Kansas City, MO

Mystery-thriller movie made in Missouri inspired by Skidmore, Missouri's past history

CJ Coombs

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It's been 40 years since the "town bully" of Skidmore, Missouri named Ken Rex McElroy was murdered. Nobody came forward to identify the shooter because McElroy was hated that much. That was 1981. There have been other interesting crimes to occur in that town.

You might recall the 2004 story when eight months pregnant, Bobbie Jo Stinnett, made national news. She was strangled and her unborn fetus was taken from her body. The infant was found and safely returned to his father. The individual convicted for the crime was Lisa Montgomery and earlier this year by lethal injection, she was put to death.

Filmmaker Clayton Scott who was from northwestern Missouri is familiar with these stories. As reported:

“My half-sister was first cousins with Bobbie Jo,” Scott said. “Bobbie Jo went to her wedding. And with Branson Perry, I grew up seeing his face on ‘Missing’ billboards all over. You see the billboard, then you see it a few years later, and it’s faded, and he’s still missing. Those images kind of stuck in my mind, I guess.”

Scott, having moved to California, used these past stories as inspiration to writing the film called "Below the Fold." This film is a mystery-thriller and fictional story about a young girl who has disappeared. A decade later, a detail was discovered by local reporters taking them into the dark story of a Missouri small town.

Scott said that bestselling author, Gillian Flynn, who's a native of Kansas City, has been an influence on this project. “I love that her dark, twisted tales are set in Missouri — that she’ll mention Kearney, or someplace like that."

Scott, now in Kansas City, works as a video editor for a local agency. In 2016, he had auditions for his film selecting Kansas City area actors. The lead roles went to Sarah McGuire and Davis DeRock.

While the story is set in Skidmore, it was filmed in Nodaway County, Worth County, and the towns of Allendale, Grant City, and Sheridan. Scott said they also shot some at an apartment he used to have in the Northland.

The movie couldn't be shown when intended in 2020 due to the pandemic, so Scott waited until this year for the debut in April at the Screenland Armour theater. It was recently shown in Maryville and the hope is to show it again at the Screenland next year.

“I wanted (‘Below the Fold’) to strike a balance between the beauty of rural Missouri and the run-down, decrepit parts of Missouri,” Scott said. “And I wanted to get across that small-town life is complicated. Sometimes in small towns, they’re close-knit and everyone looks out for each other. But sometimes it’s not like that.”

The 1 hr., 32 min. film focuses on the character, Susie Potter, who just vanishes from her Skidmore, Missouri home. She's never located and when the 10th anniversary comes around since her disappearance, that's when two reporters discover something that causes them to hunt for the answer.

As reported in April 2021 in The Pitch and posted in May on Rotten Tomatoes:

Below the Fold isn't without its limitations, but makes good use of its location and resources. Scott has clear goals for what he wants to accomplish here and takes inspiration from excellent sources in doing so.

Source: Kansas City Star; Rotten Tomatoes

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Hello! I have 30 years of experience in the legal field, and a BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. I am an incessant thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into the service life of the Air Force in Louisiana, life has taken me to Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and ultimately to Missouri, I don't have that true concept of "home," but believe every living experience is tied to language. I love my family, art, true crime, non-fiction, reading, travel, and red pinot.

Kansas City, MO
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