A Horror film.
Treatment & Proposal By Zig Bingham
A young homeless man witnesses a rape and runs away. Wracked with guilt and blinding flashbacks he searches for the truth, redemption or maybe punishment for his cowardice whilst losing his grip on reality and his own sanity.
Bad Gear – A Little foreshadowing.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly, Down a Dark Alley is a dark psychological horror. Gritty low budget this is very much inspired by the visions of Davids Cronenberg & Lynch via Shane Caruth, Leos Carax.
This is not a simple story. Certainly not for the faint-hearted. It is at times brutal and uncompromising. It requires the audience to play detective as much as this story’s characters are forced to do. It will require repeat viewing to uncover it’s hidden truths and we hope fuel speculation long after. Themes of guilt, redemption and identity are explored with the film asking the question just how reliable are we as narrators of our own stories.
This is after all a decent into madness and such a trip is never easy.
We hope to shoot this film in a style I call “Loose Beauty”. A mixture of fluid handheld camera work, long takes intercut with sharp jagged aggression when the need arises. A micro crew utilising lightweight 4k DSLRs able to shoot using (un)natural light for the most part. Small practicals where needed. Apart from the shows topping scenes we will be taking a leaf out of the Gareth Edwards book of film-making and keeping the crew small and guerilla.
For the final reveal practical or CGI or a combination of both is something we would have to play with before making a firm decision.
In order to heighten the realism we intend to workshop the script allowing each actor to contribute in a style that is part Mike Leigh and Part Gareth Edwards.
Sets are kept to a minimum as the various apartments are in fact the same apartment redressed to reflect each characters interaction and the periods of decay that this location represents.
But now I am getting into spoilers.
The point is whilst this is a low budget project it doesn’t have to look like one and I feel with your experience we can create something that will not just be a scary twisted film it will also be a work of art.
I have a series of films planned. The second is a more ambitious and the final rewrite is already under way, but this treatment the first film that sets the tone for the shape of things to come and I hope that we can start on this journey together Down a Dark Alley.
“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.” ― Voltaire
Tommy isn’t old but time hasn’t been kind. He lives on the street sometimes he gets lucky and crashes on a couch. Tonight he’s getting high with friends at a squat party. Maybe he can shift some ground up paracetamol to stupid yuppies and tarragon to nervous school kids. Either way it’s a night off from having to worry about where to sleep and who he’ll have to hang around with to stay dry.
The party is loud and vast. Every corner of the old sorting office has been transformed into a day-glo installation of light and noise. People of all sorts have come to party. Some have said this is the last hurrah before the pigs close the parties down. Some are huddled in little smoky groups discussing lizards and Illuminati. Others just dance.
Like she dances.
May. The breaker of hearts.
Acting like she doesn’t like being the centre of attention, even though he knows she does, she twirls like the multicoloured plastic sheets that twist around the concrete columns of this old warehouse.
She sees Tommy coming and blanks him with a force that stings.
Not that Tommy shows it.
Not till later. Not till the anger and the drugs have twisted his head and he can no longer hold it back.
He grabs her arm and the two argue. We can’t hear what they’re arguing about, the music is way too loud, but it really doesn’t matter. They argue like two people hurt. Some smart dressed wanker interjects and May is gone.
Tired of the party Tommy is walking home in the quiet that is not yet dawn. He walks past the alley and sees something out of his eye something in the dark. He pauses and looks into the dark of the alley. A muffled sound. Giggling. A muted scream? He approaches the mouth of that dark corridor at the other end of the alley beyond the darkness a tall man stands.
