David F. Sandberg (born January 21, 1981 in Jönköping) is a Swedish movie director. He is the older brother of indie game developer Joakim "Konjak" Sandberg.
He first started his career working on animated shorts and documentaries in Sweden. The No Budget horror short films he directed and uploaded under the alias "ponysmasher" garnered significant following on YouTube, the second one in particular, Lights Out. That success caught the attention of New Line Cinema's producers, who hired him to direct a feature length version of Lights Out. It came out to great success, grossing near $150 million on a $5 million budget.
Sandberg gained further success with The Conjuring Universe film Annabelle: Creation, which grossed over $300 million on a $15 million budget. In July 2017, he was announced to direct the DC Extended Universe film SHAZAM!, which was released in 2019 to very positive reviews, which got him to make a sequel.
He married actress Lotta Losten in 2013. She played in his shorts and appeared in both the short and feature length versions of Lights Out, as well as in SHAZAM!.
Also notably One of Us, considering he mostly started off on Youtube, and he likes to humorously tease about his projects on social media. He's a fan of RedLetterMedia and personally asked Jay Bauman for a review of Lights Out on Twitter. He got that review... but unfortunately, Jay wasn't kind in his assessment. For better or worse, this incident made him an occasional recurring joke on Half in the Bag, though both Mike and Jay clarify they have nothing against him and think he's a nice guy.
Speaking of Youtube, Sandberg is still very active on his channel, where he provides illuminating insight on the process of theatrical filmmaking and clearing up some common misconceptions about production of major releases.
- Lights Out (2016)
- Annabelle: Creation (2017)
- SHAZAM! (2019) note
- SHAZAM! Fury of the Gods (2022)
Tropes applying to the works of ponysmasher
- And I Must Scream: Notably Pictured and Not Alone, both ending terribly for Lotta: Pictured ending with Lotta becoming trapped in the creepy picture and the ghostly entity taking her place and Not Alone ending with Lotta being stuck in a comatose state, with the entity with her.
- The Chew Toy: Lotta in all his shorts to the point of Running Gag where she's haunted by a supernatural force, although David has put himself as this from time to time in his shorts, notably with Self-Deprecation humor.
- Downer Ending: Not Alone has Lotta be attacked by the demon who entered her home and it ends with David coming home to find her in a comatose state, and judging from Lotta's internal monologue, it's made clear the entity is in her mind as well...
- No Ending: Some of his shorts have this, notably Lights Out and Cam Closer.
- No Budget: His shorts: He goes for super cheap and open source software as much as he can and encourages people to do what they can to make movies, regardless if they don't have "the proper equipment" as seen in his "How to Make a Shitty Dolly" video.
- Self-Deprecation: He's done Letterboxd reviews for all of his theatrical films, and had given them the lowest possible ratings with reviews that alternate between legitimate criticisms and sarcastic nitpicks.
- Title Drop: Not Alone in Here has one near the ending. Although the title seems at first to refer to Lotta's character not being alone in her home, the end reveal is much darker. Her internal monolog seems almost to offer a Hope Spot, since it's clear that she can't be dead if she's narrating her own story. Instead, it's revealed that she's alive, but trapped in her own body. And she's not alone in there.
- One of Us: Sandberg started out on YouTube and continued making videos for his channel even after directing several prominent franchise movies in Hollywood. He is also active on Reddit, sometimes showing up to personally debunk false rumours about his own projects.
- Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl: 99% of all the spirits in his shorts are this, although there are times they're just a Humanoid Abomination, as seen in Coffer.