Posts Tagged ‘horror’

The Last of Us: Exposed

 

Script By

Joshua Malone

 

Based off the Events and Characters Created by

Neil Druckmann

 

 

 

 

 

Fade on:

3 Years After Outbreak

Fade off

 

All is black.

We hear a faint clicking sound (ala CLICKER infected,) unsure of what it is. Then we hear a loud BANG. Pause. BANG. Then clicking again. The sound gets louder and continuous until finally…

 

SNAP TO:

INT. APARTMENT ROOM- DAWN

Close on ANNA, late twenties/early thirties, she suddenly wakens, as if from a bad dream. She hears the clicking and banging sounds, and sits up- looking around the room, frantic. She doesn’t seem to find what she’s looking for and quickly gets out of bed, grabbing a pistol.

She quickly, but quietly, exits the room and enters the APARTMENT HALLWAY following the sound. She sees the front door, and it appears to be completely locked up. All of the many various locks are still in place, and the sound isn’t actually coming from outside. It’s coming from the KITCHEN.

She approaches cautiously until she reaches the kitchen. Some daylight is just peeking through the window shades; otherwise it’s dark in the apartment. There, she sees an older man (RICK) on his knees examining the fridge.

RICK is in his late fifties or sixties, an odd mixture of strong yet fragile looking. Maybe the strong look comes more from the determination in his eyes than his actual physique. Every so often RICK bangs his fist on the fridge, and then turns a ratchet. That is what’s making the clicking sound.

 

RICK

Fucking piece of…

 

ANNA puts the pistol in the waist of her pants.

 

ANNA

Dad, stop

 

RICK snaps his head up.

 

RICK

Oh, Anna. Sorry… didn’t mean to wake you. It’s just this damn thing wont-

ANNA

Leave it. You can’t-

 

RICK

No. The food’s going to go bad. Just… can you flip the light on for me.

ANNA

There is no power.

RICK

Son of a… fine. Can you reach the company on a cell or something?

 

RICK stands up and exits the room in a huff.

We hold on ANNA, who stands still for a moment and takes a deep breath. She moves forward and shoves the fridge back into place. As she does the door to the fridge opens slightly.

ANNA leaves to go to her father, and as she does we track down to see that the fridge is empty.

ANNA walks out of the kitchen and slowly moves across the hall towards the living room, sighing. The LIVING ROOM is fairly well maintained, with only some minimal peeling to the wallpaper. There is a couch and an arm chair in the space, along with a dust covered television set.

On a coffee table there is a small radio. A voice is heard through some static…

 

FIREFLY MEMBER (V.O)

Remember, when you’re lost in the darkness, look for the-

 

 

ANNA turns the radio off.

RICK is tense, and paces back and forth. Every so often he goes to the window and peeks out the shades. When ANNA enters the room his head snaps up back to her.

 

 

RICK

I was listening to that!

(Pause)

Did you get ahold of them?

ANNA

No.

RICK

We can’t let that food spoil. Your mother’s gonna’ pitch a bitch if she comes home to a fridge full of-

ANNA

Dad, there’s no electricity. And mom-

RICK

(Slight chuckle, looking through the blinds again)

Well no shit Sherlock. And where’s Elli-

ANNA

Stop! Listen to me. There is no electricity.

 

RICK looks questioningly at his daughter. ANNA pauses, waiting for what she has just told him to register. We see RICK thinking hard. He goes to the window and looks out through the shades.

Through the window we can see the street below and surrounding building. Everything is dark, empty, and decrepit. The sidewalk shrubbery is overgrown.

 

ANNA

And mom isn’t here anymore.

 

RICK looks taken aback for a moment as he tries to digest what he just heard. RICK sits down and lowers his head for a moment, letting a long breath out.

ANNA sits down next to him, but leaves some space between her and her father. RICK’s leg is bouncing up and down. After a long beat he looks up.

 

RICK

Thanks, baby girl…

 

ANNA nods, and there is a slight pause before she gets up. RICK remains seated, eyes following his daughter out of the room. Then he looks forward, staring off…

 

 

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING LOBBY- DAY/NOON

ANNA and RICK are moving down the stairway to the front door. The lobby is dusty, dark, and quiet. There is a big shelf in front of the door along with a pile of other stuff.

To the right is a window nailed shut. ANNA walks to the window and pulls out a hammer. She begins to take out the nails.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING- DAY

ANNA is walking around the side of building, with RICK behind her. They are in a city, or the suburbs of a city. There are a few abandoned cars rusting on the street. The buildings surrounding them look dirty and dilapidated for the most part. A few of them are even boarded up.

There is some overgrowth poking through sections of the asphalt and concrete sidewalks. It’s really quiet outside- an unnerving quiet, but something that ANNA seems used to.

They move slowly. ANNA has a backpack full of gear and a rifle slung over her shoulder. RICK has his hand on a knife that is on his belt. He doesn’t appear to have any other weapon at the moment. In front of them is a string with cans dangling. ANNA ducks under it and continues on. RICK stops though.

Around the corner is another string with cans on it, and farther down on the opposite corner is the same thing. She examines the lines briefly and continues on. Suddenly there is a loud clanking sound from behind her and she spins to see RICK examining the cans, confused.

 

RICK

What’s the deal, here?

ANNA

SH!

 

There is a sudden howl heard from down the adjacent ALLEY. ANNA looks up. Painted on one of the ally walls is The FIREFLIES symbol. After a moment’s glance at it ANNA’s eyes follow the sound.

 

There is a lone RUNNER infected, down the ALLEYWAY and it sees her. The RUNNER is male. Blood seeps from its eyes and mouth. Some of the infectious fungus can be seen growing around the ears.

It howls, and runs towards ANNA, who is unshouldering her rifle and getting into a shooting stance.

The RUNNER runs straight into one of the lines with cans, is caught there for a second, and ANNA takes aim. The RUNNER howls but before ANNA can take her shot a machete comes crashing down on its head. ANNA lowers her gun, not particularly surprised.

The machete is pulled out of the RUNNER’s head, and it collapses to the ground. Behind the runner stands ANDRE, a young black man. He’s carrying a backpack and duffle bag packed with supplies- yet manages to be extremely stealthy and quiet with his movements.

 

ANNA

You know I could have fucking shot you.

ANDRE

And you know that you really shouldn’t use guns if you don’t have to. Makes too much noise.

ANNA

Left my subtlety at home today.

ANDRE

Yeah, and every other day.

 

The two embrace, as friends. RICK steps up.

 

RICK

Hi, Andre.

ANDRE

Hi, sir.

ANNA

Really? You remember his name, but not that you shouldn’t touch the fucking lines?

RICK

Sorry, I was just… I guess-

ANNA

It’s fine.

Good to see you, Andre.

ANDRE

Likewise. How are things?

ANNA

(pause)

Could be worse.

ANDRE

Yeah? Well, hopefully some of this will brighten your day.

 

ANDRE crouches, and unshoulders the bags that he has.

 

ANDRE

You really owe me this time. I had to pay a lot of people credits for some of this shit, and the guards were doubled up today around the outposts.

ANNA

Put it on my tab.

 

They open the bags and look inside. The duffle is full of various canned foods and a few gallons of water. The canned food is in bulk.

The backpack has a box of handgun ammunition in it, and a blanket. ANNA grabs the ammo, shocked.

 

ANNA

Where did you get this!?

ANDRE

Well… let’s just say if the person who owned that finds out I took it, I’ll owe them a lot more than credits.

 

ANNA smiles and the two zip the bags back up.

 

ANNA

Dad, why don’t you take the duffel bag back upstairs? You remember which apartment right?

 

RICK

(annoyed)

Yes.

 

ANNA is waiting for an actual room number.

 

RICK

322.

 

ANNA

(nodding)

We’ll be up soon.

 

RICK shoulders the duffle bag, and heads back. ANDRE shoulders the pack again. The two stand, and wait a moment until RICK is around the corner and they hear the entrance window open and close. Then they start towards the building’s entrance.

 

ANNA

Seriously, thank you.

ANDRE

Well, make this last. Like I said, for some reason they’re doubling up at the posts. It may be a while before I can get back out here.

ANNA

(Starting to get up)

We’ll make it last.

ANDRE

Makes me kind of consider joining the Fireflies.

 

ANDRE nods to the Fireflies tag on the alleyway wall.

 

ANDRE (cont’)

 Would save me the headache of trying to get back into the zone. Seriously, they’ve been cracking down in the zones since the Fireflies have started building their ranks. It’s always been tight but… it’s starting to get scary.

ANNA

Fireflies are talking about storming zones and liberating. FEDRA sure as hell doesn’t want to give up their control.

ANDRE

Right.

 (after a pause)

So… how are things?

ANNA

(sighs)

 I bitch, but really things could be worse. Could be better also, I guess. (laughs) He was trying to fix the fridge this morning. Kind of worked him up, but not to a point where he… well, where it was bad or anything. Really he’s been fine, for the most part.

ANDRE

That’s good. I’ve been trying to jack some meds while I’m at work, but-

ANNA

Nah, it’s okay.

ANDRE

So it’s not getting any worse or anything?

ANNA

No.

 

ANDRE looks at her for a moment. Is she telling the truth?

 

ANDRE

Good. I know it was rough there for a bit during spring. There’s actually a group that meets and talks back at the zone-

ANNA

(Ignoring the last part)

Yeah, he’s doing well now though.

 

There is a long beat.

 

ANDRE

Anna…

ANNA

Don’t.

ANDRE

You can’t stay-

 

ANNA spins, stopping dead in her tracks. ANDRE almost bumps into her. She stares him straight in the eye.

 

ANNA

(pointedly)

No.

ANDRE

You guys can’t stay out here. I… I can’t keep doing this.

ANNA

Fine.

 

ANNA turns to leave.

 

ANDRE

(Hushed, hissing)

ANNA! Listen-

ANNA

I appreciate this but you don’t have to do it. You never did. You don’t owe me a damn thing, so you could have stopped whenever you wanted.

ANDRE

Consider coming to the zone with your dad for one second. Or, maybe you should try and find the Fireflies-

ANNA

What part of ‘no’ don’t you get? It’s always been no, it’s always going to be no.

ANDRE

But-

ANNA

We can’t, Andre. They… we just can’t.

ANDRE

(pause)

Anna, this won’t last. You will die out here.

 

ANNA pauses for a moment. Her expression is hard to read. Sadness? Anger? Fear?

 

ANDRE (cont’)

He’s going to die out here. And if they don’t get to him (glances towards dead RUNNER) –

 

Whatever ANNA facial expression was, it’s now anger. Not at ANDRE necessarily…

 

ANNA

We don’t have a god damn choice! We’ve tried going before. After my mom died we tried going to the zone. When we-

 

There is a shrill squeaking sound. Then there is the faint sound of an engine running. ANNA snaps her head back and ANDRE looks past her shoulder.

An armored vehicle with the label FEDRA on the side pulls into frame at the end of the alleyway, with two armed soldiers following. ANNA and ANDRE duck behind a dumpster from view.

The truck slows, but doesn’t stop as it passes. We hear some men talking, indistinctly.

 

ANNA

Oh shit.

 

While staying crouched, ANNA leads ANDRE around the back of the building. Behind the building there is a fire escape above them.

 

ANNA

Boost me.

 

ANDRE boosts ANNA so that she can grab ahold of the rusty ladder, and when she does get her hands on it she pulls it down. It squeals in protest though, loudly all the way down.

ANDRE cringes.

 

We hear the truck tires squeal again, and someone shout.

 

ANNA

Let’s go.

 

ANNA climbs the escape quickly, and ANDRE follows. Once they are up they pull the escape back up. The two climb up to the nearest window, which ANNA then lifts and goes through.

 

 

ANDRE

WAIT! Is it safe?

ANNA

I cleared this building months ago. Come on!

 

 

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING

ABANDONED APARTMENT

ANDRE follows, and then shuts the window until it’s open a mere crack. The apartment is dark and cobwebs are everywhere. There is a large water stain on the ceiling and the wallpaper is peeling. The window is grimy, so the two peer outside the crack, and see a man run down the alleyway.

When he approaches one of the lines with cans on it he slows, and examines it. Then he spots the dead RUNNER.

 

LIEUTENANT (V.O)

(over a radio)

You’re sure you saw him come this way?

 

SOLDIER #1

(to radio)

Yes, sir. Didn’t get a good look so don’t know who, but he’d definitely here. I have a dead infected, freshly killed. He’s close.

 

SOLDIER #1 looks up towards the escape, and ANNA and ANDRE back away from the window.

 

ANDRE

Shit. Shit.

ANNA

What’s going on?

ANDRE

They must have followed me, or something… seen me leaving the zone.

 

ANNA risks a look out. SOLDIER #1 is moving slowly around the corner, under the fire escape now. His radio hisses.

 

SOLDIER #1

He may have entered the building.

