Filmmaker Dan Bell shoots surreptitious videos of dying or abandoned shopping malls. They make for fascinating, car crash-level spectacles that you can’t turn away from—they’re unflinching portraits of the American consumer wasteland, you might say. The one embedded above is particularly creepy; Bell and a friend walk through the corridors of Frederick Towne Mall in Frederick, MD, where the lights are still on low and a haunting Muzak-like soundtrack is piped throughout. It has all the makings of a horror movie, though the climax is not particularly dramatic.
Both of these structures were not far from where I grew up, and it does seem as if the Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia area is suffering from a spate of foundering shopping malls. But the White Flint Mall holds particular resonance for me because it’s actually a mall from my youth. It wasn’t the nearest one to my house, but I still remember going there countless times with family and friends. The outside is still recognizable but the inside—fully gutted, debris strewn about, wires and cables hanging everywhere—is like an alien planet. I didn’t expect this to make me feel as sad as it did about losing my childhood.