Fall into Darkness

This is the title of a horror film that Roxanne Benjamin is currently attached to as a director. It is a remake of a 2014 Spanish film called La Cueva (i.e. The Cave) which is also known as In Darkness We Fall. Before Fall into Darkness, Roxanne had been involved with another horror film project with darkness in the title. We Summon the Darkness is what she was advertising in the below photo for an interview on the Rue Morgue site circa August 2016. As for the cover, that was taken in July of that year when she attended Frontières Market in Montreal so as to pitch the film. While she was there, she pitched a Sci-Fi horror titled Mars Camp. In October of the previous year, the We Summon the Darkness screenplay was put on the blood list – the horror version of the black list: Hollywood’s favourite unproduced scripts. Compared to the finished version, the original screenplay was like McG’s The Babysitter but with less humour, more misogyny but with more emphasis on anti-religion. In August 2016, she said that they needed money to get the production off the ground. Two months beforehand, Christian Armogida tweeted: Roxanne is going to straight up slay this project by Alan Trezza. Can’t wait to get this out into the world!”

Christian was the main producer but he didn’t tweet about the film again until three years later when it was going to have its world premiere in Fantastic Fest circa September. In conjunction with her rox_anne_b account on Twitter, Roxanne used to have an account called roxanne73. The responses to her tweets on that still remain, but there’s only so much you can comprehend from reading half of the stories. For reasons that remain unknown, she was no longer the director of We Summon the Darkness. Christian and Roxanne are still friends. He even receives a “very special thanks” credit on her 2019 film, Body at Brighton Rock. On We Summon the Darkness, Roxanne is one of many people who “the producers wish to thank” despite the fact that screenwriter Alan Trezza didn’t mention her when interviewed about the history of the project. One of the people who received a similar “thanks” was Brittany Snow. She had already worked with two of the actors in past projects: Fridgeport (an animated feature with Tanner Beard) and Would You Rather (a horror film with Logan Miller).

The star of We Summon the Darkness, Alexandra Daddario, was born in the same month (March) and year (1986) as Brittany. These connections aren’t enough for these ladies to follow each other on social media. Alexandra didn’t attend either of the two U.S. film festival screenings. It’s not like she was distancing herself from it like Emma Watson did with Little Women. Alexandra did some plugging on social media, did a video chat with two of the stars, and some text interviews but she never did any TV interviews or attended any Q&A sessions as part of a panel. Her regal face aside, she’s not exactly known for putting on airs. She is credited as one of the main producers. Speaking of whom, this film must have broke some sort of record for the longest list of producers. When many are attached to a movie, it’s usually so as to lighten the load of financial burden. Alexandra has a high enough profile that carrying the load shouldn’t have been difficult for a small group of producers unless they needed more money to hire someone of her status.

Writer Alan Trezza had already written a film that co-starred Alexandra. This was Burying the Ex (2014), which had the same producer – Kyle Tekiela. So it seems like somebody owed someone a favour. Back to We Summon the Darkness, perhaps they had already shot the movie and needed more money to recast whoever had Alex’s role in the beginning – Brittany Snow or not. Either way, it’s wild to think that this movie was shot in 16 days starting with August 30, 2018. The rushed pace may have something to do with the fact that the film was reportedly scheduled to be shown at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, which ran from September 6 to 16. However, the official story is that Alexandra was cast in early September. It wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that the filmmakers may have done revisionist history so as to scrub the involvement of Roxanne and Brittany. Look at Jennifer Lawrence’s Causeway, whose Wikipedia page once made it look like the movie only began filming in 2021. Now, the page just abides by the deceitful omission policy.

Regardless of there being 36 producers (21 of whom are executive producers), there were just three songs that were licensed on the We Summon the Darkness soundtrack – only one of which is a heavy metal song. For a cheap movie about heavy metal, the producers could have paid an obscure band to compose the score. Actor Logan Miller is a metalhead, but he didn’t know anyone in the metal community who could score the film. In this June 2022 interview for Bulletproof Screenwriting, Alan Trezza talked about growing up in the `80s and being in a heavy metal band…but even he couldn’t contribute. In this May 2020 interview for Selling Your Screenplay, he specified that he used to be a drummer. In this April 2020 interview for Vulture, Alexandra Daddario mentioned that being one of the producers meant that she had more say. She could have been in a position to pull some strings so that there could be more metal songs. In this other April 2020 interview for Comic Book, she talks more about being a producer but not specifically what she brought to the table other than helping the project get off the ground. Nothing about salaries and resources.

Director Marc Meyers wasn’t much of a metalhead back in the day since he tended to listen to bands that were mainstream mainstays. When asked by Ashley Scott Meyers for Selling Your Screenplay, Alan Trezza didn’t have a satisfactory answer as to Johnny Knoxville was cast or why any of the other people were cast. The only thing close to a concrete answer is that the director was coming off the runaway success of his high school horror film, My Friend Dahmer (2017). Marc mentioned in this interview for Ain’t It Cool News that this indie hit had led to him being approached by the three main producers of We Summon the Darkness – Christian Armogida, Kyle Tekiela and Jarod Einsohn. Alan Trezza remembered that the first producer who he spoke to about his screenplay was Christian, who turned up to their lunch meeting wearing a Faith No More T-shirt. As for Christian’s directorial friend, Roxanne Benjamin, the closest thing to addressing her involvement is that five directors came and went. Two of those directors were a team, but the duo haven’t been identified.