LIEUTENANT (V.O)

Roger that. Keep your eyes peeled. Sending Harding and Rosco now. We’re circling around. Hold your position.

ANNA

Come on.

 

The two hurry towards the front door of the apartment and into the HALLWAY. ANNA leads ANDRE towards the stairs, passing many apartments along the way. Several have the words SPORES DON’T ENTER scrawled on them.  The two reach the STAIRWAY and they rush up them. Finally they reach the floor she is looking for and head down the HALLWAY towards ANNA and RICK’s apartment.

When they reach the door ANNA hurriedly begins to unlock the door. From somewhere in the building there is a loud BANG and ANDRE looks back towards the stairs. Something breaks, and then there is silence except for ANNA working the lock. Then we hear the SOLDIERS begin to enter the building.

The apartment door suddenly swings open, and ANNA pulls ANDRE inside and she shuts the door.

 

APARTMENT

The APARTMENT is quiet, and dark. The blinds are still down, but open- so that you can see through the spaces.

ANNA rushes towards them, and peers outside. She can see the truck, and three more men are getting out. The one in the driver’s seat is the LIEUTENANT. They are arming their weapons and pulling on filter masks while they are walking towards the building.

There’s a shuffling noise behind her, then the distinct sound of a hammer of gun being pulled back.

 

RICK

Who the hell are you?

ANNA

Anna.

RICK

Lie to me again. See what happens.

ANNA

Dad, it’s me.

RICK

(pause)

Turn the fuck around. Slowly. I swear to Christ, if you even twitch for that rifle you’re both done.

 

ANNA turns around to see RICK holding a knife under ANDRE’s throat and a handgun pointed at her.

After seeing her face RICK lowers the gun but keeps the knife at ANDRE’s throat.

 

RICK

Annabelle? Baby… baby girl? What are you doing here?

ANNA

Dad, let Andre go.

RICK

Who?

ANNA

Dad… remember Andre? He’s helping us.

RICK

I… I don’t get it. Why are you here? What’s going on? You shouldn’t be here. It’s not safe.

 

RICK lets ANDRE go, and ANDRE takes a few steps back and breaths deep. ANNA steps forward and checks his neck. A slight cut but nothing serious.

ANNA goes to her father. He’s tense, and extremely confused. He’s eyeing the gun on ANNA’s shoulder then his eyes go to hers.

 

ANNA

It’s okay.

RICK

You can’t be here. You’re not Annabelle.

 

RICK raises the gun and points it straight at ANNA’s head. ANDRE tenses and moves slightly forward but ANNA’s motions her hand for him to stay back.

 

ANNA

It’s really me.

RICK

Fuck you. You’re not my daughter.

ANNA

Look at me.

 

RICK glares at ANNA for a long moment, arm stiff and gun never moving from her forehead but ANNA doesn’t budge; she remains calm. ANDRE’s eyes are wide at the scene in front of him. The small amount of blood from the wound on his neck mixes with the sweat that is running down from his face.

 

ANNA

You remember what you told me right after mom died?

 

RICK doesn’t move.

 

ANNA (cont’)

You said that if you ever lost me, you will have officially lost all the battle buddies you ever had. And you’d never let that happen.

 

RICK slowly registers that this is in fact his daughter in front of him. He looks at her, then to his hand… to the gun in his hand. Tears begin to well inside his eyes.

 

RICK

Baby girl… I thought you-

ANNA

It’s okay…

 

ANNA takes the knife and gun from her father.

 

RICK

What are you doing here?

ANNA

It’s okay. I’ll explain later. But we have to move, now.

 

RICK looks at her, puzzled. Then there is a sudden crashing sound outside in the HALLWAY. ANDRE goes to the door. He opens it a bit, and listens.

RICK

What’s going on?

ANNA

We’re leaving.

RICK disappears off into the adjacent room. ANNA moves towards ANDRE, and he leans in close to her.

 

ANDRE

What the fuck was that?

ANNA

He’s… having an episode.

ANDRE
An “episode?” What the hell do you mean an episode? I thought you said he wasn’t getting any worse?

ANNA

He’s not… he started having them last year. It’s fine.

ANDRE

He just held a gun to your head.

ANNA

He must have seen them pull up. Things trigger him. He… he’ll think he’s back in combat.

ANDRE

Jesus, Anna…

ANNA

Just shut up. Go find out where they are.

 

ANDRE stares at her for a moment before leaving the room. ANNA goes to a closet. She unshoulders he backpack and digs around in the closet taking out a few more items and stuffing them in the bag. Extra flashlight, pills, anything seemingly important.

ANDRE soon darts back in.

 

ANDRE

They’re making their way up the floors. Checking the apartments.

ANNA

We don’t have much time.

 

ANNA zips up and re-shoulders her pack.

 

ANNA (cont’)

We’ll lead them away. You head back to the zone and sneak back in. They probably haven’t seen your face; they just know that somebody made it out. Just don’t let them catch up to you-

ANDRE

(Pause, looking at the door)

ANNA… maybe we-

ANNA

No way.

ANDRE

I can convince them that I found you. I was leading you back to the zone. Everything will be fine.

ANNA

(with venom)

God damn it, I said NO.

 

ANDRE stares at her.

 

ANNA (cont’)

(after a beat)

On our way to the zone two FEDRA officers came by us. I was so relieved. The zones aren’t paradise… but at least we were going to be someplace safe. But before they could escort us to the zone they had to check us first. So they gave me the scan and I checked out, but then they got to him…

 

ANNA looked over to the other room where RICK is shouldering a backpack. At his feet lies a military bag- their “bug out” bag.

 

ANNA (cont’)

When they gave him the test, the scanner went off. Andre… he’s not infected. I think it’s his disease.

 

ANDRE

His disease?

ANNA

The…  dementia that affects his memory, whatever kind it is- it affects the higher brain functions, just like the infection. They did the head and retina scan, and both came back positive. I insisted they take him back and do blood work, but they wouldn’t. They were about to give him the injection, when I… I wasn’t going to let my father die. I can’t take him to the zone, Andre. They’ll kill him.

 

ANDRE stares at her, shocked. There is another banging sound in the HALLWAY. Closer this time. They can hear the soldier’s voices now from the room. He looks back at ANNA.

 

ANDRE

Okay.

 

RICK comes into the room with his military duffle and backpack.

 

ANNA

Sorry, we’re packin’ light, sarge.

 

ANNA grabs the bag and throws it to the ground. She picks up the knife and gun and hands them back to her father.

RICK checks his gun, mechanically without even hesitating or thinking about it.

ANNA grabs her rifle and her bags, and ANDRE does the same with his gear. Then the three head towards the door.

ANNA opens the door. The soldiers are close. Possibly just on the floor below them.

 

ANNA

Okay. We’re moving down the hallway. In the last room on the right there is another fire exit outside the window. We’ll take that down, and then run. Andre, you head back to the zone. Go as fast as you can. As long as they don’t know who you are you’ll be safe. Dad, you and I are going West.

RICK

Roger.

ANDRE

What if one of them is outside?

 

ANNA says nothing. She just takes a moment, breaths, and then swings the door open.

 

HALLWAY

She steps out and heads towards the stairs. ANDRE steps after her, and she points down to the end of the hall. ANDRE goes, and RICK follows. ANNA walks quickly backward, keeping her sights on the stairs.

ANDRE reaches the last door on the right and opens it. A cloud of dust and spores swirls in the dark room.

 

ANDRE

Shit, ANNA! This room is-

ANNA

Just hold your breath and GO, damn it!

 

ANDRE puts his shirt over his mouth and nose and enters the room. RICK does the same, and then ANNA follows, shutting the door behind her. As she does, the soldiers enter the HALLWAY from the stairs and head towards ANNA and RICK’s apartment.

 

SPORE APARTMENT

ANNA takes the lead and moves towards the window. The infectious spores are thick, and in the corner there are the remains of an infected person, fungus growing out from their body.

ANNA reaches the window and tries to open it. It won’t budge. ANDRE goes to help her, while RICK stays trained on the door.

The voices of the soldiers can be heard outside down the hall. They sound upset.

ANNA looks at the window, then, without warning grabs her rifle and slams it against the glass- shattering it. She pushes ANDRE outside of it and he falls out onto the fire escape.

 

EXT. APARTMENT ALLEYWAY

ANDRE looks up, and sees RICK coming out of the window followed by ANNA. ANDRE goes to assist her but she lands, perfectly and without missing a beat starts going down the escape.

 

ANNA

MOVE. NOW!

 

When they reach the bottom of the escape, they can now hear shouting above them.

ANNA and ANDRE hit the ground, on their feet and as RICK begins to finish his decent down the escape, shots are fired above them. A few bullets ricochets of the building behind them and others bounce off of the fire escape.

 

RICK

Go!

 

RICK lays down some cover fire, and ANDRE and ANNA head towards the STREET. RICK follows quickly, once the soldiers duck back in through the window they were shooting out of.

One of the soldiers leans out of the window and takes aim…

 

STREET

ANNA and ANDRE rush into the street and just as RICK does the soldier fires from the alleyway and the bullet connects with RICK.

 

RICK

(falling)

AH!

ANNA

DAD!

LIEUTENANT

DON’T MOVE!

 

Right outside the entrance of the APARTMENT BUILDING stands the LIEUTENANT and another soldier. The LIEUTENANT still has his mask on, but the soldier (GAFF) does not. They both have their assault rifle fixed on ANNA and ANDRE, who are now looking at them- frozen.

ANNA tries to glance over her shoulder at RICK. He’s face down, one arm tight to his side and one out in front with his pistol a few feet away from his outstretched hand. He’s not moving. Blood is beginning to soak his shirt.

 

LIEUTENANT (cont’)

I said don’t fucking move!

 

ANNA’s head snaps back to him, anger and tears in her eyes.

 

LIEUTENANT

(into radio)

We have them. Hurry down, but stay frosty. Could be more.

(To GAFF)

Check ‘em.

 

GAFF steps towards ANNA and ANDRE. He grabs their weapons and tosses them to the ground.  The LIEUTENANT takes off his filter mask, and looks ANNA and ANDRE up and down. GAFF begins to pat them down. He grabs his radio.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to GAFF)

Make sure to check the old-timer, too.

 

GAFF nods, and heads towards RICK.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Bravo, give me a sit rep.

SOLDIER (V.O)

Second floor. Doesn’t seem to be anybody else here.

 

GAFF bends over RICK.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Roger. Finish the sweep, and clear out.

(looks at ANNE and ANDRE)

Where’s the rest of them?

 

ANDRE
Ain’t nobody else…

 

The LIEUTENANT raises his gun directly at ANDRE’s head.

 

LIEUTENANT

Don’t lie to me, dickhead. Where are the others?

ANDRE

WHO?

LIEUTENANT

You damn well know who! The rest of you!

 

ANNE looks puzzled, and her gaze goes from the LIEUTENANT to ANDRE. ANDRE looks back at her, but as he does her eyes adjust to look at something slightly behind him… to the white symbol on the wall: the Fireflies symbol. The realization dawns on her.

ANDRE follows her gaze, and realizes as well.

 

ANDRE

No, NO. We’re not with them.

LIEUTENANT

Shut the fuck up.

(looks up at GAFF, who is still bent over RICK)

Gaff, what’s his status?

 

There is no reply for a while. GAFF just remains crouched, until he slowly stands up and tries to grab for his assault rifle. When he turns his head to LIEUTENANT though we see the butt end of a knife sticking out from under his chin, blood dripping from the handle and oozing out of his mouth as he tries to stutter something.

 

LIEUTENANT

Shit!

 

As GAFF falls to the ground, RICK gets up, gritting his teeth and grabs GAFF’s rifle and his pistol. ANNA and ANDRE duck as LIEUTENANT raises his rifle and fires, but RICK fires back driving the LIEUTENANT behind the FEDRA vehicle.

ANDRE and ANNA grab their weapons and backpacks (but not the big duffle with food and water) and fall behind RICK as he lays down cover fire. ANNA grabs GAFF’s leg and tries pulling him back behind the alley.

ANDRE sees her struggle and helps. Finally RICK joins them, and they hide behind the corner of the ALLEYWAY.

 

ALLEYWAY

 

ANDRE

What the hell did you grab him for?

 

ANNA crouches over the dead soldier and grabs several full mags for the assault rifle, and hands them to RICK. He nods to her. ANNA then grabs the knife, an Italian Stiletto Switchblade, from GAFF’s jaw and gets up, then pushes ANDRE down the ALLEYWAY. RICK follows, wincing at the pain in his side- where he was shot. He keeps his focus towards the street though, gun trained.

ANNA and ANDRE round the corner, and stop just short of the line with the cans on it. They duck, and RICK follows. Then they head down the SECOND ALLEYWAY, the one where the dead RUNNER originated. They hear shouting from the direction they came from.

