Horror and Thriller Fiction posted September 20, 2017


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What happens when film characters realize what they are?

Fourth Wall

by Lucian Carter

Watching the Script Contest Winner 

The author has placed a warning on this post for violence.

INT. LOG CABIN. DAY.

The cabin is empty. The main area, connecting to the front door, is a living room filled with 50s era furniture. Behind this an open window into a kitchen can be seen. In the kitchen is an old Franklin stove with a small pile of firewood beside it. Two more doors lead off the main room. A fireplace, with another pile of firewood, dominates the wall opposite the entrance. There is no sink in the kitchen and no electrical lights or appliances whatsoever in the entire building. Instead there is a number of kerosene lanterns scattered around the place. The walls are a faded green color and bereft of decoration except for a shotgun which hangs over the fireplace. No one is in sight. Suddenly the lock on the exterior door turns and the door opens to reveal an ADULT MALE carrying a large heavy suitcase. He enters the cabin and looks around with a look of appreciation and joy on his face.

YOUNG FEMALE
(O.S.)
Keep it moving.

The Adult male steps out of the way and a YOUNG FEMALE bursts into the building carrying several bags and suitcases. She seems far less enthusiastic than the older man.

YOUNG FEMALE
Gross!

She too moves out of the way of the entrance and two more people an ADULT FEMALE and a YOUNG MALE enter behind her. Both also carry suitcases. The adults' suitcases appear to be from a matching set. Both have neutral expressions on their face as they survey the place but the younger male quickly becomes disillusioned.

YOUNG MALE
Where's the TV?

ADULT MALE
There's no TV. There's no electricity.

YOUNG MALE
What?

ADULT MALE
You heard me.

All four set their luggage aside. The YOUNG FEMALE opens the two closed doors in turn and both lead into bedrooms, one with a large King sized bed of the same era as the furniture and the other holding two single beds that seem only slightly newer.

YOUNG FEMALE
Fine, where's the bathroom?

ADULT MALE
(pointing out the window)
See that little building out back? That's the outhouse.

YOUNG FEMALE
You have got to be kidding me.

ADULT FEMALE
Surely there is running water.

ADULT MALE
There's a well outside we can pump what water we need. And we can cook on the wood burning stove, when we're not out by the campfire
(he pauses confused)
Wait a minute...we're in a film.

The others look at him in confusion before realization dawns on their faces.

YOUNG FEMALE
Oh my God he's right. This is a film.

YOUNG MAN
How can we be in a film?

ADULT MALE
It happens. People are in films all the time.

ADULT FEMALE
But those are actors dear.

ADULT MALE
Well I guess we must be actors too.

YOUNG MALE
No...if we're actually in the film that makes us characters not actors.

ADULT MALE
Well then this should be quite an adventure!

YOUNG FEMALE
That depends.

ADULT MALE
Depends on what?

YOUNG FEMALE
On what kind of film we're in.

ADULT MALE
How do you mean?

YOUNG FEMALE
Well think about it, four people come to a cabin in the woods, cut off from everybody. This could be a horror film.

ADULT FEMALE
Oh I hope not.

ADULT MALE
Don't jump to conclusions. This could be a screwball family comedy.

YOUNG MALE
Well, are we a family?

There is a long pause as all four consider this.

ADULT MALE
You know...I have no idea. We look like a family.

YOUNG MALE
(looking the young female up and down)
Well you two may be parents...

ADULT FEMALE
I'm wearing a wedding ring.

ADULT MALE
So am I.

YOUNG MALE
But I think she
(pointing at the young female)
and I must be boyfriend and girlfriend! Rowr!

YOUNG FEMALE
Don't be gross! We might be brother and sister. Besides if this is a horror movie there is no way I'm having sex! Everyone knows the slutty girls die first!

ADULT MALE
Good for you... Ummm what's your name?

YOUNG FEMALE
(thinking)
I...I have no idea.

YOUNG MALE
Me neither.

ADULT FEMALE
No clue here.

ADULT MALE
Well this is going to get confusing. None of us have names.

YOUNG MALE
Or the writer never gave us names.

ADULT MALE
Why would the writer not give us names?

YOUNG MALE
Maybe we're only minor characters?

ADULT FEMALE
Well that's not fair.

ADULT MALE
It's certainly the sign of a bad writer.

ADULT FEMALE
That's not fair dear. He might be under a lot of stress.

YOUNG FEMALE
How do you know it's a he.

YOUNG MALE
Because females can't write for shit.

ADULT MALE
Language!

