The terror on set was so scary that you could hear a pin drop — 10 pins by filmmakers looking to bowl a cinematic strike.
The new horror movie “Last Night at Terrace Lanes” premieres at 7 p.m. Sunday at Warehouse Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland, highlighting a beloved bowling alley that sadly shuttered its doors in May of 2022.
“Terrace Lanes was open for 60 years, but shortly after COVID, they decided to go ahead and sell the building … to do high-income townhomes,” former general manager Shelley Snow told WTOP. “Families had been going there for years. My mother bowled there on leagues before I was born. … Kids from Frederick High School back in the day used to come bowl during gym time. … It was just very sad to see such an icon in Frederick close its doors.”
That July, the bowling alley was brought back from the dead by producers Carlo Glorioso, Cory Okouchi and Chad Horn of Cinematic Productions. Executive produced by Eduardo Sánchez of “The Blair Witch Project,” the film is directed by Catonsville, Maryland-native Jamie Nash, producer of “V/H/S/2” and author of the bestselling how-to screenwriting books “Save the Cat! Writes for TV” and “Save the Cat! Beat Sheet Workbook.”
“I was brought in a week after [the bowling alley closed] and they already had a kind of treatment on the table,” Nash said. “I’ve worked for Carl and Ed for years and he brought me in to direct it. It was kind of like, ‘Hey, this bowling alley is going to close down, we have until the first week of August and then it’ll go away. We need to write a script and make a movie all in about seven to eight weeks,’ so it was a really fast-paced production.”
Written by Adam Cesare and Jenna St. John, the story follows a high schooler on a date from hell who must join forces with her survivalist dad to fend off the crazed murderers of a bloodthirsty cult that invades the bowling alley on its final night of operation. The tagline is perfect for the film’s horror-comedy tone: “Heads will roll.”
“The premise is pretty simple,” Nash said. “Basically, the bloodthirsty cult … they decide that the place where they have to make their big stand and do their final ritual is this bowling alley that just so happens to be having its final night, so we kind of took the real life stuff … but the only twist in our movie is we kind of made the bowling alley sad and the last night of a dying era. … It’s a little bit like ‘Die Hard’ in a bowling alley with horror vibes.”
Playing the lead role is rising West Coast actress Francesca Capaldi of the Disney show “Dog with a Blog.”
“I’m from San Diego, California, I’ve worked out here all my life,” Capaldi said. “I got contacted by Carlo, he said he had this production going on and he sent me this treatment. … I’d never done a horror movie before so it was something that I was immediately interested in doing because it’s such a different medium. I was so excited, they sent me the script when it was finished, flew me out and I got to meet the whole Frederick crew. It was awesome.”
She was initially worried when the script described her character as an expert bowler.
“I’m actually a terrible bowler,” Capaldi said. “There’s one scene where I was supposed to be pretending to be bad at bowling and I was like, ‘I got this, this couldn’t be easier.’ I go out there and I throw the bowling ball and I was like, ‘Oh no, I’m so bad,’ but I hear pins just knocking down. I ended up getting a strike on my first try, coincidentally when I’m pretending to be bad. I was like, ‘I couldn’t have planned that if I tried.’ It was hilarious.”
Beyond the bowling skills, Nash was impressed by her action-packed performance.
“Francesca didn’t say it, but she does her own stunts,” Nash said. “My favorite scene in the movie is … there’s a huge fight scene where she’s throwing bowling shoes at the bad guy!”
You’ll even spot Wes Johnson, best known as the arena voice of the Washington Capitals.
“He’s the voice of the Caps!” Nash said. “He’s kind of like Norm (Peterson) from ‘Cheers.’ He’s like the bowling guy who hangs out at the bar all day. That’s kind of his role. … It was the first time that I’ve ever worked with Wes, and because I cast him in this, it scored me some free Caps tickets, so it was all good. He’s great.”
You can meet the cast and crew this Sunday at the red carpet premiere at Warehouse Cinemas — or if you can’t make it out to the screening, the film will be digitally available to purchase for $10 on Tuesday, Jan. 16.
“I’ve seen the trailer and I am so excited to see it on Sunday,” Snow said. “Watching this movie be made, you have no idea unless you actually experience it, how a movie is made. I was there the entire time and I can’t tell you how everything is in sequence because everything was made at different times and in different settings. It was just unbelievable, so I’m so excited to see how the whole thing comes together and what it looks like.”
For Fredericktonians, it’s one last chance to see the ghost of their beloved bowling alley.
“It definitely is a testament to the place,” Nash said. “If you’re scared of horror movies but you loved bowling there, I think you can kind of watch it with squinted eyes and see the whole place because it really is a document to it.”