Shannon (kungfuwaynewho) wrote,
Shannon
kungfuwaynewho

Screenwriting Contest

Hey, folks.  I'm entering a screenwriting contest, which I've mentioned a few times before.  Instead of writing a full screenplay, we were given a logline and have to write the first fifteen pages of a movie based on that.  I know it's, like, the busiest time of the year, but if even one person has a few minutes to give this a look and give me some hard, unvarnished criticism, I would seriously appreciate it.  I'll repay you with a fic, some icons, a wallpaper, or something else.

The logline: "A father and son find themselves trapped in the Bermuda Triangle after embarking on a quest to discover what happened to the father’s missing parents."


FADE IN:

INT. DANIEL’S APARTMENT - BEDROOM - NIGHT

Just the barest amount of moonlight shows a man fast asleep, on one side of a king-size bed. The other side is empty, the bed covers still neatly made.

On the bedside table, his PHONE lights up with an incoming call. No ring, no vibrate. Three lights, and then it goes black again.

DANIEL (V.O.)
You’ve reached Daniel and Susan! We might be off scuba diving.

SUSAN (V.O.)
Or sky diving!

DANIEL (V.O.)
Or at the Y, just plain diving.

SUSAN (V.O.)
Leave us a message, and we’ll get back to you.

DANIEL AND SUSAN (V.O.)
Bye! Bye! Bye!
A few seconds of silence, and then the tell-tale BEEP. Silence again, but not the dead silence of an unconnected line. It’s thick. Pregnant.

An older woman begins to speak. She’s not leaving a message. Instead, it sounds like one-half of a conversation. The other half goes unheard. The older woman’s voice is weak, sometimes fading out, only to roar back with sudden volume.

ERNESTINE (V.O.)
But why are you doing this? Don’t you think it’s time to
stop fooling around?
(...)
I’m just so tired. So very tired.
(...)
I don’t know what to do. It seems like everything is
wrong. There’s a doll dancing in the ballroom.
(...)
But what do you want?
A much longer beat. Then she SCREAMS, a horrible sound, choked with pain. The scream cuts off abruptly.

Silence.

Then a THUMP. Another. The origin of the sound is impossible to determine. A storm of static overwhelms the line for a moment. Then a low, low creaking. Footsteps on old boards.

Laughter, far away. Dark, maniacal. You strain, lean forward, trying hard to hear.

Ernestine’s voice returns, incredibly close. As though she’s speaking right in your ear.

ERNESTINE (V.O.)
(bright, cheerful)
Won’t you come, Daniel? Won’t
you come, won’t you come,
won’t you come, won’t you come, won’t you--
The message cuts off with another beep.

The night continues on. The man in the bed sleeps, blissfully unaware for a few more precious hours.

CUT TO:
INT. BURGER SHOP - DAY

A real dive, viewed through a cell phone camera. GARRETT PARK (19) mugs for the camera. Community college shirt, goofy grin.

GARRETT
Welcome to the second leg of Spring Break 2012!
Today we’re at Bermuda’s in Jersey, a
place that smells like they’ve been
using the same oil to fry in since my Pops
fought in the Korean War. Which is to say, it smells amazing.

CHLOE (O.S.)
Tell them what we’re going to eat!

GARRETT
We’re going to eat...this.
He holds up a monster of a burger bigger than his head. Garrett laughs a cackling Dr. Frankenstein laugh.

An icon shows up on the screen - a phone.

CHLOE (O.S.)
Oh shit, Garrett, you have a call. It’s your dad.

GARRETT
He can wait.
Garrett takes a huge, messy bite of the burger.

INT. DANIEL’S APARTMENT - DAY

Garrett enters with CHLOE MURPHY (20). Pretty rather than beautiful, quiet, a little shy. Both of their moods are now very grave.

GARRETT
God, the last time I saw them, after graduation,
Gran called me Daniel twice. If it’s Alzheimer’s,
we’ll have to sell the house, move them up to New York.
(long sigh)
What a nightmare.
The apartment seems empty.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Dad?
DANIEL PARK (45) enters from the bedroom. He’s the tan, fit, handsome kind of man who can afford to take care of himself. Or he is normally. Now he looks drawn, pale. Exhausted.

