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On October 19th, Olney Theatre Center’s Casting Director Irene Martinko and her brother Reed will host Brothers and Sisters Paranormal Trivia Night, a trivia night dedicated to horror movies. This community engagement event is hosted in conjunction with the first production of the 2023-2024 season, The Brothers Paranormal. To learn more about how Irene’s and Reed’s love for horror movies began and how they hosted Olney Theatre Center’s next trivia night, check out the interview below! 

Click here for Brothers and Sisters Paranormal Trivia Night information.

Click here for tickets to The Brothers Paranormal.


How did you each get into horror movies? Was it together?

IRENE: Reed has definitely been into horror movies for way longer than I have, and I wouldn’t have become a fan if it weren’t for him. In fact, I probably would’ve avoided horror movies my entire life if I didn’t have an older brother who kept making me watch them. The first horror movie I ever saw was Disturbia, the Shia LeBeouf movie based on Rear Window, and I couldn’t sleep for days! [...] Of course, this is funny to me now, because I don’t think that movie would scare me as an adult, but there are still moments that I think about to this day that are just seared in my memory. [...] Years ago, Reed suggested that we watch a movie called 1408 based on a Stephen King story, and that was the first horror movie that got me hooked. It was less about jump scares and more about this really interesting plot and creating an eerie, unsettling atmosphere. I’ve seen it at least three times since, and it opened up the possibility that this was a genre I could actually see myself loving.

REED: My introduction to horror movies was very similar to my introduction to roller coasters.  As a kid I was absolutely terrified of both, but after I rode my first “real” roller coaster I was immediately and permanently hooked. The same thing happened when I watched my first “real” horror film around age 11. My friend and I convinced my mom to rent The Ring at Blockbuster, which resulted in me having nightmares for weeks and my friend’s mom having second thoughts about letting her son watch movies at my house! I don’t know if it was the somewhat taboo nature of the genre, or simply the adrenaline rush, but ever since then I can’t get enough. [...] Irene mentioned that I have played a big role in her appreciation of horror, and I love that, especially because that mutual interest has boosted my own appreciation for and exposure to scary movies. Now I regularly take recommendations from her, we do movie nights together, and she even gifted me a subscription to the horror streaming service, Shudder! It’s awesome!   


Do you have a favorite horror movie? Or type of horror movie? Are there particular writers and/or directors of horror that you enjoy?

IRENE: Reed and I will probably have very similar answers to this question, and I can credit him with introducing me to at least half of the movies I’m about to mention. I’m definitely most interested in a horror movie that has a story that engages me and surprises me. A psychological horror movie or a good horror comedy are always my go-tos. Slashers like Friday the 13th and torture films like the Saw franchise just really aren’t my thing. I’m just not a fan of that shock value if there isn’t a solid story or twist or character arc to keep me hooked. Some favorites of mine include Scare Me, As Above So Below, and Oculus, along with classics like Psycho, Carrie, and The Shining. And if we’re talking series, I LOVE The Haunting of Hill House and The Haunting of Bly Manor. [...] I also have a love of cheesy, bad horror movies! My thing is, a movie needs to be either really good or really bad, I don’t want anything in between. So I’m happy to watch Hereditary, a genuinely fantastic, scary movie, and then immediately follow it up with The Nun to lighten the mood. I’m sorry if you liked The Nun and I’m offending you right now, it just really makes me laugh.

REED: Irene and I have a lot of the same favorites, like As Above So Below, Oculus, and The Shining, and I give a big shoutout to Jordan Peele and Mike Flanagan. [...] The horror movies that draw me in the most have more of a slow burn approach, with a heavy sense of dread right up until something crazy happens near the end. A24 Films has produced some great ones recently. Movies like The Witch and Talk to Me, Ari Aster’s Hereditary and Midsommar. They also gave us Saint Maud, a devastating directorial debut from Rose Glass and one of my all-time favorites in the dread category. I want to mention the movies Deadstream, Unfriended, and Host for adding new twists to the found footage subgenre.  And please watch Elle Callahan’s debut, Head Count. It is confusing and scary in the best way. I also should mention that comedy horror keeps getting better and better over the years. The Cabin in the Woods and The Blackening are standouts for me.  


How did the Brothers and Sisters Paranormal Trivia Night at Olney Theatre Center come about? What inspired you two to host?

IRENE: Olney’s been doing trivia nights for a little while now and we’ve known for a long time that horror was going to be our trivia theme for The Brothers Paranormal show. I talk about horror around the office WAY too much, so it’s no secret that I’m a fan. Our Director of Community Engagement, Shruthi Mukund, asked me if I had any ideas of potential trivia hosts in the area, and I honestly couldn’t think of anyone else who knows or likes horror as much as Reed does. We’re also big fans of trivia and both go to local trivia nights on a regular basis, so it felt like the perfect fit. And frankly, I wanted an excuse to watch more horror movies so I jumped on board as well. 

REED: Irene’s work with Olney has been phenomenal, and I am so excited that we are getting The Brothers Paranormal to kick off Halloween season!  I was honored when she asked if I could co-host trivia with her. It is so cool to be able to connect my love for horror with what she and Olney Theatre are doing here right now.  So, as far as participating in this event?  All I needed to hear was “Horror trivia night,” and I was sold!


What was the process like of getting ready for the event and preparing questions?

IRENE: It was truly a family effort! Reed and I spent a weekend brainstorming questions and categories together and our mom actually jumped in and helped us as well. And we immediately followed that up by watching the movie Get Out. We’d seen it before, but sometimes you need to be reminded just how good that movie is! 


What are you most excited about, both for trivia and for Olney Theatre Center’s production of The Brothers Paranormal

IRENE: With trivia, I’m most excited to meet other horror fans. We’ve got a mix of questions in there, but a few of them are pretty tricky. I will be so happy if there are people there who get the deeper cuts! 
And I love this play and I’m so glad we’re able to share it with our community. [...] This play has so much heart and depth and meaning, but it also has some genuine scares and I can’t wait to see the reactions of the audience members experiencing that for the first time.

REED: For trivia, I am excited to see how people answer our questions. It is so hard to gauge what audience members might know or not know, but we will provide a good mix that will keep it fun and competitive. The Brothers Paranormal is exciting because I have no idea what to expect and because I have no experience with Thai horror. This will bring something new and different for me, without a doubt.  


Is there anything else you want to add?

IRENE: Join us at trivia night, even if you don’t know a lot about horror! We’ll give you a great list of movies to get you started, and it’ll be such a fun way to get into a spooky mood before seeing the show.

REED: Always be open to new genres and expand your palette. Happy Halloween, everyone. I am so happy to be a part of this celebration!   

Excited about the event? Click here for more information about the Brothers and Sisters Paranormal Trivia Night.


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