ANNA leads the way down the SECOND ALLEYWAY. A large WAREHOUSE is to the right and to the left is another building. Up ahead we can see another street and a dumpster off to the side near the WAREHOUSE. Just before the dumpster, there is a slightly ajar door that leads into the WAREHOUSE.

ANNA sprints towards the street, the two men close behind her. The FEDRA truck suddenly skids to a stop at the end of the alleyway on the street. The LIEUTENANT jumps out with another soldier, and aims from behind the safety of the vehicle. ANNA and the other two duck behind the dumpster as the LIEUTENANT and his man take a few shots. ANNA looks back and sees the other two soldiers come around the corner (where they just came from), guns raised.

 

ANNA

Screw it.

 

ANNA kicks in the door to the WAREHOUSE.

 

ANNA

Go!

ANDRE

Are you serious?

 

Shots are fired.

ANNA grabs ANDRE and throws him into the building and follows him. RICK enters the building and then the door slams shut just as bullets hit the bricks where they just stood.

 

INT. WAREHOUSE

It’s dark. The only light available is sunlight peeking through dirty windows. The building is very dirty, and run down looking. One part of the floor off to the right has completely collapsed to the basement. Cobwebs and mold is everywhere. There are some spores, but not enough to cause alarm.

ANNA turns on a flashlight at the end of the assault rifle. It’s quiet inside the building, but they can hear the gunfire outside. One stray bullet shatters a window, and more light filters in. ANNA looks around, and sees an old filing cabinet. She goes over to it.

 

ANNA

Fucking help me.

 

RICK goes over, followed by ANDRE, and then the three push the cabinet in front of the door. When they are done ANNA sits on the desk and ANDRE collapses. RICK tries to stand up straight and catch his breath, but the wind is knocked out of him from his wound. He doubles over and ANNA rushes to him.

She examines RICK, with what little light there is. His shirt is dripping with blood and his breathing is a little ragged.

 

ANNA

How is it?

RICK

(through the pain)

Had worse.

 

ANNA

We need to get this taken care of.

 

There is a crashing sound, and they turn to see a canister flying through a window, spewing a gas of some kind.

 

ANDRE

MOVE!

 

ANDRE and ANNA have RICK put his arms around them and they quickly head towards the room’s exit as it fills with gas.

There are some spores present, but not a lot. Not enough for them to be worried. They enter a HALLWAY and the gas slowly creeps out after them, but not going much farther.

The three quickly move down the hall, and they hear some banging behind them. No doubt the soldiers are trying to enter.

The HALLWAY extends forward and then opens up into a small LOBBY. There are two doors there, but as they take a step towards them they can hear the vehicle pull up outside.

To the left there is a door marked STAIRWAY. ANNA and ANDRE look at each other, and then head for the door.

 

WAREHOUSE STAIRWAY

The door to the STAIRWAY swings open and the three enter. ANDRE slams the door closed behind them.

 

ANNA

(to RICK)

You think you can make it?

 

RICK

(through closed eyes)

I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me. Just… get my men out

 

ANNE and ANDRE share a glance but then RICK groans and starts to go limp.

 

ANNA

Fuck. dad- DAD! Andre, help me get him someplace safe.

 

ANDRE takes hold of RICK again with ANNA and they start up the stairs, quickly. They get to the second floor, and open the door. It’s dark. Even darker than the first floor. They wait a moment. From somewhere, deep inside… they hear a CLICKER.

 

ANDRE

We can go one more up.

 

From below, they hear the door to the stairway open loudly and someone shout “GO!”

ANNA pulls RICK through the second floor door, and ANDRE follows, shutting the door as quietly as he can.

 

SECOND FLOOR

Once inside, ANDRE and ANNA start pushing a few desks and cabinets in front of the door- anything they can. Then they grab RICK, and move deeper into the space, listening. They can hear the CLICKER and possibly more…. There are also other subtle movement sounds. This floor definitely has a number of infested residing on it.

The three go past aisles of cabinets and clutter before finding a small corner with a desk. ANNA motions for them to go behind it, and the two drag RICK there and set him down. His breathing is deep and ragged.

 

ANNA

I need to take care of this.

ANDRE

I’ve got him. You keep watch.

ANNA

Don’t be stupid. I’m the nurse-

ANDRE

You’re also the better fighter. I said I got this!

 

ANNA stands up, and there is a sudden banging at the door to the stairway. It’s the soldiers. In the distance a CLICKER howls, and begins to run.

ANNA lifts her gun, and waits. Soon enough the CLICKER passes by her in a dead sprint towards the sound of the banging door. It has the body of a female, but other than the mouth the face is no longer visible. Instead, the fungus has taken over the entire head.

The door to the stairs opens and a soldier steps through and is tackled backwards by the CLICKER. The man begins to scream and there is a sudden stream of gunfire followed by silence. ANNA can hear a few more of the infected on the floor getting agitated.

 

LIEUTENANT (VO)

(distant/from stairway)

Son of a bitch.

 

There’s a single gunshot, followed by silence.

After a long moment another soldier enters the space through the door, gun raised. Behind him is the other soldier and the LIEUTENANT. They all have masks on now.

 

ANNA

(to ANDRE)

No matter what, take care of him.

 

ANNA suddenly leaves ANDRE and RICK. ANDRE watches for a moment, and then gets back to work on RICK.

ANNA moves slowly back into the aisles, and turns the light on the rifle off. She is keeping her focus in the direction of the soldiers. The soldiers have their lights on. To her left she can hear something shifting around.

She rounds the corner of an aisle and sees another CLICKER. Its clicks are soft, and spaced out. It’s relatively quiet and stealthy for its kind.  ANNA looks around and, at her feet, lays a book- a manual of some kind. She grabs it and lobs it across the space.

 

SOLDIER #1

What was that?!

 

The CLICKER howls, and takes off in a sprint towards the soldiers.

 

SOLDIER #2

Got it.

 

The CLICKER runs down the aisle where the book was thrown, and at the end of the aisle stands SOLDIER #2. He raises his rifle, and fires a single head shot at the CLICKER, who dies instantly. SOLDIER #2 lowers his weapon, and steps towards the fallen infected to examine it. He then looks and sees the book, which was thrown.

Suddenly, a knifed hand comes from behind the soldier and slits his throat. As he begins to go down arms come up to stop him. ANNA buckles slightly under the weight of the soldier, but is able to keep him from falling and making any major noise. She sets his body down softly, and moves on after grabbing some more assault rifle ammunition.

 

CUT TO:

The LIEUTENANT and SOLDIER #1 move slowly down the aisles. They hear infected really agitated now on the floor, moving their way. The LIEUTENANT grabs his radio.

 

LIEUTENANT

(to radio)

Brant, status?

 

There is nothing but static in reply.

 

LIEUTENANT

(with venom)

Cocksuckers.

(to SOLDIER #1)

Stay alert. Shoot on sight.

 

The two soldiers continue to move forward… towards the direction of the desk where ANDRE and RICK are.

ANDRE is bent over RICK. He has his shirt up and is trying to stitch up the exit wound. He’s already done the entrance. ANDRE goes for his backpack, which makes a shuffling sound.

LIEUTENANT and SOLDIER #1 hear the shuffling sound, and their heads snap up towards the desk. They take a few steps towards it.

ANDRE crouches lower.

 

ANDRE

(silent)

SHIT.

 

ANNA is watching the action take place, eyes wide. The desk is wooden, so she can’t shoot at the men for fear the bullets may pierce through the desk and hit ANDRE and her father. But the soldiers could, at any second, open fire.

ANNA aims the gun upward, and begins to fire.

 

The soldiers turn towards the sound and move quickly.

 

ANDRE watches from his position, and then gets back to work. He opens the bag up and grabs some tape and gauze.

 

LIEUTENANT

Got you…

 

Deeper in the halls, the sounds of infected grow louder until finally several rush into the space.

SOLDIER #1 turns and fires at the infected, dropping them. More howl in the distance.

 

LIEUTENANT

You cover our six, I got point.

 

LIEUTENANT moves forward with precision. ANNA passes in front of his light beam.

 

LIEUTENANT (cont’)

Contact!

 

LIEUTENANT fires. One of the bullets grazes her calf. She yelps in pain, and falls. She gets back up and begins limping away.

The LIEUTENANT rounds a corner and sees some fresh blood on the floor, leading away. Under his mask he can’t help but smile.

 

More infected enter the space, and SOLDIER #1 fires.

One of the infected is a RUNNER, who stops just short of being shot with the others and turns to see ANDRE bent over RICK. The RUNNER howls and sprints towards ANDRE, who looks up- terrified.

SOLDIER #1 spots the lone RUNNER heading towards the desk, and squints.

 

 

SOLDIER #1

Lieutenant, I think some of the targets are behind us.

LIEUTENANT

Copy. Go for it. I got this one.

 

SOLDIER #1 fires from his position.

ANDRE watches as the RUNNER comes towards him, but then is met with a spray of bullets. The gunfire doesn’t stop though. It starts hammering the desk, and he takes cover. One bullet makes it through the desk. Then another. And another…

 

ANNA leans up against a wall, and catches her breath. She hears the gunfire, and is trying to work her way around to get a shot at SOLDIER #1 but LIEUTENANT is hot on her. She hears a shuffling, and then sees the light from CAPTAIN’s gun come around the corner of an aisle, and he fires at her. She runs, just missing the bullets as they hit the wall.

 

LIEUTENANT moves in, knowing he’s close to cornering her.

 

ANDRE grabs the pistol and cocks it. A bullet passes through the desk right above his head as he does. He begins firing through the desk, and SOLDIER #1 takes cover.

ANDRE peeks out and sees the position of the soldier from the light on his gun. He can hear more infected heading their way, as well as something else. Something big. He watches as a RUNNER comes towards the soldier and is shot down. After, SOLDIER #1 slowly lowers his gun a few inches and stares into the darkness where the infected are coming from.

ANDRE looks, and doesn’t see anything. He looks back and sees SOLDIER #1 backing up.

 

SOLDIER #1

What the hell…!?

 

Suddenly a giant sack of Mycotoxin (toxic spores produced by the fungus) is hurled from the darkness towards the soldier, and explodes as it hits one of the shelves in the aisles. The soldier backs up even more, and tries to frantically radio in.

 

SOLDIER #1

Sir… LIEUTENANT!

 

CUT TO:

ANNA is being herded farther away from her father and ANDRE now. She can hear SOLDIER #1 over the CAPTAIN’s radio, and she can also hear that the LIEUTENANT is not responding to his comrade’s cry.

Before the LIEUTENANT rounds another corner, ANNA fires a few round in his direction, keeping him back.

She hears more shouting over the radio, through static.

 

SOLDIER #1 (V.O)

SIR! We need- leave- Something-BIG. FUCKING BIG – shit everywhere, it burns! -Oh my God! – LIEUTENANT!

 

CUT TO:

ANDRE watches in horror as, out of the darkness, comes a big hulking shape- a BLOATER. It’s large and imposing, and looks like a corpse that’s been soaking in water for too long. Fungus covers its entire body, acting as a kind of armor plating. It makes a deep clicking/groaning sound, and then lobs a Mycotoxin sack towards SOLDIER #1.

The soldier gives up trying to radio, and begins spraying the infected with bullets while backing up. The bullets seem to have no effect on the beast. Finally the soldier reaches the door to the stairway and rushes out of it. ANDRE looks back and two CLICKERS are starting to edge in towards the action as well.

A bloody hand comes up and grabs on to his shoulder. He looks back and it’s RICK, standing.

 

RICK

Let’s go, soldier.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA is now literally backed into a corner. She’s scooting a cabinet over, and taking a position behind it.

 

LIEUTENANT

Bitch… you’re gonna’ fucking die here. Shame, really. You’re damn skilled. Would’a made a fine soldier. Did you have training?

 

LIEUTENANT reaches the opening and sees the cabinet. The window casts enough light in that he can see ANNA’s shadow on the opposite wall from behind the cabinet. He lifts his gun.

 

RICK

Yeah, she did.

 

LIEUTENANT looks back and his head is met with the butt of a gun. He topples over on to the floor. He looks up stunned, and then he’s hit again and passes out.

ANNA peeks out and sees her father standing over the LIEUTENANT and ANDRE close by. RICK bends over and picks up the assault rifle from the CAPTAIN, and some ammo.

 

RICK

Move out.

 

ANNA comes out from the corner, just as a sack of Mycotoxin falls near them. They all look back and see that the BLOATER and a few CLICKERS are heading their way.

 

ANNA

What… the…

ANDRE

Let’s go.

 

The three start heading back towards the exit, but not before ANNA topples over a large shelf, pinning the LIEUTENANT and jarring him awake. The sound distracts the infected from the fleeing group, and draws them towards the LIEUTENANT.

The three exit into the STAIRWAY.

