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  • Writer's pictureSacha Allen

Script Coverage

Type: Screenplay Title:

Number of Pages: 99 Author:

Submitted by: Location: New York

Submitted to: Genre: Drama, Mystery

Analyst: Sacha Allen Date: 09/06/2020


LOGLINE: When a college freshman who suffers from blackouts after a traumatic childhood accident is accused of murdering her roommate, she must go on the run and clear her name with the help of the victim’s boyfriend.


RECOMMENDATION: Consider

SYNOPSIS:

A young blonde girl swims in a pool. She’s running out of air but the pool cover is trapping her underwater. As the girl starts to panic, TAYLOR (18) jerks awake in the passenger seat of her mom JACLYN’s (42) car. They’ve just arrived on Taylor’s college campus for freshmen move-in day. As they’re moving Taylor’s belongings into a small dorm room, STELLA (18) walks in and immediately complains about having a roommate. Jaclyn reminds a reluctant Taylor to take her medication. VALERIE (18) and MAI (18), the girls’ suitemates, come in through their shared bathroom to introduce themselves.


On the other side of campus, GAVIN (18) moves into his dorm with the help of his dad RAY (52), the head of campus security. When they’re done unpacking, Ray hugs Gavin and says that he’s proud of him for overcoming his difficult past. As Taylor finishes moving in, she recognizes a girl with dark make-up and matching tattoos, REBECCA (18), from a place called Bates. Jaclyn tells Taylor to befriend her more welcoming roommates instead and reminds her to be careful since a student was killed three years ago.


Stella, Mai, and Valerie join Taylor on the elevator one night as they return from a party that Taylor wasn’t invited to. The elevator gets momentarily stuck and Taylor has a panic attack in front of a group of students. She takes her medication before going to bed that night and is hurt when she overhears Stella complaining about how embarrassing the attack was. Over lunch, Stella gossips about Rebecca with her friend and Rebecca’s roommate, RACHEL. Taylor passes them while looking for a place to sit and ends up sitting with Rebecca, who has no interest in talking to her and leaves.


In the library that night, Taylor emails Rebecca apologizing for upsetting her and offering to be friends. She exchanges glances with a cute boy and, flustered, forgets her phone on the table when she leaves. The boy, Gavin, returns her phone. The two barely introduce themselves before Stella, Gavin’s girlfriend, intervenes. Taylor and Gavin meet again in Taylor’s dorm as he waits for Stella. They talk about an attractive professor that he and Stella had over the summer, and whose study groups raised Stella’s grade. Stella bursts into the room and turns on Taylor, accusing her of trying to steal Gavin. Valerie and Mai overhear the fight from the bathroom and Stella implies that she sold Taylors pills for money. Taylor says that she could kill Stella and runs from the room.


The next day, Taylor is upset about the fight with Stella and has a panic attack when the attractive professor, ELLIOT HAWTHORNE (33), tries to comfort her. She blacks out in her dorm and wakes up to find Stella stabbed to death. Valerie and Mai take a compromising picture of Taylor holding the knife. Panicking, Taylor pulls the fire alarm as a cover to get out of the building. Two DETECTIVES, MARCUS FORBES (33) and his partner PHIL LENNOX (28), arrive on the scene. Forbes undermines Ray, saying that the investigation will be too much stress on his weak heart.


Later, Forbes interrogates Gavin as a suspect given his violent past and the fact that he could’ve had access to the murder weapon, a carving knife, through his job in the cafeteria. Ray intervenes and lends Gavin his truck to go pick up some food. As he’s leaving campus, Gavin runs into Taylor and decides to help her escape to Ray’s remote cabin. Ray sneaks off to the cabin to try and bring Taylor and Gavin in, but Taylor steals Ray’s gun while he’s distracted. She and Gavin escape in Ray’s campus security car. They check into a rundown motel with an unsettling taxidermist NIGHT MANAGER (30’s). The next morning, Taylor explains that a childhood drowning incident is the reason behind her panic attacks.


