“Horror Movie 101”: A lesson in stupidity

The Last Dinner Party releases highly anticipated debut album Prelude to Ecstasy with cover art that symbolizes the dramatic tone of the tracks.
The Last Dinner Party releases highly anticipated debut album “Prelude to Ecstasy” with cover art that symbolizes the dramatic tone of the tracks.
Courtesy of Elena Cangahuala

On Feb. 9-10, the Players’ Theatre Group presented “Horror Movie 101: Failing Can Be Deadly” by Steven Stack, a play in which the characters incessantly break the basic rules of horror movies. The play consists of five scenes, each with its own set of characters, but they all exist in the same universe. It begins and ends with more lighthearted, silly scenes, letting the creepier ones exist in the middle.

“Horror Movie 101” begins on this lighter note with “Heirlooms,” directed by Ashley Rosinski. In this scene, Tara (Emily Hawkins) and Drew (Margot McCann), a teenage couple, have found themselves in possession of a hook hand. Drew and Tara, contemplating what to do with the hook hand, are interrupted when there is a loud knock on the door and the lights go out. Drew runs to the door but is stopped by Tara who scolds her for “Horror Movie 101.” Enter Nicole (Sarah Roelle) who is in pursuit of her hook hand.

Roelle delivered a captivating performance as a villain, casually mentioning that the hook hand was a family heirloom used to kill many people. Upon hearing this, Tara lets her guard down and explains how she lost her own family heirloom—her grandmother’s corpse.

My personal favorite and also the next scene was “The Girl on the Side of the Road,” directed by Ryan Malkin. Hazel (McCann) absolutely stole the show. She completely nailed the creepy little girl in a horror movie schtick: Her presence was absolutely captivating and left me begging for more. Another young couple, Jane (Edie Barlin) and Cal (Angela Rich), find the girl Hazel sitting on the side of the road. She asks to be taken home to Mother (Emily Hawkins), which immediately makes Jane suspicious and causes her to delve into the familiar “Horror Movie 101” speech, prancing about the playing area. Cal insists on helping her, stating that she reminded her of her dead sister. You guessed it: helping Hazel results in someone’s death.

The next scene, “The One,” was directed by the producer of the show, Ave Tallarida. “The One” was reminiscent of the trolley problem, establishing a dilemma where a body bag, containing one of the six friends in the scene, was laid out in a haunted house. The group had six and a half minutes to decide whether they would open the bag, killing their unknown friend, or abstain from opening it, resulting in all of their deaths. The success of the show was a testament to Tallarida’s hard work as both a producer and a director.

“Isolation,” directed by Maddie Pollock, rounds out the creepy portion of the show. Six teenagers decide to visit a cabin in the woods. Before the scene begins, Mark (Juan Martin Lopez), who had been in the previous scene, was said to have been killed by Karen (Kashika Bagga). He had been infected with a mysterious zombie-like virus that caused him to attack his friend, Jenny (Roelle), who then attacked Taylor (Taylor Bruno). The virus slowly spreads to each of the friends, with the suspense leaving audience members on the edge of their seats throughout the remainder of the scene.

The show finishes on another light note with “David and Delaney’s Guide to the Perfectly Nifty Prom,” directed by Gryffin Hauenstein. David (Lucas Vorkoper) and Delaney (Alex Siegel) have been dating since they were six, and it’s finally time to go to their senior prom. There is only one small issue—Delaney is dead. David, along with their friend Kate (Bruno), works to raise Delaney from the dead using Kate’s well-manicured ancient burial grounds. Kate, fearing that Delaney has “gone wrong” like her pet cat, throws a rock at his head, which hits David and kills him instead. The scene ends with Kate and Delaney, who had not gone wrong, dragging David off stage to revive him. I truly wish that was how real life worked, too.

Seeing “Horror Movie 101: Failing Can Be Deadly” was a truly enjoyable and entertaining experience, but I wonder how many conflicts could have been avoided had the characters just been a little smarter. However, that may have just been the point of the play.

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