YOUNG FEMALE
That's bull...
(she stops herself from continuing as the adult male glares at her)
Anyway that's ridiculous. Look at Anne Rice. She's great.

YOUNG MALE
If you like gay vampires.

ADULT MALE
That's enough of that.

YOUNG MAN
Why should we listen to you? For all we know you're not our father.

ADULT MALE
Well I'm the adult here.

ADULT FEMALE
Hey. So am I.

ADULT MALE
Well you aren't exactly taking charge of the situation.

ADULT FEMALE
Until we know what movie we're in what is there to take charge of.

ADULT MALE
This doesn't make sense. Why would a writer dump us in the middle of a film with no names, no back-story and nothing to do?

YOUNG MALE
Maybe he's not finished writing yet.

YOUNG FEMALE
So what are we supposed to do? Wait?

ADULT FEMALE
Maybe that's for the best.

YOUNG FEMALE
No way. I say we get back in the car and head back where we came from.

ADULT MALE
Which is where exactly?

YOUNG FEMALE
I don't know but anywhere has to be better than this. Or at least less tacky. I mean look at what set dressing they've given us to work with.

As she speaks the young male opens the front door and looks outside.

YOUNG MALE
Bad news. There's no car.

ADULT MALE
What?

YOUNG MALE
There's no car outside.

ADULT FEMALE
Then how did we get here?

YOUNG MALE
(shrugging)
I don't know, but there's no car outside.

ADULT MALE
Then I guess we aren't supposed to leave. The whole film must take place in and around this cabin.

YOUNG FEMALE
Maybe we can walk down the road and find somebody?

ADULT FEMALE
I don't know about that. We're barely developed characters as it is, what makes you think there's going to be anyone else out there.

YOUNG FEMALE
There has to be someone else out there.

YOUNG MALE
Why?

ADULT MALE
He's right. We may be the only characters in this entire film.

YOUNG FEMALE
Well that would suck. Hey...wait a minute look.
(she points to the gun hanging over the fireplace)
There's a gun hanging over the fireplace.

The others glance at the gun.

ADULT MALE
So there is.

YOUNG MALE
Big deal.

YOUNG FEMALE
Don't you get it?! The first rule of short story writing is that if you introduce a gun in the first chapter that gun must go off before the end of the story.

ADULT FEMALE
Is that true?

YOUNG MALE
It sounds familiar.

ADULT MALE
Familiar from where?

YOUNG MALE
I don't know...somewhere I guess.

YOUNG FEMALE
That means we're all in terrible danger. Me especially, I'm the cute one.

ADULT FEMALE
Hey!

YOUNG FEMALE
Don't kid yourself lady.

ADULT MALE
Be nice.
(to the adult female)
I find you very attractive.

ADULT FEMALE
Thanks. If we're married you bloody well better find me attractive.

ADULT MALE
Well, we do have matching luggage.

YOUNG FEMALE
(agitated)
How can you be so calm? We're stuck in a film we know nothing about and there's a gun in the room.

ADULT MALE
If it's bothering you so much I'll take it down.

He steps towards the gun but the young male leaps in front of him.

YOUNG MALE
Wait a minute. Why do you get to touch the gun? This could be a story about a father that snaps and murders his entire family.

ADULT MALE
That's crazy talk! Do I look like the type of person who would snap and kill people?

YOUNG FEMALE
In a movie? Yes.

YOUNG MALE
Yes.

All three turn to look at the adult female. She pauses looking back and forth between them.

ADULT FEMALE
Well...maybe you do yes.

ADULT MALE
Look I'll just go and take the bullets out of it.

YOUNG MALE
What if it goes off accidentally? This could be one of those message movies about the dangers of careless gun ownership. The production values sure look that way.

ADULT MALE
I'm too handsome to be starring in a PSA!

YOUNG FEMALE
(rolling her eyes)
Get over yourself.

YOUNG MALE
I'm just saying nobody touch the gun, ok?

YOUNG FEMALE
What is a werewolf or something breaks in?

YOUNG MALE
Well, unless that gun is loaded with silver bullets it's not going to help us against a werewolf.

ADULT MALE
Wait...how do you even know about werewolves and silver bullets if we don't have any back-story?

ADULT FEMALE
Well...certain pieces of information are considered to be common knowledge. I guess the writer just assumes we would know about things like that. I mean you knew this place had no electricity.

ADULT MALE
That's right...I did.

YOUNG MALE
Yeah. We must have had at least some dialogue. The stuff we said when we first came in.

ADULT MALE
Maybe we just fell off script. What was the last thing anybody said before we realized this was a film?

