In May 2020, actress Wyn Reed (real name Aisling Tucker Moore-Reed) pleaded guilty to the 2016 shooting death of her uncle, Shane Patrick Moore. Moore-Reed had always said she acted in self-defense, but the district attorney and a grand jury saw things differently. But the weirdest part about the case is that in the midst of being investigated and charged, Moore-Reed, an Oregon actress and writer, filmed an independent horror movie called From the Dark — which bore an eerie resemblance to her real-life case. Ahead of the Dateline NBC episode about the case, here’s what you need to know about the film.
The From the Dark Plot
In the psychological thriller, written by Justin Jean Talbot, Matt Spickard, and Trinity Spickard and directed by Patrick Liam Dolan, Moore-Reed stars as Valerie Faust, a woman who has “been working as a tour guide for most of her life, but now she’s ready for change and excitement. On her last night of work at a secluded caves resort, she throws herself a going-away party with some of her co-workers,” according to the film’s site.
The description continues:
Things take a dark and sinister turn when a questionable guest arrives, setting off a chain reaction that sends the group into a downward spiral of murder, paranoia, and chaos. There isn’t always an obvious scapegoat, and in some situations, it’s not so easy to point the finger. From the Dark highlights how allowing fear to dictate your actions can manifest waking nightmares. As members of the group continue to drop off, who will survive the darkness and make it out into the light?
The Producers Had No Idea About the Charges Against Moore-Reed When They Cast Her
In an email to the Washington Post, the production company Siskiyou Productions said they didn’t know anything about Moore-Reed’s past, as she auditioned under her stage name Wyn Reed and they failed to do a background check — a mistake they won’t make again.
“Due to the movie being so low budget, and it being our first venture, we did not do background checks,” the film company said. “If we ever do a movie again in the future, any one of us … we now know that a background check will save us. Lesson learned, no matter how little money we have, this will save the headache.”
Siskiyou Productions also said that they didn’t find out about the charges pending against Moore-Reed until the film wrapped. But the film’s editor, who was dating Reed at the time, found out a few weeks earlier. An executive producer said he believed the editor had been delaying the final cut because of Reed’s ongoing criminal investigation. The film’s editor resigned in October 2019.
In an October 2019 update on the film’s IndieGoGo page, the producers added, “We had absolutely no idea about who [Reed-Moore] was or her circumstances. … When it did come to our attention, we didn’t know what to do, so we simply continued post-production and hoped for the best. We certainly don’t want to jump to conclusions as the trial has not yet begun, and until the trial is over, she is innocent until proven guilty. We don’t want to harm her, her case, or our reputations as filmmakers over something we honestly did not know.”
The producers told the Washington Post at the time that they hoped for a 2020 release, but that may have all changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They also told the Post that after seeing the video of Reed-Moore shooting her uncle, they changed their minds about believing her self-defense claim.
“The rest of us all believed her story and felt for her deeply upon first finding out,” the company said. “It seemed like she was an incredible victim and hero. Our perspectives changed upon seeing the video.”
There’s a Key Scene in the Film Where Reed-Moore Shoots Someone
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, two people connected to the film outlined how weirdly similar the real-life events were to the film.
“There’s a key scene where she shoots somebody in a similar fashion,” said a person who worked on the film.
Another person who worked on the film added, “The lead character knows they’re in trouble, and she just nailed the right level of fear.”
In the trailer, Reed-Moore as the character Valerie can be heard saying, “We will see where the night takes us,” intercut with shots of her screaming and crying and fighting off an unidentifiable attacker.
Moore-Reed Eventually Pleaded Guilty
In May 2020, Moore-Reed pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter during a court settlement, according to KOBI 5. Her original first- and second-degree manslaughter charges had been upped to second-degree murder, but as part of her plea deal, the first-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder charges were dropped. She was sentenced to just over six years in prison followed by three years of post-prison supervision.
According to Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, the self-defense defense was “not applicable under Oregon law” because of the “video of the incident showing Shane Moore’s behavior as non-threatening,” reported KTVL. At the sentencing, Moore-Reed said she was “very sorry for the pain she caused her family.”
Dateline NBC is in its 29th season and is the longest-running series in NBC primetime history. It currently airs Mondays and Fridays at 10 p.m. ET/PT and Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.