A lot of these stories start off with, “I don’t know why I’m writing this.” Well, this isn’t one of them tales. In fact, I knew full well I should be writing this, even though I was told not to. I can’t in good conscious not tell this story.
It all started on the third day of submissions to the local Horror short film festival in western Sydney. It wasn’t a large festival and there had not been many entries, however, some of the films entered were actually pretty good. They ranged from thrillers, action, to science fiction, and it didn’t matter in this festival what genre it was. All that mattered was that the film did not go over 15 minutes and it was scary to say the least. Now, this is where the tale starts. There was one film submitted that did send chills down our spines, striking us at our very core. Maybe it was just the way it was filmed, a shaky camera style just like that of the Blair witch project… Or maybe it was the fact that it was filmed in a first person’s point of view style, but in truth this didn’t matter.
“Who submitted this one,” John asked, inspecting a brown envelope with the words “The Filmmaker” written across the front in a faded red ink. John was the head of our committee for the screening of these movies. As he opened up the envelope and peeked inside, he noticed there was only a single USB drive within. It was pure black which made some of us giddy.
“This could be exciting. An unknown movie for a horror film festival. Someone is actually making an effort to scare us,” I said with a light laugh. We all loved horror films, the jumps, the scares, and the gore, all of it. Some could say it had made a lot of us immune to the sight of gore. Hell, if anything we truly enjoyed it.
“Hurry up and plug it in, I want to watch it,” John would say, passing the USB drive over to me.
I took the USB drive and plugged it into my laptop and no sooner as I had plugged it in, the movie started to play as if on auto play, adding a small hint to the creepiness which had already brought a smile to my face. The screen went black, and the title, “The Filmmaker” appeared in red writing across the center of the screen before distorting to show us the setting. The movie seemed to start off in a bedroom. It almost looked like that of any teenager’s room, a boy’s room to be exact. The time was late at night and the boy seemed to be fast asleep in his bed. After a moment, the covers flicked off him as he laid down across the sheets, spread out in the same manner as a star. The background music was eerie, sending chills down my spine.
The Film had been shot in point of view style, as if watching the scene from that character’s eyes. We could only guess it was the eyes of the killer in this horror film. We watched as he approached the side of the bed, the camera tilting slightly as if the killer had tilted his head while looking at this boy. I watched intently, gripping at my pants, wondering how this was to turn out.
“Wake up, Bradly. It’s show time…”
The words range out in a sadistic melody from the Filmmaker’s mouth, and then a hand was lashed out into view. The hand of the Filmmaker moved to the mouth of the boy, causing him to wake abruptly in a panic. The boy struggled, only to find his hands were lashed down. The camera slowly moved up and down to give us a look at the hands of the boy. They had been zip tied and a slight snicker left the lips of the Filmmaker.
“Shh, shh, shh… Now, now, Bradly, don’t you remember? Didn’t you say you wanted to be a star? I hope you remembered your lines.”
A slight chuckle could be heard as the Filmmaker spoke again, his words sounding twisted and sadistic as he had brought up a finger over his mouth to make the “shh” sounds. Bradley struggled. His arms flailed about but could not see, set them free. It was no use, the zip ties were too tight. We could all see this and listened as the Filmmaker snickered louder. It was then that a knife had been brought into view before the camera, showing it off before us. Bradly stopped struggling now. His eyes grew wide as a muffled scream of anguish roared in his throat as he tried but found he was unable to escape.
“The boy is going to die isn’t he,” I spoke, “The first victim…”
I moved in closer to the screen. My eyes had been glued to this movie from the start; just the way it was delivered, the style of filming made it look all the more real. This Filmmaker, the director, I thought was a genius with the way he had filmed this, how the actor of Bradly seemed to show true terror and fear in his eyes and in the muffles of his screams.
“Calm down Bradly, it’s just a movie. This won’t hurt one bit,” Spoke the Filmmaker again as he had moved the cured blade of the hunting knife over the face of Bradly just to have the blade trace along his jaw line.
“Shhh, shh, I promise it will all be over soon.”
We had all fallen silent at this time, we had watched and nothing more as the sharp blade glanced over Bradly’s bare skin. The boy seemed to be sweating now as the camera moved in closely, just to give us a better look.
“Remember, this is your big scene, your big finale. Now don’t mess this up. No one likes an actor that forgets their lines, Bradly. Now… Make sure not to scream. It’ll ruin the take and we will have to do this all over again.”
The Filmmaker snickered. The sounds of this man’s voice sent shivers down my spine. What was this feeling I was getting? It was a cold chill, a chill one gets when they feel like they are being watched. This was just a movie, and yet, I seemed to be getting more scared by the second… I was getting more crept out and disturbed as this short film continued. Something was not sitting right with this one. Something in the back of my mind felt like something in this movie was off, but I just couldn’t quite place my finger on what it was.