The LIEUTENANT tries getting himself unstuck, but to no avail. He looks up and the BLOATER reaches down and grabs at his face and rips his mask off. LIEUTENANT begins to scream, but the BLOATER hooks into his jaws and starts to tear open his mouth…

 

CUT TO:

STAIRWAY

We hear the CAPTAIN’s screams and then abruptly end. ANNA, ANDRE, and RICK never stop or look back. They head down to the first floor and exit the STAIRWAY into:

 

LOBBY

As they enter the LOBBY the main doors slam shut. They hurry towards them, and open them.

 

EXT. STREET – DUSK

The sun is beginning to set. SOLDIER #1 is running around the front of the FEDRA truck and is about to get in when he’s met with a spray of bullets from RICK.

The three of them approach the vehicle and get in. RICK is moving very militarist again, like he was in the alleyway. RICK is about to hop into the driver’s seat when ANNA stops him.

 

ANNA

I got it, dad.

 

RICK looks at her, and begins to slowly realize who she is.

 

 

RICK

Yes, ma’am. I mean… Anna.

 

 

RICK gets into the rear of the vehicle. From the other side of the truck ANDRE gives ANNA a questioning look. She nods, and gets in without a word. ANDRE climbs into the back of the truck. Once he closes the door they take off.

The truck pulls a U turn and they go back towards their apartment building. ANNA gets out of the truck and picks up the duffle bag full of food and supplies that had been left behind. She throws it into the truck then hops back in and they start up again down the street.

 

 

CUT TO:

FEDRA TRUCK/HIGHWAY- NIGHT

Night has just set in, and the group is heading down the highway- towards the zone. RICK is asleep in the back and ANDRE is now seated up front.

 

ANDRE

Here is good. I don’t want to get too close.

 

ANNA pulls over the vehicle and the two get out. ANNA now has a bandage around her leg as well. There is a long pause.

 

ANNA

Thank you.

ANDRE

No problem.

ANNA

(after another pause)

Should be easier to sneak in, now that it’s dark.

ANDRE

Hopefully.

(Pause)

Where are you heading?

ANNA

Don’t know. I’ll need to ditch the truck. More soldiers will be out soon, if they aren’t already. I’ll make sure we get far enough away though.

ANDRE

We could try to sneak in, together. All of us.

ANNA

Don’t be stupid. Someone would notice us.

ANDRE

I could-

ANNA

Andre.

ANDRE stands in silence, and looks off towards where the zone is. We can just make it out- perhaps five or so miles away.

ANDRE

Anna… I know there is… nothing I can say that will make you change your mind-

ANNA

You’re right.

ANDRE

What if you didn’t even go to the zone? What if we go, you and me- find a Firefly outpost.

ANNA

I’m not leaving him.

ANDRE

Him to. For now. I mean… That’s not what- (Pause) You know, right before the outbreak happened… I remember I was going over to my neighbor’s house, my best friend’s place, to hang out. When I got there his mom said that they couldn’t have visitors because his dad had come home sick from work that day and they wanted to make sure I wasn’t exposed to whatever it was. A few hours later when all Hell broke loose and we were packing up our car we heard screaming next door. My parents shoved me into our car and as we drove away I could see my friend’s dad… killing them through the window. Ripping them apart.

ANNA

Andre…I know you’re trying to say something.

ANDRE

ANNA… your dad may not be infected, but he’s still sick. And… if you expose yourself to it, you’re going to die too.

ANNA

(after a long pause)

You can fucking leave now.

 

ANDRE opens the back door, and grabs his gear. Without a second glance back he starts down the road towards the quarantine zone.

ANNA watches him for a few seconds, thoughtful, before climbing back into the truck and driving back the way she came.

 

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY/TRUCK – NIGHT

ANNA drives, while RICK is in the passenger seat examining one of the assault rifles.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY – DAY

The two have parked off. RICK is siphoning off some gas through a hose and filling some containers with it.

ANNA is looking around. There are a bunch of abandoned trucks and vehicles laying around, pushed to each side of the road.

She wipes some dust away from a car window before breaking it and opens the door. She finds some medications and stuffs them into her bag. She peers inside several abandoned cars.

 

RICK

Don’t forget that one.

 

RICK is finishing up, putting the caps on the fuel containers. ANNA looks at the last car her dad was referring to, then walks towards it. She peers in through the window. She sees a rotting corpse of a woman in the front seat, a gun in her lap. The woman has a hole in her head.

ANNA goes to break the window and as she does she looks in the back. In the back, sitting in a safety seat, is the corpse of a baby. It too has been shot and killed. ANNA begins to well up, and her arms slump to her side. She walks away.

 

ANNA

Nothing. Let’s go.

 

The two load up the FEDRA truck and start off.

 

CUT TO:

HIGHWAY/TRUCK – DUSK

ANNA is driving.

 

ANNA

Looks promising.

RICK

Hm. Yeah. Just keep your eyes peeled.

 

 

The two turn off of the HIGHWAY and onto the STREET.

There are still plenty of abandoned cars, rusting and growing moss.

There are buildings now which don’t seem to be in much better condition. Miles away they can see several larger structures, including the parking structure, on a small strip. Not as big as those closer to the city where they were, but still large. This area is more suburban.

They see houses that were once nice, and apartment complexes, and stores. No infected, yet, though.

 

RICK

Might as well try for that structure. The parking garage. We’ll do some recon around here, see what we can find.

ANNA

Yes, sir. I’mma drive a little out though first.

 

ANNA turns down a residential street where houses are lined up on each side. She continues down this road for several miles. Outside it’s a nice evening. Calm. Birds in the sky, and the sun is beginning to set.

After a while she looks up and sees that at the end of the street is a school.

 

ANNA (con’t)

 We need to ditch this truck and I don’t want to do that anywhere near where we’ll be setting up-

RICK

Why is the road wet? It hasn’t rained.

 

ANNA looked ahead and saw that the ground was indeed wet. RICK sniffed a little, then opened his window just a crack.

A realization quickly sweeps across his face.

 

RICK

Shit, it’s-

 

From out of the window of a building a red flare shoots out and strikes the wet pavement. Huge flames erupt from the gas soaked STREET and engulf the underbelly of the vehicle.

ANNA looks ahead and sees a large school bus edging in front of them until they crash into it.

 

ALL GOES BLACK.

 

POV shot as ANNA waking up to her father yelling, her vision blurry until it locks on him.

 

RICK
Grab what you can!

Out of POV

ANNA looks around and grabs their bag of weapons. Blood is covering the side of her head. She looks back and sees that their containers of fuel are leaking everywhere. As she turns to her door she sees the passenger door swing open and a group of people pulling RICK out of the car.

 

ANNA

DAD!

 

ANNA opened her door and is licked by flames. Suddenly someone dressed in all black tactical gear (ANDERSON) starts pulling her out. ANNA kicks them off, and jumps out of the vehicle.

ANNA tries to land, but her foot is caught by the person she just kicked.

 

ANDERSON

Grab her!

 

Two more individuals dressed in the gear grab hold of ANNA as she reaches for her switch blade. They lift her up and one of them takes the blade away. The two drag her off as she thrashes about, yelling.

 

ANNA

Dad. DAD!

 

ANDERSON gets up and jogs towards them. There is a group of people standing on the side of the road and several more inside a shop. Several of them have the same gear on, and several are in regular clothes. All have guns.

 

ANDERSON

Everyone get back!

 

A group of people moves into the SCHOOL, while ANNA and her captures stay just outside.

There is an explosion, and the FEDRA truck is engulfed in flames.

ANNA looks on in horror, but as the flames begin to die down she can see that her father is kneeling on the other side in front of a house. He’s surrounded by men, all with guns trained on him.

 

ANNA

(turning)

Let him go you mother-

 

ANNA is hit in the back of the head and falls unconscious.

 

ALL GOES BLACK.

 

INT. SCHOOL ROOM #1- NIGHT

ANNA wakes up slowly, and then immediately tries to stand up. She is strapped down. She looks around. She’s in a classroom. An elementary classroom and she’s strapped to a medical cot. Her head has since been bandaged and the one side of her face has been cleaned of blood. But the rest of her face is still covered in soot and dust. He clothes are filthy.

 

ANDERSON

Don’t thrash too much. Those cots are shit, and will tip over.

 

ANNA leans her head back and sees ANDERSON behind her, near the door of the classroom.

 

ANNA

Where the hell… who the hell are-

ANDERSON

Please, relax. We’re not going to hurt you.

ANNA

Hurt me again you mean.

ANDERSON

Yeah. We’re… erm-

ANNA

Sorry? Fuck you.

 

ANDERSON pulls a chair close to ANNA and sits.

 

ANDERSON

Look we thought you were them. You were in a FEDRA truck. We have to take precautions…

ANNA

What did you do with my dad?

 

ANDERSON

He’s alright. He‘s-

ANNA

I want to see him. NOW.

ANDERSON

You will. Soon. But first you need to answer my questions.

 

ANNA glares at him for a moment, and then relaxes.

 

ANDERSON

Why where you in a FEDRA truck?

ANNA

We stole it.

ANDERSON

Bull shit.

(Pause)

 How? Why?

ANNA

Closer to the city… to the zone. Got into a standoff and we won. Needed to get out of there and fast. Figured a vehicle is pretty fast. So long as we don’t crash it.

 

ANDERSON

Were you fleeing the zone?

ANNA

We… yes.

ANDERSON

(pause)

Want to try that again?

ANNA

We actually were. But… we… we were never really there to begin with. My dad and I. Never in the zone. They were going to try and take us there. We weren’t going.

ANDERSON

So you haven’t once been inside a zone?

ANNA

No.

ANDERSON

Lucky you. Why?

ANNA

No, no. My turn. Who the hell are you people? Just outsiders, or-

 

ANDERSON

Fireflies.

 

ANNA gives a momentary subtle look of shock, but regains her composure.

 

ANNA

Really?

ANDERSON

Really.

ANNA

(pause)

Guess this all makes sense, then.

 

ANDERSON

My name is Anderson. I was once a part of FEDRA. Until it turned into this … monster it is now. The goal had been to restore order. That’s never going to happen with them now. That’s why I joined the Fireflies. We are seeking to reestablish equilibrium.

ANNA

Fantastic. That sounds like a really noble thing to do. The right thing, yeah? Good luck with it.

ANDERSON

You don’t need to be afraid. We’re safe here.

ANNA

Don’t care. Let. Us. Go.

ANDERSON

(pause)

You’ll be free, soon enough. For now, just enjoy your rest.

ANDERSON stands up and starts towards the door.

ANNA

HEY, I want to see my dad.

ANDERSON

You will. Please, try and trust us. Try and relax… uh?(searching for name)

ANNA

Anna.

ANDERSON

Anna. Nice to meet you. Let us know if you need anything.

ANDERSON leaves the room.

 

ANNA

Yeah. I need to see my dad, fucking asshole.

 

As the door shuts ANNA leans her head back down and stares at the ceiling, then looks at the wall.

There is a motivational poster that reads:

SUCCESS

Success Is A Journey, Not A Destination.

 

ANNA rolls her eyes and lays her head back down. Soon she starts drifting off to sleep.

 

FADE TO BLACK.

 

CUT TO:

SCHOOL ROOM #1- DAY

ANNA wakes up and head talking outside. She can also hear something like a fire crackling. A grill.

She leans up and notices that she is no longer strapped down. She gets up, and moans.

 

ANNA

(in pain)

Shitshitshit.Ugh.

FIREFLY #1 walks in.

FIREFLY #1

Good, you’re up.

ANNA

Yeah, I suppose that’s a good thing.

FIREFLY#1

Come with me, when you’re ready.

 

ANNA gets up and follows FIREFLY #1 out of the room.

 

SCHOOL HALLWAY

The two head down a hallway towards the gym.

 

FIREFLY #1

ANDERSON thought you may want a shower. We have clean clothes for you also.

 

ANNA

My dad, I want to-

FIREFLY #1

You will. I promise.

 

The two stop outside of the gym. ANNA turns to FIREFLY #1.

 

ANNA

You guys are dicks.

FIREFLY #1

Enjoy.

 

CUT TO:

SHOWERS

ANNA is sitting on a bench in the school shower room.

She is clean, and her hair is still damp. She has a long row of stitches on the side of her head.

ANNA is getting dressed in clean clothes that look to be a size too big on her. Once she is done she heads up the stairs.

 

GYM

There are several people here including one in a doctor coat. She approaches them.

 

ANNA

You the one who stitched my head?

FIREFLY DOCTOR

Erm, yes.

 

ANNA

Thanks. But your suturing skills can use some work. Can I have a wrap please?

 

The DOCTOR gives her some supplies.

 

CUT TO:

EXT. SCHOOL YARD

ANNA steps out of the building and into the open day. She looks around and starts towards the grill. Her head is now bandaged back up, although it’s damp from her hair.

Several FIREFLIES are standing around. One at the grill, cooking chicken. There are some in tactical gear that have assault rifles near the fence.

