TV reporter Wendy Burch was sent into the field by station KTLA5 yesterday in order to report on an Hermosa Beach Ironman competition, and what she found herself in was a 90-second vérité horror film that cannot be erased from the mind. It’s a sort of Texas Chain Saw Massacre in miniature, and it ends as harrowingly—and unresolved—as that film.
The premise is straightforward: Burch was tasked with reporting on a competition in which the challenge was to run a mile, paddle a mile, and then chug a six-pack of beer. But as soon as it cuts to her, we know that there is great danger afoot. She’s surrounded by burly, drunk men—“Where’s your beer?” one slurs at her—as we see countless possible sources of danger mingling and chugging beer behind her, recalling the many filmic instances in which the audience is aware of a greater danger than the character onscreen. The camera soon whip-pans to a woman in extreme physical distress to the left—Sarah is her name, we discover—but Burch continues to report, bravely holding her ground despite our knowledge of what is coming.
Finally, there it is: the vomit, which soars in unexpectedly from offscreen. But the video freezes at the moment of impact, such that not only do we get a jump-scare but we must also listen to the audio of the aftermath, left only to imagine what horrors were unfolding. More vomit? Did the “where’s your beer guy” return? Is Sarah okay?
“We need to pull her out of there,” one of the anchors says from the safety of his desk in Hollywood. The rescue mission might make for a good sequel, if audiences can handle a return to the regurgitated hell of Hermosa Beach.