Movies Magazine

The Remorsefuls - a Short Film Script I Wrote

Posted on the 13 June 2014 by Georgewhite @georgew28573812
We open on a LANDSCAPE SHOT of a misty,almost foggy morning, on an island, INIS BÁS (pronounced Boss), a marvellously Gothic, windswept coastline, jagged, both beautiful and yet at the time terribly ugly and grotesque. It is lined with Victorian seaside terraced cottages, and a large garish yellow, slate-roofed BOARDING HOUSE, placed behind a green lawn promenade, neatly cut. The promenade gives rise  to a rocky, storm-lashed beach, the few layers of sand cut into daggers of white detritus. Ramshackle wooden beach huts act as a defence against the waves.
TRACKING SHOT - We follow along the coastline, a 1950s-built HEARSE, long, low, gull-wing shaped lights at the back. The HEARSE is painted a luminous, reflective black. It is carrying a ramshackle, badly made, wooden coffin, nails sticking out of every end. It is driven by MARSTON, a thirty-odd, inexperienced, jug-eared unassuming chauffeur/undertaker. We follow the HEARSE until it stops at a seaside building, "THE DEAD INN", at first seemingly a pub, but in fact an overall funeral home, a combined mausoleum/crematorium/mortuary.
MARSTON parks the HEARSE outside. Out of THE DEAD INN, rises a twittering, gossiping, lank-haired, rotund housekeeper, MRS. GOLDING. She has the overall shape of a hen struggling to carry her many eggs, and has at the end of her nose, a pair of precariously balanced gold-rimmed pince-nez spectacles.
MRS. GOLDING (full of energy, fast-talking)
Marston, is she dead, is she dead? Thank heavens if she is, the auld bint deserved it in all of her miserable misery--stricken years, the poor auld bint, God bless her!  
MARSTON (solemn)
I'm afraid so, Mrs. Golding. Natural causes, it seems.
MRS. GOLDING (gossipy, blesses herself, then takes a peek at the casket)
Well, she was a sour auld cow at the best of times, wasn't she? Ooh, was she bathing in the sea?
MARSTON (scratches his head)
How do I know?  She was found in her cottage, dead in her bed.
CUT - We see THE WIDOW MCNAMEE'S corpse in the casket, a silver-haired, sour-faced old woman in her nineties. She has a dull expression placed on her face, dressed in black Victorian ladies' mourning gear, with fungal seaweed hanging off the chest area of her blouse, busily rotting.
MARSTON (shocked)
Well, Holy  God!
MARSTON does a perfect prat-fall into unconsciousness. MRS. GOLDING rears her head into view. She merely tut-tuts and walks off. Out rises DUGGAN, the fussy, dirty-faced grey-haired, Head Undertaker. He is clad in flat cap and mud-covered overalls. He looks as if he has had his worst day ever. He seems very grumpy, curmudgeonly, pressure-packed into anger.
DUGGAN (gruff)
So, the stiffs got that old saddo suicidal bitch, eh? Thank God the angels did some right for a moment! Marston, get up, boy, we're in the money!
MRS. GOLDING (disproving)
Now then, one must be happy about one's death. We can express our hatred at the deceased, but we cannot say that we are in your words, "in the money"! Anyway, send the coroner, mercy be!
DUGGAN (nods)
Yes, I see.
CUT - Inside the dank basement, black and white tiles and flaking beige-painted walls of the FUNERAL HOME, we see a determined-looking DUGGAN, nosily inspecting the coffin. He removes a few nails here and there, while a newly-revived MARSTON in the corner, lying at the edge of a wall is seen, chirpily whistling.
DUGGAN (gruff, determined)
MARSTON (chirpy, passes a blunted scalpel)
DUGGAN (analyses the scalpel while holding/rotating it, looks contemplative)
It may be dashed and blunted, but it will do, thanks.
MARSTON (leans over coffin, while DUGGAN uses the scalpel to cut the seaweed off the WIDOW's chest)
Why is she wearing eye-liner?
