Literature: The Dionaea House
THE DOOR IS OPEN
A virally-spread Internet story told from 2004 to 2006, The Dionaea House
consists of several stories told in various formats.
The first story, Correspondence from Mark Condry
, takes place in September-October 2004. It begins when Mark E-mails Eric about their mutual childhood friend Drew, who recently shot up a diner. They remember that when they used to hang out, there was a house that terrified Drew. He had to house-sit there for two weeks, and came back... different. Mark goes to Houston to check out the house, then to Idaho to investigate further. He finds that the exact same house, roof damage and everything, is in Boise. He investigates the house.
The second story, Adventures in Babysitting
, is a blog that takes place in October 2004. In it, 16 year-old Danielle Stephens tells about her new job babysitting an 8 year-old girl named Linney. Midway through we find out that it's in the same house. Weird stuff happens.
The third story is A Quiet Space
, Eric's blog. It covers October 2004. It goes into much greater depth regarding the house and its mysteries. Much of it involves a homeless-looking man who keeps staring at him, a "Flesh Puppet." In it, Eric shares various theories about what the house might be.
The fourth story, The Blog of Loreen Mathers
, is told from August 2005-January 2006. It starts off with Loreen telling us that she got back from 9 months in a mental institution because she killed a guy and said everything she knew about the house on the stand. She goes on to explain various peculiarities about the house, like how it smells weird, there's no fuse box, the windows aren't made of glass, etc.
Evidently, it was supposed to be made into a movie, but it unfortunately was in Development Hell
, and was scheduled for release in 2011 under the title The Occupants
, and at another point The Residents
. According to the creator it's dead for now. Whether or not the door is still open
for it to be made remains to be seen.
As of September 2014, it appears the House may have returned...
This work contains the following tropes:
- Alien Blood: The House bleeds a thick clear liquid, when Loreen hits the ceiling with an axe.
- Alien Geometries / Bigger on the Inside: The house in Boise has a second floor with "a really bizarre layout... lots of rooms," that can't be seen from the outside.
- Aloof Ally: Loreen, to the rest of the cast.
- An Axe to Grind: Loreen purchases one when she can't find the attic "and that's when it all went to Hell."
- Apocalyptic Log: Mark's correspondence and phone calls, Danielle's blog, possibly Loreen's blog if you believe one of the flesh puppets found her.
- Ax-Crazy: Drew, causing Mike to start investigating.
- Babysitting Episode: Danielle's Adventures In Babysitting.
- Badass Creed: A comment made by "Mark Hondrie," on Eric's last journal entry: "Those who know, we consume. To those who doubt, we appeal. From those who believe, we hide. Those who know, we are. Those who know, WE CONSUME. There is no escape."
- Badass Bookworm: Loreen can beat up full grown men with clear size advantages over her (while tipsy, no less) and is also a teacher or professor. She is also both tough enough and shrewd enough to escape from the House, kill a flesh puppet AND stay off the House's radar for years. She even manages to compile detailed notes regarding the house's digestion habits and records her experiences via Livejournal before possibly being caught, which she predicted would eventually happen.
- Badly Battered Babysitter: Danielle, mentally and ultimately physically.
- Batman Gambit: The House pulls these from time to time to reel in new people, exploiting people's consciences and curiosities to get them to visit.
- Big Bad: The House.
- Bigger Bad: Jared Lewis, the man who went so far as to abandon his family to finish building the original House.
- Breather Episode: Eric's story is a fairly quick read and isn't as tense as the other three stories.
- Buffy Speak: Danielle, before and notably, after she figures out something is wrong with the house.
- Came Back Strong: Loreen's notes state that flesh puppets that can't leave the house are especially quick and can sometimes be especially strong.
- Referenced by Danielle: while cleaning, she hears a trap door open somewhere and what sounds like a herd of people barreling down a staircase. Soon after, Linney's parents "come home from work."
- Came Back Wrong: Drew, and eventually Danielle.
- How about all of the flesh puppets, for that matter?
- Cloudcuckoolander: Drew, has a lot of loveable quirks and is described as the "fanboy type," which is why no one questions his even weirder behavior after he returns from the house.
- Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Averted, no one is really close enough friends with Drew to stay with him and prevent his corruption at the hands of the house or get him help afterwards. Mark later laments this.
- The Corruption: This happens to Drew after house-sitting for a week and also Danielle after spending her last night babysitting. In general, it happens to whoever becomes a flesh puppet.
- Connect the Deaths: What Mark attempts to do.
- Crazy-Prepared: For his expedition to the House, Eric brings with him: two high-powered flashlights, a digitalcamera, a mini-camcorder, noseplugs, Swiss army knives with built-in scissors, a laser pointer and a handgun, courtesy of Cam, a friend. It doesn't help them.
- Creepy Basement: And creepy second floor. And creepy attic and... you know what, let's just go with creepy everything.
- Creepy Child: Linney has colored one of the upper rooms of her dollhouse with red marker, and when asked, informs Danielle that, "It smells like cookies and candy." Curiously, she is NOT a flesh puppet (or else why would the House try to drag her away to her horror), though her parents seem to be.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: A major trope—in fact, it's largely how the antagonist works.
