This isn’t the story of a haunted place, but a behind-the-scenes story of a movie about a haunted place. It’s called The State and you can see the trailer here.
But let me tell you how this movie came about.
My brother Ryan (the afore-mentioned sender of the London Dungeon postcard) is a screenwriter. I won’t go into all of the screenplays he’s written, but can’t help but admire the creativity that went into this one. The State was written because of an opportunity.
Ryan’s first horror film, Screamshare, premiered at the State Theatre in Springfield, Ohio. At that time, it was a run-down, dirty, semi-abandoned old theatre replete with red velvet wallpaper, red carpet, and all the other accroutrement you might expect at a theatre that first opened in 1927.
It was the perfect place to show a horror film.
Then, as we explored the decrepit basement, the old film projector room, and all the other tucked-away spots of the theatre, Ryan and his Itzahobby production partners Troy Berry and Jeremy Johnson realized how great it would be to film a horror movie there as well. So they talked with the owner and he got onboard. They could use the State as their locale. Now all they needed was a script.
Ryan rose to the challenge. He wrote a layered plot that featured all those wonderfully creepy elements that the State provided. The State begins with a prologue of a couple from the 1950’s that dodge into the theatre on a rainy night. (I won’t give away what happens.) Years later, Chris and Claire Poole, renowned ghost hunters, come to investigate the State Theatre and the ghosts that might dwell there. We see images of the stage being used for a Shakespearean play. We have scenes that take place up in the projector room. We travel down to the basement and the really creepy bathrooms there. In short, we see every inch of the State as the horror movie unfolds.
Originally, we’d plan to watch the premiere of The State while sitting in the State watching horrors that took place in the very State where we sat. Unfortunately, in the time that it took for production and editing to finish, the State remodeled and we were no longer able to see the movie premiere there. That was a shame. But it did not diminish the thrill of seeing Ryan’s screenplay come to life and marveling at the ways he incorporated the setting into a story. It reminded me of other horror stories inspired by a place. Stephen King’s The Shining comes to mind.
Unlike the Stanley Hotel which launched King’s horror masterpiece, the State Theatre isn’t really haunted, but it seems like the type of place that could be. Who knows – maybe it is.
What’s your favorite horror film?