It will surely go down as one of the most memorable, and frightening, scenes of the show. When Christine, played by Tarryn Wyngaard, was tossed into an open pit in the third episode of Devil’s Peak, fans recoiled in terror at the new character’s plight. Luckily, it did not forecast her doom; instead, we got to see her go from begging for her life to pluckily plotting the downfall of the despicable Anton Heidt.
During an Instagram live with the cast, Wyngaard recounted the experience of filming the terrifying scene. “I still have sleepless nights about that pit.” The scene was made all the more harrowing by the dirt that’s flung over her after she’s chucked in. It could have been a lot worse, as Shamilla Miller (who plays Anna) revealed, because the script originally had the bad cops throwing cement onto Christine. Luckily, costume logistics meant they had to use sand. As Albert Pretorius (Heidt) explained, “You can’t pour wet cement on someone and then clean it off again.”
Of course, it’s not the first time characters have been plunged into open graves – or worse, buried alive in one. Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar was in tears when she had to film the season 6 episode in which Buffy is brought back to life in her coffin and then forced to claw her way to the surface. The actress was confronted not only with filming a very difficult scene but also with her own fear of cemeteries. However, given that this was a show about vampires, cemetery-set scenes were a common thing, and this episode was not the first time the actress found herself in a cemetery or a grave. Some of these scenes were filmed on set on a makeshift cemetery, but others were shot in an actual cemetery.
Similarly, the CSI season 5 finale saw Nick Stokes, played by George Eads, buried alive after being kidnapped from a crime scene. Directed by Quentin Tarantino, the director seems fond of this scenario and the creative possibilities it affords for getting a character out of dire straits. Just a year earlier, in 2004, his film Kill Bill: Volume 2 saw Uma Thurman’s The Bride punch her way out of a buried coffin.
Even characters who choose to sleep in coffins (hello, Dracula) don’t take kindly to being nailed in. This is what happens to Brad Pitt’s vampire Louis in Interview with the Vampire and boy is he mad when he eventually gets out. Considering Pitt lamented the endless night shoots the film required, trying to find the requisite rage probably came easy.
Another character who got into a pit, although willingly, was Reyka. In season 1, desperate to remember the truth about Lucy, Reyka starts digging around (literally) for the young girl's grave. Will season 2 hold any similar scenes as Reyka faces her past again, as well as another killer?
Which open grave or buried alive scenes from film and television have stuck with you? Missed any episodes of Devil’s Peak? Catch up on DStv Stream here and watch the finale this Sunday, 27 November, at 20:00 on M-Net channel 101.