The Lighthouse By John W Stenner

© John W Stenner October 2012

1

EXT. CITY STREET - OFFICE BUILDING. DAY

1

PAUL VAN ZYNT exits the building. He is struggling to hold onto his briefcase and a small cardboard box containing some folders, papers and a couple of photographs and certificates in frames. He looks up at the building, shakes his head and mouths a silent curse - he is definitely having a bad day. CUT TO 2 EXT. CITY STREET - BUS STOP. DAY 2

A bus pulls away from the stop as Paul runs into shot, his briefcase balanced precariously on top of the cardboard box. The briefcase falls, he tries to grab it and drops the cardboard box. The photo frames smash, folders break open and papers are strewn over the road and footpath. Paul kicks the cardboard box in disgust - he is having a very bad day. FADE TO 3 EXT. CITY STREET. EVENING Paul crosses the street and enters an apartment building. Loose papers are blowing out of the crushed cardboard box that he is carrying under his arm. HOLD SHOT on papers blowing down the street. CUT TO 4 INT. PAUL’S APARTMENT. EVENING 4 3

Paul enters. He drops his briefcase and the cardboard box on the floor and in an expression of pent up anger furiously kicks the cardboard box across the room. The box crashes into a small table sending an ashtray full of cigarette butts flying. The butts spray around the room and the ashtray smashes into a glass display cabinet - the cabinet shatters and its contents, small glass wizards and goblins, drop to the floor - each one shatters as it bounces off the terra cotta tiled floor. There is one left, balanced precariously on the remnants of a shelf and after an agonisingly long time it too slides to its death on the floor. Paul stares at the destruction he has caused.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2)

2.

PAUL Yeah ..... that’d be right TIME CUT Paul is sitting on his sofa drinking a beer. He lights a cigarette, hits play on his answering machine and listens to his messages. (beep) Hey Paul, its Freddy ..... sorry to hear what happened ..... I think you got a bum deal ..... anyway ..... if I hear of something I’ll let you know (beep) Mr. Van Zynt, your rent is now three weeks overdue and we expect it to be brought up to date by the end of the week (beep) Hi, its me ..... sorry I haven’t rung sooner but ..... well, I just don’t think its going to work with us ..... so ..... anyway ..... bye (beep) The machine clicks off. Paul settles back into his chair and raises his glass to the machine. PAUL yeah ..... ain’t life grand SLOW FADE TO 5 INT. PAUL’S APARTMENT. DAY 5

Paul is sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. The employment section of the paper is spread out in front of him. There are several job applications circled with a red cross through them. He circles another, picks up the phone and dials the number. We see him speaking but don’t hear what is being said. He hangs up the phone and scribbles a red cross through the advertisement. Paul lights a cigarette as he reads the paper, another ad. catches his eye. The action is the same as before, Paul dials the number, has a conversation, hangs up and puts a cross through the ad.

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2)

3.

He continues reading the paper and another ad. catches his eye. He circles it and stares at it for a while. PAUL mmmmm, why not (pause) something different ..... I don’t suppose it could be any worse than what I’ve got now (pause) yeah He dials the number. SLOW FADE TO 6 EXT. SMALL OPEN BOAT ON THE WATER. DAY It is a grey, overcast day. Paul is sitting in the bow of the boat, holding his coat around himself against the cold. There is a dodgy looking old boatman sitting in the stern at the tiller. Paul tries to make conversation. PAUL I suppose you’ve made this trip quite a few times BOATMAN Yeah There is a period of silence. PAUL It certainly is remote BOATMAN Yeah There is another period of silence. PAUL So I’m the only one on the island am I? BOATMAN Yeah (pause) Maybe PAUL Maybe? 6

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2)

4.

BOATMAN Yeah PAUL What does that mean? BOATMAN You’ll be the only one ..... living on the island PAUL You mean I get visitors from time to time? ..... I don’t mind that BOATMAN No PAUL No what? BOATMAN No visitors PAUL Then what? BOATMAN The Carlsons PAUL (getting frustrated) Who are the Carlsons? BOATMAN They lived on the island ..... light keepers ..... before ..... PAUL Before what? BOATMAN Before they died PAUL Died? BOATMAN Yeah PAUL Was there a storm or something? BOATMAN No

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (3)

5.