Tommy steps forward and tries to see the man’s face but it’s an amorphous blend of pain and suffering. Blurred. Unformed. Transfixed Tommy steps into the darkness and see a girl pinned to the floor face pushed into the concrete two others holding her down a third pulls his pants back up. The rapist looks straight into Tommy’s eyes and holding up a knife “I thought you wanted this?” Tommy looks at the girl and it’s May. No it’s someone else. It’s him. Behind him the rapists pull down his pants exposing his backside. The no-face man watches as the silver blade is slipped into Tommys arse as he reaches out to himself standing like a fool in the alley. Tommy runs out of the alley realising he is tripping badly. He stops at the red phone booth and calls 999 and tries to reports a rape only the phone is melting and Tommy is dribbling. He turns and sees his face is peeling away and the girls on the cards are fingering themselves to his demise.
Suddenly the phone rings and all seems normal.
Except the phone is ringing.
Tommy backs out and stares into the dark alley and tries to re-enter but the darkness shakes and forces him back. Tommy fights against it and the phone rings. The darkness shakes back. Tommy pushes hard against this forcefield of darkness. The harder he pushes the more it pushes back. Beyond the forcefield May is lying in a pool of her own blood. She reaches out to Tommy and is dragged into the darkness…
Tommy is awakens in clean linen. The ringing stops as soon as he’s awake. Not in hospital but a nice middle class apartment. Modern. An Ikea wet dream. He is clean shaven. Hair cut. He gets up. His head sore from a well dressed wound. There’s a note on the table from his wife. From May. We don’t see what it says, but it makes Tommy smile. He spies the clock and realises he’s late for work.
We follow his mundane day in his mundane job. Routine. Normal. Is this the past or fantasy? Tommy drinks alone. Eats alone. No-one interacts with him. He moves through his day like a ghost but somehow this is fine for him. He is almost happy.
He enters the toilet and a cubicle. Pulling his pants down a tiny zip-lock bag or white powder falls out onto the floor. He stares at it for a while knowing full well what’s in the bag. He dabs a finger into the bag. Rolls his tongue around his teeth.
One little snort wont hurt.
He violently snorts the fat line to the sound of banging on the cubicle’s door.
Fucking hurry up, the voice demands.
Tommy does so and leaves the cubicle to re-enter the party. He seems oblivious to the fact that he’s go from office to party. Still dressed as the yuppie wanker he stalks a free spirited girl who flirts with him – no not with him, with the room. This young woman, May, turns and turns captivating Tommy who doesn’t see the wretched young reveller knock past him and towards May.
He falls to his knees and finds himself being pushed to the floor. Standing over him is a Scruffy Junkie silver blade in hand the No-Face man encouraging the spectacle. The Junkie lifts Tommy’s head and looks to No-Face. “This is what you want?” as the junkie slits Tommy’s throat. Hot Crimson blood billows out before Tommy…
Crash cut to Tommy kneeling down in a pool of his own vomit in a police cell. Freaked out Tommy tries to get his bearings. He’s back to his scruffy junkie self. Slowly as he calms down we hear the phone ring. The station is deadly silent. Too silent. Tommy gets up and pushes open the cell door. He cautiously steps out and looks around the station. Around his all in the police station have been slaughtered. The phone still rings. Tommy reaches the phone and picks up the receiver. Not answering he just listens. Static. And something in the background a voice. Hard to make out. Definitely a voice. “Look at what you’ve done” Tommy drops the phone and finds in his other hand is a silver bloodied knife. Below him is a middle class guy who looks much like Mundane Tommy, his throat cut blood pouring out spreading out like an obscene time lapse blossom. Tommy looks around him and realises he’s now back in the alley. Mundane Tommy tries to crawl away. No-Face calls to him “Finish the bitch” Murdering Tommy swings down with the knife but someone grabs his wrist.
