Cults of the shadow
-the conjuring meets Constantine-
A traumatized occultist seeking redemption struggles to rescue a gifted teen artist from a vengeful spirit out to make a blood-soaked New England town pay for its sins.
Cults of the shadow
Poster coming soon
Story behind the screenplay
Cults of the Shadow follows an occultist and his estranged witchcraft-practicing lover as they dredge up their demon conjuring past to save a young painter from being devoured by a ruthless spirit from the Salem Witch Trials.
This story is also about shocking historical parallels between the ominous Danvers Mental Asylum (depicted in the 2001 horror classic, Session 9) and the infamous court proceedings of 1692, which resulted in the hanging of 19 souls accused of sorcery.
A little-known fact is that the Massachusetts towns of Salem and Danvers are actually one and the same. These connections between Danvers Hospital & The Salem Witch Trials are pretty freaky… and have never been explored cinematically.
Producer comments –
‘I enjoyed the script- the characters leaped off the page and the setting was bang on. I went to Emerson College so know Massachusetts well, and that creepy vibe felt accurate.’
Coverage excerpts –
‘Weaving the Salem Witch Trials and all of that horrific history into this story that takes place just after Princess Di’s death is very interesting and unique. The dialogue is excellent. You have a gift for writing incantations that sound like incantations from hundreds of years ago, and that waft through the air creating a sense of terror and great anticipation.
‘Your writing and storytelling remind me of Stephen King; at least the bits of writing I’ve read of his. And to be compared to Stephen King is a huge compliment. The last few pages of this draft are full of energy and move forward with the right pace. I was actually on the edge of my seat, and could feel fear of what was happening, and anticipation of what was going to happen next growing in my body. Horror stories are very much an experience of the visceral, and you are quite successful in this department.’
CULTS OF THE SHADOW (set in Danvers, Massachusetts 1997) is the story of former demon conjurer ALEX JACOBS, who’s been abandoned by his occult bookstore owner girlfriend, CARRIE JAMES, due to his alcoholism and continued obsession with dark forces. Alex leads a miserable life working in an office and is desperate to get Carrie back until –
Alex’s work colleague, BRIDIE O’SULLIVAN, enlists Alex to help her teenage niece, SONJA DELUCA, who’s become obsessed with an occult book she obtained at a yard sale. This book, Cults of the Shadow, was once owned by a former patient (now deceased) of the derelict State Mental Asylum in Danvers, which is located on the same site where the lead judge of the Salem Witch Trails once resided. *A portion of Salem was renamed Danvers in 1752, specifically to disassociate itself from the legacy of death and injustice from the trials.
Sonja, a gifted painter, has recently been admitted to a prestigious art school. But after Sonja’s friend dies in a gruesome freak accident, she retreats to her bedroom to paint a macabre wall mural depicting the Danvers Asylum and victims of the Salem Witch Trials.
Alex is initially unwilling to help Sonja, as he’s afraid to face his occult past. However, he sees an opportunity to reunite with Carrie and asks her to come to the Deluca home to determine why Sonja has fallen under the spell of Cults of the Shadow. After meeting Sonja and realizing she’s being oppressed by a DARK FORCE, Alex and Carrie investigate the dangerous book’s previous ownership, which is connected to a witch trail descendant.
The star-crossed lovers then embark on a journey which uncovers the blood-soaked past of Danvers/ Salem and the shocking (historically accurate) connections between the abandoned asylum (closed in 1992) and the witch trials some 300 years earlier.
Alex and Carrie meet with the former psychiatrist of the mental patient that once owned Cults of the Shadow and learn of the art therapy he used to help this troubled man -- until THE BOOK and the VENGEFUL SPIRIT controlling it (a real victim of the witch trials, GILES COREY) ensnared him. From there, Alex and Carrie visit the deceased man’s old room at the decrepit asylum where they discover –
That the madman patient was being influenced by the spirit of Giles Corey to paint a mural which would act as a VISUAL INCANTATION to open an occultic gateway. This infernal portal was meant to allow the angry spirits of both the Danvers Asylum and the Salem Witch Trials (led by Giles Corey) to punish the town of Danvers for its unforgivable sins. However, the madman’s art skills were not sufficient to open the portal and he was murdered by Corey.
Alex and Carrie race back to the Deluca home, where they find that Sonja has succeeded, and the portal is open… Demonic forces are running rampant through Danvers, causing mayhem and death. Sonja’s bedroom has become the center of a psychic hurricane and she has been sucked into the portal. Alex enters Hell, determined to save the young artist from a fate he knows all too well. Does Alex succeed and get back together with Carrie or remain in Hell?