STILL LIFE (#4004)

Johnny (Anthony Michael Hall) becomes embroiled in a murder mystery as he searches for the missing daughter of a famous artist.

Returning from a jog one afternoon, Johnny (Anthony Michael Hall) and Bruce (John L. Adams) find a large package wrapped in brown paper on Johnny’s doorstep. Inside is an original painting by legendary artist Andrew Lyne (Patrick Bauchau), accompanied by an anonymous note asking for Johnny’s help. Familiar with Lyne’s work, Bruce informs Johnny that the artist is a well-known recluse living on the coastline of Maine, who gained fame from a series of paintings inspired by his daughter Julia. He reveals that Lyne painted for seven years straight, but stopped after Julia’s death a number of years back. Bruce adds that he doesn’t recall ever seeing this particular painting, which depicts a beautiful young woman in a white dress reclining on a sofa, and wonders if it’s new. Johnny touches it, triggering a vision of the captivating subject. Suddenly, her eyes goes deathly still and blood begins to trickle down her forehead as the night sky becomes day. Snapping back to reality, Johnny knows he must find this girl before it’s too late. When the two arrive at Walt’s (Chris Bruno) office to enlist his help, Walt is just leaving to visit Lyne, who has called him claiming his daughter is missing.

At the expansive Lyne estate, Johnny and Walt meet with the artist while Bruce checks out Lyne’s lighthouse studio. They learn that the painting left on Johnny’s doorstep is of Lyne’s daughter Chloe (Genevieve Cortese). In fact, every painting in the artist’s studio is of the 20 year-old Chloe. Lyne informs them that his daughter has been missing for almost three days and he’s very concerned about who she might have left with. As Lyne introduces his assistant Nora Collins ((Leanna Nash), who is re-priming a canvas in the studio, Johnny suddenly realizes that the space he’s standing is the one in the painting of Chloe he received. Touching the white dress Chloe posed in, he is thrown into a vision in which he becomes the intense and driven Lyne, coming out of self-imposed retirement to paint Chloe for the very first time. As Johnny’s vision ends, Lyne explains that Chloe lived with her mother, who informed her of his existence only a few years earlier. She then sought him out and they were reunited. Johnny and Walt are searching Chloe’s room a short time later when Johnny is hit with a vision of Lyne and Chloe in the middle of an argument as Chloe packs her suitcase. When she leaves, Johnny sees the name ‘Dylan’ on her cell phone display. Breaking from the vision, Johnny learns that Dylan (Christopher Redman) is a fellow art student at Chloe’s college.

Walt tells Johnny that it appears to be a runaway case, but he’ll have his people do some digging. Johnny and Bruce head to Maine State College to question Dylan who claims he hasn’t talked to Chloe in weeks. Touching Dylan’s car keys, Johnny flashes on the young man waiting by his car for Chloe, who approaches with her suitcase in hand. Breaking from the vision, Johnny confronts Dylan about picking Chloe up at Lyne’s house and he admits to driving her to the bus station. Dylan adds that she wasn’t able to get any money from Lyne because his sleazy art dealer, Tom Graydon (Avery Raskin), is in charge of the artist’s finances. Johnny and Bruce meet Graydon at his sleek art gallery, where Johnny spots a piece of Chloe’s artwork. Touching it triggers a vision of Chloe demanding her money from Graydon. In the present, Graydon explains that Lyne doesn’t have much money left to give, but his new daughter series could make him a very wealthy man once again.

Back home, Johnny tries to figure out who sent him the painting. When he touches it, he’s hit with a vision in which he’s wearing a paint-splattered T-shirt and jeans. As he approaches Chloe on the sofa, he sees blood flowing down her face. As moonlight becomes sunlight, Johnny hears seagulls and water starts flowing into the house. Feeling something in his hand, he looks down to see that it’s a large blood-stained rock. He raises it and swings at Chloe. Snapping back to the present, Johnny fears that Lyne is going to kill Chloe and relays his vision to Walt at the sheriff’s station. Bruce speculates that Lyne may have threatened his daughter if he knew she wanted to leave, but Walt remains unconvinced that Lyne would kill her.