PAUL Then ..... BOATMAN They died The Boatman gives Paul a sneering smile. PAUL (dismissive) And I suppose they haunt the place BOATMAN (uncertain) Mmmmmm The Boatman rubs his chin and looks out over the water. It seems this is a topic he will have a conversation about. BOATMAN They were there for two years ..... maybe more (cont’d) He pauses as if trying to remember. Mother, father and daughter (cont’d) He pauses again, remembering. I used to bring supplies each month ..... like I’ll do for you (cont’d) Again a long pause. It was last winter ..... I called .....the house was burnt down ..... found the mister and missus inside ..... buried them Again a long pause. No sign of the little girl ..... maybe she burnt up completely ..... or maybe she starved (pause) or maybe she started the fire (pause) then ..... who knows Paul considers what he has been told. PAUL They didn’t live in the lighthouse? BOATMAN No ..... just worked the light

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (4)

6.

PAUL But I’ll live in the lighthouse BOATMAN Yeah (pause) didn’t think anyone else was gonna be sent ..... been no one there for over a year Paul seems about to say something but doesn’t. They continue their journey in silence. CUT TO 7 EXT. LONG SHOT. ISLAND/OCEAN. DAY 7

It is a small rocky island with high, craggy cliffs, small patches of grass and trees and is dominated by a tall, stone lighthouse. The small boat approaches the island. CUT TO 8 EXT. SMALL JETTY. DAY The boat slides up next to the jetty and the Boatman secures it tightly. He gets out of the boat and onto the jetty and Paul passes him his bags and boxes of supplies. The boat rocks and tips as Paul balances himself and climbs onto the jetty ..... he makes it ..... only just. The Boatman unties the boat and heads off. PAUL I’ll see you in a month BOATMAN (voice fading in the distance) Yeah ..... maybe Paul stands on the jetty watching the boat disappear then picks up two bags and heads up the stone steps towards the lighthouse. FADE TO 8

7.

9

EXT. LIGHTHOUSE. DAY

9

Paul enters shot struggling with the two bags. He stops at the door, drops the bags and pushes the key into the lock. As he is inserting the key the door slowly swings open ..... of course it creaks as it does. Paul cautiously edges his way inside. CUT TO 10 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. DAY Paul is halfway through the door. PAUL Hello ..... hello Paul looks around the room and smiles a little at his unfounded fear. He walks back out and returns carrying the two bags. TIME CUT Paul enters carrying a large box which he places on the floor next to two bags and three other large boxes. He sits on the sofa, wipes sweat off his forehead and takes off his shirt. A gust of wind slams a shutter closed and Paul jumps to his feet looking around nervously, walks cautiously to the door and looks outside. He sees nothing, closes the door and looks around the room. PAUL Shit! this is ridiculous ..... the old prick was just trying to spook me (cont’d) A slight shiver runs through him but he laughs it off. now, let’s see what this place is like 11 INT. KITCHEN. DAY Paul opens the door and enters, the room is dark and he flicks the light switch, the lights flicker on. PAUL Thank Christ for that He laughs a little self-consciously. CUT TO 11 10

8.

12

INT. BEDROOM LEVEL. DAY

12

Paul enters shot climbing a narrow flight of stairs to this level where there are two bedrooms. He turns the lights on is each room as he inspects them through the doorways and makes a gesture showing that while he is not unhappy with the sleeping quarters he is not entirely happy either. CUT TO 13 EXT. TOP OF LIGHTHOUSE. DAY ANGLE ON THE SEA as we hear the clank of footsteps on metal steps. Paul enters shot through a wooden door and walks out onto an enclosed walkway, in the middle of which is the huge light. He looks out towards the sea. CAMERA PANS ACROSS THE SEASCAPE, SWINGS AROUND OVER THE ISLAND AND BACK TO THE SEA. The view is ominous and uninviting. Paul spreads his arms towards the sea. PAUL I’m the king of the world He looks around self consciously, hoping no one heard him. FADE TO 14 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT Paul is standing at a desk setting up a computer. He finishes plugging in all the leads and sits down staring at the screen. CLOSE IN ON THE BLANK SCREEN over Paul’s shoulder and we see a reflection of the window behind him. Paul reaches to turn on the computer and just before the screen flickers on he sees a face at the window reflected in the blank screen. The face is indistinguishable ..... male, female, old, young? Paul is so startled that he almost falls off his chair. He jumps up and turns to the window - the face is no longer there. Paul stares at the window for a period of time then slowly moves towards it - he hesitates then slowly pushes the window open. A shiver runs through him as he closes the window and draws the curtain. (CONTINUED) 14 13

