01 Feb Scary Found Footage Story
When I say that my roommate Jack is an amateur at directing, I’m making an understatement. I mean, going into this little project of his, he literally had no experience. I don’t know why he thought that this would be a good idea. I couldn’t tell you how his brain works, to be honest.
It all began one boring night in my college dorm. It was a weeknight, and we couldn’t be fucked to get started on our assignments, so we decided to watch the Blair witch project instead. I swear, he must have been one of the last people on earth who hadn’t seen it at that point. I guess he loved it, because he wouldn’t stop talking about it afterwards. Specifically about how he could probably make something similar to it and blow up.
“Fuck studying man…” I remember him saying to me. “I could do it. How hard could it be?”
I tried to get him come back down to reality, but he wasn’t having it at the time. Thankfully, he ended up dropping the topic a few days later. Or at least… that’s what I thought at first. As soon as we’d finished our final exams and the year ended, he came up and asked if I wanted to be in the new film that he was directing Obviously, I said no.
“Do you even have a decent camera? Or a script?” I asked him.
“Dude relax, I have everything.” He said to me, seemingly trying to hold back a grin. I guess he really thought that this was a get-rich-quick scheme or something. “Look, can you just do it? I don’t want to pay an actor. I’ve literally asked everybody I know, but I’m still missing one character.”
I don’t know whether I should’ve been more insulted that he expected me to do this for free or that I was one of the last people he’d asked. However… I’d just gotten some incredibly shitty news a few days prior. I didn’t get the summer internship I’d been hoping for. With melancholy plaguing my thoughts, I decided to take him up on his offer. Might as well, you know?
As it turns out, Jack wasn’t lying when he said he’d figured everything out. He’d borrowed a fairly decent camera from his uncle and had actually secured a shooting location. It was a small, abandoned town off the coast of Italy. This was getting quite interesting, to say the least. There were two other guys who were supposed to part of this whole thing – Wayland and Mick. I already knew them both, but Jack knew them better. He’d managed to secure obtain plane tickets for us through his Girlfriend – who worked at an airport. On top of all this, he’d also set up free accommodations for us at a motel located in a town about a 90 minute drive from the abandoned one. Apparently the owner of the chain was a good friend of his dad’s. Surprisingly, everything seemed good to go.
We made the trip out there and checked into the motel about a week later. At this point, I was still incredibly skeptical about the how this “film” was going to turn out. In all honesty, I was expecting it to crash and burn in a week. These thoughts were only bolstered when Jack admitted that he hadn’t written a script.
“What the hell?” Wayland asked. “Well what are we supposed to do in front of the camera, then?”
“Just act natural” Jack responded. “You think the Blair witch project had a script?”
“I mean, it probably did.” Mick chimed in.
Jack just continued. “Whatever. Look, if we read off of a script, then it runs the risk of sounding unnatural. This town’s apparently creepy as fuck, just go along with the vibe.”
“Do you at least have some kind of story in mind?” I asked him.
“Yeah, of course. Four friends are documenting their vacation in Italy. One day, while at a bar in a small town, they’re told about an abandoned place near the coast where some weird shit always goes down. Being extremely skeptical, they all go and check it out. And then they get fucked. We don’t even need any creature prosthetics or anything. It’ll be psychological horror, where something’s clearly wrong, but nobody can figure out what exactly. Just act scared, for fucks sakes.”
This seemed to satisfy Mick and Wayland, but I could tell that they also thought that deep down… this sounded like shit. Whatever, I thought. At least I could go on vacation for a while.
For the first week, we just went and dicked around Sicily, getting shitfaced at bars and being a general nuisance to the locals. This was supposed to be the first act of the movie. However… we kind of winged the filming part. In other words, the footage looked like ass.
“It’s good enough. These are the unimportant parts anyways, who cares?” was all that Jack said when we watched it back.
I mean… he was the director. After that, we decided to finally get to work. Jack had the idea of incorporating some locals into the film, with their consent of course. We entered a bar in the small town we were staying at and tried to set up the scene. Jack spotted a middle-aged guy near the back and approached him, trying to explain to him what we were trying to do.