According to Marc’s AICN interview, Johnny Knoxville was cast when the crew were already on location in Manitoba, Canada. In the weeks leading up to filming, the crew were in their Winnipeg office when Johnny wanted his management to call them to see if he could be cast. Johnny joined the set when they were midway through the 16 day shoot. If you’re going to make a movie in such a short time then you need to have thought through everything in pre-production. Jarringly, this interview for Borrowing Tape reveals that Marc was winging it when it came to blocking out the shots. In this 2020 interview for Coming Soon, Marc talks about looking to “find the movie within the footage” in the editing room. The problem with this assessment is that if you make a 90 minute movie during a shoot of 2 weeks and 2 days, there’s not much of a maze to sort through. Granted, many things can happen in a 90 minute movie except if the story is a simple one where you are not using that many locations. The movie mostly takes place in a house.

The production schedule has a distinct Hong Kong vibe in the sense that Marc Meyers had a quickie mentality. In his interview for World Film Geek, Marc let slip that he moved on to his next production rather hastily. Bear in mind what I said before about the film needing to be finished by mid-September of 2018, Marc claimed that he flew out to New York in that month. This is where he lives and where he began directing Human Capital two months later. In the article, he claims that it was All My Life which was filmed towards the end of 2018, but he got his titles mixed up because that was filmed in New Orleans in the following year. Again, if you’re rushing things then you’re going to make mistakes. There’s a 1972 Kung Fu movie called Queen Boxer, and it was filmed in 18 days but it has less goofs. There’s a 2001 horror movie called Scaremongers, and it was filmed in a week but it has less goofs. Both movies are Hong Kong movies. Quick movies should be made by people who already have the experience in making quick productions like TV shows where 45 minutes can be filmed in a week.

It may have seemed par for the course for Alexandra Daddario to be cast since the casting director was Michelle Lewitt, who cast her in Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief (2010). Alex didn’t have much money to cough up as a producer since the production relocated to Winnipeg due to the small budget. Roxanne Benjamin being excluded from the creative process brings to mind an irony that Marc disclosed in his interview for Bloody Good Horror. He claimed that he didn’t want the production to be a boy’s club, so he hired a female cinematographer in the form of Tarin Anderson. From left to right, the women in the below photo are Meredith Alloway, Jenn Wexler, Maria Reinup, Emma Tammi, Meredith Graves and Roxanne Benjamin. This photo was taken in March 2019. It would be poetic justice if Roxanne made a movie with Brittany Snow.

In late September 2017, Roxanne posted a long comment on her Facebook profile where she discussed her problems with the film industry: “Been having this debate lately – which I know many have – about the diversity of directors making the jump from the indie level to a studio level. One place I feel like there’s actually MORE opportunity in that regard is in genre because genre fans are the best, because they tend to value story and execution of tension with a willingness to overlook a certain lack of budgetary means. Because of that, first-time directors can actually get projects off the ground and have a chance to showcase that work on a larger stage, namely at film festivals. So, I started looking through the in-development listings of a well-known genre studio on IMDB this morning and – Huh. All of their almost 40 listed “in-development” projects have male directors. Well, those are probably all people they know, so, that’s probably ok, right?”

“I mean, this is an industry based on relationships, so you can’t fault that. They just must not get a lot of non-male directors coming in or submitting anything commercial. Okay, what about “in-production”? Oh. There’s one out of about 15, and it’s in a treatment phase. Well that’s something! There, that’s progress, right? And I mean, surely at least their past massive successes and huge catalogue had some….oh. Huh. 4. Of almost 50. And two of the 4 weren’t in their genre pipeline, they were docs. Well, hey! 5 out of 119 isn’t bad! Right? I mean, it’s not like a lot of genre films have been directed by women on the festival circuit in the last few years, so where would they look for that talent? Because it’s a “systemic problem” – but, you know, not THEIR system. It’s at a level before it gets to them. On a personal level, I’ll say this doesn’t affect me. Know why? Because I’m not surprised. This isn’t some huge revelation. It just IS.”

“And I don’t see it changing overnight – no matter the amount of hand-wringing and finger-pointing the media companies bluster through, nor the number of studies released, nor the number of posts like THIS VERY POST, nor the immeasurable amount of 140-character outrage expressed. But if I let it affect me, I’d give up. It’s just a bigger challenge – and presented with a greater challenge, I can only look at it as a future advantage. The longer it takes, the more prepared and experienced we’ll be when we DO get that opportunity for that bigger budget, that well-known franchise, or that studio film. Or hell even just that bigger budget for starters. So – to any aspiring filmmakers who feel this applies to them – I think the best way to beat these statistics is to keep creating. DON’T. GIVE. UP. The only failure is when we quit trying. And the more we all create, the less these excuses can be used to say there just aren’t any female creators out there.”


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