CONTINUED: (2)

9.

He sits at the computer again, turns to the window for one more look before starting work on the computer. FADE TO 15 INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM. DAY 15

Paul slowly stirs into consciousness, stretches, stifles a yawn and gets out of bed. He is naked. He starts to pull on his jeans then drops them to the floor. PAUL Who am I getting dressed for? Paul walks into the bathroom and shortly after we hear the toilet flush. He walks out of the bathroom and exits the bedroom. CUT TO 16 EXT. LIGHTHOUSE. DAY Paul is standing in the open doorway drinking coffee and looking out towards the sea. He finishes his coffee, walks inside and emerges shortly after wearing canvas shoes and a pair of sunglasses. He walks out of shot. CUT TO 17 EXT. THE ISLAND. DAY An open, grassed area. As Paul walks through shot the CAMERA DRAWS BACK so that we see him through some low bushes. The bushes rustle and shake and the CAMERA MOVES as if someone or something is watching him. CUT TO 18 EXT. THE ISLAND. SMALL TIDAL POOL. DAY 18 17 16

Paul is siting waist deep in water leaning back against a rock. The CAMERA DRAWS BACK to a point above Paul and MOVES IN AND OUT from behind a rock as if, again, someone or something is watching him. This time we hear faint breathing. (CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2)

10.

Paul suddenly turns around and the CAMERA DARTS BACK behind a rock. FADE TO 19 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT We see Paul from behind sitting at the computer typing. There is a half empty beer on the desk next to him along with four empty bottles. He stops typing, finishes the beer and sits for a while the takes a "joint" out of his pocket and lights up. CUT TO 20 EXT. LIGHTHOUSE. NIGHT Outside the window looking in. We see Paul from behind leaning back in his chair smoking. Again we hear slight breathing and the CAMERA MOVES AROUND A LITTLE indicating that someone or something is looking in. Trees rustle against the side of the building. FADE TO 21 INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT 21 20 19

The room is in darkness. Paul enters and turns on the light. He sees his bed has been made and the covers turned back. PAUL What the fuck! (cont’d) He runs his hand over the bedclothes. I didn’t make this (pause) Did I? Paul looks around the room a little nervously. He looks in the bathroom then under the bed. He touches the bed covers again. He locks the bedroom door before getting into bed. He leaves the light on. SLOW FADE on Paul laying in bed, his eyes wide open and flicking around the room. FADE TO

11.

22

INT. THE KITCHEN. MORNING

22

Paul is making toast. He is wearing just a pair of shorts and has a bad case of pillow hair. We hear a two way radio from the other room. VOICE ON RADIO CG base calling bay lighthouse -CG base calling bay lighthouse -come in bay lighthouse Paul leaves the toast in the toaster and walks out of shot towards the main room. CUT TO 23 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. MORNING Paul is sitting at the radio. PAUL CG base this is bay lighthouse VOICE ON RADIO Bay lighthouse this is a radio check PAUL Loud and clear CG base VOICE ON RADIO Any problems your end bay? PAUL No problems (pause) I hear the place may be haunted though VOICE ON RADIO (slight laugh in voice) Depends on who you talk to ..... some of the locals have tales to tell ..... oooooohhhhh PAUL (laughing) Thanks, I feel better now -- bay lighthouse out (pause) Fuck! the toast Paul runs to ..... CUT TO 23

12.

