“Did you feel a lot of pressure when acting in that situation?”
The young man under the spotlight froze like he hadn’t thought about this question at all.
The interviewer also seemed stunned for a moment. “The previous group was criticized so badly… weren’t you afraid?”
The young man hesitated for a moment before whispering, “There was no time for me to react. I came onto the stage before I felt much nervousness.”
He paused. “And…”
He didn’t say anything else but his ears were slightly pink. He looked extremely cute in the light.
Jin Xiaochen and Zhao Dong were a bit confused as they got ready.
They knew it would be their turn after Fan Xue’s group finished performing but they hadn’t expected to be caught so off guard… didn’t they just watch half the show?
Xue Xiao stepped onto the stage. He raised his head slightly and met the eyes of Fan Xue beside Jiang Quan.
The latter lowered his head and looked sideways. These eyes were full of resentment and hostility.
Xue Xiao paused. He calmly looked away and stood on the other side of Jiang Quan.
At the mentor table, the silent Feng Wei suddenly smiled. “Teacher Shen, if you call people to the stage like this then those who aren’t nervous will be nervous. Who will be to blame if they don’t perform well?”
Shen Tingyan just looked at the three of them with crossed arms and asked, “Are you nervous?”
Jin Xiaochen replied, “C-Cough, a bit nervous…”
Zhao Dong continued, “Yes, a bit…”
Xue Xiao instinctively looked at the mentor table, not wanting to meet the man’s gaze directly. His heart was jumping.
It was still the same very direct gaze as when they met in the corridor.
Straightforward and frank, like a sword cutting into his field of view. It was full of aggression.
Before Xue Xiao could open his mouth, Shen Tingyan looked at him like this and said casually, “Take a deep breath if you are nervous. After taking a deep breath, you can prepare. Sooner or later, you have to go on stage. Nervousness is an emotion that all actors must overcome.”
If they couldn’t overcome it then they wouldn’t be able to conquer the set, let alone become an actor of any kind. It was all empty talk.
These words sounded like stern and ruthless urging, but Xue Xiao felt like it was more of a veiled reminder.
His heart was beating abnormally fast.
It wasn’t known what he was thinking. Perhaps he wanted to prove himself or perhaps it was because he was about to accept Shen Tingyan’s scrutiny of his acting skills for the first time. Xue Xiao’s brain twitched and he whispered, “I’m not very nervous…”
The audience was silent.
Everyone looked at him in astonishment.
Shen Tingyan paused and smiled.
He looked at Xue Xiao with interest and Xue Xiao felt his ears and cheeks belatedly become hot.
He regretted it a bit. He quickly bowed and said loudly, “Thank you, Teacher. We will perform well.”
Zhao Dong and Jin Xiaochen also followed him.
After saying this, the three of them quickly turned their heads and walked toward the back of the stage. In particular, Xue Xiao’s footsteps were so fast that it was like he was running away.
Just as with every previous show, the crew cleared the venue and the cameramen got back in place. The actors each had a few minutes to prepare.
Jin Xiaochen said, “I’m so nervous, I’m so nervous, I’m so nervous…”
Zhao Dong patted his head. “Didn’t you hear Teacher Shen say to take a deep breath?”
Jin Xiaochen immediately took a big breath and slowly exhaled.
Xue Xiao also took a big breath and slowly let it out.
Zhao Dong followed suit.
After taking a deep breath, the three of them looked at each other.
Xue Xiao said, “It’s okay to follow the feeling we had when rehearsing. Don’t think about ‘forcing’ the performance for the audience. Do it lightly and naturally. After all, this is a big-screen performance, not a stage play.”
Zhao Dong said, “That’s right. Don’t worry if you forget the words. Think about what to say in this scene and just say something to pass over it quickly.”
Jin Xiaochen exclaimed, “I will treat you to hot pot after the successful performance!”
Xue Xiao and Zhao Dong looked at him in a dumbfounded manner.
“If you can finish today smoothly then Brother Xue and I will treat you to hot pot!”
Five minutes later, the words ‘Praying Mantis’ appeared on the big screen again.
The studio fell silent.
Feng Wei glanced at Shen Tingyan, who had no expression on his face. It was as if he had completely transformed into an ordinary audience member and was quietly waiting for the beginning of the movie.