DUGGAN (stuffy)
Ah, leave it out, will you? The Widow McNamee was not one for dolling herself up. You should know that.
CLOSE-UP - We see rings of thick black eye-liner around the dull eyes of the pale, deathly WIDOW MCNAMEE.
DUGGAN (taken aback, checks watch)
Well, holly be good, this takes the biscuit! She's only gone mouldy, when the bloody coroner's hasn't turned up, cos he's bloody late!
MARSTON (oddly intellectual)
When the pale winds blow from the surface of the moon, all that will be left is rotten flesh given life once more by the very hairs of a miracle.
DUGGAN (impressed)
By the way, that is good philosophical rhyming, my lad. Is that Yeats by any chance?
MARSTON (suddenly pale, sinister)
No, it is my very own composition.
MARSTON rears up towards DUGGAN, who looks threatened.
DUGGAN (nervous)
You're impacting on my personal space!
MARSTON merely breathes over DUGGAN and slowly steps back.
CUT - On  windswept, Gothic GRAVEYARD, hung precariously at the very edges of a cliff, a small stone chapel in the distance. We see a few MOURNERS, mostly elderly people clad in black period costumes. They are gathered around the open plot in which the coffin that contains THE WIDOW MCNAMEE resides. Some MOURNERS cannot hide their joy at the death of THE WIDOW MCNAMEE. A tall, prominently-nosed, quite regal priest, a shock of greying red hair atop his head and wearing milk-bottle spectacles, FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH  presides over the ceremony.
FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH (rural Irish, humbling, slightly nervous)
Mrs. Peig McNamee lived a very private life. SO, therefore little details are known of her life. We know that she never once left the island. She felt that if she was born here, and she was, that she should die here. And she did.
SHOUTING CHILD'S VOICE (loud, rough, uncultured)
Serves her right  for all the misery that she caused!
FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH (taken aback, deadpan)
Steady now, young Cantwell. What we do know was that Peig was the only daughter of Pascal O'Murphy and his wife Breeta. Aged seventeen, she mistakenly believed that she was pregnant to Tomas McNamee, the son of a local farmer. In a whirlwind romance, they married the week after, but a year later, no baby having arrived, their nonetheless happy, blissful marriage was struck by a momentous tragedy. Tomas was killed in an accident involving a steamroller, while participating in the Inis Bás ploughing championships. For all those who are wondering, he was in fact the driver of the most unfortunate veh-hick-ill ever to set foot or wheel on this island. For the past eighty years, poor Peig, now forever to be known as the Widow McNamee wanted to die, but knew that suicide would forbid her from going on the passage to Heaven. So, she waited, and so she did. Finally, last night, she got her wish.  Anyone else got anything else to say?
CROWD (including MARSTON and DUGGAN)
FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH (displeased, disappointed)
Very well, then, you may all leave!
DUGGAN(walks up to FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH. He looks unusually ill and pale.
Eh, Father Cavanaugh, shall we bury or cremate the auld hag? The coroner was held up on the mainland.
FATHER CAVANAUGH (shrugs, gives a slightly disturbed, despairing sideways glance)
Eh, whatever is easiest, I suppose! Cremation, then! It won't be much. After all, she has no living relatives whatsoever.
DUGGAN nods and walks off.
We see a cramped dining room, a lobby desk at the back. Walls are painted buttercup yellow. There is electric lighting, a novelty on the primitive island. We see the proprietress of the BOARDING HOUSE, MRS. REYNOLDS. She is tall, bony and plain, like a starved ostrich. She has a flat face offset by a hooked nose, dyed black hair in a high pyramidal bun and she is dressed in languid purple Victorian evening dress. She is monosyllabic at best, a craven wife, her husband lost at sea. She is currently spooning out porridge on a trolley to various indifferent, mostly elderly BOARDING HOUSE RESIDENTS, including the slightly relaxed MRS. GOLDING.
