Episode 15: Trying Christmas
Host Jon's notes from his Episode 15 pitch:
We open on an elderly woman lying in bed and her jaw drops open lifelessly. There is a time lapse as we see night turn in to the morning and people come in to the room and try and wake her but she is sadly already dead. Her family stand round the bed as normal speed is resumed. The camera pans from her dead face round to her family at the end of the bed, there are several grieving adults with a few children, whose reactions range from bewildered to indifferent.
Various medical professionals come to take the body away while the family watch on. Some of the younger children are taken out for the day by the husbands of the deceased’s two daughters, it is a week before Christmas. Anna, the daughter whose house it is, excuses herself for a cigarette whilst her sister begins to strip the bed. The ghost of the dead woman stands beside Anna, tuts at her smoking but puts her ghostly arm around her daughter.
The new matriarch of the family; Anna is sitting with her sister Elenore discussing the funeral arrangements. Obviously, the service will have to be done after Christmas, but they are going through options of caskets, all the while the ghost of the elderly woman stands behind them appraising their choices. We learn that the deceased woman was named Cassandra or Granny Cass to her family. She watches over her two daughters warmly as they are dealing with the situation very well, giving how sudden her death was. She walks through the sofa and settles comfortably on it and listens to them talk lovingly about her. Granny Cass closes her eyes, contented.
Elenore and her husband take the last box of her mother’s things from her bedroom and puts them in to the attic. Granny Cass watches on nervously, worried that something will get damaged. Elenore’s husband Grant drops a box of old china down the ladder to the attic, the box remains mostly intact, but the contents are clearly ruined. Granny Cass cries out and the landing lights flicker for a couple of moments, Grant rushes down to see if anything survived. She quickly calms down and mutters that Grant was always a useless lump. Elenore comes rushing over and sees the mess, she shrugs says that she hated that set anyway, and questions who even keeps a special set of china these days…just chuck it! Granny Cass looks on, her face unmoving, the lights flicker again.
Anna, her husband Rob (Pertwee) and their three children Ava (9), Arthur (11) and George (15) are all sitting watching a movie. The house looks suitably festive and they are quietly spending time together, although George is playing his Switch and the other two children are two screening between the movie and their phones.
Granny Cass is sitting in her now empty bedroom staring ahead. She looks around at the blank walls, they even took down the fairy lights that had been out up. She silently moves from room to room of the house. As she drifts through furniture, she causes small objects to wobble slightly as if blown. Eventually she settles in the front room, standing behind the sofa with Arthur and George on it. She tuts loudly at the violence of the games George is playing, the teenager reacts to the noise but looks round briefly before returning to his game. She surveys the domestic scene of lazy relaxation with
and increasingly disgusted expression. Granny Cass starts to talk towards Anna, saying that she is letting her family go to rot and that it didn’t use to be like this. They would watch tv as a family, read books or play games. During this rant, Arthur farts and belches loudly simultaneously, causing the whole family to erupt in laughter and mock horror. Granny Cass fumes at this, making the whole room dim for a few seconds shocking the whole family. Anna gets up to check the fuse box but the lights and tv comes back on. While their mum is out of the room Arthur and George quietly say that Granny Cass would have hated that, so its not all bad that she is not there anymore. Granny Cass hears this and flies from the room, slamming the front door behind her so hard that it knocks all the hanging Christmas cards to the floor. Everyone jumps in surprise. She retreats to her room and sits again on the bed, her face distorted in rage. The windows behind her slowly frost over.
Anna and Elenore are sorting through huge bags of delivered food for Christmas. They unpack them while they talk about their mother and the funeral arrangements. Elenore says that she is so proud of her sister for giving a home for their mother for the final few years of her life, she starts to cry as she says how good a daughter and sister she is. Anna goes to her side and they embrace, the camera shifts to Granny Cass watching them both. Although her face is still marked by anger, she smiles, and her face begins to soften again. It is clearly a very emotional moment between the three women even if two of them are not aware of the third’s presence. Until Anna says that is wasn’t easy living with their mother. Granny Cass’s face freezes. Elenore holds her sister tighter and says that she knows it wasn’t, they both know what she was like towards the end. Granny Cass starts to raise her voice, demanding to know how ‘she wasn’t easy’ to live with! She gave everything to her girls, how hard was it to have her here, helping with the cleaning, cooking and her rude grandchildren! The two sisters squeeze each other and continue unpacking the shopping, completely unaware of their dead mother’s anger. We see one side light flickering erratically in the corner of the dining room, but the two sisters don’t notice it. During the unpacking Elenore makes a joke that they can now have premade bread sauce without suffering their mother’s awful homemade stuff. There is a moment pause and then all the kitchen cupboards explode their contents, terrifying the women as pots and pans clatter around them. Anna sees the deformed spectre of Granny Cass screaming in silent fury just as a frying pan hits her head.
We cut to the evening when the older children and Elenore’s husband are clearing up the kitchen. Anna is sitting with her husband and sitting, both drinking tea in a state of shock, Anna his holding some wrapped ice to her head. Rob tries to rationalise what happened as a minor earthquake or even a draught…all his suggestions are ridiculous, but they have no more rational explanations. Anna whispers to herself that thought she saw her mother.
