Let's Make a Horror Movie podcast
Episode 6: The Haymaker's Daughter
Host Dave's notes from his dystopian British horror pitch in Episode 6:
Listen to the Episode on Podbean, Castbox, Apple, or Spotify
Scene opens on a UK commuter train platform, somewhere semi urban. Probably just outside London (whatever you want. It's a wide shot, we see a train pull in and what initially looks to be normal hustle and bustle of morning commuter behaviour. But as we see the flow of people pushing onto the train begin to thin out, we notice armed guards at each of the sets of doors to each of the carraiges and another handful patrolling the platforms.
Cut to inside the train as its moving off. Ostensibly everything is normal (the guards having remained at the station, not gotten on the train) as the camera gives us a couple of contextual shots of the inside of the carraige. Though there are hints of things amiss (train looking a bit worn & old etc) We settle on a slightly frazzled looking young man reading a book, sitting by the window in a set of 2 seats. The train slows to another stop & the same scene plays itself out, this time viewed from inside the car. The final person to board at this station is some boorish bloke in a shirt, talking loudly on his phone... we follow him down the aisle as he sits heavily next to our book reader.
As the train pulls away we see the reader give the phone-man a series of stares, clearly indicating his displeasure at being forced to listen to this man's witterings, which at this point form pretty much the entire soundscape - having slowly grown in volume with his continued presence , until its uncomfortable.
Briefly looking down at his book again the reader deftly snatches the phone from the PM's hand and slots it straight out of the window of the moving train. In a flash the PM's hand is around the reader's neck and he slams him back into the window... there's a few moments of struggle as the reader's face starts turning red with the effort of the struggle (and strangulation).. He pushes his left hand against the PM's face in what looks like an attempt to push him off, but then out of nowhere his right hand stabs a huge hunting knife down into PM's now exposed neck. Cue blood & sudden commotion from the carraige in the background (as we're still in a fairly tight shot of the fighters).. The reader pushes the gushing, gesticulating, soon-to-be corpse off him with a heave, and... covered in blood now, stands full height and shouts "Anybody else want.." before his head is dashed all over the window behind him by a bullit from elsewhere in the carraige.
We switch out to a wider shot of the carraige and in a relative moment of quiet, just for a second, we see the shooter. A man in a nice suit, with an expression that conveys as disquiet at odds with his outfit, surrounded by other normal commuters...
A blade from behind lodges in the shooter's neck & we see him begin to go down in a sreaming, grasping mess before we quicly cut to other random, panic-driven scenes of errupting violence throughout the coach.. everyone is armed in some way and the intial violence has tipped them all into full on survival mode.
Cut to 2 well dressed men sitting adjacent to one another in another carraige, both looking ahead at something.. its a moment of clarity from the frenzy of moments ago. From both a visual and audio perspective. We cut to behind the 2 men so we can see what they're seenig. They're sat in the last 2 seats in the next carraige from the one with all the killing. The doors between carraiges are half glass, so we're all watching the violence together before one of the men says "Clarence...?" almost rhetorically. The man on the aisle stands up, reaching up out of shot to, we assume, the overhead baggage. As he's doing so we see a few people trying to escape the carnage in the next carraige,headed towards us, through the doors. They're in bad shape and need of assistance & we can see past them to bloody carnage.
As the escapees from next door open the 1st of the 2 doors to get through to this carraige, Clarence (we assume)'s hands come down from out of shot with a chunky automatic shotgun (or similar) and he immediately aims it at the oncomers through the door. The final shot of this opening... is of the look of realisation on the faces of those trying to get out as Clarence opens up with the shotgun.
Credit sequence shows progress of society reduced to populism and seemingly rescued by 'libertarianism'.. or could be a narrated piece too. References to Food Riots in here too.
farmer & his daughter (Maisie)
A farmer (Benn) is seeing increasing incendents when he's in town selling his produce (he sees fighting and arbitrary police intervention based on flashing some sort of symbol or sigil to the roszzrers) & we get visits from the local police for what amounts to protection money but in food. they also dictate much of where else the produce goes.
When we do see him travelling he's not in a motorised vehicle and those that are are junky/rusty home-upgraded jobs. Though they have other standard tech, it seems cost of a new vehicle istoo expensive in the existng economy. Sees a nieghtbour on the way home at one point, & shouts a greeting but gets nothing in response. We meet a friendlier neighbour later & this frosty encounter is commented upon leading to some exposition around how people have changed & the police are increasingly becoming arbitrary warlords as they have no government accountability anymore, (or nothing that seems to work anyway). but they are largely armed and provisioned. Everyone he's seeing is white nowadays, he's not seeing any minorities anymore even people he used to know, even wealthier people (emphasis on this part). Even gay people. He's head whispers of terrible things but he's also heard of people fleeing & getting out of England.
Borders have long been closed though and getting out has become as hard as getting in.