DANIEL
You already have a bag packed? We’re
leaving for the airport in ten minutes.
GARRETT
Are Pops and Gran all right?
Daniel just shakes his head, continuing to pack.

CUT TO:
EXT. FLORIDA KEYS - OVERSEAS HIGHWAY - SUNSET

Daniel drives the rental car, knuckles white on the steering wheel. Eyes worried, haunted. Garrett and Chloe sit in the back, take in the view. Seagulls glide overhead. Peaceful.

DANIEL
So, Chloe. Are you looking forward to the adventure?
Hunting down clues, figuring out
“The Mystery of the Missing Grandparents?”
Seems like a pretty fun game.
Garrett opens his mouth to respond, angry, but Chloe puts a hand on his arm to restrain him. Daniel notices, looking in the rearview mirror.

CHLOE
I think there aren’t many things more
important than supporting those you love.

DANIEL
Oh, Chloe. You’d be surprised.
Daniel looks as though he’s ready to go off. Tightly wound. Chloe just leans up and SQUEEZES his shoulder.

CHLOE
Maybe that’s so, but I’m here for you
now, Mr. Park. For whatever you need.
Garrett is touched. He puts his arm around Chloe’s waist and snuggles her close. Daniel doesn’t appear mollified. He watches his son through the rearview mirror.

EXT. SUGARLOAF SHORES - NIGHT

A small unincorporated community. A bit kitschy, once-bright paint now sun-faded and weathered, the road bordered by tourist traps.

Chloe stares out the window as they pass through an empty stretch of highway. A tall WOODEN TOWER seems to loom overhead, pitch black against gaunt gray clouds.

Dark things fly out. BATS. They flood into the night.

Chloe shivers, turns away.

EXT. GRAVEL ROAD - NIGHT

They turn off the highway, onto a narrow gravel road. No streetlights out here. Every now and then, the rental car’s headlights illuminate old abandoned buildings. A truck pulled off to the side, driver’s door hanging open, as though the driver will be right back.

GARRETT
(quiet)
My grandparents used to be able to say
they lived in Perky, Florida. It’s a ghost town, now.
The road narrows even more, fighting through the dense tropical foliage. Daniel hunches forward, driving a little too fast, as though he’s trying to get there before the car.

The mood in the car becomes more tense. Watchful.

The ghost town peters out, and they drive through darkness. Wilderness. The sound of the OCEAN becomes louder than the car’s engine, than their breathing, than everything. A low sursurrus. It’s almost hypnotic.

Daniel’s eyes start to flutter closed. That background murmur of the ocean waves starts to sound like a heartbeat.

His head bobs, dips. Fingers loosen, slip from the wheel.

The car drifts to the left. Blackness looming, ready to swallow them up.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Jesus, Dad! Wake up!
Daniel jolts awake. Swerves back to the right, nearly fishtails in the gravel, but he manages to avoid it. Carefully slows to a stop.
Chloe’s heavy breathing has a slightly hysterical edge to it. She can’t stop looking out all the windows.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
What happened?

DANIEL
What do you think happened? I’ve been
up for thirty straight hours.

GARRETT
If you would let me drive--
Daniel hits the gas, nearly spinning out.

DANIEL
I’m not having this conversation
with you. Not here, not now.

GARRETT
Why does it have to be “a conversation”?
I’m nineteen, Dad, I can drive a car.
Daniel doesn’t answer. They drive around one last bend, and then there it is before them - the HOUSE. Two stories, rambling, overgrown. A single light blazes from the front.

There’s a car already parked on the long circle drive. Daniel drives up to park beside it. The side reads: MORGAN COUNTY SHERIFF.

The Sheriff himself, SHERIFF EASTON (60), sits on the front porch. A big man, once muscular, now gone to fat. The chair he’s in gives out a loud creak as he stands, hand extended.

DANIEL
(shakes)
You must be Sheriff Easton.
I’m Daniel Park. Won’t you come in?