Now back at the party Tommy is holding May’s wrist and he’s arguing with her. She struggling to get away. A crowd appear and demand to know what’s going on. May tells the crowd that Tommy was trying to kill her. She says he attacked her. Says he came out of the dark place to kill her. As Tommy protests May grabs the silver knife from Tommy and threatens to stab anyone who comes close. Everyone backs off and then she disappears into a dark room. Tommy tries to follow but the darkness prevents him. It’s as if a force-field is stopping him from entering. The harder he pushes the harder it pushes back. He pushes and pushes until he realised he is pushing against the dark concrete. His face pushed hard into the black alley’s pavement. A grungy hand holds Tommy firm against the ground smearing his make up with his own blood.. His dress is pulled up from behind heavy hands hold him down, immobilising Tommy only allowing him to see the a faceless shadow appear at the end of the alley then back away. The silver knife is pulled out into the sodium light before being plunged into Tommy’s rectum.
The next day a girl is reported missing along-side reports of an illegal party closed down and a crashed car sunk in a canal. We hear this on the radio. The Detective stands at the end of the alley in the same spot the Faceless man stood before looking down the alley. He looks for clues but finds none. The alley is clean. Perhaps too clean? At the end of the alley the red phone box. The detective looks at his phone and plays back the grainy CCTV footage. A woman enters the alley followed by a shifty looking man. Probably a junkie, the Detective judges. We know the boy is Tommy. The Detective inspects the phone box careful not to disturb anything. The phone box is lined with prostitute postcards. The handset dangles from it’s home gently knocking against piss stained glass, gently breathing. Or breathing from the handset amongst the static. The Detective lifts the handset and listens. The breathing is words? In between he definitely hears a voice but he can’t make out what it’s saying. He strains to hear but something distracts him. The Detective looks closer at the postcards. All the cards are different photos of the same woman. The receiver we realise is making the ”off-the-hook” tone and it is this that snaps The Detective awake. He calls to the forensics guy to seal the booth and dust for prints.
The Detective is interviewing a suspect the woman in the photo. Only she’s not a woman – at least not yet. Pre/post op transgender. – The cop can’t tell. The woman tells the detective that the pictures were taken many years ago by a young hotshot photographer who lived on a boat and only had one name. Heard he died years ago sucked the dick of the wrong man. She didn’t know her image was being being used and it is certainly being used without her permission.
The phone numbers on the cards, all answer phone machines. The numbers the Fibonacci sequence, but only the most observant viewer would see this. The Detective traces the number to one warehouse. A warehouse full of answer-phone machines. old school tape. An old man is paid to clean the warehouse and make sure that tapes aren’t full. If they are then they are sent to a P.O. Box and the tape is replaced. The man is paid in cash that’s all he knows, by some hotshot lawyer.
The Lawyer is unhelpful. Says he cannot say who he represents but his client is the man who instructs him to give the old man tapes and money. His client is a reclusive artist and this is his next project. Any more than that and you’ll have to kill me. He jokes.
May is found sitting in a café drinking coffee. Junkie in the making her rich parents worried about her. Girl has no idea what happened. Just that it must’ve been good. Remembers the party and flipping out. Some freak tried to attack her with a knife. Maybe you should ask him. We would the Detective says, but he’s disappeared.
Without an apparent crime the cop has no case and so is assigned to another, but the cards and warehouse of tapes haunt him. So he breaks into the warehouse and listens waits for a phone call. Most callers won’t leave a message. Some just breathe. The occasional punter asks to be called back and give the phone booth number. Does anyone call back. The cop waits til morning then leaves with no answers.
The Detective calls in sick which is partially true. All throughout this investigation his migraines have been getting worse.
The Detective follows the Old Man. He follows the Old Man back to his little apartment then knocks on his door. He knocks on the door. But no answer. A neighbour comes out. Says no one’s lived in there for years. Used to be an old man. But he died years ago. What was is name? Don’t remember, comes the reply. Then she remembers. Thomas Coglan. He picks the lock and enters the flat. It looks like it’s been empty a long time. It’s been used as a squat judging from the vandalism. He enters the kitchen and sees nothing but disrepair and abuse. Most of anything that had metal is long gone. The cooker, taps, only the fridge remains. He next goes to the bathroom. Nothing. The hovel is empty.
