Horror film being shot at locations across state

By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

NORTH BRANFORD – Rain beat down and lightning flashed outside an open door as 10-year-old Cailin Dendas sat in a cellar next to a man’s “head” that had been sliced in half at the eyes.

Cailin’s eyes grew red and puffy as a special effects artist applied diseased boils to her face, readying the Branford girl for her scene in “Plague Town,” an independent horror movie being filmed in locations throughout Connecticut. The bloody head was a model of another actor’s head and shoulders.

Thursday evening, a farmhouse on Old Post Road in North Branford was transformed into an Irish country cottage as part of the shoot.

Daryl Tucker, a Guilford native and a producer on the movie, said he has been scouting locations all over the state for about two years to try to recreate the Irish countryside, where the movie takes place. Tucker’s daughter, Sierra, 8, also was on set Thursday, playing another girl afflicted with plague.

“It’s a film about a family of Americans going back to the old country to search for their roots, and they stumble upon a town where everyone is not what they seem,” Tucker said. “We’re trying to replicate Ireland in Connecticut, so we had to move around. There’s certain aspects in all the locations we’ve found that approximate Ireland, but no one place would give us everything we need.”

Tucker, who now lives in Haddam, said that Connecticut’s recently implemented tax credit for movies encouraged the producers to film in the state. Scenes for the movie have been shot in towns including Kent, Meriden, Durham and Middlefield.

The movie’s director, David Gregory, and Tucker first met at Emerson College in Boston and have worked on several films together. However, this is their first feature-length film.

Tucker described the director as a “horror film aficionado.” The movie already has a distributor, MPI Media Group in Chicago, and should be released sometime between next summer and Halloween.

The filming Thursday night involved a classic horror movie scene: A stranded traveler in an isolated spot goes looking for assistance and ends up regretting his decision.

“We took an old, abandoned structure on farmland and we turned it into the interior of an Irish cottage,” Tucker said. “We’re going to be shooting a scene where one of the main leads in the film, a male, enters the cottage looking for someone to help him because they’re lost, and he finds two children in there and mayhem ensues.”

The weather was cooperating Thursday night in providing an eerie, dark atmosphere. Most of the filming was taking place inside the farmhouse, where set designers had arranged creeping ivy and laid down boards on the dirt floor , but the weather would provide a good backdrop, Tucker said.

“I’m sure we’ll take advantage of the rain on the roof,” he said.

Surveying the set on the second-to-last day of filming, Tucker called making the movie “a dream come true.”

“I grew up in Guilford and always wanted to make movies,” he said. “Like with most things, it all just kind of came together. … It’s the fulfillment of a life’s aspiration to get something done like this.”

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