The open mic that is YouTube has given birth to its fair share of influential film critics in the last decade, but few have ever made the sideways transition into becoming mass-market filmmakers. Chris Stuckmann, on the other hand, aims to be the exception, as the prolific online film critic and filmmaker has long labored toward turning his personal brand into a launching pad for a directorial career. That film will be Shelby Oaks, an indie horror film that raised more than $1.39 million on Kickstarter, becoming the most funded horror film in the crowdfunding site’s history. Now, we’ve learned that Shelby Oaks has announced its primary cast, and officially begun production.
Shelby Oaks stars Camille Sullivan (Hunter Hunter) as Mia, a young woman searching for her sister Riley (Sarah Durn), “after Riley ominously disappeared in the last tape of a group of paranormal investigators called the Paranormal Paranoids. As Mia’s obsession grows, she begins to suspect that the imaginary demon from Riley’s childhood may have been real.” Other performers include Brendan Sexton III (Don’t Breathe 2), Michael Beach (If Beale Street Could Talk), Robin Barlett (Shutter Island), and genre mainstay Keith David.
The film has at least some kind of meta-layer and satirical element to it, seemingly including some parody of the earlier era of more earnest, less slickly produced YouTube content of the early 2000s. This can be seen in some of the guerilla marketing of the “Paranormal Paranoids” that has flitted around the web in recent months, building mystery and hype for Shelby Oaks. It’s unclear if the final film will have much of this style of found footage influence, or blend multiple formats, though our guess would be the latter.
Stuckmann, meanwhile, is one of YouTube’s best-known film critics, having been active for more than a decade, with 2 million subscribers to his name. Time will tell if he can successfully make the jump from critique to creating his own effective feature film, but regardless of the outcome, it will be setting precedent for any of the other influential YouTube critics who may wish to follow his example. We’ll bring you more Shelby Oaks news as it arrives.