EXCLUSIVE: 'Dead of Summer' Bosses Reveal Why 'Once Upon a Time' Fans Will Love Their New Camp-Themed Horror S
By Leanne Aguilera
So long, Storybrooke and hello, Camp Stillwater!
Dead of Summer, which was created by the magical duo behind ABC's smash drama, Once Upon a Time, is premiering on Freeform tonight and it's guaranteed to give you chills.
To get the inside scoop on this dark, new drama, we sat down with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Eddy Kitsis and found out why Dead of Summer is the perfect summer series for all the Once Upon a Time fans who are waiting to return to Storybrooke in the fall.
Despite the haunting premise, the showrunners are confident that Oncers will still be enchanted by their new series. "Dead of Summer is going to explore many themes, but instead of fairy tales, it's horror," Kitsis said excitedly to ET at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, Texas, earlier this month.
"I think for Once fans, Dead of Summer is, obviously, its own show and a different thing," Horowitz added. "But I think where the DNA is the same is its characters are at a crossroads in their lives. They're facing major life-changing moments against super-heightened situations. In Once, it could be the magic of the fairy tale world, and in Dead, it's the horror of the supernatural lake."
Plus, get ready for plenty of familiar faces from Once Upon a Time's Frozen-inspired fourth season. Elizabeth Mitchell, who played Snow Queen Ingrid, and Elizabeth Lail, who brought Anna to life, are just two members of the awesomely '80s cast.
Kitsis continued, "I would say that if you like watching Regina's arc, and if you like watching Emma's arc, then you should watch this show. It will appeal to your sense of watching characters having to confront their demons, but on Dead of Summer, it's literal demons."
Before you let your nerves stop you from tuning in, the showrunners were quick to explain something: "It's not a slasher show – it is a supernatural show," Kitsis stressed.
"Each episode is going to focus on one character. We'll flashback to who they were before they got to camp, whatever their secrets were, and whatever they're currently dealing with," he explained. "Then at camp, they're going to be haunted by whatever their demons are and it will all tie together mythological."
Kitsis and Horowitz revealed that their horror drama was influenced by several big-screen thrillers. "Our hope is that when people see the show, they'll see that we've drawn inspiration from many different places in the genre, from Friday the 13th, to Halloween, to The Shining, to Evil Dead."
Additionally, since Dead of Summer takes place in 1989, the duo have included many themes from John Hughes' iconic '80s hits. "We realized that each [movie] had the same archetype: the jock, the slut, the mean girl, etcetera," Kitsis said. "But were they always like that? With a lot of horror films we were like, 'Oh my god, the jock died!' But we want to know about his life and have his death mean something on our show. We want you to care about somebody if they die."
Well, we certainly care when our beloved characters on Once Upon a Time die (Ahem. Looking at you, season five of Once!), so it'll be interesting to see if Dead of Summer puts you under its spooky spell.
Dead of Summer premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Freeform.