MRS. GOLDING (pleased)
Thank you, Mrs. Reynolds.
MRS. REYNOLDS (gruffly snobbish, nods)
You are mostly welcome.
MRS. GOLDING (curious)
Any sign of the husband?
MRS. REYNOLDS (outraged but trying not to show she is outraged, clipped)
Oh, no, he is still missing at sea, after his fishing boat hit the rock on which the lighthouse is situated. At least, we have my eldest daughter's marriage to look forward to.
MRS. GOLDING (smiling)
Ah yes, especially if it is a happy marriage! I hope it won't end like the Widow McNamee and her husband's marriage! At least, they are together.
Yes, Zazel is looking forward to be with her husband.
MRS. GOLDING (curious)
Who is he? It's not young Marston, is it?
MRS. REYNOLDS (laughing)
No, it's Aldous Highly, one of the English lads at the radio mast.
CUT - We see the two REYNOLDS GIRLS, the brown-haired ZAZEL, nineteen, brown-haired, long, still a virgin, but somewhat world-weary, slightly stuck-up, very much under her mother's wing, and her youngest sister, AMBROSIA (or AMB), sixteen, reddish-brown hair in bunches, dressed very childishly in an oversized dress, very much innocent but more of a free spirit. They are in a plain bedroom. They sleep in a bunk-bed in the corner. The room is swathed in floral flock wallpaper. There is a big wardrobe full of dresses. ZAZEL pulls out a flouncy white dress.
ZAZEL (worrying)
Do you think this is nice?
AMBROSIA (slightly underwhelmed)
I suppose so.
You don't like it?
AMBROSIA (shrugs)
Well, it's your dress.
ZAZEL (sighs)
I know, but I do need some sisterly advice, you know.
It's your choice.
ZAZEL (unsure)
Oh-kay, for the moment, it is mine, but...
AMBROSIA (picking up her sister's words to continue the sentence)
If you see another dress that you prefer, you'll choose that.
ZAZEL (enthusiastic)
MRS. REYNOLDS (shouting from downstairs)
AMBROSIA (nervous)
She wants me!
ZAZEL (tired)
Right, go down! She needs you. Goodbye!
CUT - AMBROSIA is in the MAIN ROOM, where she bumps into her mother, MRS. REYNOLDS.
MRS. REYNOLDS (pleasant)
Ah, Ambrosia, please go to the harbor please?
Yes. Is this because of the carnival arriving?
MRS. REYNOLDS (nods, painting her own fingernails)
Yes, darling, they need to be escorted. Be a good girl, will you, please?
AMBROSIA (nodding and walking off)
Yes, Mother!
AMBROSIA walks off.
CUT - We see AMBROSIA walking through the fog, wearing a big coat over her dress. She passes a large RADIO MAST. We see a bearded, hippyish technician in scarf and duffel coat, HINDHAUGH, a gray tea-cosy hat covering his brown hair.
HINDHAUGH (friendly, Yorkshire accent)
Hello, Ambrosia!
AMBROSIA (pleased)
Hello, Mr. Hindhaugh, where's Aldous?
You can call me Amos, but Aldous is doing research. Into the weed?
AMBROSIA (confused)
Weed, what weed?
HINDHAUGH (matter of fact)
The widow McNamee or whatever her name is, they found her dead, covered in weed!
AMBROSIA (shouting, as wind blows)
I knew she was dead, but I didn't know the cause. Thanks for telling me, Amos.
HINDHAUGH (smiling)
You're welcome! I see you are waiting for someone.
Yes, the carnival are coming!
HINDHAUGH (laughing)
That'll be fun. I need to go into the cabin to tune the signal. Goodbye!
AMBROSIA (waving away)
AMBROSIA is left alone in the fog, when HINDHAUGH disappears beyond the masses of fog. We hear a ship's foghorn.
ALDOUS (cheering, barely seen beyond the fog, upper-class twit)
It's your ship, Ambrosia, the carnival are on it. The SS Montreal!