- Dark Is Evil: Implied, in that the Madsons (who were at least partially immune to the House's manipulative properties) never turned their bedroom lights out.
- Dead Fic: The movie and related drama put an end to the original viral story.
- Determinator: Pretty much everyone.
- The Madsons leave the House behind and live a nomadic lifestyle, driving through the country nonstop for a whopping 5 years before finally being cornered by Drew. Lucy even gets pregnant and suffers a miscarriage but she and John just keep driving.
- The House counts too, considering it never stops hunting for the Madsons and eventually succeeds in finding them via Drew.
- Mark may be a Deconstruction of one. Despite his Sanity Slippage, mounting travel expenses and having only one person to correspond with, he keeps searching for the truth about what happened to Drew. This proves to be his undoing when exploring the House later on.
- Eric is a minor example. He catches Sweatsuit Man staking out his apartment and subsequently fleeing, so he follows him back (initially losing him at first and then successfully predicting where Sweatsuit Man would end up to get back on track) to where he's staying which is unfortunately, one of the Houses.
- Loreen is initially so determined to stay off the House's radar, she gets herself committed and lives as a hobo just so no one can find her. She forfeits any protection she had being homeless when she starts writing on her LiveJournal though.
- Downer Ending: Times four.
- Distress Call: The House lets people find out about it so they'll want to explore it. Heck, just finding it puts you at risk of being lured in. In other words, it actually feeds on being a viral story. So keep sharing that link.
- Eaten Alive: What happens to those who stay in the attic too long, possibly Mark's ultimate fate, as human remains appear on a street shortly after he disappears.
- Eldritch Location: Aside from the fact that the same house exists in multiple places, there's the second floor that's not visible from outside the house. This is where it gets the name "Dionaea House" from. Mark compared it to a Venus flytrap, which may have multiple heads but they all connect to the same roots. The second floor may be comparable to the roots, and the various houses comparable to the heads. While in the second floor, Mark manages to send Eric a text message at 5:77 p.m.
- Empty Shell: Drew, after spending too much time in the house.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: From one of Mark's emails: "Andrew talked about it the weekend before. Dog had behavioral problems Ė whined, barked, scratched at the door, pissed on the carpet. Didnít want to be inside, always wanted to be outside."
- Famous Last Words:
- Mark: I THINK SOMEONES HERE. I JUST HEARD SOMETHING.
- Danielle: I wish I wasn't so scared of going back. I feel so empty...
- Eric: Here we go.
- Loreen: Damn gotta go talk more later
- Fate Worse Than Death: The House can either brainwash you into serving it or it can eat you.
- Fling a Light into the Future: Loreen and the Filipino journalist.
Loreen: They're not houses! Stop thinking of them as houses!
- Genius Loci: The House itself is one.
- Ghostly Chill: The air inside the house is described as 'cold and metallic', but sometimes giving off strong whiffs of sweet things - fresh bread, sugary cakes. Sometimes there's a smell of rotting decay, too - it's like the house is making the sweet smells to cover up the stench.
- Glamour Failure: Loreen took an axe to the ceiling. It bled.
- It's implied that the Madsons were immune to the House's glamor, discovering exactly what it was and ran away to live a nomadic lifestyle. An AIM chat log from February 1999 between Lucy Madson and a neighbor even reveals that bile was discovered in the attic and on some of the walls.
- Guilt Complex: Mark blames himself for not speaking up about Andrew's weird behavior post house-sitting and his guilt is what causes him to go looking for Drew. And later, Eric feels the same way about not being able to help Mark more. The house itself uses guilt to reel in new people.
- Hazardous Water: When Danielle leaves Linney alone in the bathtub for a couple of minutes, one of the house's strings comes out of the bathtub spigot and wraps around her ankle.
- Hell Is That Noise: Prolonged exposure to the house (or even chasing related leads) causes people, namely Mark, to develop a condition similar to tinnitus.
- Lucy Madson claims to have heard a noise similar to someone choking in some halls of the House.
- Loreen hears "a chorus of fat men sucking on their teeth," when the House gets impatient waiting for her to explore the attic.
- Heroic BSOD: Loreen goes through a brief one after her escape from the house via the window. It takes her two days in a motel room for her to work up the courage to go back to the house, where she finds The Twins.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Loreen knows that by writing about the House, she's risking her safety and she'll eventually be found by the flesh puppets and "dragged through the front door of a house that smells like bread and warm blood." It doesn't stop her from writing down what she knows anyway, hoping that people will learn enough about the House to avoid it.
- Heroic Willpower:
- This all started because a couple named John and Lucy Madson were somehow at least partially immune to the various effects of the house. The backstory isn't fully explained, but they abruptly left the House for unknown reasons and lived on the road for years to try and avoid the House's meat puppets, but they were eventually found and killed by Drew.
- Loreen was able to stop herself at the last minute from going up into the second floor of the House and even escaped. Following that, she even managed to work up the courage to go back.
- Hobos: Loreen after her stay at an asylum. Meanwhile, Eric has a few near encounters with a creepy one known as Sweatsuit Man heavily implied to be an agent of the House.