She just as she reaches the grill she notices RICK stepping out from another door. ANDERSON is behind him. RICK is clean as well and has new clothes.

ANNA breaks into a dead sprint, and nearly tackles her father.

 

RICK

EXCUSE- Oh my god, ANNA!

ANNA

Dad!

ANDERSON

Man of my word.

ANNA

(to ANDERSON)

‘Bout damn time.

ANDERSON

Precautions. I apologize.

ANNA

(to RICK)

How are you?

RICK

Good. I got wounded though, I guess. They took care of me though. Have you seen your mom?

ANDERSON

He’s been asking about, Ellie is her name? We-

ANNA

Dad, you remember yesterday?

RICK

Yeah. Yeah. The attack on the bunker and those soldiers. Just don’t remember getting shot is all. We lost a man though right?

ANNA

Andre… he, no. He’s fine. He… he was shipped home.

RICK

He’s a good man. Deserves to see his family. But where is mommy, baby girl?

ANNA

Dad, she’s-

 

ANNA looks over an ANDERSON, who has his arms crossed. His face though is sympathetic… understanding.

 

ANDERSON

You two have to be hungry. Please, get some food.

 

The two get food, chicken breasts. They then sit down on a bench and eat.

 

RICK

How are you?

ANNA

I’m fine. Head got banged up in the crash.

RICK

Ah. Well, it was luck of us that we found another platoon right?

ANNA

Right.

 

ANNA looks over and sees ANDERSON seemingly arguing with another man, DAN. DAN keeps pointing over. She strains her ears to see what she can hear.

 

DAN

(hushed)

-and he’s fucking gone. We can’t have him here. He’s a liability.

ANDERSON

(hushed)

No. Every man counts.

DAN

Keep thinking that, until he ends up getting someone killed.

ANNA

(to RICK)

We won’t be staying long though. You gonna’ be good to move out soon?

RICK

Yes, ma’am.

 

DAN walks away, upset, and ANDERSON turns to look at ANNA for a moment and then walks over.

ANDERSON

So, apart from the whole almost dying thing… how do you guys like it here?

 

 

ANNA gets up after finishing her food, and RICK follows.

 

ANNA

Just fine, but we won’t be staying. We appreciate the help, and the food, but we gotta go

ANDERSON

Wait, hold on-

ANNA

Come on dad.

 

RICK and ANNA walk back inside of the building leaving ANDERSON outside watching.

 

 

INT. SCHOOL ROOM #2

Firefly #2 leads ANNA and RICK into the room.

 

Firefly #2

All of your stuff that went undamaged is in here.

ANNA

And our weapons.

Firefly #2

They’ll, er, be returned to you on your way out. Although you’re more than welcome to-

ANNA

Thanks.

 

Firefly #2 leaves the two as they start collecting their things. Most of the important stuff like their medical equipment and other items in their bags has, surprisingly, been left untouched.

ANDERSON soon walks in, with a young black woman (MARLENE) trailing behind him.

 

ANDERSON

Hey, there was something I wanted to talk to you guys about.

ANNA

Make it fast. (to Rick) We’re leaving in ten.

RICK

Yes, ma’am.

 

ANDERSON

We need people. And you two are more than welcome to stay. My doctor said that that you have medical experience. That’s perfect. We need more doctors-

ANNA

I’m a nurse.

ANDERSON

Still great. We need people. And your dad, Rick, you look like you can handle a weapon well, and take care of yourself. (chuckles) He knocked out two of my guys yesterday after pulling him out of that truck. He’s trained. We can use him-

ANNA

Until he turns on you.

 

ANDERSON looks puzzled, and RICK stops what he’s doing and looks at ANNA.

 

ANNA

You know how many times he’s pointed a gun at my face, or threatened to slit my throat in my sleep? Me. His own daughter. What the fuck do you think he’s going to do to strangers, your people? He is a liability.

 

There is a moment of silence in the room. RICK slowly starts going back to packing, hurt.

 

ANDERSON

We’re… forming teams. Trying to send reinforcements to other sections. Our next once is heading close to Boston. This Marlene. She’s leading the team, and they defiantly need people.

ANNA

I’m not fucking dragging my dad all the way to Boston. God, you people are fucking dense.

MARLENE

If I may… we would really appreciate-

 

ANNA shoulders her pack. RICK hesitantly does the same.

 

ANNA

I’m stopping you, now. We’re leaving. We’re not staying. We’re not fucking going to Boston, or anywhere with you. We’ve survived this long on our own, we’ll be fine.

 

ANNA starts towards door.

 

MARLENE

I really think we can help one another-

ANNA

Get the hell out of my way.

 

MARLENE looks at ANDERSON and he nods. She moves aside and ANNA and RICK leave.

 

EXT. SCHOOL YARD

RICK and ANNA exit the building and heads towards the gate. Beyond, just down the road is what remains of the FEDRA truck. A group of men surround it, trying to clean up the debris.

MARLENE comes walking out of the school with ANDERSON behind her. She is shouldering the bag with RICK and ANNA’s weapons and walking towards them. ANDERSON stops and watches.

MARLENE approaches them and hands off the weapons to RICK. ANNA reaches into the bag, grabs her switchblade and pistol. She checks the gun, mechanically.

 

ANNA

Open the gate. Unless you’re forcing us to stay here against our will.

 

MARLENE

We wouldn’t do that. We believe that people still have rights. Even when the world’s gone to shit.

 

MARLENE opens the gate.

 

MARLENE

I wish you’d reconsider.

ANNA

(Pause)

You don’t want us around. We’re more trouble than we’re worth.

MARLENE

I doubt that. But the offer still stands, if you change your mind.

RICK and ANNA step outside. The gate is then closed and the two start heading down the street. RICK looks at ANNA, wanting to say something but doesn’t. ANNA doesn’t look back.

 

 

CUT TO:

STREET

The street is lined with stores and shops and a few abandoned cars. RICK peers inside the cars as the walk past. Some of the roads have been blocked off with signs.

 

CUT TO:

Another shot of the two walking down another STREET. There is a dead body in the road that they walk around, not even looking at it.

 

CUT TO:

On the street RICK whistles towards a darkened store. A moment passes and a RUNNER comes barreling out. As it does though it’s tripped and ANNA rushes it, stabbing it in the back of the head. ANNA and RICK then proceed inside, searching.

 

CUT TO:

As they round a corner they see a large structure- an APARTMENT BUILDING. The two look at each other and then start towards it.

 

CUT TO:

INT. APARTMENT BUILDING- DAY

RICK and ANNA kick in the doors to a new APARTMENT BUILDING and aim their weapons. They wait a moment before entering. Hearing nothing, they step inside and close the doors behind them.

The place is dirty, and there is dust in the air. No spores though. This building is distinctly different from the last apartment building.

The two head towards the main desk.

 

OFFICE

ANNA rifles through the office area and finds the keys, and grabs one of the only remaining keys- room 208.

The two then leave the office and head upstairs.

 

APARTMENT 208

The door unlocks and swings open and the two step inside of their new living space. It’s bare. The two look at each other.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA breaking down the door to another apartment. The two go inside and start moving the couch.

 

CUT TO:

ANNA and RICK moving beds into their new apartment.

 

CUT TO:

HALLWAY

ANNA going down a hall, checking each apartment door and making sure they are locked.

 

CUT TO:

208- DUSK

ANNA is looking out the window. There is a fire escape outside.

In the front room is a couch and a twin bed. The bigger bed that they got earlier is in the master bedroom. Right now these are the only furnishings.

RICK enters the room without a shirt. His bandages are all bloody.

 

RICK

We’ll pick up some more stuff tomorrow.

 

ANNA

Not sure how much more there is to find around here. Seems the Fireflies have cleaned this area out well.

 

ANNA goes to the pack that ANDRE had given them and opens it. Inside is a first aid. ANNA grabs it and goes to her father. She slowly peels away the bandages. We can see that a stitch has popped out of the exit wound.

 

ANNA

Damn it. You tore a stitch. I don’t think I have anything to do a new one. For now… just try not to move a lot, okay? We’ll see what we can find tomorrow.

RICK

Alright.

 

ANNA takes off the other bandage and then puts two new ones covering up the bullet wound.

 

RICK

You know, your mom was good at this too. When I came back from tour the last time, and I had that big shrap wound… she was able to clean and redress it better than any doctor.

ANNA

I know. It’s why I wanted to be a nurse.

(pause)

You know, it amazes me some of the shit you remember.

RICK

Heh. When it comes to your mom… I like to think I remember quite a bit.

ANNA

Except that she’s gone.

RICK

(pause)

Maybe I don’t like to remember that.

ANNA

(Pause)

Sorry.

RICK

I guess… it’s her and war. Those two things, I remember most.

 

ANNA says nothing, although this obviously distresses her.

 

RICK

Well, I guess they were kind of the last two things I had before… well, you know. I became like this.

ANNA

(finishes dressing)

Done.

RICK

(looking at bandage)

Like new. Thank you.

 

He smiles, and she gives somewhat of a smile back. Then she starts to get up, and RICK grabs her arm.

 

 

RICK

Honey… I still have plenty of memories of you, too.

ANNA

(smiling, trying to fight tears)

Love you, daddy.

 

RICK

Love you too, baby girl. Get some rest. We’ve had a Hell of a day.

ANNA

Yeah. You too. Tomorrow will be busy. Priority number one, finish clearing the building. I only got about half way.

RICK

Roger that.

 

RICK gets up and goes into the bedroom. ANNA puts the first aid away, and drinks some water before climbing onto the twin mattress and falling asleep.

 

We go to black. And hold there for a long time, almost like it’s the ending. Then we hear the clicking sound of a hammer on a gun being pulled back. Then the faint sound of a door open and close.

We are in ANNA’s POV as her eyes open slightly for a moment and the room is hazy. We see the front room, and the door leading out to the hallway. But that’s it. All is quiet. ANNA goes back to sleep again. And all is dark and quiet for a long time again.

 

BANG

We are out of ANNA’s POV and her eyes snap open- very reminiscent of how the film begins.

BANG.

She sits up very quickly and looks towards the front door.

There is a third BANG and she reaches for her assault rifle, and gets ready to aim it when RICK bursts through the door and slams it shut.

 

 

RICK

(bracing against the door)

They followed me! FUCK. I gave away our position.

 

ANNA

(throwing the locks into place)

Dad! What’s going on?

RICK

They’re out there. They’re coming.

 

ANNA listens and in the distance she can hear the faint howls of infected.

 

ANNA

Oh shit…

RICK

Wake the others!

ANNA

Dad. Dad, listen to me. We need to go.

(heading towards gear, and starts packing.)

 Come on.

RICK

What… what the fuck? What are you talking about?

 

ANNA goes up to RICK and pulls him away from the door. They go into the center of the room and RICK flips the couch over as a barrier.

 

ANNA

What are you doing? We are not staying here!

RICK

I can’t leave our post; our men!

 

The infected can now be heard outside in the hallway approaching the apartment. A few are already scratching at the door.

 

ANNA

(shouldering her backpack)

Dad, we have to go!

RICK

No, I won’t abandon my men! It’s my fault, I led them here!

ANNA

(pulling at him)

DAD!

RICK

(yelling, and pushing her away)

My men need me!

 

ANNA struggles with herself, tears welling up in her eyes. She walks away and then back to RICK- who is vigilantly aimed at the door.

 

 

ANNA

(Pause)

Sarge… sir, do you know what’s behind that door?

RICK

Corporal, I’m very well aware!

ANNA

(kneels down)

We… You can’t let one of those fuckers through, do you hear me!? We gotta’ protect our men!

RICK

Hooah!!

 

ANNA gets up and backs away. RICK is still kneeled behind the flipped over couch, aimed tightly at the doorway. The infected, outside the door, continue to bang against it- howling and screaming. The door begins to splinter around the hinges.

 

ANNA

(still backing up)

You have to protect us …

 

RICK is breathing hard. His face contorted with determination and anger.  He’s trying to control his breathing.

ANNA continues to back up until she reaches the window. Outside is the fire exit. She quietly lifts the window up as the banging continues.

The door splinters some more, and a big chunk falls to the floor. One of the infected can be seen beyond, howling. RICK fires and hits it in the skull. Blood sprays and it falls backwards, Hands reach in from the whole tearing away from the door. The infected are only seconds away from entering…

RICK turns, a smile on his face.

 

RICK

Fuckin’ right! Corporal, get in-

 

RICK sees the open window, and his smile fades. Fear rushes into his eyes as he looks around. The banging continues and the wood splinters loudly.

RICK’s head snaps back and we watches in terror as the infected bring the door down. Then RICK raises his gun, tears in his eyes and anger on his face… and he begins to scream and fire at the oncoming horde.

 

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. BUILDING – NIGHT

ANNA lands on her feet at the bottom of the fire escape, and she hears the gunfire. Tears are streaming down her face as she looks up and hears the howling of RICK and the horde mixed with the gunfire.