EASTON
Hope you don’t take offense, Mr. Park, but
I’ve been out here at your folks’ place all day,
and I’ve got a long drive ahead of me.
I just wanted to brief you in person.

GARRETT
You didn’t find them?

EASTON
Would have called you if I had, son. Now,
we been through the whole house twice, and the
outbuildings at that. No signs of forced entry or
violence. Miami’s sending down search
and rescue tomorrow or the next day, K-9 units.
Daniel sits down heavily on the steps. There’s a ghost of an old man lurking in the shadows of his face. Garrett hovers awkwardly, not sure how to comfort his father. Chloe retreats into the shadows of the porch.

EASTON (CONT’D)
Now they’re around here somewhere, and we’ll find
them. I promise you that. We’ll find them. In the
meantime, you folks look like you could use
some shut-eye. Get situated, get some
rest, and I’ll be back in the morning.
Daniel nods, though he doesn’t look as though he heard a word the Sheriff said. Garrett steps up.

GARRETT
Thank you again, Sheriff.
Easton leaves, and the three on the porch watch the red taillights of his car until the black eats them up.

INT. PARK ESTATE - PARLOR - NIGHT

The one light is in this room - an old lamp. The light flickers unsteadily. The room is dusty, but otherwise in order. No signs of violence, like Easton said.

Daniel and Garrett carry in the suitcases. Chloe trails behind, looking younger than her years. A woman who still believes in ghost stories. She keeps her back to the wall.

DANIEL
There are two guest bedrooms down the hall from here.
I think I’m going to walk around. I’m not sure
that asshole would know if anything were missing or out of place.
Garrett looks a little taken aback by the vehemence in Daniel’s voice, but he just nods, and he and Chloe leave.

INT. GUEST BEDROOM - NIGHT

A porcelain figurine frozen mid-dance, one hand delicately extended. Chloe picks the dancer up, studies her. She jumps when Garrett dumps their suitcases on the floor.

GARRETT
Do you care if we don’t unpack? That’s always my
least favorite part of staying in a hotel. Putting
everything into drawers, then a couple days
later, packing it all back up.

CHLOE
Your dad said two guest rooms. Do you think
he meant for us to each take one?

GARRETT
(flops onto the bed)
I don’t really care what he meant.
Chloe carefully sets the dancer down. Scoots the suitcases up against the wall. She perches on the edge of the bed.

CHLOE
He’s not angry with you. He’s just worried
about his parents.

GARRETT
Thank you, Miss Psych Major.
Beat. Chloe grabs a pillow and HITS Garrett in the face.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Hey!

CHLOE
I do not want to be the peanut butter in a jerk
sandwich for the next few days, so kindly
get over whatever is going on.

GARRETT
If my Dad loses them, after everything that
happened this year, it’ll break him. It’ll just absolutely break him.

CHLOE
We’ll find them, like the Sheriff said. I bet they
were playing pinochle with friends or something,
and when they were driving home they turned left
instead of right. Got confused, kept driving. They’re
probably staying with some good
Samaritan right now, trying to remember their phone number.
Garrett tries to look hopeful.

INT. UPSTAIRS HALLWAY - NIGHT

Daniel walks down the long, dark corridor. Patches of moonlight stream in through the windows, but they’re faint, ghostly. Doors hang open. Many of the rooms are empty. Others are filled with plastic-covered furniture.

Daniel stops to examine a picture hanging on the wall. A man in uniform, a woman in a white dress. A WEDDING PHOTO, black and white, from the 50s. He runs a finger down the glass.

INT. MASTER BEDROOM - NIGHT

A king-sized bed. One side is neatly made. On the other, rumpled covers turned back.

Daniel walks to the rumpled side. On the night table, a jar of water. DENTURES inside. Daniel lifts the glass. Stares.
He puts it down quickly, as though it has burned him.

INT. GUEST BEDROOM - NIGHT

Garrett and Chloe are under the covers, snuggling close.

CHLOE
How long have your grandparents lived down here?

GARRETT
Oh, God, thirty years? Forty? First it was the winter
house, then after Pops retired they moved here permanently.

CHLOE
Did you visit them down here a lot?

