Episode 4: A Long Way From God
Updated: Jun 4
Host Dave's first foray into folklore creation-myth horror with a different take on the Sawney Bean Clan story.. from Episode 4:
Its nightime, howling winds and loud, breaking waves.. It’s the ocean. We open on a roaring storm at sea, and we can hear wood snapping and rending, voices calling in panic. From the gloom we see the silhouette of small, desolate island. A single tree breaks the skyline.
The battered and broken prow of a small wooden fishing boat grinds into a shingle beach. The camera pulls back to reveal a dishevelled family, 2 adults, 2 kids, in a state of serious anguish. Lots of quick cuts to convey the confusion, and mania of the situation. Something obviously went wrong with whatever trip they were on, and some scattered shouts over the crash of the waves, wind & rain confirm that they’re desperately seeking shelter from the sea and the storm, that the island is not only not their home but is entirely unknown to them. If we haven’t already, we notice that the outfits and appearance suggest 16th century, Scotland.
With a series of establishing shots we get to the shelter of some trees where the man dictates that they split up to search the island for proper shelter, warmth, safety, whatever & rendezvous back there. Despite serious protestations over it being ‘evil Monday’ (1st Monday in April) and less serious protestations about the wisdom of splitting up on an unknown island, everyone does as they are told. We follow the main bloke.. Cuts to him in a dark forest (still nighttime) broken by moonlight, so we have some illumination. There are increasingly odd noises that don’t sound ‘right’ for the setting. He, and we, are becoming increasingly uncertain and perturbed. As he glances to one side, he sees a tree stump with a flattened top.. he continues his scan of the surroundings given the noises. This might be a 360 POV pan that starts and ends at the stump, however when we come to the end of the sweep and settle on the stump, there are 2 eyeballs sitting on top (where there were not before), staring directly at the bloke. At this point he starts babbling a mumbled prayer with increasing speed an panic before a large cracking sound from behind causes him to bolt blindly into the dark wood..
O lord King of glory in the fortress of heaven, hail forevermore, and in your loving kindness, have mercy on us. The chanting hosts of cherubim proclaim your praise continually, have mercy on us. The companies of seraphim on high, whom the ranks of angels sing in endless praise, have mercy on us. All the saints, heirs of the glorious eternal kingdom, triumphantly proclaim you in noble strains, have mercy on us….etc
Cut to the bloke approaching a small clearing surrounding a cairn (a pile of stones) illuminated by a fire we can’t see, breathless.. Breaking his mumbled prayer he runs towards the warmth and safety of the light. As he breaks into the light and gets a fuller view of the area, he sees a giant though slender figure in a long blue robe, lit by flickering flames (still can’t see where from)..
The figure is proportionately at least 10 ft tall but sat on the ground, so still roughly the man’s full standing height. Arms outstretched, resting on the crest of each knee we can see the wrists and hands are impossibly gaunt, with skin stretched over bone adorned with some odd jewelry of what looks like oxidised brass.
‘Nuckelavee’ we hear him gasp to himself as he stops dead. His breathing stops for a second.. We realise that its not raining in this glade, but its pouring only a metre away, all around. Slowly and without grace he reaches into a pocket and fumbles out some small red candles as his eyes dart back and forth, presumably looking for the fire, but always keeping an eye on the figure in blue who still sits unmoving a few metres away (still viewed from back).