The gunfire continues for a second before it abruptly ends and RICK’s screams turn from anger to pain as he is ripped apart.

ANNA’s crying intensifies as she begins running.

SNAP TO BLACK

END.

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3Once again we are finding ourselves in the approaching shadow of the haunt season, folks. The great thing about Illinois is that no matter where you are there never seems to be a shortage of haunted attractions (professional or non.)

I wrote up a list last year, and figured I’d do the same again this year. While there are tons of haunts that I am looking forward to this year and am hoping to hit in Illinois (including my own past haunt home of  Skellington Manor) I’m going to keep this list narrowed to the greater Chicago area. So without further adieu…

 

 

4.) Realm of Terror

(Round Lake Beach, IL)

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This is one of those haunts that, every year, gets consistently great reviews by the general public and critics alike. Stellar sets, and actors who are really on point… it is no doubt  a staple of haunts one in/around the Chicago-land area must visit.  Do note though, this isn’t for the faint of heart (well, really none of these haunts on this list are.) The actors are high energy and really invade your space. A general sense of unease creeps over you as soon as you line up in the que.

 

3.) Basement of the Dead

(Aurora, IL)

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Yep, this was on my list last year folks. Why again? BECAUSE IT’S ALWAYS FREAKING AMAZING, that’s why! These guys continually build and put on one of the best haunts I have ever had to pleasure of experiencing. High energy acting, amazing sets, and full throttle scares from every direction. This place, no matter the night, usually has an insane line qued up at the entrance, and for good reason. They’re one of the best in the state.

 

2.) HellsGate

(Lockport, IL)

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Kicking up a lot of speculation this year is the infamous Zombie Army Productions latest haunt- HellsGate. Inspired by the urban legends of a haunted house found only in the forest that is multi leveled and so scary that if you make it all the way through… your ticket is free! This attraction is found the woods, is multi-storied, but you can only get your money back if you find a special key. Challenge accepted! While my opinions of Statesville range, there can be no doubt that I am excited about this haunt. Woods? Several floors of scares? Amazing sets and makeup?  SOLD.

 

1.)Fable’s Fright Nights

(East Dundee, IL)

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Topping our list again is Fable’s Studios. Last year their amazing experience Project Chaos was cut criminally short. If it’s any indication of what this group can do with an entire theme park, I’m stoked. For the past several months they’ve been doing a Zombie experience at Santa’s Village that has garnered a lot of praise. This haunt season they are turning the entire park into a nightmare with three haunts, and street experiences, and a chance to meet the legendary Krampus himself (all in all, this is very ala Halloween Horror Nights/Howl-Scream/Knott’s.) Super psyched to see what the talented and passionate creators at Fable’s have in store for us.

 

 

That’s it for my list this year! What haunted attractions are you dying to attend?

The haunt season is upon us faster than a drunk jock in a horror film. With many haunted houses opening their doors next week I’ve been trying to prepare myself (as well as my wallet,) planning which haunts I will for sure be wanting to attend this year. I live in the greater Chicago area so there are plenty to choose from!  I’ve managed to narrow down my five top choices which is what I’ll be sharing with you all. So without further adieu, let’s get started…

4.) 13th Floor Chicago

1940 George St., Melrose Park, Illinois 60160

I unfortunately missed his house last year, their first year in the area. While I heard a lot of mixed reviews as far as the scares go there was nothing overly negative, like some other first time haunts in the area. The sets and makeup are said to be spectacular, and with several other locations across the U.S they have to be doing something right!

They have two different houses  this year. One of them, Feral Moon, probably excites me the most! It sound very classic and deals with werewolves. This excites me as The Wolfman is one of my favorite classic monsters.  Dead End District: Wrong Turn seems like a pseudo Evil Dead/28 Days Later mashup of some kind in plot- which will be interesting. I’m not sure based on the description if these things are evil or if they are more zombie like. Either way, bring it on!

3.) Evil Intentions

900 Grace Street Elgin, IL 60120

Their story this year, The Awakening, sounds intriguing- basically centering around the idea that some ghost hunters have awakened a great evil in a local mortuary. I love houses with a story , so that just makes it all the better.  And this house just looks intense, and intense is what I like. Really expecting some great acting, on top of the stellar looking makeup and location they have going on.

2.) Basement of the Dead

42 West New York Street, Aurora, IL

This house launched itself into one of my top top five scariest haunt experiences ever last year. This house is utterly fantastic with some spot on acting and energy from beginning to end in the house, great twists and turns, great line entertainment. The website is advertising itself as bigger better and scarier this year and that the audience will ‘not recognize it from last year’ which really has me pumped. I am anxiously awaiting it again this year in all of it’s gory.

1.) Project Chaos

Right next to Evil Intentions

The latest from Fables Studios, advertising itself as a interactive haunted house- which just makes my life. Anybody who knows me know how much I love experiences like this. To actually be a part of the story make it all the more horrifying. They have a really planned out story for this year, and a great vision driving the haunt forward this year. I’m expecting an experience unlike anything else in the area with this haunt. Plus the fact that it’s right next door to Evil Intentions (in fact they have a partnership deal going on for tickets to both for just $40) is just an added bonus.

While these are just my top four, there are plenty others that I am looking forward too as well in the area. That’s the great thing about living near a populated area- never running short of haunts. Like last year, you can expect some reviews of haunts I’ll be visiting to pop up.

If you have any haunts in the greater Chicago-land area that you think are worth checking out, let me know in the comments!

10

I have been a scareactor for many different haunted houses over the past ten years.  It’s a form of acting that I find a great amount of joy in, and I also take a lot of pride in. That’s why when I’m told by people that it’s not “real acting” I get really defensive.

Often times the directors, actors, etc. who says things like that typically dislike haunts/horror or have never been on the production side of these types of shows. Look, I get it. I understand how someone can go into a haunt and think that the actors doing the scaring are just fooling around or how it doesn’t take any skill to pop out and say “boo.” I get that thought process because the rub is it doesn’t take a lot skill to just say boo; to just be able to do the minimal in a haunt. The skill comes from the planning, the prep, the ability to read the audience, and the overall craft that goes in to real scaring. It’s the same amount of prep I’d put in to any performance on screen or on stage, and it pisses me off when people just discount the work that I and so many other talented people put in.

I believe this is a sort of paradox that any off stage live theatre performer deals with. You’re told that there is no real place for performances like this to be on your resume, and that it doesn’t take any real talent. That’s such bull to me. You can tell a good scareactor from a bad one in an instant. The good ones put in the time and devotion to the characters that we create, and that effort shows. I also go to plenty of haunt events and the ones that scare me or entertain me the most are always the ones where you can tell that the actors believe in their characters and put in the time and passion to flesh them out in their own heads. One of the first things you lean in theatre is if you as an actor believe in the action taking place, it’s that much easier for the audience to believe it. That is true on stage/film, but it’s even more true I believe in more visceral performances like haunted houses, or these interactive experiences like ALONE, Delusion, or Fables.2

Along with the process of creating these characters from the ground up, the ability to hone in and read the audience is so important to performances in haunts. It’s something that you have to continually work on, and perfect and is unlike anything you’d ever experience in stage theatre and especially film. With stage theatre, yes, you need to be able to read your audience- sure. But that is nothing compared to the way you need to read your audience in a haunt environment. First and foremost there is safety. You need to protect yourself as well as make sure the audience is never in any real danger. People have different reactions to being scared. I’ve been punched, slapped, kicked, scratched. elbowed, and have also had to deal with people crawling away into a corner, running backwards, and crapping themselves. There are so many different ways people deal with fear, and you have to be able to read that and be able to react to that so that you can still give a performance while making sure your safe, not holding the line up, or making the guests destroy the set or themselves.

You also have to be able to read what scares your audience. Not everyone scares the same way or is afraid of the same thing. So you may get one person who is petrified after you burst through a doorway screaming, but the next person may think that it’s scarier to see you crawling on all fours towards them. You need to have your character and the given circumstances in your mind, but you also have to allow yourself to be malleable to what the audience wants to experience. Really- if you ever want a great improv experience, try working a haunted house for a season.

While there are plenty of scareactors who are ostracized in theatre, the same happens in film. An example is the actors who have played Michael Myers. There have been many different actors to don the mask, and it sounds like a really basic and simple role. But to me it’s much more. Those actors have to not only portray him physically but all they have to act with is tiny gestures and their eyes- that’s it. That, to me, takes a lot of skill but I know a lot of people who don’t think that it takes talent.

1There needs to be more acceptance for scareactors in the world of theatre as well as film.  I do understand that just because a person is able to create a character and scare others it doesn’t mean that they can memorize lines or do other basic things and interactions with others on stage, but it’s all still importance and working haunted houses teaches actors a lot about improv, staying in character through distractions, reading the audience, and so much more. It actually pains me that after the hours, and years of devotion to this art I’m actually told that I should add this work to my acting resume; that I’m told that essentially all the work I’ve put in doesn’t count. It does count, and it matters. Acting is about creating an experience for the audience, and you can ask any number of the thousands of “victims” I’ve had over the past ten years and they’d tell you that I along with my fellow cast member did indeed create an experience for them.

When I started this blog I intended on it being nothing more than a place where I can review and discuss films, plays, and books- mainly those of a horror persuasion. Obviously it has evolved in to a little more than that, but still it has been built on that basic cornerstone.

As I was going through some of my past posts though I couldn’t help but notice… there is only one [horror] book review, for Let’s Go Play at the Adams’. And the review, if you notice, isn’t super positive. Now Let’s Go Play was a book that was not just recommended to me by several acquaintances but was on pretty much every “must read” list for those wanting a terrifying story. Yet when I read it… at no point was I terrified. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately on top of the fact that I haven’t written any other horror book reviews. It isn’t for lack of reading any. I’ve read Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted, Ray Bradbury’s  Something Wicked This Way Comes and several others and it’s not that I didn’t enjoy any of these books (on the contrary many of them are very well written and gripping in their own right) it’s just that they aren’t scary and I want to write reviews about books that really put me on edge- books I’d gladly recommend to others who are constantly on a search for stories that chill you to the bone. I have spent hours on the internet looking up horror novel/story recommendations and reviews in search for those tales that keep me up late at night, both because they have me in their clutches and because I’m afraid to turn out the lights. But for some reason… it’s really hard to find such books.

Now before any of you go and crucify me I understand that good horror is actually not that hard to find. All you really have to do is go to the library isle that is marked F – Kin, and walk only a few feet in. At the same time though horror really is difficult to accomplish through literature, I feel and I think that boils down to two main reasons: 1.) it’s hard to sustain suspenseful/terrifying tension in literature and 2.) horror is subjective.

For reason #1 – Some of the best horror I have ever read are short[er] stories. The Hellbound HeartPsycho, any of Poe’s work, most Lovecraft, tons of works put in to anthologies of horror, and (not even joking on this) Goosebumps and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. There is obviously plenty of good longer horror stories, once again- look back to the master, King. But even some of his best work is short stories/novellas.

The kind of strain and tension created by horror is hard enough to sustain with visual images (be it film, or theater), but I think it’s even harder to an extent with literature/words. Yes, the imagination is sometimes worse than reality or pictures but to initially be able to tap in to the imagination of your audience in the first place I think is a struggle. Then to hold their attention is a whole other issue. That was one of my biggest complaints with Haunted. Palahniuk wrote an amazing first chapter (Guts) which, while not scary, really had me reeling because of how I was able to picture it in my mind. But after that chapter the book just became a bore because he never was able to match the magic he worked in that initial chapter. And you are a straight up liar if you think classics like Dracula don’t have the same problem. They’re classics, and yes- Dracula does have some scary moment, but it is a bear to get through. Same with Frankenstein, which is actually one of my top five books.

If you can hook your audience and keep them on the line for an entire novel… that’s a feat. That’s why I think shorter works work better sometimes with horror. You hook your audience, and then proverbially release them soon after (although, the best stories never truly “leave” us do they?)

Now, for reason #2- Horror is subjective. What scares you may not be the same thing that scares me. Let’s Go Play is a prime example. Rape, to me, is not scary. It is a horrific act that is evil, but it’s not scary. I believe that it is a super cheap way to get under the audience’s skin. But plenty of people have read this book and love it and said that it really messed with them and was one of the scariest books they ever read.