Some people in the audience didn’t seem to expect this group to surprise them. Some were whispering while others were staring into the air in a daze.
In the actor seats, Wang Minghai and Hu Lang, who had temporarily returned to their seats, were full of dismay. Meanwhile, Fan Xue stared at the big screen with his fists clenched tightly.
Chang Yun and Jiang Lianlian kept taking deep breaths. They secretly prayed that this performance must go smoothly. At first glance, they seemed more nervous than the three people on the stage.
On the big screen, the black words on the white background faded and the exact same scene appeared in front of the audience.
The camera looked up.
On the second floor of the abandoned rotten building, Jin Xiaochen was leaning against the railing.
He stared straight at the camera, as if staring at the corpse downstairs. His expression was a bit gloomy and stiff.
A subordinate scratched his head and asked, “Captain Li, what should we do now?”
Jin Xiaochen didn’t answer him right away.
It was as if he was forcibly pulling himself out of the chaotic emotions and returning to the job. After a second, the young man tilted his head and said in a low voice, “What to do? Go down and clean up!”
Su Shijin leaned to the side and asked in a low voice, “If I remember correctly, this Jin Xiaochen is an amateur?”
Shen Tingyan nodded.
Su Shijin was thoughtful.
He was very young and didn’t know where to put his hands and feet on the stage just now. He looked like he was in his early 20s and had perhaps just finished college.
But after entering the act, his performance didn’t have a sense of violation. His 27 year old Li Xueming felt mature and stable.
Of course, this amateur wasn’t experienced enough. His emotions were in place and his lines were still a bit jerky.
However, this could be slowly adjusted and taught later. If he had a strong understanding then he could improve quickly.
Su Shijin took notes.
After his subordinate went downstairs, Jin Xiaochen clasped his hands together. The veins on the back of his hands were prominent but his face was calm.
Behind him, a figure suddenly approached.
This man was wearing a jacket with a white shirt and jeans underneath. His style was mixed and matched and was very casual. He wasn’t a person who paid attention to his appearance.
At this moment, his clothes were still very messy.
The jacket wasn’t draped neatly over his shoulders. It looked like it had been pulled by someone. The left side showed a large shoulder and the right side was almost stuck around the neck.
The white shirt inside was also unbuttoned, revealing a small piece of collarbone. He looked bohemian.
His hair was even messier.
Everyone was taken aback.
Xue Xiao didn’t look like this when he appeared in front of them five minutes ago!
At that time, the young man was neatly dressed and his hair was soft and fresh.
He deliberately made himself like this during those five minutes of preparation?
But there was nothing special when Wang Minghai of Fan Xue’s group performed the role of Zhang Yang just now. How could Xue Xiao?
At this time, the audience suddenly remembered—
By the way, in the original work and before this scene happened, the reporter Zhang Yang had a fight with the kidnapper who was lying dead downstairs!
He touched this construction site all the way according to his own clues.
Xue Xiao was acting based on the plot of the original novel. He completely restored the state that the reporter Zhang Yang should be in at this moment.
At this moment, countless audience members at the scene finally regained some of the feeling of watching ‘Praying Mantis’ in the theater.
They finally became interested. They sat up straight, withdrew their wandering thoughts and became focused.
Unlike Wang Minghai in the scene just now, Xue Xiao walked to JIn Xiaochen’s side normally. He took out a cigarette from the cigarette box, handed it over and raised his chin. “I’ll go and see Chen Tao.”
Jin Xiaochen ignored him, so he laughed. It was as if he couldn’t understand Jin Xiaochen’s state at all. The suspect had been caught anyway. So what if he was dead?
Of course, at this time, he himself was too tired to talk to this guy.
He simply inserted the cigarette neatly between Jin Xiaochen’s fingers. He pulled another cigarette out of his pocket, bit it in his mouth and walked toward Chen Tao. There was a slight limp when he walked, but the young man didn’t care about the details and didn’t think it was a big injury. He walked very carelessly.
Shen Tingyan’s eyes moved slightly.
Xue Xiao’s Zhang Yang was obviously a young version.
Zhang Yang in the original novel was over 30 years old. He knew that he was injured and he walked very carefully, slowly and steadily.
Wang Minghai also acted like this just now but his acting skills were too bad. He ended up walking like an old grandfather.