GARRETT
Usually a whole month in the summer. We would fish,
go shrimping, paint some seriously ugly watercolors,
hike to town to buy groceries. You know, when it was
the middle of the winter back home, and I’d lie in bed,
freezing no matter how many blankets I piled on top,
I would just think about the sunset over the
ocean, the feel of sand between my toes, and
before I knew it, I’d be asleep.
FOOTSTEPS overhead. Chloe huddles closer to Garrett.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
It’s just my dad. He almost falls asleep at
the wheel, and now he’s walking around the house. Smart guy.
The footsteps travel right to left over Chloe’s head. She tracks the sound with her eyes. They stop. Then reverse direction. She follows them again, back to the other side of the room.

They walk again to the left. This time they stop right above her. Slowly, she tugs the sheet up over her shoulders.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Hey, Chloe. Did you hear what I said?
She tears her eyes away from the ceiling to look at Garrett.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
We can get up early. Run into town and
buy some groceries before search and rescue show up?

CHLOE
Yeah. Yeah, that sounds fine.
She looks back to the ceiling, but now there is only silence.

INT. BALLROOM - NIGHT

The central feature of the huge house. Big floor-to-ceiling windows cover two of the walls, one showing off a view of the black ocean waves crashing onto land. A chandelier hangs overhead, though when Daniel tries the switch, it stays dark.

He walks to the windows, looks out. The black stalks of beach grass wave in the breeze. The sound of the sea is a constant.
Daniel gets out his cell phone. He brings up Ernestine’s “message,” but he turns it off almost as soon as she starts talking. Shoves the phone in his pocket.

He stalks back to the door, done with meandering. Then he steps on something, pulls up short. Kneels to see what it is.

A RAGDOLL. Dirty gray and limp, one of its button eyes missing. Daniel drops it, then backs away from it, keeping his eyes on it until he makes it to the door.

He goes into--

THE HALLWAY

Walking faster and faster. It’s a dark maze, this section of the house. Each time he has to walk past one of those open doors, he can’t help but take a quick peek into the rooms.

Empty. Empty. Plastic-covered chairs. Empty. Empty. A woman.

Daniel stops, turns back.

DANIEL
Mom?
The room is empty save for a DRESSMAKER’S FORM. It stands silhouetted against the window. Daniel walks in, though there’s nothing to see. He shakes his head - a rueful laugh.

He leaves.

INT. GUEST BEDROOM - NIGHT

Garrett and Chloe sleep, wrapped up in each other’s arms. The sound of the ocean is pleasant, comforting.

From the dresser across the room, the porcelain dancer stands, pointed at the bed. Her eyes seem to watch them sleep, sad and knowing.

CUT TO:
EXT. GRAVEL ROAD - MORNING

The ghost town isn’t so scary in the daylight. It looks a bit sad, the buildings like toys that have been tossed aside.
Garrett drives, and Chloe looks out the window.

CHLOE
Stop!
He slams on the brakes. Chloe scrambles out of the car.

GARRETT
What is it? Did I hit something?
She walks over to the BAT TOWER they passed the night before. About fifty feet tall, narrower at the top. Wood and shingles. No bats now, of course. Garrett gets out of the car and joins Chloe.

CHLOE
Why did they build this?

GARRETT
Bats eat mosquitoes. There’s a lot of mosquitoes down here.
Chloe circles the tower, gently running her fingers along the old, sun-bleached wood.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Hey, kiddo. I thought we were going to get groceries?
His tone is light, but his eyes are worried as Chloe makes a second circuit, staring up the tower.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Chloe, come on. I want to get back before Sheriff Easton shows up.
She stands beneath the tower, hands out, gripping two of the supports. Eyes closed. Garrett marches forward and GRABS her by the shoulders. One quick shake.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Chloe!
Chloe snaps out of it. She glares at Garrett.

CHLOE
Jesus, that hurt! What the hell is the matter with you?

GARRETT
You were just...

CHLOE
I was just looking at the stupid bat tower. God.
Chloe stomps back to the car and slams her door. Garrett follows after a beat.

INT. GROCERY STORE - DAY

A small four-aisle affair. Garrett’s on aisle one, Chloe’s on aisle four. They could see each other over the top of the shelves, but they don’t look at each other.