24

INT. KITCHEN MORNING Paul rushes into shot and stops dead in his tracks. The toast he left in the toaster is buttered and on a plate, there is an open jar of jam next to it. PAUL (totally confused) What the ..... fuck (cont’d) Paul picks up a piece of toast and looks at it oddly, examining both sides. this is just getting too weird Paul is startled by a noise outside - is it something or someone running? Paul is in two minds, does he run outside towards the unknown or does he stay safely inside. He moves slowly towards the door, opens it and looks cautiously out. He sees nothing. As Paul turns back to the room he notices faint, muddy footprints on the concrete step just outside the door. They are small and faint but they are definitely footprints.

24

Paul looks around nervously. A wind is starting to build up and trees and bushes are swaying and rustling and it is drizzling slightly. Paul jumps back inside and slams the door closed. PAUL Shit! (long pause) stay calm, don’t imagine things that aren’t there (cont’d) He looks around a little sheepishly. Who am I talking to? (pause) and why am I asking myself that? Paul slowly opens the door again. If there were any footprints the drizzle has washed them away. He has one more look around then slowly closes the door and moves back into the kitchen. FADE TO

13.

25

INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT Wind is blowing in the background and rain is spattering on the windows.

25

Paul is standing in the middle of the room, looking around as if he is not sure what he should be doing. He walks to the window and peers out.Paul’s P.O.V. the blackness of the night outside and rain running down the window pane. CUT TO 26 EXT. LIGHTHOUSE. NIGHT Wind is blowing and rain is coming down. There i a flash of lightning and a clap of thunder. bits of loose debris are blowing and tumbling across the ground. We see Paul’s face reflected in the window. CUT TO 27 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT 27 26

Paul is startled by the sound of a door slamming. He spins around quickly, his eyes darting around the room as he back towards the window. The door slams again and Paul jumps in fright. He slowly, carefully makes his way to the front door, checks it - it’s locked. The door slams again and there is a crash as something falls over. PAUL Shit! CUT TO 28 INT. KITCHEN. NIGHT Paul enters shot and moves slowly to the kitchen door it’s locked. A door slams again behind him. He jumps sideways and stumbles over a pair of his shoes next to the door, falling to the floor. Paul, laying on the floor, looks over at the broom cupboard, concerned. (CONTINUED) 28

CONTINUED: (2) ANGLE ON the broom cupboard, CLOSING IN on the door handle. ANGLE ON Paul, CLOSING IN on his face.

14.

WIDER SHOT as he gets up slowly and moves very tentatively towards the cupboard. He pauses at the door then pulls it open quickly. He screams a little guttural scream as something or something jumps on him. Paul falls backwards onto the floor and struggles with ..... the floor mop that had fallen on him. He jumps to his feet and throws the mop across the room, then puts the boot in to make sure that the mop is no longer a threat. PAUL (breathless) Bloody hell! Paul looks at the broom cupboard again and his eyes spring wide open in shock. He sees a hand poking out from under a small pile of cloth and assorted odds and ends on the shelf in the cupboard. Paul picks up the mop and edges his way towards the cupboard, fighting the urge to run screaming out the door. He pokes the hand with the mop handle. The hand falls off the shelf along with the pile of odds and ends. Paul screams again and jumps back - then he inspects the grisly find a little closer - it is a mannequin’s arm half hidden under some cloth, an old wig and a couple of hats. Paul picks up the arm and looks at it, totally confused. We hear the sound of a door opening then slamming in the other room. Paul spins around, a terrified look on his face. CUT TO 29 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT The kitchen door opens a little and Paul pokes his head around, his wide eyes darting around the room. Paul slowly moves into the room. He catches a fleeting glimpse of a young girl through the window before ..... (CONTINUED) 29

CONTINUED: (2)

15.