Anna is still visibly shaken from the events of the previous day, fortunately Rob is now off work and he is helping entertain the children as they all get ready for Christmas. Anna is by herself in her bedroom wrapping presents for everyone. She comes across the presents she was going to give her mother, they include a rebound book of old family photos and a puzzle of a south coast beach. Granny Cass looks over her daughters’ shoulders obviously pleased with the presents. She remarks that she and her husband use to holiday on that beach and that she is so proud of Anna for being so thoughtful. Anna sadly and carefully outs the gifts back in their carrier bags and places them back in
to the wardrobe, she allows herself a few tears before continuing with the wrapping. She reaches for her scissors which Granny Cass carefully nudges to within her reach.
Later in the day Elenore calls Anna to enquire how she is after yesterday and she arrange plans for tomorrow. They touch upon a few details of the funeral but decide to leave all of that until after boxing day. Anna begins to try and tell her sister about seeing a vision of their mother before the pan hit her, but she fumbles her words and decides to leave it.
As evening falls George and Rob are carrying all the wrapped gifts to underneath the tree and the family all change in to their Christmas eve pjs. In Ava’s room the ghost of Granny Cass is careful laying out strips of colourful paper, glue and scissors on the girl’s desk. She excitedly says that just because she is gone that doesn’t mean that Ava and she can’t make Christmas paper chains like they use too. She floats back to admire what she has laid out. Her features still carry some of the distortion that occurred when she got angry before. Her eyes have darkened with only small pinpricks of light in their centre, and her face is stretched oddly. Yet now she is smiling and still recognisably Granny Cass. Ava is the child who is the more visibly upset by Granny Cass’s absence, she rarely leaves her mother’s side for most of the evening. The two boys do affectionately mention her a few times as well. There is a sense of melancholy over the Christmas eve evening as the reality of their deceased grandmother sets in. Anna walks past Ava’s room and sees the laid-out craft stuff and looks at is sadly. She assumes that Ava did this herself out of habit. Granny Cass is standing still in the corner of the child’s room waiting for Ava. Knowing how fragile Ava is tonight, Anna calls Rob and they discuss what they should do. They agree that they should quietly tidy the stuff away as Ava has not mentioned doing the activity and it may just upset the girl further. As they are doing this, ice creeps over the window and the lights hum with energy implying Granny Cass’s silent rage.
We get a montage of the family enjoying Christmas morning together. Elenore and Grant come over in the morning and everyone exchanges presents. Anna spends most of the time in the kitchen but is clearly still apprehensive from her vision of Granny Cass from earlier in the week. There is laughter and fun but also a sense of sadness as the passing of the grandmother still looms large, Ava’s mood is particularly affected by this.
Eventually the family sits down for a large Christmas dinner, the adults are drinking and laughing. The children are playing games with each other. Only Anna and Ava seem disconnected to the mood of everyone else. During the main meal, Grant (who has had a bit too much to drink) makes a slightly “on the nose” joke about Granny Cass’s difficult mood. Elenore shushes him with a slight hint of a smile on her lips and the two older boys snigger. Then the fairy lights around the room start to pop and explode, ice creeps up the windows and their breath fogs before them. The family all start, and Grant makes another joke about Granny Cass coming to tell him off but before he even finishes, his face is slammed hard in to his food. The whole family jump back as his head is slammed a few more times in to the now broken plate in front of him. Blood and gravy spill across the table as Grant slumps to the floor, his face and nose badly damaged. Elenore goes to him but is slapped across the face by an unseen hand which leaves angry red welts on her cheek, she falls back in terror. This time both Ava and Anna see Granny Cass’s distorted vengeful spectre in the room. She is silently spitting with rage at her family as more food and crockery smashes around them all. The eldest boy George and Rob go to Grant to pull him away from the maelstrom, Grant is unconscious with blood running
from his nose and mouth. Ava sees Granny Cass turn to face Rob, she is soundlessly shouting obscenities and threats to him as he careful moves Grant. Granny Cass goes to strike him when Ava runs forward screaming for her to stop. The ghost turns furiously and rips a deep score across the young girl’s face. Ava falls to her knees with blood pouring down her face, but she does not back away. Anna rushes in front of her daughter and faces down the spirit of her mother. She shouts at her to never raise a hand to her family, she pulls both Elenore and Ava close to her as to show Granny Cass what she has done. Anna tells her not to take her temper and her anger with her in to death, that they had enough of it when she was alive. That at least in death she should be the woman that Ava saw her has, as she women she tried her best to be. The storm subsides and the family is left in a scene of destruction and blood. We pan back as they tend to their wounds.
New Year’s Eve
It is the day of the wake; the injured family members are patched up with various bandages and such. Grant and Elenore leave politely almost immediately, Rob takes the two boys out the garden for most of it to quietly play football in the cold December afternoon. Anna stands by herself in the kitchen as most of the guests have left. Her eyes well up with tears and as she goes for a box of tissues, it moves slightly to be within her reach.