We continued to watch as the Filmmaker moved the knife from Bradly’s chin. The blade now ran down lightly and slowly over the neck of the boy, making a slight cut over his neck as it glanced down again to his chest. A slither of blood trickled from the open wound on the boy’s neck as Bradly clenched his eyes shut, the sobbing growing louder in panic, but had almost been completely shut out by the insane snickering of the film maker.
“Take one. And action…” That sinister voice spoke again and as the Filmmaker spoke, the knife plunged deep into Bradly’s chest, causing blood droplets to shoot out from the wound, making little droplets from the impact. More blood oozed out of the open wound from the boy’s chest and a loud muffled scream emitted Bradly’s throat. The knife then jerked down to slice the entire midsection of Bradly open, the laceration causing more blood to spill over the boy’s bare torso and onto the bed, staining the sheets and the hand of the Filmmaker.
I had to look away… This was just wrong, but why? It was just a movie wasn’t it? Yeah… Just a movie. The Filmmaker pulled the knife from Bradly, setting it aside as more muffled screams of agony tried to escape the boy’s mouth. I closed my eyes and covered my ears. A bead of sweat dripped down my forehead as I could barely hear the Filmmaker’s insane laughter. I looked back, glancing up and peeking my eyes open to watch. The Filmmaker had moved to pull out an old sock to shove into the boy’s mouth. He had gagged Bradly, and they boy continued to struggle on the bed as more and more blood flowed from the open wound. The blood stained hands of the Filmmaker moved up to mockingly pet the top of Bradly’s head. His touch almost seemed gentle, but we knew that wasn’t the case as Bradly struggled to move away.
I turned away again, quickly reaching out for a trash can, and throwing up into it. I looked up for a moment as I heard two others scream and run out of the room in sheer panic. Only John and I were left. John was lost for words, his eyes wide and full of terror as he watched the screen. His mouth quivered at what he was seeing. I kept my eyes away. I couldn’t watch anymore of this sickening movie especially when I heard the sound of cracking and snapping. I could only guess that was the sound of Bradly’s bones breaking. The muffled screams where loud and piercing as I had placed my hands over my ears once more to try and block them out. I was disgusted. I was terrified, and then the screams stopped. The snickering stopped. Only a thud was heard, thumping away to the rhythm of a heartbeat…
Thump, thump, thump.
I didn’t dare look up. “Is it over, John? Is the film over?”
“No…… no it’s still going” John would reply.
I slowly and hesitantly turned to look up at the screen, and my eyes widened in horror. Bradly was dead, his chest ripped open by this twisted man and now the man started laughing and snickering uncontrollably. The image of Bradly… The way we had seen it… I will spare you the details. No one should ever have to see such a sight.
Those were the last words we had heard from the Filmmaker. It was almost a whisper before the credits had started scrolling down on a black screen in red writing. The strange thing was, there were only two names. The first one was Bradly Harkin. The second one was Christian Paige. The name Chris appeared several times in the credits, as the writer, actor and editor of the project. Then we saw that one tag attached to his name… Director. Was someone so sick and twisted to put their own name in the credits, openly admitting to murder?
“That wasn’t real… tell me it wasn’t real John,” I said quietly, but loud enough for John to hear.
“I-I don’t know… I just…. Fuck, I don’t know. What the fuck did we just watch?”
We looked at each other before I went to grab that black USB drive from the computer. My hands were shaking uncontrollably, but I couldn’t help it. I had reached for the USB and was about to pull it out when the screen faded once again to another scene to the film. There was more? Why is there more?
This scene showed a bathroom in front of a mirror. Along the mirror written in what only John and I could guess was blood, had the words “To be continued”. Behind the blood in the reflection of the mirror, we had seen him. A man, standing there with the knife in his hand, that same knife. He was wearing jeans and a long sleeved grey shirt, with a black vest over his torso. He wore the grey shirt zipped up and even sported a grey hood over his head, Brown hair could be seen peeking through the hood and on his face, despite that insane smirking expression, were a pair of black goggles. They were similar to what the character Riddick wears, but out of the right eye of this twisted fucker was a glowing red light. It was almost as if the red LED of the camera recording was shining through the black goggles.
“I’m coming for you next. To be continued”
The screen went black and we could do nothing but just sit there in shock, silence and horror. We had wondered if this was some practical joke. We wished it was. Hell we hoped for it. Sweat coated my forehead, and by the look of panic on everyone else, we had knew, in the deepest of our hearts of hearts that this was no prank. I opened another tab on the computer, and right away I went to research this Bradly Harkin. What I found made my jaw drop and my eyes widen; police reports on an 18 year old boy, murdered in his room. His chest had been ripped open as he had bled to death, out tied to his bed. So it had been true. “This can’t be right, we didn’t just see this,” I called out, running my hands over my face.
I have not slept since. In fact, I’m typing this out right now from my home. It has been 3 days since we watched the movie, and yet those words, “To be continued” linger in my head…