AMBROSIA (surprised)
ALDOUS rises out. He is a bespectacled, scarf-wearing posh twit who were spectacles with thick black frames. He is dressed like some weedy Oxbridge college boy. He had wet matted black hair.
ALDOUS (rising out)
Yes, look above!
We see the front of the old-style ocean liner, the SS MONTREAL peaking through the fog.
AMBROSIA (happy)
You visiting Zazel? You're not supposed to see the bride the day before the wedding.
ALDOUS (wry)
It's two days.
AMBROSIA (confused)
Are you?
ALDOUS (genial)
No, a British yacht has washed up on the other side. It is apparently a party of doctors on a holiday. I need to help them.
AMBROSIA (confused)
Why, what is wrong?
ALDOUS (worried)
More signs of the same illness that the Widow McNamee died of. Black eyes.
AMBROSIA (wiping the sweat off her brow)
Is there a cure?
ALDOUS (deadpan)
That is why we need the doctors. Quick, you lead the carnival troop back safely, and tell your sister that I'll try to get back as soon as possible. It may take a while, maybe more than a day. Goodbye.
AMBROSIA is left stunned as ALDOUS walks backwards slowly into the fog. Suddenly, out of the fog rise THE HILTON SISTERS, two dark-haired conjoined twin girls wearing the same yellow dress with a white ribbon around it. They have one hand each, and in each hand is a single battered brown leather suitcase.
AMBROSIA (pleasantly surprised)
Are you the Hilton Sisters?
THE HILTON SISTERS (in unison, with almost the same voice, in broad Cockney accent)
Yes, we are. You must be the hotel proprietress' daughter.
AMBROSIA (pleased)
Yes, yes, I am Ambrosia, and I will take you to the, well, it's not really a hotel, more of a boarding house.
THE HILTON SISTERS (again in unison)
Don't go yet, wait for the others! You haven't seen Glorious Graham and the wrestlers!
Suddenly, GLORIOUS GRAHAM rises out, an ultra-flamboyant wrestler of Indian descent, in a shaggy blond wig, wearing nothing but a pair of glittery green feather boa-like underpants, a white fur coat and silver moon-boots.
Hello, everyone!
AMBROSIA (taken aback)
Hello, eh, handsome!
Soon, a dwarfish JESTER in red ruffed outfit and bell-clad hat jumps out, followed by a unicyclist, a tall, lean, moustachioed MEXICAN JUGGLER and a BUS full of CIRCUS/CARNIVAL ENTERTAINERS. They march across the muddy, foggy HARBOUR FLOOR, and get their colourful costumes messed up. AMBROSIA blows a whistle and leads them towards the BOARDING HOUSE.
CUT - We see MRS. REYNOLDS feeding the hungry, delighted CARNIVAL ACTS porridge. THE HILTON SISTERS are feeding each other with spoons of porridge. GLORIOUS GRAHAM is wrestling with another older, bald wrestler, PRINCE JOHN, a hulking bronzed, bald African wearing a paper crown on his head and golden boxer shorts. MRS. REYNOLDS looks overjoyed. ZAZEL is manning the lobby.
ZAZEL (on the phone to ALDOUS)
Yes, I've grown to love my dress, but we haven't found a dress for my sister. (Awkward pause). Yes, Ambrosia needs a dress, Aldous.
AMBROSIA (shouting to ZAZEL)
I want my dress to be long and pink and all satin and lovely and comfortable, you know, very nice.
ZAZEL (nods,to ALDOUS on the phone)
Yes, she is here. She wants her dress to be long and pink and satin and lovely and comfortable, you know, very nice. Oh, I see. There's one waiting in postage.
AMBROSIA (calling)
Who is it from?
ZAZEL (curious, still on the phone)
Who is it from, she wants to know. (Brief pause) Who? Uncle Ralph? What, Mother's older brother, Ralph Carnehan? The film director? Oh, of course, he is coming! That is so kind of him!