Halfway through Jack’s painful interpretation of the Italian language, the guy interrupted him. “Alright kid, I can speak English. What the hell is it that you want?”
Jack breathed a sigh of relief. “So, we’re shooting a horror film. Four guys on vacation in Italy. In this one scene, we’re sitting a table in a bar and discussing where we’re going next. One of us brings up the abandoned coastal town near here and we decide that would be a fun place to go. That’s when you chime in and say some bullshit about how we shouldn’t go because there’s a black-eyed demon who lives there or something. Now… you’ll be doing this for free, but if this thing becomes big, I’ll wire you some money. Just give us your contact information.”
After Jack’s spiel, the man just looked at him for a while, mouth agape. And then he chuckled.
“You kids are ballsy, I’ll tell you that.”
Wayland raise his eyebrow. “What’d you mean?”
The man then looked at us as if we’d just said the most ridiculous thing in the world. “So you’re telling me… you guys didn’t do any research before coming here?”
We all just collectively shrugged. The man seemed to contemplate something for a second before replying. “Well… I guess it is more of a local issue. Not too many people around here even know about it. The news wouldn’t report what really happened.”
Wait. What did he just say? “What… what’d you mean?” I asked him.
He glanced over at us with somewhat of a morbid expression. “There’s a reason that place is abandoned, you know? The mainstream story was that a fire caused the evacuation. However… only two houses actually burned down. No… it’s what caused the fire that made everybody leave. But it wasn’t a stove… or an arsonist… it was something that you guys aren’t ready to understand. And I’d advise that you stay the hell away from there.”
The man turned back towards the bar and just started sipping on his beer again. We just stood there in collective shock. After a few moments, Jack spoke back up again:
“Dude… that was amazing. Could you do it again, please? On film this time?”
The guy turned around: “Kid, are you stupid or something?” He threw some bills onto the counter and got up. “This younger generation… you guys don’t listen, do you? That’s why the news is filled with stories of people like you fucking up somewhere. Just take my advice.”
And just like that, he was gone. Now, none of us wanted to admit it, but that whole conversation did get us a bit spooked. Jack just wrote it off as some guy just trying to scare us. And again… we just agreed. In retrospect, listening to Jack’s mental gymnastics, attempting to justify why this was still a good idea was probably our biggest mistake.
Anyways… we managed to shoot the scene with the help from some other tourists. They didn’t seem to know anything about the town, so they made up a story about how an insane religious zealot performed some ritual and now the place made anybody who went there lose their minds. Things seemed to be coming together quite nice. However… the whole time we were shooting, I couldn’t help but notice that the bartender was sneaking glances over at us. As we left, I could have sworn seeing him shaking his head somewhat solemnly. That should’ve been another sign for us to leave. But alas… we continued.
We headed back to the motel and planned the trip out the next day. The story that we created was extremely generic. The guys go there and mess around for a few hours with nothing extraordinary happening. As they’re about to leave, they spot some weird symbols that had been spray-painted on the walls and floor of one of the buildings. They keep coming back, and things just keep escalating until they start going insane. The film was supposed to end with one of us standing in the water at night, walking backwards in a jerking motion towards the camera. Sounds more corny than scary right? Well at this point, we were too deep in to back out.
We made the drive out there in our rented car the next morning. We’d gotten directions off of google maps, but the main road to the location was blocked for whatever reason. Because of that, we had to find a detour. Eventually we did manage to get there, but it took around two hours. That was kind of annoying. What was even more annoying were the wooden barriers around the place. It really looked like they were trying to keep people out. That’s when I started questioning the legality of this. However, Jack quelled these concerns by telling us about a film shot entirely in Disneyworld without the parks consent, so we just kept on. Besides… this was such a small, insignificant place. Who would care?
We walked around for a while, trying to map out where everything was. That was an easy task as the place was quite small. You could walk end to end through the town in about ten minutes. the man at the bar was also right. Two houses seemed to have burnt down. The rest of the buildings – while empty and having moderate signs of environmental damage, looked to be perfectly fine. In fact, the place didn’t give off much of a creepy vibe at all. At first.
