What began as a film experiment with shadow and light soon evolved into an abstract horror movie shot almost entirely in miniature using cardboard, paper and clay. Focusing on suspense, mood and tone, our young patients veer away from the graphic nature of the modern horror genre, and focus more on the anticipation of the event and what our imagination supplies to a scene.

Utilizing techniques such as lighting, green screen, stop-motion animation and soundscapes the patients create a world that exists somewhere between the Mr. Bill comedy shorts of the late 1970s/early 1980s and David Lynch's conceptual horror film, Eraserhead.

For this world, patients of all ages built clay figures and cardboard sets; plotted scenes and created characters; recorded sound effects, vocalizations, and music; filmed and edited.

As the creation of the film proceeded, we noticed that the prominent themes—time, television and fear of the unknown—that envelop the psyche of our character as he explores a mysterious house that lies at the bottom of a well, could very well pertain to a young patient's experience in the hospital.

'The Lost House,' created student by student over the course of 10 months, encapsulates several matters that patients encounter during their hospital stay—as the gaps between medical procedures are filled in by television shows, clock watching and the disorientation of being somewhere unfamiliar and sometimes horrifying.

Mikey Peterson
John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital

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