YOUNG FEMALE
Why?

ADULT MALE
Maybe we just fell off script and we can get back on track again.

YOUNG FEMALE
Why would we want to? We still don't know what kind of film this is.

ADULT MALE
Well what's the alternative? We sit here waiting for the rest of our lives?

YOUNG FEMALE
Well that probably won't be very long. Most movies only last two hours anyway!

ADULT FEMALE
But they use time tricks...sometimes time passes and...

FADE TO INT. LOG CABIN. NIGHT.

The four sit around on the furniture. The kerosene lamps are all lit. The adult male suddenly leaps to his feet.

ADULT MALE
(with concern)
What just happened?!

YOUNG MALE
A bunch of time just jumped by! It's sunset all of the sudden.

ADULT FEMALE
I was just talking about how time passes in movies and all of the sudden everything had changed.

YOUNG FEMALE
Ok this is freaking me out.

ADULT MALE
Maybe it happened just because you were talking about it?

ADULT FEMALE
That doesn't make any sense.

YOUNG MALE
None of this makes any sense!

YOUNG FEMALE
Is anyone else concerned it's getting dark? That's when vampires and werewolves and ghosts come out.

ADULT MALE
What is your obsession with horror movies? I'm telling you this is probably a perfectly innocent family film where we all learn a valuable lesson and every one lives happily ever after.

YOUNG FEMALE
Do you want to take that chance?

Sinister music begins to play from nowhere. All of them look around the room but none can tell where it is coming from.

ADULT FEMALE
What's that?

YOUNG MALE
It must be the soundtrack.

YOUNG FEMALE
That means something bad is going to happen!

ADULT MALE
It's probably just a tease.

ADULT FEMALE
Am I the only one who notices what we say seems to impact what happens.

ADULT MALE
But how can that be? The writer must be controlling the soundtrack.

YOUNG MALE
Maybe the writer is stuck for what to do next and is listening to us for inspiration?

ADULT FEMALE
But that's not what writers do.

YOUNG FEMALE
It's not what good writers do.

YOUNG MALE
Maybe Anne Rice is writing this after all.

YOUNG FEMALE
How can you joke at a time like this?

YOUNG MALE
Maybe if we tell enough jokes this will turn into a comedy.

All four consider this.

ADULT MALE
I guess it's worth a try. Anybody know any jokes?

They all pause and think.

ADULT MALE
Isn't that always the way? Whenever you need to tell a joke you can't think of any.

YOUNG MALE
Oh! I've got one.

The others turn to him and listen.

YOUNG MALE
Two patients meet in a Psych Ward. The first one asks the second "What's your story?" and the second one says "I am Napoleon!" The first one says "Really? You're Napoleon?" and the second one repeats "Yes, I am Napoleon!" So the first one asks "Well, how do you know you're Napoleon?" so the second one says "God told me I am Napoleon!" and the first patient says "No I didn't!"

The other three laugh but the laughter seems forced and unnatural. The soundtrack has quietly faded away to nothing except the sounds of forest wildlife.

YOUNG MALE
Did that help?

ADULT FEMALE
It doesn't matter.

YOUNG MALE
Why not?

ADULT FEMALE
Because there's comic relief in almost every type of movie. Just telling a joke or two won't change what the writer has in mind.

YOUNG MALE
Hmmm...

YOUNG FEMALE
Hey! Does anyone have a cell phone? Maybe we can try calling somebody.

All four frantically check their pockets.

ADULT MALE
Nope. Heck I don't even have a wallet.

ADULT FEMALE
We haven't tried unpacking the suitcases!

All four leap to their feet and practically fall over each other as they scramble to grab suitcases. They each manage to open one almost simultaneously. All the suitcases are empty. Their faces fall.

ADULT MALE
Ok, this is starting to tick me off. Some hack writer has us stuck in the cabin with no idea what happens next.

YOUNG MALE
I'm hungry.

ADULT MALE
(to adult female)
Can you see if there is any food?

ADULT FEMALE
Why? Because I'm the woman? You have legs go look for yourself.

ADULT MALE
(sighing)
Fine.

He heads into the kitchen and rummages through the cupboards.

ADULT MALE
There's some spaghetti and some canned sauce here. And some coffee. You'd have thought we'd have brought some food.

YOUNG MALE
Maybe we weren't supposed to be here long enough to get hungry.

YOUNG FEMALE
Maybe we weren't supposed to live long enough to get hungry.

ADULT MALE
Well I can at least make spaghetti. It won't take very long...

