Asylum – A short film

Log line: Sol stands alone to face the ghost in an abandoned asylum.

Summary:

Sol plans to spend the night in an abandoned asylum with his three friends, and face up to its ghost of local rumor. Though skeptical, Sol seems ready to make sure his friends stay safe. At the first sign of the trouble, however, his friends flee, and Sol stands alone in facing the ghost.

And in an unexpected twist, it may just be the ghost that’s most affected by the confrontation.

Screenplay:

EXT. BEACH – AFTERNOON

At the far end of the beach, far from other people, four teenaged kids play frisbee, three boys and one girl.

The girl, ZEE, white 13 years old, purposefully throws the frisbee past SOL, black 14 years old. The frisbee flies beyond the rocks

SOL
(to Zee)
What did you do that for?

ZEE
Whoops!

SOL
Oh, come on! You can’t still want to go there?

Another of the boys, JOE, white 13-years old, steps up beside Sol. The fourth boy hangs back, quiet.

JOE
She does! You do, don’t you?!

ZEE
(shrugs)
It’ll be fun.

SOL
Yeah, right.

JOE
(to Zee)
You sure Jimmy wasn’t playing you?

ZEE
Totally! We just gotta get there before it gets too dark. Find a way in.

JOE
OK. I’m in. Sol?

SOL
Hmmm…
(considers)
I guess.

ZEE
Come on then.

She strides off towards the rocks, with Sol and Joe following along.

As they cross the rocks, Zee looks back.

The fourth boy remains on the beach.

ZEE
(scoffs)
What a surprise! Wuss.
(shouts)
Come on, Tom!

The fourth boy doesn’t want to go, but he tags along anyway.

EXT. ASYLUM – LATE AFTERNOON (ESTABLISHING)

The four kids walk through the dishevelled grounds of an isolated, abandoned mental institution, long fallen into disrepair.

INT. ASYLUM – LATE AFTERNOON

Institutional windows, some cracked, some with embedded grid-wire. Grubby, stained, old.

Outside, the sun goes down, and a shadow arm speeds towards the glass. One of the PANES shatters with a loud CRASH.

A hand reaches through, grabs the window handle, twists it open.

ZEE (O.S.)
We’re in!

Zee boosts herself through the window, pausing to look around the room before dropping through onto the floor. Her hands land in the broken glass.

ZEE
Ow!

She stands up, rubbing at her injured hands. Looks down at the ground.

ZEE POV

Shattered glass, used needles, a razor-blade.

BACK TO SCENE

ZEE
Careful! All kind of shit in here.

She reaches back through the window.

ZEE
Come on, Joe. You first.

She pull Joe through the open window.

Joe jumps down on the floor. Looks around.

JOE
You ain’t kidding, Zee!

ZEE
Right?

Zee exits the room, into a dark hall. Joe turns to the window.

Joe
You ready, Sol?

SOL (O.S.)
Sure.

Joe reaches through the window, pulls up Sol.

SOL
Ugh. Place stinks.

Zee (O.S.)
Been empty a long time.

Joe
(smirks)
Not quite empty. Right?

Zee (O.s.)
Right. Oh, man! You gotta come see this, Joe!

Joe shrugs at Sol, heads into the hall to join Zee.

Sol looks around the room, a long-abandoned ward. Finally, with a SIGH, he turns to the window.

SOL POV

Outside, the sun dips towards the horizon. Tom stands looking at Sol, clearly uneasy.

BACK TO SCENE

SOL
You OK, Tom?

TOM
I don’t know, Sol. I don’t-

SOL
It’s gonna be all right. There’s nothing here. You know that?

TOM
I don’t think we should.

Zee (O.S.)
(delighted)
Oh, man! No way!

TOM
I’m not coming in.

SOL
You wanna stay here?

Tom shakes his head.

TOM
I’m going. You should too.

SOL
(considering)
Nah. Someone’s gotta get them home.

TOM
Sure?

SOL
Yeah. See ya, Tom.

Sol closes the window. Through the glass he watches Tom’s shadow walk away.