Xue Xiao’s acting method would surprise the audience a bit but didn’t violate the harmony.
If he was a young man, a young Zhang Yang, his behavior should be like this.
At the very least, when performing this part of the plot alone, his changes didn’t make the audience feel it didn’t match the scene.
It was the same play and the plot progressed exactly the same.
However, the performance status of the actors was different, the rhythm of the performance was different and the intensity of the lines was different. All these differences overlapped and made the performances of the two groups look different.
In the last scene when Hu Lang realized that the kidnapper wasn’t the serial murderer they had been looking for, he read a long series of lines in a dull and boring manner without any ups and downs.
Meanwhile, the amateur Jin Xiaochen perfectly brought the audience back to one of the most tense moments in the theater that year.
This was an important moment when the movie revealed the identity of the serial murderer. The young man reasoned quickly and tense and stunned expressions intertwined. This gradually lifted the hearts of the audience.
The moment the young man suddenly stopped because he was thinking, everyone didn’t even dare to take a breath!
At this moment, the script hadn’t yet identified the real murderer but the audience had already faintly noticed it.
It was like a layer of white paper was in front of them and light was shining through the paper. They vaguely saw a blurry black shadow on the opposite side and they just needed to stretch out their finger and poke lightly—
The camera turned to the rear.
Xue Xiao bit his cigarette and worked with a police officer to untie Chen Tao.
In his field of view, these feet were trembling slightly.
At some point, the rhythm of the trembling seemed to change but he didn’t seem to notice it.
He heard a faint breathing tone. The tone sounded a bit like a sob but it also didn’t seem like it. It was very weird.
He laughed and said, “You are still trembling. I see that you are usually so courageous but you actually aren’t that bad.”
In the next second, the camera fell on Zhao Dong’s face.
The man’s black hair was stuck to his forehead because of sweat. However, his forehead hair was too long and somewhat blocked his vision.
His whole body was curled up as if shrunk into a cloud of shadows. In such a cold, wet and sticky darkness, his eyes passed through his hair and he stared straight at Ji Xiaochen’s back not far away.
He was laughing.
He was laughing all the time!
That gasp was actually a laugh that he couldn’t help letting out! This type of trembling was caused because he couldn’t help trembling with pleasure!
Once he noticed Xue Xiao’s gaze, the man’s gasping stopped. His eyes rolled and he looked over.
All of the audience members held their breaths. Their bodies stiffened into stone and their hearts were pounding.
It was coming, it was coming!
Zhao Dong’s eyes and mouth suddenly curved greatly, like an original painting drawn by the most powerful horror cartoonist. At this moment, Zhao Dong’s eyes and mouth were like three curved, thin moons. There was no cuteness. There was only a weird, scalp-numbing weirdness. It didn’t look like an expression that people could make!
With such an extreme smiling face, he tore away all his disguises.
There was a burst of screams from the audience!
At the mentor table, Guan Ruoying and Su Shijin leaned back sharply against the back of their chair. They looked like they had been hit head-on.
Su Shijin said in a trance, “This guy is even more ruthless than you were at the beginning.”
Shen Tingyan smiled.
In the actor seats, Wang Minghai, Hu Lang and Fan Xue stared blankly at the three people on the screen. They always felt that the performance presented in front of them at this moment was the same as what they saw in the rehearsal room that day, but it also seemed completely different.
Zhao Don’gs acting method must’ve changed a bit but Jin Xiaochan and Xue Xiao didn’t seem to have changed much. They just added some details.
They just added some details but it felt so different?
Or was it because in that simple rehearsal classroom, under the scolding of the teacher and in a place without any other audiences… in their eyes, the performances of the three people seemed to be far inferior to theirs?
On the big screen, the action scene began.
The positions of the three people were very accurate.
Once Jin Xiaochen figured out everything and turned his head sharply, Zhao Dong had stabbed the police officer and took Xue Xiao upstairs.
He seemed to be dragging a huge cloth bag as he led Xue Xiao roughly and forcefully, quickly disappearing out of the camera.
Jin Xiaochen drew his gun and rushed up with his subordinates. By the time they reached the third floor, Zhao Dong and Xue Xiao were already standing at the end of the corridor.
Behind them were nothingness, air and a cliff.
Everyone was very engaged.