As Johnny touches the painting at his home the next morning, he is thrown into a vision again as Lyne, and is led by Chloe to an antique-filled, Yankee-style Maine mansion. There she shows him a piece of her modernist artwork and asks for his critique. He tells her the angles and colors are appealing, but it’s only the surface and she must learn to control the canvas. Coming out of the vision, Johnny reflects on the notion of not trusting the surface. Just then, Bruce arrives to find Johnny surrounded by piles of drawings he’s done of Chloe and concludes that his friend’s compulsion to draw must be a residual effect of his visions. When Johnny shows Bruce his sketch of the mansion, Bruce recognizes it as the Gamble House where Maine’s artistic visionaries gather. At the mansion, Johnny flashes on a soiree with beautiful partygoers and sees Chloe conspiring with Graydon. Graydon then introduces her to Lyne and states that she’s agreed to pose as his daughter. In the present, Johnny quickly tells Bruce that Chloe is not Lyne’s daughter after all.

Back at home, Johnny tells Bruce that Graydon must have recruited Chloe to be Lyne’s new muse, replacing the daughter he lost. Bruce reveals that Lyne was the one who found his daughter Julia’s dead body after she washed up on the beach. The story was that she had gone out alone in a boat, fallen and hit her head. Johnny is then thrown into another vision in which the reclining Chloe is staring at him much as before, but this time, her eyes change from brown to blue. As he waits for the blood to erupt from her forehead, everything goes white. Then, the coastline behind Lyne’s house appears and at his feet, is Julia’s bloody corpse. As Johnny stands in this entirely new painting, he sees a bloody rock and as he reaches for it, snaps out of the vision. Realizing that the key to solving the case is hidden in the painting that arrived on his doorstep, Johnny creates a chemical solution to dissolve its top layer and reveals a painting of Julia beneath that of Chloe.

At the sheriff’s station, Johnny insists that Lyne killed Julia with a rock and that he plans to kill Chloe the same way. With this, Walt and several deputies hand Graydon a warrant and perform a thorough search of Lyne’s house, but are unable to find anything. Lyne admits that Chloe wasn’t a blood relative, but insists that he loves her too much to hurt her. Johnny then questions Lyne’s assistant Nora, who insists Lyne didn’t do anything to either Julia or Chloe. Frustrated when the search comes up dry, Johnny touches the warrant that Graydon handled, triggering a vision of Chloe as she’s leaving and accusing Graydon of manipulating Lyne. Hit with another vision, Johnny sees Graydon enter his art gallery and grab a file from a locked compartment. In the present, Johnny and Bruce rush to the gallery and get the file before Graydon can. The file contains birth certificates and name change documents for Lyne’s daughter, revealing that Julia wasn’t his daughter either. Later at the sheriff’s station, Walt and Johnny interrogate Graydon and learn that Chloe’s real name is Laura Tierney. The two head to her apartment where Johnny flashes on a phone conversation between Chloe and Nora, from which he learns that Chloe has agreed to go back to Lyne having been told Graydon was fired. In another flash, Johnny finally realizes that Nora is the murderer, not Lyne.

Johnny, Bruce and Walt race out to the Lyne estate. Touching Nora’s apron, Johnny is hit with a vision in which Lyne is telling Nora that it’s time for her to be on her own and that Chloe can take over as his assistant. A distraught Nora pleads with Lyne to reveal that she is his real daughter, but Lyne devastates her by saying she can never be his muse. Meanwhile, back in the present, Chloe and Nora are having an almost sisterly chat on the beach when Nora picks up a sharp rock and angrily smashes Chloe in the forehead. Johnny, Bruce and Walt race towards them to prevent Nora from hitting her again. Johnny realizes it was Nora who sent him the painting in a desperate cry for help and when Johnny takes the rock from her, he is hit with a vision of her killing Julia. Walt quickly cuffs Nora as her stunned father looks on. In the end, Chloe decides to leave Lyne’s house, opting to teach art and save enough money to study the masters in Europe.


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