Another issue is that the way you picture something the author is describing may not be the same way I picture something. With film, theater, or even comic books/graphic novels- it’s all laid out. You see the image they want you to see, and it’s in the open.  But in a book the author has to paint that picture for the audience and sometimes it’s very specific (ala King,) sometimes it’s left more to the imagination, and other times it sits right in the middle.  Horror is a mixture of describing the scene/atmosphere, the emotions, and the ultimate horror the characters are facing. That’s a lot of factors the author has to mesh together. And with horror being such an unstable craft it’s hard to get all those factors right. Now I’m not saying that ALL of them need to be spot on, but that general mixture needs to be at least somewhat solid for the terror to resonate with your audience. A lot of times, in longer texts, authors start off really well or eventually get to a nice spot where all the factors come together… but at some point it just kind of fizzles and the author tends to pull focus on only one of the elements, and forgets to give the others some attention. House, by Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker is actually a book I think combines all of these elements well. Say what you want about Christian horror but this book, I think, combines a great atmosphere, with some great horror moments, and some real emotions. This formula is also why I think Pet Semetery is one of Stephen King’s greatest works. He crafted an absolutely heart wrenching story about a family losing their child, and then built out the atmosphere and some of the most horrific moments I have ever read. Some of the latter parts of that book still stain my mind with imagery that makes me shutter. I read that book about three years ago, and it was the last book I’ve read that really ever scared me to the point that I had to stop reading it for a length of time.

While there is plenty of good horror in the world of literature, both short and long, I believe that it’s a hard craft to crack. Also, ultimately you have to be the own judge of what scares you. I’ve read many a recommended stories that people have claimed to be “real shockers” only to read them and have my psyche unscathed by the encounter. Obviously I won’t stop taking recommendations, and if any of you readers have some out there (that I haven’t ready (which there is plenty I haven’t listed)) go ahead and post them and I’ll give them a read!

I really would like to start doing more horror lit reviews, which maybe I’ll just have to start doing reviews on short stories and from time to time do some novels- should I find one I think is scary enough. But until then I’ll remain on the lookout, for that elusive book that I hope will be so scary… that I have to force myself to finish it. That’s the kind of horror novel I want.

Hey everyone! I know it’s been a while, but things have been pretty crazy as of late for me and it’s not letting up in the immediate future. That being said I wanted to give this little update:

With having just wrapped production on Traveling Without Moving in Aurora, IL I am now focusing my creativity on a mini-webseries based around Halloween Horror Nights 25 at Universal Orlando. Jack’s Maniacs will look at a variety of different characters essentially “prepping” themselves for the event. While some of the various videos will be inspired directly from themes or houses that will be present at the event I’m creating this series as an overall commentary on us HHN fans. Many of these videos start off with average, fairly ordinary people… but we slowly discover that each one of them has something that they are hiding or something dark they are preparing for. Just like us. We are all ordinary people by day, but come this time of year we bask in that small thirst for darkness. Something inside us loves the macabre and the terror, and we relish it… just like the people in these videos.

I hope all who watch enjoy the series. As of the time of this post we have posted the first two and there is more to come, leading up to (and possibly after) the opening of Halloween Horror Nights 25. You can find the videos on the Forever Malone Productions YouTube channel- here!

Note: Halloween Horror Nights, and Jack the Clown are properties and copyright of Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Entertainment. All rights reserved.

I couldn’t let Halloween come to pass and not review one of these films! Plus this series is my favorite slasher series. Yep, I’m a Myers boy. I was originally going to review the first film but I kind of ran into the same problem I did with the Alien review (it’s too complicated to just hammer out in one sitting.) I’ll get there eventually I’m sure, but this is not a bad one to begin with! In fact I rate this in my top three of the Halloween films (coming in just after the original and the sequel.)

This film picks up ten years after the original film and it’s sequel. We’re going to skip over the fact that Halloween 3: Season of the Witch happened. It begins with out infamous murderer Michael Myers, who is now thought to be an invalid after the events of Halloween 2,  being transferred back to Smith’s Grove Sanitarium. But once he overhears the fact that he has a niece the evil awakes once more inside him, and he escapes again. Jump to Haddonfield, Illinois where young Jamie Loyd is having nightmares of a boogeyman coming after her. She is the daughter of Laurie Strode (who is “dead” after a fatal car accident of some kind, leaving her an orphan.) This fact means that she is unfortunately the niece of Michael Myers, and obviously his new target. Never fear, because Dr. Sam Loomis is on Michael’s trail of terror as he begins to tracked the masked killed back to Haddonfield. Loomis warns the police, and puts everyone on high alert. But that is still not enough. Michael begins his bloody rampage through the small Midwestern town, searching for Jamie with more brutality than ever.

This film brings back the series’ beloved Shape after a threequel that disappointing many fans- mainly because of the fact that it didn’t involved Michael Myers at all! And boy does this film bring him back with a vengance. By now Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th had, by now, stormed on to the slasher scene so Myers has some competition. Well, within the first few minutes of this film we get a taste of Michael’s new brutality with a thumb to the head! While Halloween 2 defiantly upped the level of gore and violence, we have never seen Michael like this. He kills people with his bare hands, breaking their faces and ripping them apart. He shoves guns through people, and electrocutes them. About the only thing we don’t see him do in this movie is actually stab someone with a knife. And not only does Myer’s do this but he is able to be “The Shape” while doing that. Meaning that, at no point, does this feel like a Friday film or something of the like. Michael is exactly what he was in the original film, omnipresent and evil, It feels like no matter where the character’s turn he will be there. He has some genuinely creepy scenes that I actually feel are some of the best moments in the entire series. Like this one:

Every time I watch that scene it sends chills up my spine. It is such a sinister moment that captures the essence of Michael Myers.

Also the fact that this time around Michael is hunting down a child makes this movie, to me, that much scarier. I was around seven or eight the first time I saw this movie and it terrified me to my bones. Not even Halloween 2, which is actually the first horror film I ever saw, did that. This film to me had no boundaries. If Michael was going after a kid, then all bets were off. Nobody stood a chance.

Now, there are plenty of cliche and eye-roll inducing moments in the movie, usually containing our teenage characters. In fact, they are ofter downright infuriating characters to listen to. Super arrogant and ignorant like… well, teenagers.

While I do wish that there would be a Halloween film that truly dives into how Haddonfield views the holiday of Halloween post Michael Myers (come on, that would be such an interesting story!) I love the addition of the town folk trying to hunt down Michael for revenge. I just wish that it was more flushed out in the end. Time and time again in these films we get moments like this that could lead to some interesting depth on the town and individual characters, but they are generally glossed over to continue on. After all the death that has happened I’m super surprised Halloween is even celebrated in Haddonfield any more.

This film also does an amazing job of getting that “Halloween feeling” down. That same feeling I talked about in my Trick ‘r Treat review. I don’t know how to specifically describe it but there is a feeling to Halloween as a holiday and a season in general. It’s a general atmosphere, and it’s a tone that is often not captured in the Halloween films which strikes me as really odd. Out of all of the films (which there are ten now) I feel like only three of them truly capture that feeling of the holiday. And Halloween 4 is one of them. Right from the bat we are give a series of images associated with the harvest, and fall. It sets the tone perfectly. And later on during the school day, and at night during trick or treating and the “Multiple Myers” scene it’s there.

And then, above all, the reason I love this movie… the ending. Dear God, that ending. It was a such a sinister and ballsy move. It still makes my eyes widen and limbs freeze when I watch the movie. As I said, I was young when I first saw this movie on AMC Fear Fest. And that ending legitimately gave me nightmares. It’s such a dark twist and one that I, and probably nobody else, never saw coming. The sound of Loomis’ scream mixed with the horror you’re actually seeing makes for one of the single best moments in, frankly, any slasher film ever made as far as I’m concerned.

All in all I love this film. I often consider it as good as the original Halloween 2, making them tied for my second favorite Halloween film. While I love this series and there are some genuinely frightening movements in some of the other films, this was the only one to truly terrify me and it’s mainly due to the ending. A few of the characters get annoying but their deaths make putting up with them tolerable and while there is some sense of “been there, done that” at moments in the film, most of it is generally done in a way that for the most part it feels fresh and new. Plus Myers’ new brutality mixed with his evil and ubiquity makes for one of the most frightening portrayals of the classic slasher. It’s the comeback of a life time for Michael Myers, as he reminds us that you truly cannot kill damnation.

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I was in the Quad Cities this past weekend, which is where I haunted during my college years (2010-14.) Since I was working throughout my college experience I never really had a chance to visit haunts in the area. So I looked up the haunts in the area, and found this one- Shock House. I had never heard of this one before, and I’m not sure if this was their first year riding solo (because apparently the group putting this on had worked with Factory of Fear, another local QC haunt, for the four years prior.) So I assume this was this houses first year. And that would, unfortunately, make sense.

Now, before I begin with my actual review/critique of the production I need to say something. I 100% believe in this group’s mission statement and think it is great what they are doing. Blind Crow Productions LLC (the group that produces Shock House) is all about giving the youth of the QC “business like experience.” They also run a canned food drive at the haunt, offering to take $1 off if you bring in canned food items. And on top of everything else, a percentage of the proceeds go to the Wounded Warrior project. These are good people, with good intentions, and I support that. All that being said though… I really did not enjoy this haunted house. While the concept is great, and you can tell that some thought went in to the layout of the event, the follow-through was poorly executed and the overall attraction lacked scares and energy.

It’s hard to make out exactly where the haunt is. If you take 5th Ave like you are heading towards the District in Rock Island, IL (or Skellington for that matter,) once you get to the main curve past 30th st near Augustana, there will be a few signs that you’ll need to keep an eye out for. They have arrows and will generally direct you towards the lot that is used for the event. It’s in the QC Expo Center. On the side of the building you’ll see the name of the event projected with a gobo (see image above.)

The lot is pretty lifeless, and you can walk straight up to the building without encountering a single actor. Inside there are two actors (that I saw) roaming around trying to scare people. A “ring master” looking actor, and then a kind of jawless zombie. While the makeup. mask, and costumes looked great the actors didn’t really do that much to startle other than walking around  and leaning in towards you. The line wasn’t that long. We went on Saturday, Oct. 25th at around 10:45 PM and walked into the haunt at 10:55 PM.

Once inside the haunt you are engulfed in total blackness. It is basically a giant black maze, with a few staged rooms here and there. There are jump scares and drop panels all along the way though, to try and keep you on your toes. All in all it was about a 15 min walk through, and that was more because the maze got confusing.

Now, I will say, the dark hallway concept was my favorite part about this haunt. Lots of haunts are doing “black out mazes” but they aren’t really effective other than for being used to hide shock pads and drop panels. This maze was tight, and claustrophobic. And even though the pathway never veered off in separate routes (which I was almost positive that at some point it would) it was disorienting. You never really had a good sense of where you were or which direction you were going.

Unfortunately that is the extent for how “scary” this haunt got. There is seemingly no sense of pacing out the rooms or the scares. We’d go maybe two minutes without a single sight of an actor, then we’d hit around three or four in one spot. The haunt isn’t THAT big- the actors need to be spaced out. There also isn’t enough room for that many actors in one area. Multiple times I’d have to push my way through actors who were bunched up in one location.

The actors themselves had no energy. Out of the entire haunt, the only actor that seemed to be in to what they were doing was this actress in a room with bloody strips of cloth hanging down, that just screamed at us. Was was in character and stayed there while we were in her space. From the rest of the cast we’d be lucky to sometimes get a weak “grrr.” I was super upset when I was pinned between two actors, who didn’t realize I was a guest and once they did they said “Oh, s—” and just walked away. WHAT THE HECK!? Seriously? No attempt to even scare me, and when my girlfriend and friend caught up to me finally the actors just let them. They didn’t even try then to scare any of us. I was super disappointed in this cast.

The drop panels and pop up scares got old, real fast. They never changed up the style of how these scares happened, and they (like the rest of the house) were poorly paced. And then, to top it all off, one of them was synced with the recorded phrase “surprise mother f—–.” It didn’t shock me. It didn’t scare me. It didn’t surprise me. It just pissed me off. If you are going to use language in a house, it better be for a damn good reason. Otherwise it’s pointless and stupid, and in my opinion makes you seem cheap. You’re resorting to using language to try and scare people. That’s sad.

The rooms themselves weren’t bad. None of them had any scares in them what so ever that I noticed. The only one that came close was the hallway full of clothes on racks. But all of the other rooms seemed bare, and I’m not sure if there were any actors in them at all.

I will say the one trick that made me take a step back was near the end there is an animatronic clown that drops down from the ceiling. I never do well with things above me. So that one startled me, but it just repeated the same motion again and again and got repetitive and not scary- like the rest of the house.

Then you get to the end of the haunt only to find… nothing. Nobody is there to chase you out. Nobody is there to try and scare you one last time. It just ends and you walk out of the expo center.

This house seriously disappointing me. No scares and a lifeless cast made for a miserable romp through tight dark halls. If this was this groups first year I’m hoping that in future years they learn from their mistakes this year. Better pacing and much more active cast of characters could have done wonders and really sold this house. As I said before the general concept wasn’t bad and you can tell some effort went in to planning it. I just would have liked to have seen the same effort across the board in all areas.

Rating of Shock House: 3/10

Price:

$7.00 admission night October 12th

$1.00 off admission with a canned good

 ½ off with a Valid Military I.D.