He slowly begins to take a step backwards and ever so gently turns towards the cairn, placing his small red candles on top of it whilst mouthing the prayer. He the starts to fumble his pockets for his tinderbox when his elbow catches a loose stone from the cairn and it tumbles. As the shot following the falling stone cuts back to the bloke, we get a horrible animalistic grunt and simultaneous sharp reveal that not only has the blue robed figure moved (what feels like instantaneously), but he’s stood at full height behind the bloke now and over the bloke’s shoulder we see that the blue robed figure’s face is an unmoving death-mask, like a cadaver (lips shrunk back over teeth, gums retracted, empty eye sockets etc etc). (think similar to Krampus)
The bloke in this moment is frozen solid, and at another loosed animal snort from the mouth of the cadaver, he grabs a small drawstring bag with one hand and draws a blade with the other. Clutching the bag in one hand he immediately starts to carve the initials MM into his other arm. As he does so, cadaverous hands close around the man’s chin as the firelight dies completely.. It lifts his head up and pulls him easily off the ground. We pull in close on the man’s prostrate face in the cadaverous hands of the Nuckelavee, the moonlight reveals quick frosty breaths from the man as his panic is increasing at something, just then a gust of breath from the opposite edge of the frame immediately starts literally wilting the skin of the man’s face, spreading out from around the mouth. The Nuckelavee’s giant face comes into frame as it bellows something that sounds like ‘you hunger’..
Before that beat ends, we cut away from that to the kids and wife from the boat, the son is just arriving in the dark & horrible weather within the trees, to find his mum & sister have reconnected since earlier and are huddled at the sound of a horrific scream.
“We should not linger here” the daughter says, clearly in terror. “Your father…” protests the wife as the son looks on. “Its Evil Monday.. I know not from where this island came and neither do you and neither does father, something is rancid..” Cut off by her mother’s remonstrations over blasphemy, through the rain we hear something crashing through the trees, getting closer.
“we should return to the boat..” the daughter begins as the son moves off towards the darkness of the forest calling ‘father, we’re over here’..another crash passes before a pregnant pause that becomes uncomfortable in length..
A moment later the flash of a huge distended arm literally swipes off one of the boy’s arms, swivelling him on the spot with the momentum.. blood sprays everywhere and as the boy starts to react with heaving sobs of pure incomprehension, something to fast for us to see, from behind, runs him groin to head in one swift motion. The last frame is a beat to see the body shift in its two halves before a cut to a close shot of the daughter pulling the mother into a panicked run..
Cue a series of quick cuts between mother and daughter and ‘something’ in the darkness behind them, all dodging between trees etc.
A wide, birds eye view shot of the edge of the forest & seashore at night, comparative silence to last few scenes besides the waves etc. We see mother and daughter brake the treeline and make for the boat.. Cut to close shot of daughter and mother pushing it out – scrappy panicked dialogue about what happened& where’s father before we hear a chilling “family” as both turn (as do we with a switch of view looking back towards the shore & forest). Standing about 20ft away is the father. Its difficult to see too much detail in the moonlight alone but we can see presumably blood dripping from his hands and from an arm & hand tied to his waist.. his son’s.
Back & forth dialogue that ends with daughter getting in the boat whilst massively distraught & fracturing wife is screaming at the father. With a final push she sets the boat off on the water with the daughter whilst grabbing a blade from it.. she turns and, we’re luton-bussed – he’s right there and slams his hand around her throat.
We get a close-up on her as she spits “you’re no sawny bean” before driving her blade into his stomach.. cut to daughters Pov from boat drifring away: we see Sawny’s head go back & his mouth open wide. Some sort of gust blows from his gaping maw and it strips the mother’s hair, clothing etc (we’re at a distance now, so its not so graphic, but we’re getting the horrible jist). He takes a bite of her head before dropping her limp body and walking straight in the direction of the daughter in the boat, now 50 ft offshort. She’s screaming in horror & fear, and as he reaches the water’s edge, he stops… she starts to pull herself together a little before we see him grin & his eyes glow a dull red, and he just starts walking straight after her, into the sea..
Fade to black keeping dull red eye glow until last..
Act 1 opens with a scene in a local tavern w/a man taking some food. There’s a load of exposition in here around talk of people going missing from the local roads etc etc. We largely follow a man we discover is called William & lives on a croft not far from here with his wife Anny. The talk of people disappearing is largely dismissed with a wry chuckle, and ‘nothing like that has happened around here that I remember’ type of approach… ‘At best you could say old Richert from XXXX last year but that’s 3 days ride from here’ type stuff.
