An infinity mirror. You notice it in your dorm as you look at yourself before stepping out for your 9am. Your roommate’s mirror is hung exactly across the room from yours, creating an effect where you see infinite reflections of yourself. You lean in, not sure if what you’re seeing is real. Then, all of a sudden, a creature jumps out of the mirror, bugs pouring out of its black trench coat, two sickles in place of its hands. You are dead in an instant. But then you’re brought back to life. Unknown to you, you’re about to experience death all over again, for the rest of your existence.
BeetleMan is an Ithacan urban legend born right out of the mind of freshman Spencer Thorne. An aspiring filmmaker, musician, and businessman, Thorne is easily recognizable on campus with his tall stature, well-fitted sweaters, and the large briefcase he almost always has on hand. His short films are known for their intricate – and sometimes confusing – plots, colorful characters and cinematography.
As he sits down to tell me about Beetleman, a devious smile plays on his face, and I cringe, knowing that the conversation is about to get creepy. He explains the interdimensional Beetleman and the concept of an infinity mirror.
“If Beetleman notices you through the series of reflections, he charges at you until he reaches you, and kills you,” Thorne said. “Beetleman will then kill each infinite reflection of you in different ways, forever. If you try to run, Beetleman will appear in every reflection until he reaches you.”
What’s possibly even more horrifying than the fact that Beetleman can sneak up on you in your dorm room and kill you just like that, over and over again, is his appearance.
“Beetleman is primarily made up of scarab beetles,” Thorne said. “Other parts of him include: fireflies that float in his empty eye sockets, and centipedes that crawl through his brain.”
Something else that nobody knows is that Beetleman was actually created as a way to scare me. I have a deathly fear of bugs (no pun intended) and grew up with superstitions surrounding mirrors, and Spencer took his chance to terrorize me for fun.
“The story really just formed itself,” Thorne said “The more I intensified the thrills, the more the story came to life.”
Spencer has already casted his two main leads. I, unfortunately, will play the (hopefully) glamorous victim. He laughs, describing my role: “I’m just going to have you swinging around and shit.”
Freshman Isaac Ensel, Spencer’s roommate, will play our killer. According to Spencer, Isaac is able to put on the perfect Beetleman voice.
In fact, Spencer has already started to form other parts of the upcoming Beetleman film. He has begun a tiny bit of work on the script, and filmed black-and-white shots of campus that he thinks are “so Beetleman.” For example, the Gannett Center is one of the perfect places on campus for Beetleman to pursue his victim. Spencer also loves capturing simple shots of people walking to class, or just of buildings, making them look lonelier and creepier than they really are. He wants the Beetleman film to be a slow burn, filled with suspense and tension.
“It will be dark and monochromatic with long takes and screeching violin music. Practical effects that are simple but effective,” Thorne said. “Dramatic over-stylized lighting, dialogue, and cinematography. Beetleman as a whole differs from the student works on campus because it strives to emulate an original, avant-garde, overly-stylized aesthetic and narrative structure.”
Beneath the surface of the slasher aesthetic and all the creepy Beetleman lore, as with all of Spencer’s films, is that there is a deeper meaning – a lesson to be learned. Spencer thrives on making people question themselves and rethink their positionality on any issue. His goal with Beetleman is to “explore the relationship between sin and salvation. It will make light of grief, trauma, assault, and delusion.”
This film will have a strong Christian message, which is another thing that Thorne wants to integrate into undergraduate film media.
“Beetleman represents the wages of sin; death,” Thorne said, “Each death that the protagonist goes through is a result of a different sin she commits. However the movie will turn around. Like Jesus, the protagonist will turn from his/her sins and defeat Beetleman. She will overcome the wages of sin through being a follower of God.”
“Like I attend to do all of my works, this film is a trial in my ongoing hope to bring something new and disruptive into the world of undergraduate cinema,” Thorne said.
Alefiya Presswala is a first-year Journalism major who isn’t afraid to venture into different worlds other than our own. They can be reached at [email protected].