AMBROSIA (briefly punches the air)
Yes! Mum, Uncle Ralph is coming over for the wedding.
MRS. REYNOLDS (slightly surprised)  
Oh, really? Well, that is good, I suppose. I did think that he was making strange little movies as an actor in Italy to fund the films he wants to make, not the films that the studios want.
ZAZEL (briefly goes off the phone)
It's a family wedding, Mum.
MRS. REYNOLDS (rolls her eyes)
Suddenly, MARSTON runs in, looking worried. MRS. GOLDING runs out.
MRS. GOLDING (twittering)
What is it? What's happened?
MARSTON (shakes head)
We shouldn't have cremated the Widow McNamee.
AMBROSIA (in the background)
MARSTON (freaking out)
The ashes in the air are turning us into things.
MRS. GOLDING (confused)
What do you mean?
MARSTON (mind racing, wandering about, briefly flirts with HILTON SISTERS)
Black-eyes, as if the eye-liner is on their eyes, pale pallor, lack of emotion, they nearly got me! They got Duggan, and they got Father Nuaillain Cavanaugh too!
MARSTON then gets involved with PRINCE JOHN
You stepped on Prince John's territory.
MARSTON (looks up)
Really? Which one is he?
PRINCE JOHN (hands on hips)
I am him and he is me!
PRINCE JOHN picks up MARSTON. Behind him fog pours out of a window. The now entirely grey-haired FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH walks in, his glasses fogged up with steam, obscuring his eyes.
MRS. GOLDING (shocked)
Father Cavanaugh, you've changed!
Hello, at last, I am welcome in here to the house of sordid lives! (Looks around) Sorry, wrong house, Mrs. Reynolds!
PRINCE JOHN pushes FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH out by throwing MARSTON at him, where we hear screams.
AMBROSIA (horrified)
Marston was safe.
PRINCE JOHN (laughing, thick African accent)
Yes, but there were rings developing on his eyes! He wouldn't be safe for long, girly!
Suddenly, FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH rises up, his glasses broken to reveal that his eyes are actually solid black, not just with eye-liner. His eyeballs are completely black, no pupils or anything.
ZAZEL (slamming down the phone, conceited-sounding)
What do you want?
This island, it's people, the perfect start of a new Golden Age!
Shut up with that religious bollocks, Father Cavanaugh!
I am not Father Cavanaugh, at least not any more.
AMBROSIA (confused)
What happened?
The weed, when cremated got into the air freeing the spirits within! We are the Old Ones. We were here before you, we were here before the dawn of time. However, the volcanoes came and the oceans poured out of the Earth's core and they eroded us into a single clump of seaweed.
PRINCE JOHN (confused)
Why did you wait until now?
We were trapped beneath the sea. We had to be washed up, piece by piece until we were united. And cremated, we were able to spread our consciousness.
MRS. REYNOLDS (confused)
Did you kill the Widow McNamee?
We needed a willing vessel. What we want is to force humanity into slavery to serve us our needs.
ZAZEL (crept out, runs out)
Yes, I need to go now. Slavery is not my duty.
Ah, the girl is reluctant!
AMBROSIA (calm, collected)
You're freaking her out, you know.
Suddenly, as ZAZEL leaves, a car pulls up against the window, its hood ornament skewering FATHER NUAILLAIN CAVANAUGH. Out gets RALPH CARNEHAN, an elderly but lucid, and active JOHN HUSTON-type director, wearing a waistcoat over a polo-neck jumper, white-bearded, holding a whip in one hand and a parcel in the other.
AMBROSIA (surprised)
Uncle Ralph?
RALPH CARNEHAN (friendly, Irish-American)
Ah, Ambrosia, where's your sister?
She's outside. What's the parcel?
RALPH CARNEHAN (taking out a satiny pink bridesmaid dress out of the parcel)
It's your dress.
AMBROSIA has a glistening smile across her face.
We see a suitably gothic-looking ZAZEL, walking out, her dress covered in splattering remains of rain and soot. She runs towards ALDOUS, clad in a big coat, standing in the blistering rain and swirling fog.