FADE TO INT. CABIN. NIGHT.

All four are again sitting around the living room only now empty dishes sit around them.

ADULT FEMALE
Again?!

ADULT MALE
Oh for crying out loud.

YOUNG FEMALE
You know it's weird but...I'm full.

YOUNG MALE
It's like we're glossing over the boring parts.

ADULT MALE
You find the rest of this exciting?

YOUNG MALE
Well tense at least. I mean think about it, you rarely see people actually eat full meals in films, it takes too long.

ADULT FEMALE
You don't see them go to the bathroom either.

YOUNG FEMALE
Good because there is no way I'm going out to that outhouse. I'll probably get eaten.

YOUNG MALE
But speaking of tension shouldn't it be building as the story goes on? I mean don't movies follow some kind of structure where the tension grows over time?

ADULT FEMALE
I think he's right.

ADULT MALE
But nothing has happened. So what do we...

There is a knock at the door. All four stare at each other in complete shock. They continue to look around for over thirty seconds.

YOUNG MALE
(whispered)
Do we answer it?

YOUNG FEMALE
(whispered)
No way it's probably some crazed killer.

ADULT MALE
(whispered)
We don't know that. It could be someone who can help.

ADULT FEMALE
(whispered)
The lights are on, they're going to know we're here whoever they are.

The knock comes again.

ADULT MALE
(whispered, urgent)
We can't just sit here.

YOUNG FEMALE
(whispered)
Sure we can, they'll go away.

The knock comes again, louder and more urgent this time.

ADULT MALE
(whispered)
Let's get the gun, just to be safe.

YOUNG MALE
(whispered)
I don't know about that.

ADULT MALE
(whispered)
If this is a horror movie we better be prepared.

ADULT FEMALE
(whispered)
Ok but be careful.

YOUNG MALE
(whispered)
Yeah, ok.

The adult male quietly rises and stealthily moves to get the gun from the fireplace.

YOUNG FEMALE
(whispered)
Is it loaded?

ADULT MALE
(checking, whispered)
Yes. And I've got the safety off. But somebody is going to have to open the door so I can keep the gun trained on him.

The knocking comes again.

YOUNG FEMALE
(whispered)
Not me.

ADULT FEMALE
(whispered, scared)
I'm too nervous.

ADULT MALE
(looking at the young male, whispered)
You then.

YOUNG MALE
(whispered)
Fine.

The two men move to the door. The younger man moves to take the knob in his hand as the older man moves into position pointing the gun at the doorway. The women stand and nervously tiptoe to the fireplace opposite and stare at the door. Checking with his older counterpart to make sure he is ready the young man opens the door and immediately pulls back behind it to get out of the line of fire. As he does as STRANGER sticks his head in the door.

STRANGER
(genially)
Hi there, boy am I glad somebody is here I...(notices the man pointing a gun at him). What the hell?

ADULT MALE
(shouting)
Get inside!

STRANGER
Hey relax! I just....

ADULT MALE
(shouting)
Get inside!

STRANGER
(worried but humoring him)
Ok, ok.

ADULT MALE
(motioning with the gun)
Take a seat.

YOUNG FEMALE
Do what he says!

STRANGER
Sure, sure no problem.

The stranger takes a seat his eyes darting around from person to person but constantly coming back to the gun being shoved in his face.

YOUNG MALE
Who are you?!

STRANGER
Ok...everybody stay calm. My name is Jack Foster and...

ADULT FEMALE
How do you know your name?

JACK
(puzzled)
What? How do I know my name? What a crazy question.

ADULT MALE
We'll tell you what's crazy and what isn't. Now answer her question!

JACK
I know my name because my parents gave it to me. How else does anyone know their name?

YOUNG FEMALE
You know your parents?

JACK
Of course I know my parents. Aren't these people your parents?

YOUNG FEMALE
I don't know!

JACK
(to himself)
What the hell have I got myself into?

ADULT MALE
(growing more agitated)
We'll ask the questions here.

JACK
Ok, ok. Ask away.

The other four look at each other with quick glances before looking at Jack again.

ADULT FEMALE
What are we going to ask?

YOUNG MALE
How about what are you doing here?

JACK
Look it's no big deal, My car broke down up the road and I went.

ADULT FEMALE
You have a car? (to the others) He has a car!

YOUNG FEMALE
You can't trust him! He could be a killer.

JACK
I'm not a killer! I'm not the one with the gun!

ADULT MALE
And don't think we're not glad about that. Did the writer send you?

JACK
What writer?

ADULT MALE
Don't play dumb with me!

