House Haunting

House Haunting

Shreya Shankar

This year's haunted house involved a murder, a fog machine, and a whole lot of terror.

 
Presented by sixth period Advanced Drama, the haunted house was a full-class project with teams of actors, script writers, and technicians. Planning for the haunted house began in September, when co-directors junior Jessica Gasperini and senior Nima Khalily decided on the concept of a spooky abandoned house. After the theme was decided, the script writers sophomore Aneesha Amarnath, seniors Mandy Watson, Cris Torres, Alex Moresco, and Tim Wheeler created a skeleton script and characters, which the cast added to and fleshed out during the actual Haunted House.

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Louie and Ellescas, as the late owners of the house, with their daughter, played by Evert. Photo courtesy of Sheiva Khalily.

The end result was a flawlessly played out horror story.

"It was very believable… [The actors] were all really, really good,"  junior Panos Kanellakopoulos said.

Junior Christine Tedijanto agreed wholeheartedly. "It was pretty darn scary in there," she laughed.

One focus point during the process of creating the Haunted House was finding a way to lead the audience through the complex, five-room house while maintaining plot fluency. The answer was in the design of the plot: a realtor would lead "potential buyers" through an old, long-abandoned house, designed by seniors Christine Yu and Alex Martin in the Black Box.

Beginning in the foyer, which clearly set the spooky atmosphere with its dim lighting and dark walls, the realtor, played by senior Mandy Watson, leads the terrified group through the house. Throughout the tour, the murder mystery of the previous owners is unraveled.

The ballroom was used mostly to set up the plot. The audience entered the scene to find seniors Toni Louie and Abram Ellescas, the owners of the house, dancing. Moments later, the room was plunged into darkness and there was a scream— the owners of the house were found dead. Stepping past the corpses, the terrified audience was led through a hallway and a kitchen to the daughter's room.

The deeply disturbing daughter, played by sophmore Aleksandra Evert, upped the fear factor and explained the mystery by appearing in the next room of the tour: the parlor.

"[Evert] totally stole the show," Kanellakopoulos remarked. "She was so creepy."
Punctuated by the little girl's snarls and demented, broken narration, the ballroom scene was replayed. This time it revealed the butler, played by senior Tim Wheeler, killing the owners of the house. The screaming audience was then showed to the backyard, a foggy cemetery, where the script writers clearly got the last word:

"Please let us know if you're interested in buying," Watson says.

"Please let us know if you're interested in dying," Wheeler echoes.