Movie starring convicted killer to premiere in Ashland
An independent horror film starring a real life killer is about to premiere in Southern Oregon.
“From the Dark,” a film thrust into the national spotlight because of the lead actress’ real life homicide case, will debut early next month at a special event at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland.
The film stars Aisling Tucker Moore Reed, credited under the stage name Wyn Reed and also known as Tucker Reed, who is in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughterin the June 2016 shooting death of her maternal uncle.
The film gained attention last year after a Washington Post story that said, “An actress shot an attacker in a horror flick. Then, the crew discovered she’s charged in her uncle’s real-life killing.”
For Matt and Trinity Spickard of Grants Pass, the father and daughter who spent four years making “From the Dark,” news stories about Reed are both a blessing and a curse.
“It’s hard to be excited about all the attention because of the reason for it,” Matt Spickard said.
“It kind of stole the light from what we were trying to do by this thing that was totally out of our control,” Trinity Spickard said.
In the film, Reed plays Valerie Faust, a tour guide on her last day at a “rural mountain lodge and cave attraction” whose friends begin turning up missing during the character’s going away party.
Before the project was ensnared in Reed’s legal circumstances, Matt Spickard said it was supposed to be his “head start on a midlife crisis.”
He said that buying a couple of Panasonic documentary cameras and renting the Chateau at the Oregon Caves for a week was safer than getting a motorcycle, and it was a way to bond with his teenage daughter.
“I wanted to just showcase our local talent, the beauty of Southern Oregon and just do something crazy and actually finish it,” Matt Spickard said.
They worked with script writer Justin Talbot and others they met through community theater at Barnstormers in Grants Pass to create a suspenseful “stage play in movie format.”
The Spickards said they had no knowledge of Reed’s circumstances — or even her real name — when she auditioned for the lead role after an open casting call on Facebook.
She had “wonderful credentials” in the Medford and Ashland areas, and even had a Wikipedia page, they said. There wasn’t much competition for the role.
“Quite frankly we didn’t have a lot of options,” Matt Spickard said.
The film wrapped production in the fall of 2018, while Reed was out on bail on pending manslaughter charges, but just before she was rearrested on a murder charge.
On Jan. 4, 2019, Matt Spickard attended Reed’s court hearing in which the prosecutor presented video Reed had taken of the shooting of her uncle. Matt Spickard said Reed had described the footage as something that would exonerate her, but he left the hearing disappointed.
“It was such a gross exaggeration,” he said. “I really didn’t know what to think.”
The Spickards debated what to do with their footage. Because of Reed’s central role in the film, they couldn’t edit her out without starting over.
“It’s been so stressful and so straining on the production company’s wellbeing,” Trinity Spickard said.
They ultimately decided to release the film after Reed’s criminal case was resolved. Reed is serving a 75-month prison sentence after pleading guilty in May to second-degree manslaughter.
The remaining cast and crew are gearing up for the film’s premiere at a special event set for 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 2, at the Varsity Theatre in Ashland. Other screenings are scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 3, in Ashland and Grants Pass. Advance tickets are $10, and no tickets will be sold at the door. See Eventbrite links to the screenings at siskiyoupro.com/films or Siskiyou Productions’ Facebook page.
Trinity Spickard said they’re in talks with distributors to release the film on digital platforms in early January.
A Dateline NBC special about Reed’s homicide case, “A Killer Role,” has not aired yet. It was supposed to premiere Friday, Oct. 2, but the program was interrupted by live news coverage of the president’s COVID-19 hospitalization.