There are some further scenes around the farm, & with the friendly neighbour & some further exposition about the state of the world. It doesn't sound good, but then it sounds a little far fetched too. We also get a sense of the farm's relative isolation & introduced to Benn's daughter Maisie. Who's, I dunno, maybe 20? We get some back and forth between them about how Maisie thinks things are awful these days - perhaps coming across as youthful idealism - and Benn thinks things are largely ok. Maisie points to the fact they run a farm and thus have a privilaged position in spite of what little they do have. Benn says 'at least we have food!', which is sort of evading the point and making it at the same time.
act 1 ends with a visit from a stranger, on a howling wet night. We've already had some concern about the livestock & the dog is acting up, so the setting is unsettling. They are remote after all. They let the stranger in for some food & warmth (for whatever reason). We get a scene in the small, firelit farmyard kitchen, with a low roof & long,flickering shadows (think of Kidnapped, beginning of Treasure island, or John Buchan or if those dont land, see Jaws cabin scene with Flint's story).
The stranger tells of waves of people fleeing the urban areas in search of food or in fear for their lives fromthe gangs, the police , strangers.. most people have started to abandon their jobs etc.
The reason B&M don't know any of this is becuase the internet, though being totally unregulated due to the lack of state intervention, its only available to the wealthy as they're the only ones who can afford to maintain their own infrastructure. As there is no centralised state per se or taxes, there is nobody maintaining a public infrastructure. Similarly television is now run by private providers and has become nothing but propoganda for the areas that have the money to broadcast, making celebrities out of warlords. This is also largely the reason we are in a candlelit room though we have seen a generator & some solar panels so we can assume they're not totally with power capability. Just sparing in the given environment.
In the end the stranger reveals his true intention, menacingly telling the farmer that his boys/droogs/thugs (something chilling sounding, doesn't have to be existing lingo provided its obvious what he means) are coming up the road in a few days & they're coming here. its a farm - they want it, the livestock,the lot. The farmer & daughter are forced to defend themselves & kill the intruder. Daughter playes a big role in this scene. She's under threat from the oddball, but also is the one to call out the stranger's duplicity & quite possibly strikes the killing blow.
Act 2 starts with another visit from the local police warlord, and though he's threatening himself, when he's told the story of the intruder he realises the risk to his own power structure & decides he'll be back to 'help'. He really takes notice at both the threat and the news he brought of the cities. B&M speculate he knows more than he's letting on.
We get a some scenes around them doubting the strangers credibility and actually whether he wasn't just a nutter out for himself & some further scenes with the remaining'friendly' neighbour who shoots down their skepticism and says he's heard the same things the stranger told them (about people fleeing the cities). Maisie starts pushing for an immediate evac to Germany whilst they still have time to get their shit together.
Benn pushes back on this & Maisie accuses Benn of being complicit in the crumbling regime because he's lazy and just wanted an easy life. So we get some conflict here between father and daughter & the different feelings over culpability etc.
Later on we get further scenes with the friendly neighbour and a few friends of his (tbc) who have come from an urban centre - a friend of the neighbour & a friend of theirs, and respectively a friend of theirs.. so they don't all know each other. Its a mismatched group but they've banded together as they have a friend connection but more because in some fashion or other they're under threat & looking to get out of Britain. The neighbours tell Ben & Maisie they're off - been thinking on it a while, and with these new arrivals they're just going totake their stuff & go - does Ben want to go with them? No. Maisie does (want to).
Conflict about that.
Act 2 culminates in the Police coming back with about 12 men - their entire regional unit (or whatever you want to call it)and they set up with a seige mentality. Ready to defend.
Turns out one of the 12 who had been on a different 'beat' to Benn's farm is someone Maisie went to school with before they could no longer afford it. So they know each other from before & have some sort of affection in the reuinion. Could be another opportunity for some exposition.
Night falls and a vehicle approaching the farm gets everyone tense as its not one of the copper's. The coppers are yelling for it to stop and though it slows,it doesn;t stop, and the few armed policemen that are there open up on it like [something appropriate!] ..and when the dust settles and they approach the car we can see its just a young boy who was tied up and gagged. Riddled with bullets. We get the clear and bloody impression he was not a willing participant. Just as we discover this there's a scream and the head of another copper rolls into view (having been tossed from out of shot) & those outside are immediately set upon by a gang of horrifically violent thugs. Think predominantly blades and blunt instruments but all with nothing but killing intent w/a sadistic undertone.
The likeable cop, Clive, bolts back in the house & amongst a lot of bloodshed and craziness, he gets Maisie & Benn running across a field towards a remaining police car at the far side. Final shots in the scene are probably of the thugs finishing off the coppers at the house, some grim implications when we see a policeman being strung up by his appendages infront of the farmhouse and the thugs appear start dissecting him alive. So we're setting up the new reality that the previous structures, no matter how unpaletable, were now either entirely under threat or gone all together and what we're now left with is completely out of control gangs doing fucking awful things.