During a news interview, Jaclyn is adamant that Taylor is innocent. Ray tries to defend Gavin, but his history of assault and the video of him leaving the crime scene are revealed. Taylor becomes suspicious of Gavin after watching the broadcast and tries to escape. Gavin finds her and confesses that he was acting suspicious because he was cheating on Stella with Valerie. Back on campus, Ray talks to Rebecca. A series of flashbacks reveals that Stella bullied her when she found out that Rebecca was sent to Bates after giving birth to a baby that died at her junior prom, but Rebecca denies murdering Stella. Later, Rebecca’s roommate Rachel enters their dorm to find that Rebecca has committed suicide and left an apology note, which Forbes and Lennox take as a confession.


Taylor and Gavin realize that Elliot could be a suspect and decide to break into his house to look for evidence. Taylor finds Elliot’s journal, where he’s written fantasies about killing Stella. He comes home sooner than expected and knocks them out, locking Taylor in a trunk. Moments later, Ray comes to interrogate Elliot. Taylor screams just as Ray is leaving, spurring a fight that Ray loses as he succumbs to a heart attack. Elliot throws Taylor, inside the trunk, into the pool. She escapes, stabs Elliot in the neck, and they both fall into the water. Elliot tries to drown Taylor and has almost won when Ray suddenly emerges and shoots him in the head.


A flash-forward finds Taylor, Gavin, Jaclyn and Ray enjoying Thanksgiving together. Jaclyn explains that she had to buy a new carving knife for the turkey after the old one went dull. Taylor drops the knife in shock as she realizes that it looks exactly like the murder weapon. She has a flashback to when she was seven years old and complaining to Jaclyn that a LITTLE GIRL by the pool was bullying her. Jaclyn demands that the girl apologize, but she refuses. The girl dives into the pool and Jaclyn closes the pool cover over her. A concerned Little Taylor tries to warn Jaclyn that the girl is trapped but, as the girl drowns, Jaclyn tells Taylor not to worry anymore. In the present day, Taylor stands shocked as Jaclyn, with a smile, uses her new carving knife on the Thanksgiving turkey.


COMMENTS:

This film is a murder mystery with plenty of false leads and surprising twists. It follows Taylor, a lonely college freshman prone to panic attacks who is accused of murdering her roommate. The characters and dialogue of this film are sometimes clichéd, but the premise and plot will entertain audiences.


The premise and plot of this film draw comparisons to the Psycho (1959) character Norman Bates and his subsequent portrayals. Taylor attended Bates Institute for her psychological problems and has panic-induced blackouts that stem from childhood trauma. In a more overt reference, she and Gavin meet a creepy taxidermist who manages a motel. When Jaclyn is revealed as the killer, the concept of an overprotective mother willing to murder for her child emphasizes the Psycho reference. This film presents the classic with an interesting twist that portrays the mother herself committing the murders rather than a dissociative Taylor.


While the premise and plot make the story engaging, the characters are somewhat one dimensional. Only the protagonist, Taylor, has a mysterious past that serves to spur her emotional change at the end of the film. Other characters with backstories, such as Gavin’s juvenile crimes and Ray’s cop experience and heart problems, don’t add much depth or motivation to their actions. Other characters like Stella and the detectives are stereotypical. Some of the dialogue is clichéd, such as when Gavin questions, “What are you going to do, shoot me?” and doesn’t reveal many character traits.


The film contains a number of surprising reveals. At the very end, the audience realizes along with Taylor that Jaclyn killed Stella. Immediately after this, a flashback reveals that the panic attacks and drowning nightmares that have haunted Taylor throughout the film are not about her own drowning, but that of a girl who she watched drown at the hands of her mother. Because of its college setting, this film may appeal to audiences under the age of 25 as well as those who enjoy plot rather than character-driven stories. While contrived at times, this film ultimately engages audiences with its interesting premise and new take on a beloved thriller.


Image courtesy of Unsplash

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