Talk Nerdy had the opportunity to speak with up-and-comer, Amber Coney, about her role in the new summer camp horror series, Dead of Summer. The teen thriller is a mash-up homage to Ian B. Goldberg and Adam Horowitz’s love of 80’s horror movies and the emotion-driven coming-of-age stories of John Hughes.
Having left once upon a time fairy tales for dead of summer bloodshed, the duo tells the story of teen counselors working at Lake Stillwater in 1989. Idyllic in appearance, rampant with rugrats, the place bears a tragic history. Coney calls the lake “ominous and weird,” making it apropos for a camp that boasts bleeding trees and spooky specters. Unfortunately, for its counselors a menacing magic is at play, one that exposes secrets from their past. Each episode delves into their backstory and how the camp manifests their fears to haunt them.
As Caroline “Cricket” Diaz, Coney plays a young woman beset with insecurities she seeks to soothe in the arms of the camp’s popular preppie. Coney tells us we’ll learn Cricket’s story in episode 3. Its heart-rending title, “Disposable” gives you a hint to her innermost anxiety.
Coney thinks Goldberg and Horrowitz hit the John Hughes mark they were aiming for through flashbacks, which allows us to know the characters on a “personal level, through their past.” She likes that you get to see their relationships and struggles at home, along with the dual nature of who they are at camp.
The show’s horror cred is furthered by the casting of Tony Todd as the Tall Man: a seemingly menacing figure who may be more messenger than murderer. Though she’s yet to see any of Todd’s 90’s horror flicks (Candyman, Final Destination) she calls him amazingly kind and generous. As hostess to the young cast’s weekly movie night, which has viewed 80’s fare like The Breakfast Club and The Razor’s Edge, she swears they’ll watch one of his films though they scare her. She laughingly jokes that her aversion to horror and fear of the paranormal makes her a perfect match for Dead of Summer.
Thanks to her parties, being away from home, making fast friends and the realistic setting, the cast experienced a “real camp vibe.” Nervous at the outset of filming, Coney put good vibes out and was rewarded by instant comradery, even moving in with castmate Paulina Singer (Jesse). Coney raves that her castmates are just as generous as people as they are as actors and she knows that’s not always the case.
The anthology series, should it get renewed, will be similar in vein to Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. The ensemble will play out different generations from Camp Stillwater’s tragic history, possibly even relatives to their current characters. Asked what time period she’d like to visit, Coney said the 60’s, 70’s, or even 20’s. The opportunity to learn about different eras excites her, as does the aesthetic possibilities they could explore by visiting other time periods.
With a talent for writing (just ask James Franco), an eye for directors, a focus on acting and a love for French New Wave and foreign films, Coney considers herself a total nerd for the film business. She wants to do everything from gritty indies to big-budget franchises with “weight and merit.” Listening to her absolute passion will convince you even if she doesn’t survive the dead of summer, this isn’t the last you’ll see of Amber Coney.
Dead of Summer airs on Freeform at 9/8C.