212 LaVetta Pl.

Creator: Sean Adams
Genres: Comedy, Horror
Age rating: 17 and older
Four young people spend the night in an abandoned house with the intention of scaring one another with tales of its notorious history. As the night draws on, they are confronted with increasingly inexplicable phenomena suggesting the house itself may be a source of evil.
Synopsis: An obnoxious young loser (Spike) has convinced two high school girls (Faye and Luna) to join him and his more restrained friend (Lorne) in Los Angeles's Topanga Canyon for a night in a supposedly haunted house. Once there, he regales them with stories of the house's sinister history, involving a legendary Hollywood tycoon who would eventually use the house for occult sacrificial rituals. While Lorne and Faye both mock Spike's poor narrative abilities and the ludicrous nature of the story, the more impressionable Luna finds herself increasingly oppressed by the house's "strange energy".

As the night draws on, the group are individually exposed to several strange incidents involving a mysterious room at the back of the house whose door seems to lock and unlock of its own accord. Luna is particularly vulnerable to these instances, hearing voices and even being knocked down by an unseen entity. Faye, convinced that Spike is orchestrating everything, confronts him and attempts to leave, though Luna stops her, insisting that they use Spike's cheap store-bought Ouija Board in an attempt to contact whatever "force" inhabits the house.

Upon using the Ouija Board, in which the spirit appears to define itself as "212 LaVetta Pl.", the house's address, things take a turn for the stranger. A strong wind assails the house while Luna is summoned by whispers into the back room, which locks behind her. The others, sensing Luna is in trouble, attempt to unlock the door in vain. While searching for something to pry the door open in the house's bedroom, Lorne encounters a trunk full of chains and an empty notebook with the following inscription on its cover:

“212 LAVETTA PL.
VOL. 9
A STORY YET TO BE WRITTEN”

Meanwhile, Spike searches around the outside of the house to see if there's another way into the back room, at which point he’s haunted by a strange vision of a girl standing on the nearby hillside. He eventually realizes the girl is Luna, although dressed differently and with a terrifyingly inhuman expression on her face.

Spike rushes back to the others, telling them what he saw. He admits that he made up the story about Brasco, but insists that something supernatural is occurring. When they don't believe him, Spike flees the house, leaving them alone to try and open the door. Upon reaching his car, however, Spike is again confronted with the disturbing apparition of Luna. This time, Spike seems to be thrown into a trance as Luna lures him away from the light and into the darkness, as the sound of many children singing hymns is heard around the canyon.

Lorne and Faye have no success breaking down the door. They both debate whether or not they are actually experiencing something supernatural in the house. When Faye steps outside to calm her nerves, Lorne is once again drawn to the bedroom by a child’s voice. He approaches the window and hears noises from the outside, and the trunk has re-opened seemingly of its own accord. He is distracted by Faye alerting him to the fact that Spike’s car is still sitting outside and that he’s nowhere to be seen.

Whilst they search for him, they hear strange, beast-like sounds from the darkness as well as the sound of children humming. They glimpse an inhuman shadow in the headlights as they rush back into the house. The gale winds have started again, and the rear door of the house has suddenly re-opened. Luna begs for help from inside and Faye enters, despite Lorne telling her not to. Once she enters, the door slams shut once again and is immovable.

Lorne is then chased into the back bedroom when he hears the sound of cloven feet hitting the floorboards. As he seeks refuge in the back bedroom, he is assailed by the vision of the boy from under the bed being dragged out by an invisible force and hanging in the air, chains attached to his hands and feet. Lorne loses consciousness upon seeing the boy’s dead, deformed face.

Lorne regains consciousness at dawn. The room is empty now, but the journal from earlier is spread out on the bed. Though it was once empty, it is now filled with writing and, flipping through the pages, Lorne notices that someone has written the story of what happened to them the previous night. At the end, it reads:

“VOL. 9
Written by
Luna Tracy
Judah Montgomery
Faye Marie
&
-----“

Lorne leaves the bedroom after hearing a sound from outside and sees that the house is no longer dilapidated, but fully furnished and “lived in”, as if he had woken up in a different era.

He walks out of the house and screams for help through a thick fog that has now descended upon the place. Soon, he sees the grotesque, inhuman versions of Faye, Spike and Luna, all dressed in ceremonial robes, approaching him from the fog. He runs back inside.

A framed photograph falls to the ground and shatters. When Lorne investigates, he sees that the photograph depicts Faye, Spike, Luna and himself with rows of children and a large, cloaked figure in the middle. The names written underneath the photograph indicate that this cloaked figure is Melvyn Brasco.

The house is now surrounded by ghostly, distorted children, all dressed in black ceremonial robes. The rear door opens once again and Lorne walks, entranced, into the darkness.

In the darkness, we see many horrific visions of torture and depravity at the hands of Spike, Luna, Faye and eventually Lorne, all of whom now bear that hideous grimace seen on the ghostly apparitions of Luna, as if possessed by something inhuman. This is a full-on Satanic ritual, accompanied by the elated sounds of a wild beast from somewhere unseen.

Then we’re back to the present-day house, empty and quiet as if all evidence of the group’s visit had been erased from history. Now a man and his wife enter the house with their young son. The man has bought the house as a holiday home, much to his wife’s displeasure. As they argue, the boy explores the back bedroom. He opens the trunk and finds the same journal, only this time the front cover reads …

“212 LAVETTA PL.
VOL. 10
A STORY YET TO BE WRITTEN”

… implying that the house will, once again, bend to the whims of whatever story is to be told within its walls.

As the boy is heading out, his attention is drawn to the open door at the rear of the house until his mother calls him to leave. Once he has gone, we stay staring at the portal for a long while until we can just barely see the outline of a large, beast-like demon standing in the darkness as the familiar bestial grunting heard during the ritual grows to a crescendo. The door slams shut and the story ends … for now.

----

The film is focused on evaluating and subverting old horror tropes (teens in an abandoned house, ouija boards etc.) Indeed, the primary "haunted house" story itself is an amalgamation of several well-known genre pieces, which is often mocked in the film's first act. However, once the hauntings genuinely begin, the film takes a significantly darker turn than is traditional for a haunted house story, much less one with the comedic elements hinted at in its first act.

The idea is to subvert audience's expectations as well as to genuinely unsettle them, in a way few contemporary horror films seem interested in doing (favoring "quiet, quiet, BANG" startle techniques over an oppressive atmosphere, lingering imagery and genuinely disturbing conceits). It takes its cues from films like The Innocents, Mario Bava's Black Sabbath and Kwaidan, as well as considerable influence from more recent films like Lovely Molly and Cabin In The Woods.

As may be evident from the synopsis alone, this could be an extraordinarily inexpensive film to make, but I believe that in the right hands it could be just as impactful as any of the more bombastic horror films, if not moreso.

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