$10.00 admission on Thursday the 30th

2 for $20.0 with Factory of Fear- 2 haunts one price

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I could go on an on with my personal analysis of the film and it’s characters; all of the hidden symbolism, viewing the film with a feminist lens, analysis of the creature itself and it’s stages… but I’m not going to. Because that would just take too long, and I want to try and keep this as short and simple as possible. Because, in the end, not much really needs to be said about Alien as a film- other than it’s perfect.

This movie is a masterpiece of cinema. Period; that is all you need to know about it. If you have NEVER seen Alien I, quite frankly, feel sorry for you. Everything about it is pure genius. The craftsmanship and storytelling alone are near perfection, and then add on top the amazing art direction and stylistic choices made and it just makes for one hell of a movie. A movie that is downright engrossing and terrifying. This is a movie that, even into my late teens, I was watching through hands covering my eyes at parts. And since we just had the 35th anniversary edition released as well as the release of the new game Alien: Isolation, I thought it was a good time to take a look at this movie.

The story follows the crew of the ship Nostromo, a “freighter” space ship. The crew receives an emergency beacon from planet LV-426 (which you don’t find out the name of the planet until the sequel Aliens, which is almost equally as awesome and I will eventually do a review for as well.) The ship lands on the planet and finds a derelict spacecraft of some kind and investigates. But Kane, one of the crew members, returns to Nostromo with something attached to his face. The creature eventually detaches and dies, and Kane seems okay. But he’s not. The “facehugger” put something inside him, and it wants out. And it gets out. The rest of the movie, the remaining crew of the Nostromo fight to stay alive as they are killed off one by one by this xenomorph alien species… this “perfect organism.”

First of the characterization of the Nostromo crew is fantastic. They seem like real people. Their actions make sense and the dialogue is really tight. Sure there is futuristic jargon thrown in, but it’s not superfluous or silly in any way. The characters talk and act realistically, and that is something that rarely happens in horror films. One of the things I applaud this movie for (because it rarely happens in horror films) is having the characters react to death like it really happened. That is something that never occurs in horror, and really bothers me- characters don’t really grieve. At most we have characters that find out a friend has died, they cry for a second, then move on. There is no anger, there is no world crumbling break down, and that is not real. People react to death in real life, and in Alien they react. They grieve, they are shocked, they are scared, they cry, they get angry. The emotions and reactions are exactly how people would react, and in the end making the characters more real makes the film more real for an audience, and subsequently more horrifying.

So let’s talk about a scene for a second…

Yeah. I didn’t want to a put a gif in case there are people reading this that haven’t seen the film. If you HAVEN’T seen the film the dinner scene, after the facehugger dies, is reason enough for you to go out and see this film. It’s shocking. I remember when I saw this for the first time my jaw was hanging open. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen. I literally had the same reaction as the rest of the Nostromo crew. My freshman year of college I showed this film to my group of friends (none of which had seen the movie) and when this scene came all of them still had the same reaction. When a film can last the test of time like that, and still after so many years evoke the same kind of response, it’s a testament to how well it was written, acted, and directed. The choices made for that scene were spot on, ballsy, and uncomfortable. The overall concept of the facehugger and alien birth alone is brilliant and original.

The adult creature continues that trend with being a truly horrifying, yet beautiful creature. The late H.R Giger’s art just comes to life in this film. His creature design does it’s job of being a very sensual and at the same time striking fear into the audience. It is a disturbing creature, and I don’t think any of the Alien films since the first have really shown the beauty of them like Alien has. I feel like a few times they have tried, but in the end the sequels have focused more on how animalistic and horrifying the creatures are rather than the beauty of them, and that was half the horror of the original Alien. You knew this creature was bad news, but you couldn’t look away. It was a living train wreck. The only other time in the other films, I feel, that had the same awe as Alien was the reveal of the queen in Aliens. 

Then on top of everything else that is good about this film, there is Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver.) Ellen is one of my favorite, and one of the best (period!) female characters of all time. She proves throughout each of these films, especially in Aliens, but it all started with the first film. Spoilers: She goes from being just another crew member to the “final girl” in the blink of an eye. She endures a hell of a lot of loss and pain in this film and still remains strong enough to go head to head with the beast in the end. She proves early on with her conversation with Brett and Parker that she doesn’t fit that “cookie mold” of what a good girl should be- she is her own person, independent and authoritative. She demands respect, as opposed to Lambert who kind of plays out like the a-typical female character who just breaks down. Ellen stands up when the moment arises, and takes control (or at least tries to) of a horrifying situation.

I honestly have nothing more to say about this movie. It is genuinely horrifying; it still is up there as one of the scariest films I have ever seen.  It isn’t just a well crafted horror film, but a well crafted film in general which, in general, stands the test of time. At 35 years old the film is still effective on delivering the blows and the shocks. It’s a great mixture of suspense, terror, and even a little drama thrown in. The film’s structural perfection is matched only by its hostility.

Another weekend has come, and that means more opportunities to visit some haunts! I did some looking around this week before deciding which one to go to and Basement of the Dead has been getting some stellar reviews as well and was in the top 31 haunts in Haunt World mag last year. I often don’t heavily rely on other’s reviews and such because, in all honesty, the haunt world is actually very political. But no doubt about it- there is some buzz about this house. So my friend and I decided to see is Basement is really all that people have been making it out to be. And boy, was I pleasantly surprised that it is.

Basement of the Dead is the main attraction and there is a secondary haunt that you can add-on to your experience called Shattered, which is a 3D haunt which labels itself as “The World’s Best 3D Nightmare,” but we’ll get to that later.

The main entrance of the house itself is tucked away behind a large brick building on New York St. in Aurora, past the Hollywood Casino on the left. While the site does say that there are different kinds of parking options you shouldn’t have trouble finding free parking anywhere in the numerous amounts of lots and street spots available in the surrounding area.  It isn’t overly visible at first until you get to the intersection of New York St. and River St, They have a small banner up, and you will for sure see the line of people going to the event. It’s literally behind/connected to a great looking Irish pub called Ballydoyle’s. Anyway, unless you get their right at the opening, chances are you are going to run in to the same kind of line, for the rest of the season, that we ran in to.

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When you get there (if you haven’t prepurchased your tickets) you need to find the window with the red light, which means you pass the line, buy the tickets, then walk all the way back to the end of the line, all the while you have opportunities to buy food as well as interact with the actors. You line actors were more than willing to take photos, but also were really aware of when a good opportunity to scare was around. They were fun, funny, scary, and overall really entertaining. The makeup, masks, and detailed costumes that they wore gave you just a glimpse at what exactly to expect inside. There was also a fire dancer show, as well as an awesome DJ (whom I will talk more about in a minute.)

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Overall the line entertainment was great. They also had the movie IT playing, and as you read in my last review, I’m not a big fan of when houses have regular movies playing in lines just because I feel like with the fact that you have all of these sets and actors it would be fairly easy for you to make your own video/short film about the haunt itself. It’s not really a critique in any way, it’s just something I would like to see done more in general with haunts.

Now, our wait was nearly two and a half hours. We went on Friday, October 17th and arrived at around 9: 30 PM. We didn’t get into Basement until 11: 50-ish. Near the end of our time in line the DJ said that the numbers came in and it was actually a record attendance night for them at Basement, which I clapped and cheered at. I’m glad when I can add to a milestone for a haunt. And while the line and the wait did indeed feel long, and was boring at times for the most part, because of the entertainment from the actors, dancer, and DJ, it was enjoyable. It also reassured me that the haunt was at least trying to fairly space out the groups which I highly appreciate. Nothing pisses me off more than a haunt that just intentionally conga-lines people through, that isn’t built for that kind of crowd. Basement was taking their time and tried to make sure that everyone would get a good show. I also liked how at around 11:30 PM it looked like they cut ticket sales. It made me have massive respect for the house and the workers/owners because they realized that the line they had was already going to clear 12 AM and go on into 1 AM, and they didn’t want to kill their actors; they cared about their staff and I give major kudos to them for that. I’ve worked a haunt before where the staff didn’t care about the actors and just let people buy tickets past 12 AM (closing) and worked us until later without warning. A.) It isn’t fun, and B.) it’s disrespectful. So props Basement people.

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I also want to give a shout out to the DJ, Sir, I just wanted to give you a big high-five last night. You dealt with so many annoying drunks and high people, you had some malfunctioning equipment, and you just stayed cool about it. You gave out free stuff and candy (wearing my wrist band right now) and told jokes and played one hell of a mix. Your work is greatly appreciated by this individual. You, and the work of your fellow line entertainers made the wait bearable.

My one main critique about the line experience was that there were no (none, that I could see) garbage cans, so there was trash here and there. If you’re selling food and drinks at an event like this, and you have this many people, there should be quite a few cans spaced out in the line. It’ll help you guys and the environment out!

When our wait was finally over, I was amped. I was ready to go into the abyss of the house, although I admit I was concerned that with it being 11:50 PM we’d get some tired actors. Man, was I wrong. The actors were every bit as amped as I was, even more so! Immediately in the first room I had an actor running full force at me, ready to go. That was exactly how the actors were throughout the entire house. They were on their game at Basement last night, and it made the wait so worth it. It has been a while since I was scared at a haunt, to the point of actually yelling out. I’ve been to them where they’ve made me jump. But to actually make me yell and jump backwards in defense… it hardly ever happens. It happened here. And when it did, it just fed the actors. They didn’t relent. It didn’t matter that I’m a big guy, they just went for it- which I loved. And they went for everyone. Often you’ll have actors who, once they’ve done their one scare either retreat of just stand there. That hardly ever happened in this haunt. They really tried to give everyone a great show, I feel.

Now, about half way through we did unfortunately catch up to the group in front of us. I don’t think it was so much of a pacing thing on the haunt side, but because they were scared as well as messing around.  The lady in front of us was so annoying, and was really pissing me off. She was obnoxious and belligerent and dampened the experience for a bit, until an actor would come by and scare her or myself and then all was right with the world. We did have to put up with her and her group the rest of the house but I tried to put some distance between us at parts and we still got a pretty good show. That group was my only real complaint with the experience, and that isn’t the haunt’s fault! Because of them we didn’t get all of the scares near the end, but in general we still had a great time.

Another plus I have for the actors is that at no time did they ever have to go into vulgar territory. In my last review I stated how much I hate when actors, especially towards males that are going through haunts, will often “go Deliverance” on patrons in order to creep them out. It’s a tired, and unoriginal gag. It may work sometimes, but it often just is boring and annoying. Plus rape is just an easy way to get under people’s skin (that goes for films, books, haunts, anything.) It’s cheap scares, And the Basement crew  knew they were better than to stoop to that level, because they didn’t use it and obviously didn’t need it.

The sets were stellar. There were some of the best environments I have ever seen in a haunt. Mixed with the costumes and makeup and masks that the actors donned it created a really hellishly real experience. Everything was so meticulously done, and thought out it seemed like. The animatronics and props blended perfectly with their environments, and everything really felt organic and spot on.

Overall the house was just a sensory overload from start to finish, which really added to the scare factor. At no point did you ever feel settled or oriented in any way. It kept you on your toes and on edge the entire way. The lights, the sounds and effects, and above all the acting, just made for one hell of a time.

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Once you come out of Basement of the Dead you can walk over to the line for Shattered, the 3D haunt. At first I was kind of surprised that there wasn’t a long line for Shattered, because with the combo ticket option I assumed that people would just be doing both houses. But then I got kind of worried that it wasn’t good. Unfortunately that feeling turned out to be correct. While the actors that were in the house gave it a fair go, they couldn’t save this uneventful haunt. The 3D effects were admittedly really good, and the costumes and makeup rocked (on the same par with Basement’s,) but there were no scares at all. The house only seemed to have a few actors in it, and they didn’t seem very energized. Like I said, they gave it a fair shot. After coming out of Basement though, Shattered paled in comparison. I don’t know how the building is set up inside, but if it is possible I’d just assume Basement of the Dead extend to where Shattered is, and remove the 3D haunt all together. Next time I’ll just pay for Basement of the Dead.

All in all I had a great time. Yes, if you go between now and the end of the season, I’d expect a pretty long wait unless you get their near the opening of the haunt. Even the VIP line was pretty long by the end of the night. But the line entertainers make the wait bearable and fun, and it (to me) is worth having groups spaced out like that so that everyone gets a great experience.

Basement of the Dead is a terrifying romp that violates your senses as soon as you step inside, and doesn’t let up until to step through the threshold at the end. And even then you’re not even guaranteed you’re safe (*cough, cough* remember the line actors…*cough*).

For the price I don’t think there is anything this side of Illinois that can beat it. Save the money on Shattered 3D though, and instead treat yourself to a Basement of the Dead shirt or a visit to the pub.

Rating of Basement of the Dead:  9/10

Basement of the Dead General Admission: $18

Shattered 3D: $10

Combo Ticket: $25

VIP (Both houses and front of the line access): $45

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Twitter: @BasementofDead