We also get some shots of the village & scene as we see William heading home. As night falls there are some eerie shots & scenes on the farm as William jokes with Anny about people talking of disappearances etc. She’s in on it but she does mention that someone she knows has had problem with livestock disappearing from their crofting.. And there is a growing sense of unease in the village – crops have been wilting for no reason.
We get some new day wide shots of Scotland + some shots of someone setting off from a town (probably with music overlaid rather than any dialogue). We follow this guys journey in a sort of montage until dusk before we cut back to a shot of him leaving a tavern at nighttime & he enters a scary looking road, overhung with tree canopy, restricting moonlight to patches. Cue horror scene with the Bean ‘family’ taking this guy with some scary shit going on..
We also get a scene with a member of William’s village chasing/hunting a rabbit and in the chase discovers the grisly remains of previous chap. Probably missing large hunks of flesh, scorched head etc.
This anchors the action as getting closer to William & Anny. We also get some exposition with regards to Annie’s increasing uncertainty at the sound of these stories coming through and her own mysterious past.
-------------Act 2 -----------
kicks off with one of William’s friends we know from the tavern in act 1. We’re in his house/croft in middle of the night when we get a mini house-invasion horror playout. Basically take all the best bits of Jackals and condense it into a chunk of act 2, with improvements and the hint of an unnatural twist. Plus a lot more gore.
Next day: We see people hammering up horseshoe’s over their doorway as we have a sweeping shot of the village center as news of last night’s disturbance reaches it…
We get scenes with William, Annie and other crofters conversing on the matter & a number of other stories filter in. They ride out to the friend’s place and we get a grisly scene of destruction, fighting, etc. Lots of blood, but no bodies – lots of bloody clothes in a pile though. The pile turns out to be all the clothes of the occupants. Single shirt arms and pant legs are found, clearly sliced whilst on the body..
Annie, who had to be very forceful to come (men being men) finds a lone skull, still with some flesh on it but all ‘cooked’ and with a bite missing. Someone else discovers 2 perfect eyeballs..
A tracker returns on horseback, he thinks he knows where they went. Cue hysterical reactions from the villagers, suggestions of all sorts of witchcraft etc. Annie has her suspicions.
We’re on the road with William & some of his villager friends.. Headed towards the coastline/sea, its been a days ride as dusk is here.. The trail is cold, so they camp in spite of the foreign surroundings, and the creeping suspicion they are not alone.
William +2 of them set off to scout further whilst camp is set up. We follow them & they find a rocky path down towards the sea (we’re proper on the coast now). En route they discover some grisly looking bits and pieces alongside a child stumbling in the darkness, alone.. as they call to it & it doesn’t respond they discover its had the back of its head caved in and is in lashed, bloody rags.. when they get to it, it just drops down dead. As if it had been trying so hard to escape from somewhere, in spite of its injuries it had been on autopilot until the lights finally went out.
Cut back to encampment, cue bloody slaughter from the Bean clan. Lots of quick cuts etc & when the 3 make it back to the camp they get there to find nothing but blood and ruins.. the only body being one of the clan that Annie is pulling an axe out of – blood slicking her face. She’s turned up and she’s here to kick ass.
Remainder of the act is the 4 of them heading into the Bean lair and encountering all kinds of yucky shit. Fighting their way through, rescuing those who they can, most in the end are slaughtered by the Bean clan as both sides whittle down to the remaining few .. As they’re cannibals, you can imagine this is quite a visually arresting 3rd act.
Also in this act it turns out Sawney’s wife is still alive as a possessed sort of witch, cooked flesh and missing face chunk n’ all. Agnes & Sawney have been leading a small clan of horrific cannibal killers & the movie culminates in Annie, who turns out to be their daughter from the Opening scene (many years earlier) is able to kill them both & survive. No one else does, from the part that was there.
...there's more meat on this in the Episode itself (and Act 1 in Episode 5).