We recognise the flat as the decaying flat from Tommy’s dreams. In the corner of one room a mattress stinking with a junkies makings around the bed. At the end of the hallway the cop walks down into a very dark room. He pauses at the entrance hesitant to enter. He pulls out his phone, flicks on the torch app and walks in. He keeps walking until the darkness engulfs him completely.
For a moment we just watch the darkness slowly pushing in for far too long.
The detective exits. Fresh and like he’s simply exited a bathroom on his way to work. A moment out of the darkness he stops and thinks about why he is in this place.
The cop walks back in a daze along the canal for a long time then wakes up. Checks his watch and goes back home.
His apartment is like Tommy’s dream apartment with cheaper furniture and no wife. Pictures though. He grabs himself a beer and sits in front of the TV spacing out. Something bothers him. But he can’t remember. He goes to his bedroom and tries to open the door but it is stuck. He goes to find a hammer or crowbar but keeps forgetting what it is that he’s looking for. Sometimes getting distracted by the TV or by something out of the corner of his eye then he’s back to living a normal life.
He goes to make a sandwich and finds a crowbar in lying on the bench top. He turns and remembers that he was going to open the bedroom door. The headaches get worse. He nearly collapses but he finally pushes the pry bar into the door jamb and busts it off it’s hinges. He sees that the he was trying to open the door the wrong way.
Lying on the bed Tommy is asleep naked. The Detective creeps around the bed looking down at the boy. Tommy opens his eyes and stares at the cop. Where did you go?
Just out, says the cop
Make me some breakfast.
The Detective heads to the kitchen and starts making breakfast. He cracks some eggs and talks with Tommy who is now sitting behind him at the breakfast table. The detective sees the crowbar on the counter where it originally was. Strange. He turns around and Tommy isn’t at the table heads back to the bedroom, but Tommy isn’t there.
The Detective leaves the bedroom searching the apartment for his mysterious guest. Tommy is at the cooker making breakfast. The Detective reaches out and picks up a note in the table. It’s reads. Best fuck ever.
He looks back at Tommy who looks back at him and blow him a kiss. The detective catches his reflection in the mirror and he has to get closer to see. It is not him that stares back but Tommy and the person cooking is May. He looks back into the room and everything is as it was. The Detective and Tommy playing house. The Detective picks up a knife and threatens Tommy with is.
Who the fuck are you? What is going on?
Tommy denies any wrong doing and tries to calm the cop down but he’s not having any of it. Looking back into the mirror the mirror world darkens and the face slowly become No-Face.
In this moment Tommy lunges for the knife but is too slow the Detective lashes out and slices Tommy’s throat sending the lad to the floor on his hands and knee.
The Detective reaches out to help Tommy, who is now crawling away. Tommy raises his blood covered hands begging for help. The Detective stands in the hallway like Tommy in the dark alley way. The scene blinks in and out, between the alley the kitchen with Tommy and the Kitchen with May. All identical in angle and scene just the constant flip between Tommy, The Detective and May. A few more times and we end up back in the alley. Tommy is crawling away trailing blood. The Detective stands over the dying boy watching like he is a passive observer. He then starts to undo his trousers and slowly stalks Tommy.
The Detective grabs Tommy and pushes his face down in the asphalt. He slices Tommy’s pants and proceeds to rape the poor bastard.
The rape is long and horrible. Blood smears over the Detective exciting him more until he is all spent. The Detective collapses over the inert boy eventually looking up at the end of the alley. Standing at the end is May, frozen in fright.
The Detective reaches out to May and we switch to her point of view.
Covered in blood and guilt The Detective looks up and screams to us the viewer.
CUT TO BLACK:
The warehouse is full of old tape machines. Cables hang from the ceiling an old man sweeps the floor, passing a tape clunking to an end. He takes the tape and puts it into a Manila envelope with the others. And then goes back to sweeping.