(Photo contributed by William Scherer)

SANTA CRUZ — A number of years ago, William Scherer rented out a room to a young couple in Los Angeles.

Having just installed a cream-colored carpet in the room, he was horrified to stop by one day and find that the couple had moved a Harley-Davidson motorcycle into the room to replace its engine. The carpet was destroyed.

Scherer then found himself wishing there was a way he could “scare” the tenants out of the room.

Around the same time, Scherer came across a news article about a “bad apple” church reverend who was being sued by his congregation.

Having been involved in the TV and movie industry, the writer in him knew that these two experiences would form a great story for a feature-length movie, and so “House on Rodeo Gulch” was born.

The psychological thriller will make its debut on July 22 at 6:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave. in Santa Cruz.

“House on Rodeo Gulch” follows a newly-married woman and her teenage stepdaughter, who find themselves living alone in the redwoods of Santa Cruz with only a reverend and his alcoholic assistant as their neighbors. While battling their own conflicts, unexplainable things begin to happen at the house.

Scherer, who recently moved to Aptos with his wife, said the film was shot in Santa Cruz County with mostly local actors and crewmembers. About a third of the film was shot at a house on Corralitos Ridge Road, and also includes a scene at Phil’s Fish House in Moss Landing.

Scherer, who holds the roles of producer, writer, director and editor of the film, had high praise for the actors, comparing 16-year-old Megan Jay Simrell to “Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence, and called Watsonville teacher Adrian Torres “probably the best actor of them all.”

The goal, he added, was to make the low-budget film look like it came straight out of Hollywood.

“I want to let people know that you can make films in Santa Cruz, you don’t have to be in Hollywood,” Scherer said.

For information, visit houseonrodeogulch.com.

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