WELL, THAT HAPPENED: Part One: Horror and Hearts

By on October 26, 2016

A horrific cinematic experience opens the door to history, heritage and treasure.

The author’s eyes were closed during this seemingly common horror movie scene depicting a creepy little girl doing creepy things.

The author’s eyes were closed during this seemingly common horror movie scene depicting a creepy little girl doing creepy things.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – I can’t write at home. Not because I don’t have the ability to, but because I don’t necessarily get much writing done if I’m distracted by Netflix and a comfy couch and a fridge. Therefore I use Pearl St. Bagels as a writing office. Some might think solitude and silence are the key ingredients of a writing session, but in truth, I find busy human activity comforting. Surrounded by familiar faces and fresh coffee, I can hone in on my writing projects and will occasionally get pulled into a brief conversation that will engage my mind for a few minutes—a much-needed break. And to no surprise, I’ve befriended the baristas who kindly deal with my four-hour-long table occupation.

Diana Edlinger is one of those baristas. A stunning, cat-eyed transplant from the east coast, she’s easily spotted by her on-point fashion choices and eccentric hair styles, and is more often than not lobbing opinions about the latest pop culture phenomenon. In our quick transaction conversations, we found common ground in the fact that we both absolutely hate horror movies. This revelation was instantly followed by a terrible idea:

“Let’s go see Ouija: Origin of Evil together!”

“Uh… no,” Diana said. “I don’t do scary movies. I start snorting.”

“Snorting?”

“Yes. I get so scared that I snort.”

“Well, now we definitely have to go,” I said.

The only reason I wanted to see the Ouija movie was because it was racking up some unexpected good reviews. Movie critics usually scrutinize horror films because the success of the film rests on the fact that it needs to invoke a certain feeling. Some movies get incredible reviews, despite being light on the actual scares (Babadook, The Witch), while others will be of a poorer quality, but leave a lasting, horrific impact on the audience’s psyche (Paranormal Activity, Sinister).

Ouija: Origin of Evil is a sequel of sorts to the original Ouija film released in 2014. I tried watching it before Diana and I saw the other film, but I couldn’t make it past the first scene. It was so unbelievably dumb. I feared for our experience, but the 81 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes convinced me otherwise.

Sitting in the theater at Movieworks at the 9:20 p.m. showing, we were in good spirits. We chatted about the upcoming films shown in the trailers and sipped on our high-school-flavored alcoholic contraband (vanilla vodka Cokes). By the time the film started we were slouched in our seats, prepared for the worst. And as the film commenced, I crumpled up with my fist to my mouth, as if my brain reverted back to a time when I was a thumb-sucking toddler. Diana proceeded to snort with every jump-scare, and we screamed more than once. The film was exceptionally effective, and while it had some lackluster visuals here and there, we had fallen into every trap the filmmakers set up for us.

Walking back to Diana’s house in the dark, we divulged stories of our lives, having grown closer as friends after our shared traumatic experience (I still have a bruise on my bicep from Diana’s fearful death grip). After some time, we both learned how bizarrely similar we were, almost as if we were siblings.

Both of us were born in the same area in upstate New York to immigrant parents and we both held dual citizenship to U.S. and Austria. Our love for bagels, cinema and Westworld was already known, but we were connected in more ways than we realized. The horrifying images of the film drifted away as we chatted about our upbringings and our strange pasts, and eerily, things started to match up.

As midnight approached and the half moon rose above Snow King, the mood shifted. We brought up our relatives’ connections to the Nazis of WWII, which then drifted to a conversation about lost Nazi gold, a mysterious death of a young diver in 1963, and ultimately a treasure hunt that beckoned us like a tormented ghost from the basement…

To be continued.

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