ZAZEL (relieved)
Aldous, oh it is terrible!
ALDOUS (calm, collected)
What. that the only priest on the isle is dead?
ZAZEL (surprised)
Yes, how do you know?
ALDOUS (genial)
News spreads fast on this island.
ZAZEL (sobbing, melodramatic, embracing ALDOUS)
Yes, but what can we do now?
ALDOUS (thoughtful)
We have each other, at least.
Suddenly, as ALDOUS and ZAZEL embrace, ALDOUS is pulled by his scarf through the fog. We hear the screaming. Suddenly, his body falls forward. His neck has snapped in the attempted attack, spraying brown Marmite-coloured blood. ZAZEL is left a sobbing wreck. A black-eyed HINDHAUGH, skidding on the mud falls out of the fog. His head falls down only to be immediately caught by a hand. The CAMERA goes up to reveal that AMBROSIA, dressed in a pink, satiny bridesmaid dress, a flower of crowns in her loose red hair.
ZAZEL (surprised)
AMBROSIA (smiling)
ZAZEL (confused)
Why are you dressed in your bridesmaid dress?
AMBROSIA (disturbingly cheery)
Trying it out for size. Uncle Ralph is here. Maybe he can help.
RALPH CARNEHAN (standing out against the fog)
Can I?
ZAZEL (thinking)
There's a fishing boat full of English doctors on the other side of the island. We need their help, and they need our help. They're trapped.
I think we can help them. They are not quite dead. Their souls are out of conscious. They are duplicates, like pod people. We need to find their weaknesses.
AMBROSIA (suddenly thinking)
Heat. Why are they in the ice? Cold water attracted them here, brought them here, carried them here. Heat waves didn't!
Good thinking out of the box! Plus we have to get the carnival folk out of the island. If there's enough room in the fishing boat, we may have a chance!
PRINCE JOHN (walks out)
We could use Morse code to communicate with the stranded doctors, that is if they know Morse Code.
RALPH CARNEHAN (impressed)
Excellent idea, you and the other wrestler could help lift the ship! Can you two swim?
PRINCE JOHN (a broad smile gleaming across his face)
I can. Graham probably can.
MRS. REYNOLDS (standing outside)
Brother, what do you want?
Set up a light projector out of the slightly broken window towards the other side of the island.
MRS. REYNOLDS nods. She goes into the BOARDING HOUSE.
CUT - RALPH CARNEHAN takes out a cigarette, smokes and throws the burning stub on the ground. It sparks onto the unconscious head of AMOS HINDHAUGH and  makes him paler and paler until he is invisible.
RALPH CARNEHAN (slightly soothing)
Well, at least, it works, kind of.
ZAZEL (sobbing)
I'll never get my Aldous back.
We need electric lighting here. That will be my dowry for a wedding that will never happen, but a funeral that will happen.
PRINCE JOHN (smiling)
We have a fire-breather on board. Violet Hilton!
CUT - Suddenly, we see the conjoined HILTON SISTERS, VIOLET on the right is burping a large arrow of flame, which shoots through a row of pale mourners.
HILTON SISTERS (in unison, Cockney)
That stops those remorseful bastards!
Suddenly, there is an explosion in the background, and there is silence. MARSTON appears, the projector running through the window. He vanishes.
ZAZEL (walking over, touches the window to find that MARSTON is evaporated)
Do you know what that explosion was?
The doctors' ship, they died, but they sacrificed themselves.
Everyone pauses solemnly to remember.
AMBROSIA (suddenly cheery)
At least, we can continue the carnival!
The survivors turn. GLORIOUS GRAHAM and PRINCE JOHN hug. MRS. REYNOLDS pats her daughters' backs.
MRS. GOLDING (rising out)
I'm out of a job, then.
MRS. REYNOLDS (somewhat out of character, mellowed)
You can work for me!
MRS. GOLDING lets out a cheer.

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