CHLOE
(to herself)
One kind of soup. Hope you like
chicken noodle soup.
Across the store, Garrett holds a loaf of bread in his hand. He seems stuck in a fugue state. He doesn’t look at the bread but at an old SIGN carelessly tacked on the wall before him.

It’s a MISSING PERSON sign.

“Have you seen MARJORIE O’HARA? She was last seen November 8 2002 at the Sugarloaf Lodge. She is 72 YEARS OLD, FIVE FOOT THREE, and 165 POUNDS. Please call 555-2841.”

There is a grainy black-and-white photo on the sign. A smiling elderly woman. Someone’s Grandma.

Garrett’s cell phone RINGS. He jumps, drops the bread.

GARRETT
Hello?
A long beat. He’s almost ready to hang up when--

DANIEL (V.O.)
(conversational)
There’s this bird walking along the fence.

GARRETT
Dad?

DANIEL (V.O.)
I don’t know why you won’t just listen to me.
Garrett goes from zero to pissed in about three seconds.

GARRETT
I was trying to do you a favor. We need to eat
while we’re down here. I’ve been driving for three
years, I don’t know why you’re making such
a stupid goddamned big deal about it.

DANIEL (V.O.)
I’m just so tired.

GARRETT
I get that, Dad. So let me help out.

DANIEL (V.O.)
Won’t you come? Garrett, won’t you come?

GARRETT
Jesus, I’ll be right back.
He hangs up before he hears anything else.

GARRETT (CONT’D)
Chloe? Let’s go. Whatever you’ve picked out is fine.
He finds her by the single cash register, studying the tacky refrigerator magnets on a display there.

CHLOE
Sugarloaf Shores. It sounds like something from a song.
Garrett stares at her basket. At least thirty identical cans of chicken noodle soup. Too tired to get into it. He just drops his bread, peanut butter and jelly on the counter and pulls out his wallet.

CUT TO:
EXT. PARK ESTATE - DAY

Garrett and Chloe pull around the circle drive. Sheriff Easton’s car is parked where it was the night before. He sits on the front porch like he did the night before.

Garrett and Chloe carry their grocery sacks to the porch. The Sheriff rises to join them.

GARRETT
Good news, Sheriff?

EASTON
‘Fraid not. Search and Rescue
won’t be down till tomorrow.

CHLOE
What’s the hold-up?

EASTON
Morgan County doesn’t have our own. We’ve got to borrow
the dogs from Miami-Dade, and you can imagine how much use they get up there.

GARRETT
Did you already tell my dad?

EASTON
Never answered his phone. Showed up, saw the
rental was gone, and figured you folks ran
into town for supplies. I did knock, but no one answered.

GARRETT
(hiding worry)
All right, well thanks, Sheriff. I guess we’ll
get this inside. Please call us if you hear anything.

EASTON
Of course, son. You two take care.
Like the night before, they stand there and watch his car depart. It seems to disappear more quickly in the daylight.

INT. PARK ESTATE - KITCHEN

Chloe carefully stacks her cans of soup in the cabinet.

CHLOE
Do you think this house is haunted?

GARRETT
Pops built it. You have to have dead people in
a house for it to be haunted, and no one’s ever died here.

CHLOE
That’s not how it was in Poltergeist. What if
this house is on an old burial ground?

GARRETT
There’s nothing wrong with the house!
She stares in amazement as he leaves, slamming the door.

EXT. PARK ESTATE - BEACH - DAY

Garrett walks out to the gray surf. The day’s a bit gloomy, overcast. He plops down in the sand.

Down by the shore, a short, rickety fence meanders in a wavy line. A SEAGULL stands atop the rail, facing into the wind. Garrett sees it, and he scrambles back up, looking around.

No one else is on the shore. Garrett turns back to the house.

DANIEL stands in one of the second-floor rooms, looking out the window, down at Garrett. No recognition in his face, but he turns away just as Garrett sees him.

GARRETT
Dad!
One last look back to the fence, but the gull is gone.

Garrett goes back inside the house.

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