We filmed for a few hours before we called it a day. I have to say, it was honestly coming together better than I thought it could’ve. As it turns out, Wayland was quite the actor. Mick and I also managed to hold our own. In addition to that, Jack’s camera work wasn’t terrible. Now, it wasn’t good by any means, but it looked quite authentic and on par with modern day found footage films. He must have taken a few classes. As the sun began to set, we decided to wrap it up for the day and head back. As we were about to leave, I decided to take a look in one of the burnt houses, just out of pure curiosity. As I walked around the blackened, dilapidated structure, nothing really seemed to pop out at first. That was until I looked at the floor. There were… footprints? At first, I thought they must have been due to the dust, which worried me. I mean, there couldn’t have been anybody else here.
However, when I examined them closer, I realized something much stranger. The footsteps seemed to be sunken in, as if somebody took a heavy weight shaped like the bottom of a shoe and pressed into the floorboards. This was weird… to say the least. But not that weird. Not enough for me to think about it too long, anyways. I jogged back to the car, where everybody was waiting and told them all about it. As expected, they just told me it was nothing. And that’s also what I told myself.
Nothing extremely out of the ordinary occurred the following few days either. At that point, we’d even gotten around 45 minutes of decent footage. It was only until a week into shooting where I realized that something just wasn’t right about this place. The feeling of wrongness had been subtly building ever since we’d gotten there, but either nobody else noticed or nobody else wanted to admit it. I was watching over some footage that we’d shot a few days ago. In it, the sun was just starting to set. The thing is… I’d noticed something in the distance off the shore, in the water. At first, it just appeared to be a splash. But… it was large. What the hell could’ve caused it? Curious, I replayed the footage and watched even closer. Now, the background was pretty blurry and the splash was only in the shot for a few seconds, but I could’ve swore that there was something behind it. Almost like a dark figure. A… person?No way, I thought. That made no fucking sense, you know?
Even though I tried rationalizing this by telling myself it was a trick of the light, or my overactive imagination… or something, I still couldn’t stop thinking about it. I thought about telling the others, but I knew that they wouldn’t think anything of it. Especially Jack. He seemed to have gotten a lot more serious about this whole thing. My suspicions were confirmed when night came. We were getting ready to head out of there when he stopped us.
“Look… I have an idea.” He said. “Let’s stay here for the night. I packed sleeping bags and some food.
“Fuck that!” Mick replied. “Why would I want to spend the night in this dusty-ass place?”
After seeing that footage, I also shared his sentiments. I did not want to do this.
Jack kept going: “Look, what makes a movie suspenseful? Conflict, right? So far, there’s been none of that. We’ve found some spooky symbols, heard some noises, but that’s it! Imagine this… our car’s broken down in this scene. We tried to start it, but it just wouldn’t go. So we start arguing with each other. “Oh, it’s your fault, it’s his fault!” that kind of shit, right? As it ends up , we’re forced to sleep here, in one of the houses. And then sometime during the night, we wake up to some strange noises outside, so we look out the windows, and see a figure crouching behind the bushes or something. Tell me that doesn’t sound fucking amazing.”
While it didn’t sound like anything original, this is what the movie needed. The others protested a bit more before eventually coming to a consensus. I also reluctantly agreed. However, I sure as hell wasn’t excited about the night. We moved into one of the houses and set up our sleeping bags there. Jack wanted us to only get a few hours of sleep before we started filming the night scene.
“Authenticity.” He explained. “The more tired you are, the more real it’ll seem.” I had to hand it to him at that point. The guy was dedicated.
At about 1:00 AM, he woke us up. He was already filming. The plan was to have Mick go out beforehand and start making deep, groaning noises. He’d also be the figure crouching behind the bush. We were planning to shoot and edit in a scene with all four of us watching from inside the house later. Groggily, I got up and played along.
“What’s going on?” I mumbled.
Jack put on his scared voice. “You guys didn’t hear that shit? Listen.” As Wayland and I strained our ears, he filmed us. As expected, we heard Mick’s groaning from outside.
“What the hell is that?” Wayland responded, deliberately making his voice go shaky at the end of the sentence.
