FrightFest 2019 Review: Stairs’ Endless Trauma Taps into an Urgent Desire to Repair the Past

With democracy under attack and the climate crisis unsolved, there’s an ever-growing sense that humanity may be nearing its extinction. Where did it all go wrong? Were we to revisit the past 10, 50, or 100 years from now, would we know where to look for answers? Would we know what to do if we found them?

The hard-nosed soldiers in Tom Paton’s Stairs certainly don’t. Following a difficult operation during which they forswore their humanity for the sake of obeying orders, their debriefing takes an introspective turn when their nine-strong platoon is pursued up an unending staircase by the spectre of a civilian they killed in cold blood.

Before her execution, the prisoner gives the group some ominous, prescient advice: don’t go down. Those that do are swiftly chewed up. Those that don’t, climb, up and up until their boots fill with blood, frantically seeking a way

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