I hesitated when I saw the invitation in my email because I am not a fan of scary movies. I tolerate them because they are one of Andrew’s favorite genres. When he watches Alien Death Camp Holiday or Haunted Mental Institution Massacre, I sit beside him on the couch and mutter comments.
“Did they go in the basement? Is that a hatchet?” I’ll say, my voice muffled by the blanket covering my face.
I clicked on the link in the email and signed up for two free passes for a screening of Strangers: Prey at Night. The summary I read said the film is a sequel to the first movie, Strangers. There were enough survivors for part two, this one to take place in an abandoned mobile home park, where the victims were threatened with murderous psychopaths instead of tornadoes.
I was sure Andrew would enjoy the movie, and I was willing to go along because the screening was to take place at our local drive in theater. I have fond memories of going to the drive in with my parents in the 1960s. There was a playground at the front, and I swung from monkey bars and climbed to the top of the rocket shaped slide to look up to the giant characters on the screen. When I was older, I went to the drive in on dates, but those times I stayed in the car.
We arrived early the night of the screening. I handed over my pass to the cashier in the little booth at the entrance and he told us, “Just follow the drive around to the back. It’s the last screen.”
“That one?” I asked, pointing to our left.
“There’ll be someone there to help you park,” he replied.
We swung around past the concession stand and drove to the last screen where Andrew spotted a young man dressed in fluorescent yellow, waving cars over into compact rows on the gravel lot. We settled in where he directed us.
After a trip to the concession stand for popcorn and a soft drink, we walked back in the dark to our parked car. I glanced over to the screen next to ours where a large group of people arranged themselves in chairs in front of the screen.
“What are those people doing over there?” I asked as I pointed to two men wearing suits, which seemed strange attire for an evening at the drive in.
“I don’t know,” Andrew replied, “but I think the movie is about to start.”
Andrew tuned in the car radio to the channel that would broadcast sound for our movie, and we watched the screen light up with previews for coming attractions. The first preview was a Claymation Cartoon.
“This is an odd preview for a horror movie,” I said. I swiveled around in the car seat and peered over at the lot next to ours. The screen there had a static display that said “Strangers.”
“I think we are at the wrong screen.”
Andrew turned to look behind us. “Oh well, at least we get to watch a free movie.”
I pulled up the drive in website on my phone as the next preview, an animated cartoon featuring a talking baby, started.
“The movies tonight are Death Wish, Black Panther, and…” I paused. “Peter Rabbit.”
Andrew does not appreciate children’s movies like I do. As a parent, I learned to be grateful for any entertainment that will encourage small children to sit still for an hour and a half. I looked around at the rows of cars that surrounded us. There were no lights marking the exit, and the only illumination came from the movie playing in front of us. A chorus of singing animals appeared on the screen. Andrew does not care for musicals either.
“Do you want to leave?” I asked.
“I don’t see how we can get out,” Andrew replied. After some discussion about the all-terrain capabilities of our Honda SUV, we decided to stay.
“At least it won’t last long,” Andrew said. This philosophy could apply equally to root canals, but I agreed and then complained about the size of the screen.
“Just pretend we are sitting on our couch at home, watching the movie on your phone, from across the room.”
The plot of the movie developed as we expected. There was action and romance between a female character named “Bea” and the handsome nephew of Farmer McGregor.
“I think this is based on true events,” I remarked, as a hedgehog wearing an apron ambled through the McGregor’s garden.
I flipped up my armrest and leaned over the center console so I could take Andrew’s hand and he grabbed the popcorn box just as it was about to spill onto the floorboards. What strange circumstances brought us here, to a place neither one imagined they would ever go, but both somehow certain that this is where they belong.