BENEATH THE FOLD
When a joyless pulp fiction writer receives a cryptic letter from an old friend, he journeys down a rabbit hole of drug-fueled cults, disturbing medical experiments, and occult madness.
Los Angeles, CA. City of Dreams. City of Delusion.
RIF is an in-house writer for a pulp fiction publishing company — one that thrives on sensationalized stories of murder, mania, and sex. They hire escorts as models and use poetic ramblings about lingerie to sell their image.
Stuck writing exploitative work, Rif craves substance. When he receives a letter from V — an old lover and friend — Rif is tempted to track him down. The two young men parted ways 10 years ago with sour notes on their breath. Rif's best friend (with benefits), ASHLEY, encourages him to heal the wounds left open. Anxiously, Rif agrees.
Rif travels to the mysterious return address on V's letter. V isn't there — just a group of unnerving hippies. They speak of a great father, are uncomfortably nice, and justify their counter-culture beliefs with drugs and sex. Rif reluctantly trusts them but is assaulted when he partakes in one of their ritualistic practices. He leaves the cult more confused than when he arrived — with one name on his tongue — MALLACO.
Back in LA, Rif can't get a hold of Ashley, more cryptic notes arrive from V, and a used angle grinder is found in his apartment. Rif inadvertently teams up with CASEY, an escort/model, to continue the search. They end up in an abandoned warehouse and encounter a violent HUMANOID CREATURE, who's been stalking Rif.
Research uncovers that Mallaco — a professor during the 70s and 80s — convinced students and teachers to participate in a dangerous experiment. By slicing into the base of a subject's skull, Mallaco believed he could harness their parapsychological abilities. After subsequent deaths and suicides, Mallaco disappeared.
Rif discovers that Ashley's been attacked — sustaining injuries that bear a striking resemblance to Mallaco's experiments. Knowing that the police are looking for him, he takes refuge at Casey's. The only way to clear his name is to find V and Mallaco. Rif and Casey track down an FBI Detective who hunted Mallaco for 20 years, only to come across a man who has gone mad.
As the police close in, Rif learns that Ashley has died. The Police show up at Casey's and she gives herself up, allowing Rif to escape. Desperate with no place to run, Rif puts the clues together and figures out where to locate V.
Rif finds not only a broken V, but an insane Mallaco. As Mallaco takes an angle grinder to the back of V's head, Rif uses Casey's gun to shoot and kill Mallaco. Before he can leave with V, he is ripped from spacetime and thrust into an unknown dimension where no one leaves mentally unscathed. Mentally lost and emotionally burnt out — he finds the true meaning of self-love.
Rif returns to his life — different... broken. He no longer searches for substance. He is content with the present moment. He picks up Casey from her brief stay at a correctional facility and the two head off to a motel. Casey reads a manuscript for Rif's newest novel. She sets it on fire. Rif is... indifferent.