The Boonies

Promotional movie poster for "The Goonies."

This film will have you thinking twice before going into the woods.

"The Boonies," a backwoods horror movie shot almost entirely in Cambria and Somerset counties, is set to be released April 13 on DVD and video-on-demand platforms.

The 95-minute film is about a weekend excursion that turns deadly when Aaron joins his brother Will and a group of his friends for a weekend in the Appalachian woods.

The group soon discovers their itinerary includes more than a nice hike and a peaceful weekend getaway. When they and a young couple unexpectedly cross paths with strange local occurrences, the group soon find themselves in a terrifying fight for survival.

"As weird as it sounds, this whole thing actually started with a Craigslist post," said Lance Parkin, the film's director, co-writer and co-producer, an Ebensburg native residing in Millvale, Allegheny County.

After discovering the post, Parkin said he met up with producers Dave McMillan and Brian Balog, who both have ties to the Johnstown region, to discuss the project.

"I have a reputation for sort of taking risks and capitalizing on them," he said. "We starting talking and then we had this whole movie."

Parkin said he always wanted to make a backwoods horror movie because he felt there hasn't been a good one in a long time.

"One of my favorite horror movies ever is the original 'The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,' and I thought it would be cool to do something similar, but do it in Appalachia because that's where I was born and raised," he said. "Where I grew up in Ebensburg, the property was surrounded by trees, and I spent a lot of time in the woods and pretended in the woods. I felt like, if it's the woods that inspired the movie, what better place to shoot in?"

Filming began in February 2019 and wrapped in November 2019.

"We shot more of our indoor stuff in Pittsburgh," Parkin said. "We shot some exterior stuff on a property near the Ghost Town Trail near Belsano. We shot in Coal Country Brewing in Ebensburg. We did a lot of exterior campsite stuff at The Ridge in Westmont, and we shot at Dave McMillan's house in Somerset."

The film has a cast of 18 actors, including Ebensburg native Matt Schultz, who also served as the film's co-writer.

"Everybody was impressed by how beautiful it is out here because many had not been to the area before," Parkin said. "For me, it was cool – come back and do this at home. To be in familiarity and doing what I love was really great for me."

He said most of 2020 was spent editing the film and working out logistics with the film distributor, Indican Pictures.

"It was an awesome experience and a ton of work, but worth it to see the movie come together," Parkin said. "It's great when you shoot it, but when you edit it and add the sounds, you're actually seeing the things you saw in your heard when you started the whole thing."

Parkin said those watch the film are in for a psychological thrill-ride.

"When you watch the trailer, it looks like your average backwood horror movie, but then in the third act it really becomes a strange movie," he said. "I think people will have a feeling of intensity and a lot of emotions as they watch it."

The film premiered March 30 at Arena Cinelounge Drive-In in Los Angeles.

A showing of 'The Boonies" will be held at 6 and 8:30 p.m. April 15 at Westwood Plaza Theatre, 1910 Minno Drive, Johnstown. Tickets can be purchased at www.fandango.com or www.fleeglecinemas.com.

The trailer can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=GTB4Hrm7yj4.

Kelly Urban is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. She can be reached at (814) 532-5073. Follow her on Twitter @KellyUrban25.

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