Halloween Fright Nights

The night was clear and dead still. It was cold enough for a mist to form near the canal and lay across the forest floor illuminated by the stark white floodlights but not cold enough to be uncomfortable. A perfect night, in other words, for scary goings on in the woods. The premise of these Fright Nights at Groombridge Place was that the Alfonzo Circus had disappeared in the woods around Groombridge Place in 1965 but recently there had been sightings of circus performers come back from the dead and gone rabid.

Being set a fair distance off the road, the approach to Groombridge Place is dark and twisty creating a spooky feeling before visitors have even gotten out of their car. Approaching the ticket office, creepy circus music is playing and the whole place is covered in Halloween decorations. In the garden, a mysterious woman is offering tarot readings while another twirls an illuminated hula hoop. People gather, slowly getting mesmerised by the glowing hula hoop twisting and turning until it’s time to head down the dark narrow path into the woods.

People laugh nervously as they walk along the path next to the canal.  The small torches they’re given are bright enough to make sure they don’t fall over a tree root but don’t illuminate very far into the trees. A hard cold floodlight lights up two crazed clowns who are laughing maniacally and juggling with fire. One spits fire into the air as the people pass. Further down the path, two ghostly women with long black hair stand eerily silent until one lets out a sudden blood curdling scream and the people on the path jump a foot in the air. Continuing on, the people didn’t realise that one of the creepy girls was walking with them until a man happened to glance her way and nearly jumped into his friend’s arms.

At the end of the path, there was a clearing with a children’s play area which looked spooky in a Blair Witch Project kind of way in the dark. A circus ringmaster was calling a dog, or, he sounded like he was calling a dog and holding a broken chain. It wasn’t a dog though. It was a scary looking acrobat who twisted herself into odd and disturbing shapes. She ran at the people who scattered and before they’d recovered, an evil looking clown jumped out at them. Rounding the next corner, they stopped dead when they saw what lay in their way. It was a dark tunnel hanging with cobwebs and something was moving inside. When one person plucked up the courage to go into the tunnel first, they found a witchy women muttering curses.

Onwards the people went through the dark woods encountering crazed clowns and screaming witches until, off to the side, out of sight in the trees was a disturbingly familiar sound: the buzzing roar of a chainsaw. The people all huddled together as a clown came tearing out of the trees with a chainsaw held over his head. He ran straight into them and they all ran off in different directions. After a mad dash away from this terrifying encounter, they found themselves back in the clearing with the ringmaster and his ‘dog’. An exchange ensued which was both humorous and slightly frightening particularly for a man called Kevin who was singled out. He giggled about it all the way back along the path but the pack of people huddled closely together until they reached the light of the garden with its welcoming smell of barbeque food.

Directed by RenatoPires

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