Adolescents running away in tears from the try-outs of your latest show – it doesn’t exactly sound like good publicity. But when the show is called Horror, it’s different.
A young couple (Silke Hundertmark, Thomas Ouwerkerk) and their best friend (Yannick Greweldinger) arrive at an abandoned country house. It soon becomes apparent that there’s something fishy about the place. An early warning sign, perhaps, is the dusty old music box playing the opening tune to Rosemary’s Baby. If that doesn’t tip them off, the clearly dead girl (Gwen Langenberg) surely will, with her pale skin, black eyes, wispy white gown and bloody axe. It is only a matter of time before the first casualty.
Jakop Ahlbom – a horror aficionado himself – wanted to create an homage to the horror genre. And he has certainly succeeded! The show is a nostalgic trip for horror fans, but the uninitiated will equally recognise the basic ingredients of a good (and not-so-good) spine-chiller.
Dead girls (preferably with raven black hair and wearing ragged dresses), wardrobes suddenly opening, TV-sets suddenly switching on, faint baby wails and – of course – a tape recorder (tip your hat to the Evil Dead) to conjure ghosts – or play music. The only thing missing is a scary doll, although the unfortunate zombie bride (Sofieke de Kater) could pass as one.
Ahlbom has captured the atmosphere frighteningly well. It is a thoroughly enjoyable mix of ominous suspense, black humour and hardcore horror, with successful physical gags – a hand that has a will of its own – and wonderful visual surprises – cases of mistaken identity, ghosts hovering in thin air, and camera images showing us what we really should (not) be seeing. (Let’s hear it for the scenography, costumes and make-up, props, and dramaturgy!) The mix calls to mind the work made by Peeping Tom, although they score slightly higher points for ominous atmosphere, and slightly lower for coherency in storylines.
Aside from being an ode, Horror is also a bona fide horror story, crammed with tragic histories, doppelgangers and lost souls, ending in that staple of the genre, an orgy of violence, creepy characters and generous amounts of gushing blood. The only thing left unexplained is the four scary masked men who like to crawl into view from empty bathtubs and TV sets – well, and the crying baby. But let’s not split hairs.
If your heart doesn’t skip a beat from the prospect of watching a scene in which a man’s intestine is pulled out through his mouth, or one in which a dead girl corners her victims upside down, on her hands and feet – a la Linda Blair in The Exorcist – then Horror probably isn’t for you. But all the others can look forward to a great, gruesome night of frights.
Seen: December 3, 2014. Toneelschuur, Haarlem.
Published before at Theaterkrant.nl