrific than they could've imagined.
Director Ryan Callaway and his wife Amy spent the first half of 2015 producing a film based on Ryan's novel, "The Yearly Harvest". The couple had a baby girl (Adeline Cadence) in January 2016 and had planned to focus on promoting "The Yearly Harvest" until after she was born instead of filming anything new. So what spurred the production of a second film?
From the Director:
After 8 months of working on The Yearly Harvest, I was looking forward to a break but thanks to my wife and co-producer Amy, I had another story I was excited to explore.
Last September we took a vacation in Lancaster, PA and there was a big cornfield behind our hotel. We like to entertain ourselves by driving down dark, spooky roads so that night we parked behind the building. At some point she mentioned a girl in the cornfield. I looked but it was dark, and huge, so I didn't see anyone. She goes, "you don't see her?" I'm straining my eyes but I don't. She pointed and said "she's right there!" I looked... the car was quiet... and then Amy screamed and scared the hell out of me. Had to give her props for that.
But that cruel prank stuck in my head, particularly because with my imagination I was seeing a woman in a white dress walking through the stalks. So a year later I knew I wanted to do something with it. Thus giving birth to this film.
The Girl in the Cornfield filmed primarily in New Jersey, with the cornfield scenes shot in one of the Garden States' many haunted corn maizes, "The Cornfield of Terror" at R and J Farm in Egg Harbor City, NJ.
Although The Yearly Harvest starred Tiffany Browne-Tavarez and Linda McLaughlin, two actresses Ryan has worked with extensively in the past, he cast two new actresses in the leading roles for "Cornfield". Newcomer Briana Aceti stars as Heather Morris, with Madeline Lupi as her younger sister, Tiffany. Tina Duong plays Corrine, the supportive best friend. Madeline, 12, was nominated for Best Performance in a Short film at the 2015 Young Artists Awards for her work in "Milkshake".
"It was a bit of a risk casting two actresses I'd never worked with before in leading roles," Ryan said, "but it paid off. They were both terrific, which I expected from Tina considering her experience, but for Briana's first gig the script asked a lot of her - crying, screaming, and all the usual that goes along with horror films. And she delivered. Madeline had a small role in The Yearly Harvest but she was such a pleasure to work with and one of the most talented actresses I've seen, so I wrote the character of Tiffany specifically for her."
Tiffany Browne-Tavarez does make an appearance as a tenacious reporter, and Victoria Guthrie also plays the adoptive mother of Corrine.
The role of the mysterious title character "The Girl in the Cornfield" went to Mollie Sperduto, an entertainment professional Ryan met on the set of "The Yearly Harvest". She appeared in a scene as an extra and reminded the director of Ashley Bell's character in "The Last Exorcism." "I knew I had to do something with that resemblance in the future, so when this script came about Mollie was the first person I thought of. She has a very distinct, classical look, that I think suites this type of character perfectly. And as for the scary aspect, I rarely get creeped out on the set - in editing all the time - but virtually never on the set. Once in a while though I'd get so caught up in what I was seeing through the lens with Mollie that it threw me off my game. And hopefully our audience will have the same experience."
Original music for the movie was provided by Pig7 and Matthew Lo Re'.
Pig7 are an experimental, improv electronics duo formed by Stuart Fisher (aka Genghis Attenborough) and Kevin Poulton in 2006. Their music can be described as soundscape, dronescape, filmatic, ambient horror, spacerack, hambient, sconescrape, stonecrop with a hint of Cronenburg.
Matthew Lo Re' is a composer/musician who works out of the New Jersey/Philadelphia and New York area. He studied privately under Pat Martino and Alex Domschot and is now a part time music teacher himself. Lo Re' worked with Boy George and Kevan Frost also known as Jamiroquai. He also played guitar for the Dave Miller band at the Pontiac Grille in Philadelphia, PA and various other venues.
"The Girl in the Cornfield" marks Lo Re's sixth collaboration with Director Ryan Callaway. Their past work includes "The Yearly Harvest", "Cursed 3: Rulers of the Darkness" and "The Diabolical" (which is on the slate to be remade in the next few years).
"The composer is almost always the first person I hire on my productions," Ryan said. "The importance of a solid, fitting score can't be understated. I've seen a number of decent horror films that were brought down a notch or two because the music just didn't do them justice. So for me, it's vital to have the right music.
"I've worked with Matthew Lo Re' a lot over the years, to the point that I consider these our films. It's always a fun process, and we do a lot of back and forth, discussing characters and themes and the like. My films always, hopefully, have a lot going on as far as character development and relationships in addition to the spooky stuff and Matt is perfect in bringing that out. I still think his score to 'The Diabolical' is one of the best scores I've heard, period. We're planning to remake that movie because it could've been better, and his music is probably the only thing that's going to be carried over. And deservedly so.
"As for Pig7, I used some of their pre-existing music in 'The Diabolical', 'The Yearly Harvest' and again here in this film. They have a unique sound that's hard to describe. In the other two films I used pieces of music in the temp score for scenes that needed a mysterious, really melancholy sound. I fell in love with those pieces to the point that I had to ask permission to use them in the final cuts. For 'The Girl in the Cornfield', I requested that they could put together music based on the trailer and concept of the film. They didn't disappoint and it was an honor to have someone whose music I was a big fan of actually make something specifically for my film."
For the additional sound design and soundtrack contributions, Ryan relied on The Freesound Project, a website that contains a vast array of sound effects and musical samples.
Madeline Lupi as Tiffany Morris
Director Ryan Callaway with Briana Aceti
Tina Duong as Corrine / Tiffany Browne-Tavarez as Virginia