“Fuck if I know.” Jack responded. “Sounds like it’s coming from somewhere near the shore.” He took the camera and started filming through the window.
“Shit… I think I see something in the bushes.” He paused for a second. “Wait… the hell?” His tone changed drastically. He put the camera down and turned back to us.
“Guys, what the fuck is that in the water?” His voice was completely sober at that point. It didn’t sound like acting at all. In addition to that, his face had gone completely pale. Confused, I just kept up the act.
“What’d you mean? What was in the bushes-“
“I’m being fucking serious.” He cut me off. “Look out at the sea.” With a sense of dread creeping into my psyche, Mick and I did what he said. However… I couldn’t see anything.
“Uh… have you gone mental, Jack? There’s nothing.” I heard Mick blurt out.
“Are you kidding me?” Jack pushed him out of the way and started scanning for himself.
“What the fuck is going on?” I heard him mutter.
However, as I kept observing the water, I noticed something rather peculiar. And frighteningly familiar. The waves were incredibly light that night, so I was able to make it out in the distance. Splashes. Large ones. And they seemed to be getting closer. Suddenly, I remembered the splash from the film footage that I had been looking at earlier.
“Give me the camera.” I told Jack.
Although he had a muddled look on his face, he didn’t protest and just handed it over. I turned it back on and started filming the splashes. And oh god… what the fuck did I see?
There was a figure wading through the water, coming towards us. It also seemed to have some kind of deep red glow emitting off of it. When I zoomed in, it was apparent that it was wearing some old-looking deep sea diving gear, but without a helmet. The weirdest part was that when I tried focusing in on the details of its face, I couldn’t. It’s not that the camera didn’t have the capability… my eyes just couldn’t take it. They’d start stinging and watering and I’d have to turn away. But from the split seconds that I managed to sneak a look in, the face appeared to be… distorted, in a sense. Almost like it was that of a typical man, but was passed through multiple filters of some sort. Safe to say, this was beyond fucked up.
I put the camera down. “Jesus Christ!” I reeled back in shock. I decided to test my suspicions and looked back at the water. The figure was now gone. At least from my vision. I could still see the splashes. And they were getting dangerously close now.
“What the hell is it?” Jack and Wayland asked me in near unison. I gave them the camera and they took turns witnessing what I’d just seen in abject horror.
“We need to leave.” Jack uttered, in the most drastic tone I’d ever heard come from him.
“What in the hell are you guys doing?” We heard Mick call from the bushes. He was looking up at us, holding his arms up. I watched in horror as large footsteps started appearing on the beach behind him.
“RUN TO THE FUCKING CAR!” Was all that I managed to get out. He flinched for a second, before turning around to witness the sand being manipulated by an invisible force. He bolted right after that. We didn’t even bother rolling up our sleeping bags, we just ran like hell out of there. Being the slowest of the bunch, I was the last one to leave the house we were in. However, in my mad dash towards the vehicle, I slipped on some pebbles and crashed to the ground, scraping my wrists. As I reeled from the pain, I swore that I was able to somehow sense a presence coming towards me. It’s hard to explain. It was like the air around me began to feel hostile. In addition to that, I could hear multiple voices coming towards me. But none of them were distinguishable. They all seemed to be blending together, forming a disturbing cacophony of noise. And the worst part of all…
I couldn’t move.
I remember just sitting there, trying to prop myself up, but my arms were moving about an inch a minute. It also felt like I was being dragged down into the earth. A few seconds later, I heard the sound of pavement being crunched behind me. The closer and closer it got, the more and more it felt like I was sinking into hell.
My vision started blacking out before I was snapped out of whatever trance I had been in. I watched as a bright light flew past and hit something behind me. The suffocating disharmony of voices suddenly stopped and was replaced by a loud, guttural grunt. I looked up to see Jack standing about thirty meters away, holding a flare gun in one hand and the camera in the other. I took the chance and scrambled up, dashing towards the car. I got in and we sped the hell out of there.
We’re sitting back in the motel room now. None of us have said a word to each other. I mean… what the hell are we supposed to say?