St. Charles filmmaker promises grittier, scarier sequel to ‘Munger Road’

Local filmmaker Nicholas Smith (right) and actor Bruce Davison (left) talk on the set of "Munger Road" in 2010 while filming in St. Charles.

St. Charles writer and director Nicholas Smith is planning a sequel to his first film, “Munger Road,” the film set in St. Charles that hit theaters more than a decade ago.

Smith said he plans to begin filming the sequel in the fall.

Released in 2011, “Munger Road” was based on folklore surrounding the train tracks on Munger Road in the town of Wayne. It was shot on the actual road and in St. Charles and surrounding cities in Kane County including Bartlett, Elburn, Geneva and Sugar Grove.

The film starred Academy Award nominee Bruce Davison and had a great deal of success for an indie film. It was given a three star review by Roger Ebert, who said the film “does an efficient, skillful job of audience manipulation using the techniques of darkness and vulnerability and the truth that a horror not seen is almost always scarier than one you can see.”

Smith said the sequel, “Munger Road Part 2,” will be a grittier, much scarier, action-packed ride. He said while the original was rated PG-13, based on the plot he would guess the sequel will receive an R rating.

Smith said part two will be set in St. Charles 15 years after the original, and while he is trying not to give away any spoilers yet, Smith hinted at some new and returning characters.

He said he plans to film throughout St. Charles and feature many familiar places such as Munger Road and Hotel Baker, as well as some new locations.

Smith said part two will be the final Munger Road film and will tie up any loose ends left by the original.

“I think people are going to be really excited to catch up with a lot of these characters and see the conclusion of how everything unfolds,” Smith said.

Smith hopes to begin shooting around September and aims for a release in fall 2025. He said he plans to use several St. Charles local actors and residents as extras in the film and hopes to begin holding auditions in the summer.

He said filming on-site and using locals in the cast enhances the feeling of reality in his films and not only for audiences familiar with the area.

Smith was raised in St. Charles. He graduated from St. Charles North High School in 2003 before attending film school at Columbia College.

He said the films were inspired by growing up in St. Charles and his experiences with the eeriness of Munger Road.

“It’s a really spooky place,” Smith said. “At night, it’s just creepy. There’s something about it that makes it a really eerie area.”

St. Charles filmmaker Nicholas Smith (center) with actor Bruce Davison (right) and crew members (left) on the set of "Munger Road" in 2010 while shooting on Munger Road.

Smith said the original cast and crew experienced some “weird things” during their three nights filming on Munger Road, including one actor’s microphone picking up sounds of a crying baby while in the woods at 3 a.m.

Smith said Bartlett police reportedly had to station an officer on Munger Road 24/7 for a month after the release because locals were frequenting the “haunted” tracks and testing the legend.

While his films were inspired by the local wives tale that cars stopped on the tracks would be moved by a mysterious force, Smith said, “It’s something that I do not recommend.”

Smith said the sequel will have a “sizable budget” compared with the first film and will be shot on RED digital cameras, similar to those used by David Fincher in his Netflix movie “The Killer,” which was partially filmed in St. Charles last year.

Since the release of his first film, Smith has gotten married, had three children and opened two restaurants in Elgin – Alexander’s Cafe in 2016 and Old Republic in 2018.

Smith said he began writing the sequel before the original was released and while he originally intended to get right into the making of the sequel, he became too busy with his new family and his restaurants.

The pandemic and industry strikes also slowed the project’s planning.

He said it feels like a good time to start making part two with the movie and theater industries getting back on track.

“It was always a two-part story,” Smith said. “As we get farther away from some of the challenges of the pandemic, I just felt like, ‘Hey, now it’s time, let’s finish the story.’ ”

“Munger Road” is streaming on Prime Video.