- Indian Burial Ground: Loreen reveals in her last blog entry that the house was built by a man named Jared Lewis, a disciple of the famous real-life occultist Jack Parsons.
- Ironic Nursery Rhyme: "There was a crooked man / And he walked a crooked mile..." and "Red rover, red rover, let (person) come over."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Loreen sounds like a huge jerk, but writes about the House for the benefit of others.
- Madness Mantra / Arc Words: "The door is open."
- Meaningful Name: "Dionaea" is the genus name for the Venus flytrap. Much like the plant, the houses lure people in.
- Meat Puppet / People Puppets: "Flesh puppets." According to Loreen, people partially-digested by the house are controlled via "strings." This is presumably the reason behind Danielle's final posts and the presence of Sweatsuit Guy and the twins that Loreen encounter.
- Linney's parents are implied to be the most convincing of the flesh puppets the house can exert its control over. They appear normal, albeit tired, to Danielle and are capable of communicating with her and even negotiating pay with her in order to force her to return to the house, so she can become a flesh puppet too.
- Nice Guy: Pretty much everybody but Loreen.
- Never Found the Body: Mark, Eric and Cam are legally considered "missing," more than a year after their attempt to venture into the house, however it's possible that the arm and leg bones mentioned at the end of Mark's story belonged to him.
- Kurt Malone (Drew's step-dad) was assumed to vanished to Mexico by his co-workers after he was consumed by the house.
- Never Sleep Again: The Madsons for the most part. They can and do sleep however as long as they can bundle up with several blankets (regardless of weather) and bar all the doors and windows of the bedroom they're in, even the closet doors.
- No Ending: While some of the blogs clearly end with bad things happening to the writer, others come to an abrupt end.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The attic appears dark (or sometimes red according to Linney), creates both sweet and rotten smells and the audience knows what happens to people who go there and stay there, but no one knows exactly what happens to the victims to render them this way.
- Obfuscating Insanity: How Loreen seeks refuge from the House after murdering a flesh puppet. While standing trial for killing one of House's flesh puppets, she tells her lawyer everything that lead up to the murder, hoping to be incarcerated for a long period of time. The court places her in an asylum instead. Unfortunately, she doesn't do that good of a job pretending to be insane, as she's released only 9 months later.
- Ontological Mystery
- Parrot Exposition: One symptom of being "digested," by the house. Drew engages in this, but because he's already considered kind of weird, no one gives it a second thought.
Mark: Whole reams of dialogue that heíd somehow memorized from one throwaway TV episode. Lyrics to entire songs. It went from odd, to funny, to disturbing in the first hour.
- Pac Man Fever: An odd case. Mark fondly remembers game nights with Eric, Drew and others from 1998. What was the console game of choice? Tecmo Bowl for the NES. Averted later on when Eric hears someone mentioning Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, which was a new game at the time of writing.
- Pintsized Powerhouse: Loreen.
Loreen: I grabbed a chair from the little dining area and bashed it against the picture window that looked out on the front yard. Let me tell you, I swung that thing like the bases were loaded. I am no wimp. I once took down a guy a full foot taller than me outside a bar, and that was when I was a little tipsy. But damned if that window didnít break.
- Sanity Slippage: What happens to Mark leading up to him finding the house in Idaho.
- Self-Disposing Villain: Drew kills himself after hunting down the Madsons.
- Tempting Fate: Anyone who goes up to the second floor of the House or the attic.
- Loreen mentions posting photos and a floor plan of the House where she's staying before her blog abruptly ends.
- Text Message From The Dead: Possibly. Not long after the arrival of Sweatsuit Man, Eric receives a text message reading "BEWARE - FLESH PUPPET," which could be a warning from Mark. Eric seems to take it as a prank text or some kind of antagonistic measure though.
- Unperson: The House slowly and deliberately works to make its victims and other people associated with it into this. Somehow it got the court records of Loreen Mathers' trial for murder disappeared. Or having Drew kill the Madsons and then himself.
- Weaksauce Weakness: What does the omnipotent and omnipresent House fear? Sharp objects. Danielle inadvertently drives off a string when she grabs a pair of scissors and Loreen escapes the House altogether by charging one of the House's "windows," with a bread knife. May or may not be intentional.
- Wham Episode: ALL of them qualify, but Loreen's story is the only one to have someone witness and describe the house's supernatural properties first hand AND escape.
- Wham Line: ITS THE SAME ONE. THE HOUSTON HOUSE. SAME MARKS ON ROOF. SAME FENCE DAMAGE.
- The house bled. Not like red human blood, but something else.
- But damned if that window didnít break. Hereís what it did: It stretched. Like it was made of see-thru skin.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Mark mentions the possibility of finding other friends Travis and Dave while looking for the House in Texas, but no other mention of them is made. Were they consumed by the house or did it fail to find them?
- Linney is never mentioned or referenced again after Danielle keeps her from being dragged away.
- Womb Level: The attic presumably, although the entire house could really be considered this.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: John Madson had just transferred to a lucrative job and had planned to settle down in Sugar Land with his wife Lucy, but the House had other ideas for them.