Opens with dawn breaking and the 3 occupants still in the car on a B road (or even track).. somewhere rural. We get a scene in the car with Clive (who's driving) and Maisie (caked in dried blood and just staring silently ahead) wake Benn up and discuss next moves. We learn that the only way, or at least their best bet, to get to Germany from where they are is to get to Scotland & try and barter passage from there. Some exposition around this, why Scotland etc, & Clive & Maise overriding Benn in his suggestion that Clive just get them 'in' with another police force who can keep them safe etc. This is shut down as Clive explains that it doesn't work like that etc & they end up making for North Berwick.. he's heard on the grapevine that people are still getting out from there as Edinburgh is too monitored these days.
a few gruelling days of travel and survival pass. We get conflict again as they try and negotiate different cumbling police states & we see evidence of those fleeing the cities & some horrific glimpses of those killing them. Clive's resolve starts to slip and we being to appreciate that he, like Ben, was actually more comfortable with the way things were, in spite of the damage to society of old. And not only is he mourning its loss but both he and Ben are struggling to comprehend what comes next. Its really Maisie that more and more becomes the voice of the audience with her incredulity at the way things have become & the recollection of the broken dreams that were promised with the [Libertarian] uprising (careful: which capitalised on the Populism that finally ended any form of democratic socialism). Passing the bigger cities is also rife with danger as most of the roads are crumbling anyway and any that aren't are controlled & policed by locals. We get a taste of this as they pass Carlisle / Newcastle (couldn't decide on which route they went).
A key scene in this act sees them escaping from a gang only to run into a smaller one of only a few thugs, currently engaged in chasing down and murdering a group of people. After an argument & some frenetic scenes between the 3 in the car, Clive tries to run over the men doing the chasing & murdering, however he only gets one.
The scene escalates with the 2 remaining thugs turning on the protaganists & Clive loses a few fingers in a nasty scene with one of them. As it starts to look like they're all about to die, Maisie attempts to stop one of the thugs and gets into a brawl - one of the chase-ees taking the other one. In the melee a shot rings out as we see the head of the surviving thug explode. The shot turns out to be from a heavily armed ambulance . Bull bars, metal screening, the works. Also its painted black. There are 4 heavily armed, what look like Swat. Its a doctor - due to their profession, they travel armed. In this case Dr Zellaby is going to Scotland too.
The main climax of the movie is a scene at North Berwick, or potentially them trying to cross the border as both would probably work as a climax but the border has less finality to it than the coast itself. hence my preff. for North Berwick.
I imagine borrowing alot from War of the Worlds (book and troubled spielberg movie) for this final scene as NBerwick has seemingly become the last de-facto place that people who have begun to flee, know they have a chance of getting out.
It's nighttime, big lights from the end of the pier but not like an industrial port. So it would be a cool wide shot, with every small pool of light just teeming with people.. There's going to be huge crowds of increasinlgly ill tempered and increasingly violent people. Scenes of essentially good people turning bad in order to try and save themselves. Other people resigning themselves to futilty. I also think you could go really dark and have a gun boat gunning people down from the sea. My thinking here was that by some horrific hook or crook, Maisie and maybe Clive do actually manage to get out, perhaps with Ben somewhat choosing to sacrifice himself to allow them. I'm thinking they maybe run from the Pier/NB but along the coast come across a small group with a boat being cut down by another group of 3 heavies.. Ben runs straight into the heavies, in a nasty and fatal attempt to buy M&C enough time to get in the boat - cue frightful scene with M&C in boat just offshore & the gang either doing stuff to Ben to tempt them back (yuck) or streaming into the sea after them in a tense moment of will they/won't they get away. In the final scenes I envisage M&C are rescued by a coalition forces boat as soon as they hit international waters. But not before they've had a tense final 20 miles or so with all kinds of craft trying to take them out once they're spotted & assumed to be defectors. Only the 'police/authority' craft have guns,everyone else has blades or homemade/modified weaponry of somesort... making them all the more brutal. Between this and the beach idea with Ben' death, i think it has the potential to be quite a tense finish. I don;t see either of them getting out of this without some injury..
If you want to be really grim about it, you could have a bullet from a British gunship/or one of a host of 'vigilante' boats and ships, take Clive out right as he's climbing onto the EU/DE/FR ship! It could be an 'explosive' final scene! (or even both of them this time? dunno)
I've borrowed from a lot of things i like for that, but most of all i was thinking of British authors like Wells (War of the Worlds), Jon Wyndham & John Buchan.. as well as Robert Louie Stevenson. All of whom have written fantastic stories of horror or adventure around the British isles. I'm not sure any of that influence came through in the pitch though.
I think you could probably do a very similar movie but in a largely bloodless way.. if you so chose. The idea was broadly to imagine what might happen if a libertarian-ish society had come to prominence and what it might look like after the main part of the state has been removed for at least a few years. Also, I didn't see this as an attempt to vent my spleen about feelings over the EU referendum, but just an exploration of rampant individualism.