FADE TO:

INT. ASYLUM WARD – LATER (EVENING)

Sol, Zee and Joe sit in the darkening room. In the uneasy glow of their flashlights, shadows skitter across peeling paint, graffiti and fading posters. Joe is hunched over his iPhone, its screen uplighting his chin and face into shadows.

JOE
(to Zee)
You sure this is the place?

ZEE
Right. Here. Jimmy said so.

JOE
Here?

ZEE
Right! You even listening to me?

SOL
So this is where the infamous ghost is going to appear?

ZEE
Right! Jimmy said-

SOL
(scoffs)
And Jimmy’s such a reliable witness!

Zee
He is! He… Aw, who cares. It’s a ghost, man! A freakin’ ghost!

Joe looks up from his phone.

JOE
Yeah! Who cares?! This is the after-life, dude.

SOL
It’s stupid, is what it is!

Zee
You scared?

SOL
Nah.

JOE
He is. He’s scared of the afterlife!

SOL
(quiet)
No. I’m not. I just think the here and now is good enough.

ZEE
Wuss.

JOE
Right.

But Sol isn’t listening, he leans against the wall, calm, watching the door to the hall.

FADE TO:

INT. ASYLUM WARD – LATER (EVENING)

Beyond the windows, it is full dark. They sit in a loose circle. Joe is clearly growing tired. He’s scared too.

JOE
(whispers)
Quiet, ain’t it?

They listen for a moment. Silence.

CLOSE ON – Zee quietly places her sneaker on the tile floor.

BACK TO SCENE

ZEE
(whispers)
Yes, it’s always quiet… Before they come.

JOE
Really?

ZEE
Yeeessss…

Her SNEAKER gives a loud SQUEAK on the TILE FLOOR.

Joe erupts to his feet, SCREAMS.

ZEE
(braying laughter)
Oh, man!

JOE
Holy… Quit it, Zee. That ain’t funny!

ZEE
You should see your face! Ha!

JOE
Quit it! Sol, tell her!

Sol raises his hands.

SOL
Probably enough, Zee?

Zee looks around them, into the darkness of the asylum ward.

zee
(chastened)
I guess. Sorry, Joe.

Joe slowly sits down.

JOE
Asshole.

ZEE
Yeah, whatever.

Sol stands, moves to the wall, sits down.

FADE TO:

INT. ASYLUM WARD – LATER (NIGHT)

Sol leans on the wall, his head drooping in sleep. Zee and Joe have fallen asleep on the floor.

SOUND – a distant NEAR-HUMAN HOWL of ANGUISH.

They snap awake.

ZEE
Did you hear that?

JOE
Right.

They jump to their feet. Sol stays still, listening.

ZEE
The ghost!

JOE
Where did it come from?

SOL
(standing)
It was a cat, that’s all.

SOUND – another HOWL, closer.

ZEE
That ain’t no cat!

Sol shakes his head.

SOL
It’s a cat.

JOE
Screw you, man!

SOUND – another HOWL, even closer, outside in the hallway.

They train their flashlights on the door to the hallway.

ZEE
It’s in the hall!

SOUND – WET FOOTFALLS on the hall floor.

JOE
Screw this!

He turns and runs for the window. Zee turns to Sol, desperate, pleading.

ZEE
Come on, man – let’s go!

SOL
There’s no such thing as ghosts, Zee.

ZEE
Come on!

SOL
Nope. I’m staying.

They stare at each other for a moment, then Zee bolts after Joe and dives through the open window.

Sol crosses to the window and looks out.

SOL POV

Joe and Zee flee across the asylum grounds.

BACK TO SCENE

Sol closes the window and clicks the latch into place, his face sets strong and he turns to face the hallway door.

SOL
OK, pussy-cat. Let’s see what you’re made of.

He walks to the door, pulls it open, steps through.

INT. ASYLUM HALL – CONTINUOUS

The hallway is dark. Sol’s flashlight beam scans the walls, ceiling floor. Sol is tense, ready for flight.

SOL
Nothing.

He relaxes a little, calming himself.

The door slams shut behind him. The hallway flares with dark purple and red, pulsing, a WIND ROARS towards him.

SOUND – the HOWL returns, very much closer now.

Sol braces himself.