This was the most tense and exciting scene in the original work. The audience instinctively clenched their fists, nails pinching into their palms that were slightly wet from sweat. Their hearts were beating wildly.
They instinctively frowned, nervous and forgetting themselves.
Of course, among them, there were also many viewers with smarter heads who found a sense of disharmony.
This sense of disharmony had also appeared in the original work.
It was a second layer of truth that was about to be torn apart for them to see after the screenwriter’s exquisite foreshadowing.
But at this time, they were too involved and it was difficult for them to rationally recall what happened in this section of the original work.
It was even difficult for them to recall how Fan Xue, Hu Lang and Wang Minghai had performed here just now.
At this moment, what Xue Xiao, Zhao Dong and Jin Xiaochen presented to them was already a completely different viewing experience.
They could only follow the plot again from beginning to end, just as they did in the theater back then.
…Chen Tao couldn’t be caught without a fight. He still had to continue playing. As long as he succeeded in committing suicide, he would still be the winner of this game in the end.
He couldn’t choose to stab himself to death with a knife because he might not be able to die completely. Jumping off the building was the best way. If he wanted to jump off the building, he had to go to the third floor. It was because the only window on the second floor was Li Xueming’s location.
Then why did he insist on kidnapping the reporter Zhang Yang and going upstairs?
It was true that using Zhang Yang as a hostage could contain Li Xueming, but without Zhang Yang, Chen Tao could rush to the third floor as quickly as possible to implement his final plan.
At the mentor table, Shen Tingyan quietly looked at the screen.
The praying mantis, the orchid mantis, was an insect with a strong camouflage ability.
Insects could be annoying to a lot of people but the orchid praying mantis was too beautiful.
It was just like Chen Tao and Zhang Yang. One was seemingly brainless and violent on the surface and the other was a slippery reporter who did everything to grab the news. When the two of them appeared on the stage, they brought an extremely bad impression to the audience. Then as the plot deepened, Chen Tao showed his straightforward side of ‘innocence’, ‘loyalty’ and ‘saying one thing and meaning two things’ while Zhang Yang showed ‘putting down shame and doing everything for what he wanted.’
The audience would gradually change from their initial disgust and alienation toward the two of them to a psychological closeness and understanding.
Combine this with being stupid and shameless and in any suspense script, they would be the first to be excluded because their image was too ‘simple.’
So the orchid mantis lured its prey with its flower-like appearance and completed the perfect hunt.
Fan Xue and Wang Minghai didn’t show it at all just now.
—Especially Wang Minghai.
For Zhang Yang’s dark line, Wang Minghao completely ‘covered up’ the praying mantis in the original work had been dormant longer than Chen Tao and was more perfectly in disguise than Chen Tao.
The glare of the sun shone in.
At the end of the third floor of the rotten building, Chen Tao had already admitted what he had done but Li Xueming still had questions.
Chen Tao killed six people in total. His killing style was distinct, murderous, bloody and distorted, but the death scene of the fifth deceased was very strange.
The killing technique was exactly the same but the scene was relatively clean. It seemed that Chen Tao had suddenly restrained himself or he had suddenly transformed from a violent butcher into an elegant, bloodthirsty man.
Li Xueming had figured out all the other clues. Only this point was still unclear.
He thought it wasn’t as simple as Chen Tao’s sudden change in mood. It was more like there was something he hadn’t discovered yet…
Then Chen Tao let go of Zhang Yao, took a step back and fell down on his back.
The last words he left behind were, “How can there be so many reasons, Captain Li?”
There was a bang and Li Xueming and his subordinates rushed forward.
The camera swept from the ground outside the rotten building to the two of them and Zhang Yang poking their heads out, just like Chen Tao’s last perspective before he died.
Once the perspective returned to the third floor, his subordinate cursed while Li Xueming hammered against the wall.
In the blowing wind, in the corner of the lens.
A silhouette of Zhang Yang appeared behind Li Xueming’s subordinates.
Most of his face was blocked and the audience could only see his nose and chin.
They finally remembered—
This was the most meaningful shot in the original work and this shot implied everything one step ahead.
At this moment, Xue Xiao’s performance made Guan Ruoying, Feng Wei and Su Shijin lean forward.
Shen Tingyan raised an eyebrow slightly.