's 2019 Horror Write-off:

The Piper

Submitted by Ellen Edwards (email)

RE: Disappearances of Children



Director Austin,

I think I’ve tracked down the cause of the mass disappearances reported in Chicago, Toronto, Phoenix, and twelve other cities after recovering security footage from the Sacramento incident of 10/17.

Do you remember the movie Piper? 2013? Of course you don’t. Forgettable kiddie retelling of the Pied Piper story. It only really gained any traction on some blogging site called Tumblr, where users took the Piper in a strangely sexualized direction (unsure if related to anomalous behavior, but I can only hope). But it’s still available on all streaming platforms, plus DVD and Blu-Ray. 

Every affected group had been viewing the film when the event occurred.

Nothing extranormal happened during the film’s theatrical release. But home viewings appear to carry a small chance of triggering an event I’m dubbing Ratfall. Given the film has been viewed millions of times since 2013, and we only know of twenty incidents, the chance of a Ratfall must be infinitesimally low. Additionally, it only appears to occur if both adults and children are present. But the Sacramento footage confirms its existence.

In the film, the Piper has colorful, cartoonish rat sidekicks. Seems like a misreading of the story, but they needed something to make toys out of. At forty-five minutes into the film, the Piper begins to lure away the community’s children. At this point, his rats join him. In an ordinary viewing of the film, the rats will scurry by laughing, then perform some tedious slapstick.

During a Ratfall, the lead, yellow rat will come up to the camera and stare at the audience for several seconds, eyes darting to every viewer. He will then push his claws into the fourth wall of the screen and tear it apart, leaping through the resulting portal into the real world. The viewing device’s physical screen will start to crack as rats swarm it, and a Ratfall will ensue.

The swarming cartoon rats will messily and painfully devour anyone over sixteen in the immediate vicinity. While they enact this frenzy of death, other rats will attempt to entertain the children, no matter their distress. All the rats in a Ratfall will speak happily of “freeing” the children, but from what we cannot say.

When all individuals over sixteen have been consumed, the Rats will scurry back into the now-destroyed screen. Music will then play from the screen. Though the music seems intended to lure children inside, and the Piper’s beckoning hand always emerges from the crack to await their arrival, the children are typically too distraught to be swayed, and the Piper soon gives up and retreats back into the movie.

Attempts are now being made to pull Piper from all streaming platforms and make the DVD and Blu-Ray out-of-print. Please advise on further action,

Agent Cold.



SACRAMENTO, CA - 10/17/2019


[A girl, 11, sits in her living room with her mother and father. Piper is playing at around the forty-four minutes mark.]

MOTHER: Don’t they have any good movies?

FATHER: Not on this -


MOTHER: Alright!

[The music starts to play. Noises of tapping on glass and the Piper’s music.]

RAT: {off-screen} *laughter* Hi-hi!

MOTHER: Is that-*scream*

[The TV screen splinters in a flurry of sparks. The lead rat slides out of the wreckage, followed by dozens of others.]

ALL: *screaming*

FATHER: What the fuck!?

[The flood of rats pushes back the parents. The girl stands there, slack-jawed and trembling, surrounded by two rats. As chaos rages, one of the rats begins to dance..]


PARENTS: *screaming off-screen*

[Rat continues his dance.]


[Rat gestures at the girl. Screams continue.]

RAT: Huh? Huh? Get it? Is good joke.

[A piercing scream off-screen. Blood splatters on the girl’s face. She starts to cry.]

GIRL: Mom’s - mom’s - her blood! In my mouth! I!

[Rat starts dancing again as other rat laughs.]

GIRL: Oh no! God! God! God! No!

RAT: I whip my tail back and forth! I whip my tail back and forth! I whip -!

OTHER RAT: *laughing in girl’s face* You free now!

[The girl stands there, eyes wide, as the rats, many now blood-stained, scurry back into the TV screen. Music begins to play.]

PIPER: {off-screen} Just take my hand and join me. {five minutes pass} Come on. Just do it! {five more minutes pass} Kids these days! So ungrateful!

[Music ceases. The Ratfall concludes. The girl continues to stand in place, just staring ahead, for several hours.]