Warning, this article contains graphic and satirical content
It was supposed to be an ordinary film shoot. Ordinary, that is, if you’re filming the third installment of a horror movie franchise. The corridors were already prepped with squibs and blood bags. The climactic chase through the Rhode Island State House’s rotunda was choreographed. The cast and crew were just waiting for the director to shout, “Action.”
Then, a tour group of elementary school kids, costumed for Halloween wandered into the set, and all hell broke loose.
Why the Rhode Island General Assembly agreed to rent the historic State House to the producers of The Purge 3 is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the theme of the movie, 12 hours when all laws are suspended, appealed to the sense of humor of a body whose House Speakers regularly resign in disgrace. Perhaps it was a way to pay off part of the 38 Studios debt. Perhaps no one thought to tell them that it was both disrespectful and tacky to allow Hollywood to film a bloodbath there.
Certainly no one could predict that the combination of a fictional premise, a Halloween tour, and a disgruntled ex-union employee would create a real-life horrorshow.
At seven o’clock, a group of twenty-seven children and parents were leaving the offices of House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello.
Approximately seven minutes earlier, a retired teacher who had moonlighted as both a firefighter and police officer took position at the top of the stairs with a sign that read, “Give me back my pension”.
The film makers were supposed to wait until eight o’clock to start.
“The light was perfect,” said one crew member. “It was coming in through a window, and we knew that it would look great.”
Someone shouted, “Action!”
Then the madness began. Smoke. Explosions. Masked actors armed with fake guns mingled with terrified masked children.
And an ex-cop/teacher/firefighter didn’t know that they were supposed to be filming a movie.
“I don’t know how he got that gun in here,” said one of the State Capitol security guards. “Maybe it was one of those new plastic ones.”
The retiree opened fire, trying to protect the children. Several extras on the set realized that the ammunition was live, and reloaded their magazines with real bullets. Meanwhile the Capitol Police drew their own weapons and began returning fire.
In fifteen minutes, while cameras rolled, reality and fiction merged.
When it was over, bystanders said that it was a miracle no one was seriously injured. There were several arrests, and police herded the panicked children and their parents to safety.
The only casualty was the self-respect of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. The dream of Roger Williams, lay bloodied on the floor.
The Purge 3 will be released in July 2016.