Blackness - the lights go out. Paul makes soft, guttural noises as he drops to the floor and crawls behind the sofa. His breathing is heavy. He strikes a match bathing his face in an eerie glow. Paul crawls to the sideboard, opens a drawer and fumbles around until he finds a candle, takes it out and lights it. Eerie shadows flicker across the room. We FOLLOW Paul as he walks into ..... CUT TO 30 INT. KITCHEN. NIGHT Paul locates the fuse box, checks the fuses and replaces the blown fuse. The lights flicker back on. He blows out the candle and sits at the table, his hands are shaking. PAUL Jesus, get a grip (pause) Shit (pause) shit Paul jumps to his feet and runs into ..... 31 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT 31 30

Paul stares out the window, searching for what he thought he saw. PAUL (not convinced) No ..... it was just shadows (cont’d) He rests his forehead against the window Shit FADE TO

16.

32

INT. KITCHEN. NIGHT

32

Paul is making a cup of coffee and rain continues outside. He stands for a while at the kitchen window before carrying his coffee into the main room. CUT TO 33 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT 33

As Paul enters the room he notices that the front door is wide open and rain is blowing in. He stands transfixed. PAUL (a touch of panic) That was locked (pause) I checked it (cont’d) Paul walks to the open door and peers tentatively out into the darkness. The chill wind and rain send a shiver through him. He closes the door. What the fuck is going on? Paul sits on the sofa drinking his coffee, spilling it as he is startled by the floor boards creaking overhead. CUT TO 34 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. STAIRS. NIGHT 34

Paul is cautiously making his way up the stairs, carrying the mannequin’s arm. PAUL (very tentative) Hello (pause) Hello (pause) Who’s there (cont’d) Paul raises the mannequin’s arm a little. I’m armed CUT TO

17. 35 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. BEDROOM DOOR. NIGHT Paul stands at the door for a period of time, then pulls the door open and flicks the light on. CUT TO 36 INT. PAUL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT The room is empty but the window is open. Paul shivers as he closes the window then, almost as an afterthought, looks under the bed. Nothing there. FADE TO 37 INT. LIGHTHOUSE. MAIN ROOM. NIGHT Paul is sitting on the sofa clutching an old golf club. His eyes are darting around the room and he jumps at any slight noise he may hear. The floor creaks, something scratches at the window, there is a thump in the kitchen. We see a young girl framed in the window behind Paul. The lights flicker. FADE TO 38 EXT. THE ISLAND. CLIFF TOP. DAY 38 37 36 35

Paul is standing on the top of the cliff looking out to sea. He takes a deep breath sucking in the fresh sea air. PAUL I’ve never been so glad to see the sun (pause) what a night (cont’d) Paul shades his eyes and scans the horizon. What’s keeping that boat? (pause) two hours they said (pause) two hours too long for me Paul hears a twig snapping behind him. He spins around and sees a young girl. She is wearing a torn dress and is very dirty with mud matted through her hair. There is a wild, insane look in her eyes. (CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2)

18.

She starts laughing and moves towards Paul. Paul edges backwards. There is something about the girl that chills him to his soul. The girl is almost sneering as she closes in on Paul. Paul steps back again, one step too far. He stumbles, looses his balance and falls backwards over the cliff. The young girl walks slowly to the edge of the cliff and looks over. CUT TO 39 EXT. BOTTOM OF THE CLIFF. DAY Paul is laying, twisted on the rocks. The Boatman walks slowly into shot and squats down next to Paul’s body. BOATMAN Sorry pal ..... all I wanted to do was scare you off ..... but you were in the way (pause) A couple of weeks later and you would have been ok (cont’d) The CAMERA DRAWS BACK and we see two men loading boxes onto a small boat. The young girl is standing with them. She is cleaner now. There is a lot of money tied up in the gear we are making here ..... and we really can’t disappoint our buyers (cont’d) The boatman stands up. Anyway ..... a suicide on this shithole won’t surprise anyone He walks towards the jetty. DIRECTOR (O/S) Cut (cont’d) The boatman stops walking, Paul sits up and the director walks into shot. Ok ..... let’s try one more CAMERA DRAWS BACK and we see a soundman and cameraman. FADE TO BLACK 39

(CONTINUED)

CONTINUED: (2)

19.

VOICE (O/S) It’ll have to be quick ..... me brother wants his camera back by five CLOSING CREDITS ROLL

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