In a snap, the lights disappear, silence returns.

Sol holds the flashlight under his chin, a campfire story-teller.

SOL
(sarcastic)
Boo!

He waits.

The LIGHTS, WIND and HOWL return again, louder. Sol is blown back on his heels, but holds his ground.

Again, things come back to normal in a snap.

SOL
Nothing. You’re not even here.

This time things go really crazy, and Sol is buffetted back against the door, slammed hard against the wood, blood streaming from his nose. His eyes close.

SOUND – the HOWL resolves to a female voice screaming

WOMAN (O.S.)
Not my baby! Not my baby! Not my baby!

CLOSE ON – Sol’s eyes open.

BACK TO SCENE

The lights, wind disappear.

Sol shines his flashlight down the hallway.

Before him, a WOMAN, white, early-20’s, starvation-skinny, stands barefoot in ragged, dirty hospital scrubs. Her skin is grimy, and there are charred marks on either side of her forehead. One arm hugs tight across her chest, the other reaching to toy compulsively with her hair.

WOMAN
(whispers)
Not my baby… not my baby…

Sol steps away from the door. He’s alert, watching her closely.

SOL
Hello.

She doesn’t hear him. He takes a step forward.

SOL
Excuse me.

Now, she looks up at him. Tears shimmer on her cheeks.

WOMAN
(sobs)
My baby!

SOL
Why are you still here?

The woman hugs herself tight.

WOMAN
(whispers, moans)
My baby.

SOL
Your baby’s gone.

WOMAN
Gone?

Sol is loosening up. Beginning to fill with the woman’s pain.

SOL
For a… a very long time.

WOMAN
She’s gone?

SOL
Yes.

The woman begins to moan, low in her chest, growing louder. Anger rips across her face.

SOL
(shouts)
Stop!

The woman freezes, trapped in his flashlight beam.

SOL
(firm)
Why are you still here?

WOMAN

My baby!

SOL
She’s gone. There is no reality for you in this place.

Sol thinks for a moment and then pats his chest.

SOL
She’s here.

Slowly, the woman pats her own chest.

WOMAN
Here?

Sol hits his chest firmly, twice.

SOL
Here. Do you feel her?

The woman pats her chest. Let’s her hand rest for a moment. Begins to feel something.

SOL
You feel her?

WOMAN
(slowly)
Yes. Yes, I feel her.

SOL
Yes?

WOMAN
She’s here.

SOL
Yes?

WOMAN
My baby.

Sol opens his arms wide.

SOL
Come on. It’s fine.

The woman looks up at him, she’s beginning to realize her pain can end.

WOMAN
My baby?

SOL
She’s with you now.

WOMAN
Yes.

SOL
Come on. It’s time to go.

He takes a step towards the woman, nods.

The woman walks into his arms, she’s calm, settled.

As Sol closes his arms around her, she begins to glow, the purples and reds brightening, giving way to silvers, golds, whites. Sol closes his eyes.

SOL
(whispers)
It’s all right.

WOMAN
Yes.

SOL
Travel safe.

Sol inhales deeply. The light flares, and obliterates everything, Rocking Sol back on his heels.

WOMAN (O.S.)
Thank you.

SOUND – in the distance, a BABY SQUEALS with delight.

Darkness and silence rush into the hallway. Sol slumps to the ground, gasping for air. Slowly he lifts his head, points his flashlight down the hall to find he is alone.

Sol stands, breathes deeply.

Exhausted, feeling every twist of the pain he has swallowed, he turns to head back into the ward. He grasps the door handle, turns it, pushes and…

CUT TO:

INT. ASYLUM WARD – CONTINUOUS

The ward is now full of ghost-patients, all outfitted in those grubby scrubs; too long unwashed.

They sit, stand, lie on the ground; some rock compulsively, some stare into space, others giggle at some unheard joke. Some of the patients even seem to be waiting for him.

SOL
(sighs)
Well all-righty then.

PULL-BACK – from Sol, through the crowds of patients.

CLOSE ON – Sol’s face, he breathes in, readies himself.

SOL
Who’s next?

ASYLUM – A SHORT FILM
All rights reserved, Vincent Tuckwood 2013