JACK
Trust me right now I am not playing.

ADULT MALE
The writer of this film.

JACK
Film? What film?

YOUNG MALE
The film we're all in.

JACK
Look, kid. I don't know what you are talking about. I was just wondering if you had a phone.

ADULT MALE
Of course we don't have phones! We're trapped in this movie waiting for something to happen. And since you just happened you must be from the writer.

YOUNG FEMALE
I'm sure he wants to kill us!

ADULT FEMALE
Let's not be hasty.

JACK
Yeah don't be hasty. I'm not here to kill anybody. Look, I can just go!

ADULT MALE
You're not going anywhere! Not until we figure out what plot you're involved in.

JACK
Are you all on drugs?! I'm not involved in any plot.

YOUNG FEMALE
I don't trust him!

YOUNG MALE
But if he has a car we can use it to get out of here.

JACK
I told you my car is broken down. How did you get all the way out here if you don't have a car?

ADULT FEMALE
We don't know!

JACK
How can you not know?

ADULT MALE
Because the writer hasn't told us.

JACK
What writer?!

YOUNG MALE
We don't know that either!

JACK
Are you all crazy?

ADULT MALE
Don't call us crazy! If you're the only one who knows your name then you must be the crazy one.

JACK
(growing more and more scared)
That doesn't make any sense.

ADULT FEMALE
None of this makes any sense.

YOUNG FEMALE
I'm telling you he's a killer. We can't trust him!

ADULT MALE
Quiet all of you! Let me think!

JACK
Look please just let me go. I won't tell anybody about you.

YOUNG MALE
You have people to tell? You know people?

JACK
I know lots of people. My family, my friends my co-workers.

YOUNG MALE
He has a job. How come none of us have jobs?

ADULT FEMALE
Oh no. He must be a main character.

ADULT MALE
What does that make us?

ADULT FEMALE
I don't know? Cameos? Bit parts?

ADULT MALE
That's not fair!

JACK
Please just let me go.

ADULT MALE
No way.

YOUNG MALE
If he leaves our part might be over!

YOUNG FEMALE
Then what happens to us?

ADULT MALE
(screaming)
SHUT UP! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! JUST LET ME THINK.

ADULT FEMALE
Maybe you should calm down.

ADULT MALE
DON'T TELL ME TO CALM DOWN!
(he takes a few deep breaths)
Fine. Fine. If we're so unimportant we don't even get names and you do you must be important to the writer.

JACK
Please I don't understand.

ADULT MALE
And if you are important to the writer he must care what happens to you.

YOUNG FEMALE
He's the killer!

JACK
I'm not a killer!

YOUNG MALE
Wait if he's important...

ADULT MALE
Maybe it's time to change this story.

ADULT FEMALE
You don't know what that will do.

ADULT MALE
(screaming again)
What choice do I have? (pointing at the young female) She said it herself! The gun has to go off. If we don't use it then somebody must use it on us. He has to be a killer.

JACK
I'm not! I'm not!

ADULT MALE
SHUT UP!

YOUNG MALE
Are you sure about this?

ADULT MALE
Yes! Tell you what Jack here's a message for your precious writer.

JACK
What writer...please just let me go.

ADULT MALE
Tell him to go to HELL!

He fires the gun at point blank range into Jack's chest. Blood splatters all over the chair and wall behind Jack. Jack slumps forward. All four stare at the body, which is spurting blood.

ADULT FEMALE
Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God.

YOUNG FEMALE
You did it. You shot him.

ADULT MALE
So I did.

YOUNG MALE
So what happens now?

CUT TO INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT.

A man sits at a desk in a room that is set up to allow him to see the TV and the computer from his chair behind a desk at the back of the room. A futon sofa and an armchair sit between the desk and the TV. From the computer screen it is clear the man is in an IRC chatroom which is labeled #Screenwriter_Chat. The man looks upset and he types into the chatroom. When he hits return his screen name comes up as Lucian

Damn.
What's wrong Lucian.
I was just getting an idea for a Gary Busey movie but it totally faded away on me. Not sure why.
That sux
Yeah. And I had a talent voucher for him too. I really need a film idea where I can use up a bunch of my talent vouchers.
You'll think of something.
Yeah, I 'm sure I will.

THE END


Writing Prompt
Write a script that makes your readers feel as if they are watching a movie or play, not just reading it.

Watching the Script
Contest Winner


I freely admit I am not an expert on film script formatting. I hope that doesn't hurt readers' enjoyment.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by Paul G. at FanArtReview.com

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