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The Haunting of Filmhouse

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

Several reported sightings of ghosts at the local cinema

by Ava Bratejka Lindberg

We all know it, whether intimately or through the grapevine: Belmont Filmhouse, a stable for film students and senior movie-goers alike. Whether you go every week or you only went that one time, chances are you’re familiar with the bright red cinema sign on one of the most central streets of the city. Belmont Street is a place for day and night activities alike, a place in which there is something for everyone - and this, apparently, includes ghosts awaiting cinema workers on the late shift.

While you’re all sitting in your brown velvet seats, enjoying the stars of yesteryear on the big, bright screen, a spectre walks the back halls of Belmont Filmhouse. Having been charged with the responsibility of closing the small cinema kiosk, there for all your convenience and possible needs, employee Dillan-James Carter was, on this fateful night, climbing the back stairs after having taken out the bins when he saw a harrowing sight: a figure, eerily waiting for him further up the stone staircase. If you, dear reader, have never had the pleasure of walking the staircase behind the cinema, let me paint you a picture. In the same recognisable granite stone that we all know and love, a staircase no wider than three people is surrounded by the outer wall of the cinema on one side and a non-descript stone wall on the other. The lights are low here, and hanging over the walls are treetops that shed dangerous, slippy leaves onto the stairs. In one word, the place is eerie.

With nothing but his wits and the now empty container he used to carry the glass waste, he braved the stairs to return to the blinking light of the green exit sign on the fire escape door. Questioning everything he held real at that moment, an existential chill fell on this unsuspecting lobby boy. Before this instance, Carter considered himself a stone-cold sceptic, but his life has forever been changed by the incident. Carter is not the first, and most likely not the last, to experience the haunting ghost that resides at the revered independent filmhouse. Having talked to a co-worker, and long-term employee, Abby Quick, Carter quickly discovered that spirits are a regular sight for those “fortunate” enough to have kiosk duty at the Belmont. These apparitions have left employees and customers alike baffled, wondering what purpose this ghost has at the cinema. When prompted, duty manager Calum Scott said, “Personally, I’ve never seen it. However, I have heard eerie tales from former co-workers.” Scott also claims that the report from Carter does not match those from previous members. While the earlier sightings at the filmhouse have claimed to have been of a young girl, Carter’s portrayal is quite different: “What I saw was more like a black spectre. I remember it being bald.” Carter also did not notice any clothes on the spectre and was not only prompted to think about whether or not we as humans get to keep our clothes when we pass the veil to the other side, but also matters of life and death. Mostly, however, Carter is determined to discover what exactly makes the Belmont Filmhouse such a hot spot for the supernatural. If we are to believe the several employees who have sensed, felt, and even seen ghosts at the theatre, it prompts us to ask just how many spectres has the filmhouse attracted over the years?

The history and the old feeling of the cinema is exactly part of the appeal for the members who frequent the Belmont. The filmhouse, built in 1896, has shown films since 1910, with a fifty-something-odd-year break, so the building is riddled with history and plenty of opportunity for a ghost or two to be left in the corners unchecked. Having served as a trades hall, a warehouse, and a cinema, it would be hard to pinpoint the exact source of this - or these - supernatural occurrences, but one thing is certain: the employees at the Belmont Filmhouse are convinced it’s haunted. To make light of the situation and to brighten up the workplace a bit, there is a running joke between the employees at the cinema that there simply is no ghost, but that it is, in fact, a certain duty manager who roams the halls at ungodly hours.

Several other theories, however, have also developed between the co-workers. One imagines a large rug falling on top of an anonymous person whose death was never discovered, another visualises a young girl balancing on the tall, granite wall next to the fire escape, losing her balance and falling to her bitter death. However, the most popular theory is that a cinema operator’s daughter may have been electrocuted in a projection room back in the day. There are even talks about cold spots in certain corners of the screens (which, of course, it is worth noting, could easily be the ventilation system) that the employees urge customers to keep an eye out for in case they want to communicate or sense the spirit. Abby Quick wonders if perhaps, even, the spirit is not one of this realm, but if it is something otherworldly merely here to observe and learn from cinemagoers. One employee, who wishes to stay anonymous, points out that no one is currently under the impression that these phantoms are at the Belmont due to vengeance, nor that they are acting with malice. Still, this writer suspects, it must be quite a surprise to endure such an encounter when simply taking out the bins for the night. Carter states that “a cinema would not be a bad place to be a ghost,” and plans to continue his employment at the filmhouse for the time being. Whether friend or foe, spectre or fae, it is safe to say that these sightings are staying with the employees of the cinema for a long, long time.

When approached, head of cinema operations at the filmhouse, Colin Farquhar, had no comment.


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