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MSMU’s new psychological thriller in the works: A throwback to suburban horror

Located in the Brady commons at MSMU Chalon, Los Angeles, the visitor’s dining room is under consideration by “The Black String” production team on Wednesday, Sep 8, 2016. It may be the “conference room where [the characters] will be meeting with the family and doctors” at a mental institution, co-producer Charles Bunce said. (Photo by Ava Graciela Rutter)

Written by Ava Graciela Rutter, Staff Writer

On a Wednesday afternoon at the Chalon campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University, confusion marked the expressions of those at the student lounge. Even students intent on studying stole glances at the confident crew of six who were inexplicably taking photos of the room and posing with the video games and doorway. The group was assessing the lounge – not for maintenance or remodeling, it turns out, but for scenes in an upcoming thriller.

The feature film, “The Black String,” is a psychological thriller written by Brian Hanson and Richard Handley for their MFA thesis in Film and Television at the Mount. The plot, as co-producer Charles Bunce describes, centers on a man in his 20s who has “a one-night stand with a mysterious woman. Then crazy stuff ends up happening to him, and he’s not sure if it’s really happening or if it’s all in his head.”

Screenwriter-director Hanson reveals that the concept is rooted in an organic source of fear, “a collection of nightmares that I had,” he said, and a desire to return to the suburban setting in films of yore.

“Every movie takes an idea and puts it in a big city, but not too many people actually live in big cities,” Hanson explains.

Back in 2007, Hanson noticed that movies were “taking these cool little ideas and blowing them out of the water in this huge metropolis. ‘I Am Legend’ takes place in the suburbs back in the ’60s, but when they remade it, they put it in Manhattan.”

In this film, the setting sticks to the suburbs, just like the movies he grew up on. “It’s what’s going on with [Netflix drama series] ‘Stranger Things’ right now, this whole throwback to when we all rode bikes, went out into the woods, and had urban legends and adventures with spooky people,” he said.

Bunce shared that they’re “looking at some hallways and spaces in the nursing program,” and the guest dining room in Brady commons for their scenes.

“The Black String,” which began production two months ago, is slated for filming in mid- to late October. Members of the team include Hanson and Handley; co-producer Sharif Ibrahim, a longtime friend of Hanson’s; and co-producers Kayli Fortun and Bunce, who completed their MFA thesis together at the Mount in May.

Production updates and the concept trailer can be viewed at the film’s website:


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