Principal photography just concluded on the horror-thriller So Cold the River, a feature adaptation of New York Times bestselling author Michael Koryta’s novel. Written and directed by Paul Shoulberg (Walter, The Good Catholic, Ms. White Light) the movie stars Bethany Joy Lenz (Colony, Grey’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill), Andrew J. West (The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time, Under the Dome), Katie Sarife (Annabelle Comes Home, Supernatural), Michael Rogers (The Dead Zone, Continuum), Tony Award-winner Deanna Dunagan (The Exorcist, The Visit), and newcomer Kingston Vernes (David Fincher’s forthcoming Mank). Pigasus Pictures and 1804 Productions produced.
The film was shot primarily on location at the West Baden Springs Hotel, a National Historic Landmark that was restored from ruins by Bill and Gayle Cook and Carl Cook. The hotel, closed since 1932 and featuring one of the world’s largest free-standing domes, reopened in 2007 and is among the largest private restoration projects ever completed in the country.
The story is a supernatural thriller about a documentary filmmaker who is dispatched to a small Indiana town to unearth the story of a mysterious dying man and finds that a world of terror awaits. The novel sold in more than 20 territories.
“At its core, So Cold the River is a horror film about ambition,” Shoulberg said. “How the moment we allow the things we want to become more important than our empathy, we become the villains of our own stories. No matter how we craft our personal narratives – shroud our behavior in the best of intentions – if we’re capable of placing ambition ahead of humanity, we’re capable of anything.”
It’s a busy year for Koryta, with the pending release of the Angelina Jolie-starrer, Those Who Wish Me Dead, also adapted from his novel and on which he shares screenplay credit with director Taylor Sheridan. The cast features Tyler Perry, Aidan Gillen, Nicholas Hoult, and Jon Bernthal alongside Jolie.
“It has been a decade-long dream to see this movie shot at this location, which is the only way the story could ever be done justice because the story comes from the place,” Koryta said. “I think the world of Paul Shoulberg as a writer and as a director, so I’m excited to see what he’s capable of creating when given a canvas like the one at West Baden Springs.”
Shoulberg’s latest film, Ms. White Light, starring Judith Light and John Ortiz, premiered at South by Southwest in 2019. He wrote and directed 2017’s The Good Catholic, starring John C. McGinley and Danny Glover, which earned him the Best Screenplay award at the Milan International Film Festival and won Best Feature Film at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. Shoulberg also wrote Walter, starring Academy Award-winners William H. Macy and Virginia Madsen.
Producers are Claire Tuft, Zachary Spicer, John Armstrong, and EP Pete Yonkman. Koryta is repped by Angela Cheng Caplan and Richard Pine. Pigasus and 1804 Productions are repped by Matthew Dresden of Harris-Bricken.