a film by
The screen is black. And then suddenly light flickers, illuminating the frame: a MAN is screwing in a light bulb.
(ECU PULLS BACK, LOCKS OFF ON TRIPOD LOOKING DOWN STAIRS)
When finished, we follow his hand down, and while he exits to presumably throw away the dead bulb the frame remains frozen on the descending staircase before us, symmetrically stretching down to the basement.
It’s virtually pitch black down there. The light at the top of the staircase doesn’t penetrate it.
He returns to descend the staircase.
He steps off of the last stair (ECU FOLLOWS FEET FROM LAST STEP, STEPPING OFF, TO FIRST CONTACT ON TILED FLOOR) and flicks the light switch (CUT TO: WS HANDHELD, AS HE WALKS TO SWITCH AND THEN ECU OF SWITCH FLICKING). He flicks it a couple of times. (MCU ON HEAD/SHOULDERS OF GUY LOOKING FROM SWITCH TO LIGHTS AND BACK)
He steps away from the meager light, reaching for the other light switch—the one in the laundry room. (RETURN TO ECU OF LIGHTSWITCH FOLLOWING HAND RELEASING IT, DOLLYING BACKWARDS INTO LAUNDRY ROOM AND ENDING ON ECU OF OTHER LIGHTSWITCH)
He flicks it. Again.
He goes upstairs. (HOLD ON ECU OF LIGHTSWITCH UNTIL HE COMPLETELY EXITS FRAME)
He opens a cabinet with an empty light bulb box: no luck. He shakes it, tosses it back in and closes the doors. (STARTS BLACK UNTIL CUPBOARD DOORS PART, REVEALING MS WIDE-ANGLE SHOT FROM INTERIOR OF CUPBOARD AND ENDS IN BLACK WHEN DOORS CLOSE)
He returns to the basement, (MS PERPINDICULAR TO STAIRCASE) this time walking to the small desk against the far wall (CUTS TO MWS FROM OPPOSITE END OF THE BASEMENT WHEN HE STEPS ONTO THE GROUND). He turns on the desk lamp, (WS FROM LOWER TO THE GROUND, LOOKING THROUGH JUNK) a ray of light in this well of darkness.
He angles the light into the laundry room. (CUT TO: MS FROM OVER-THE-TOP OF THE LIGHT, LOOKING INTO LAUNDRY ROOM)
He is having trouble getting lamphead to adjust. He looks from laundry room to lamp and back and forth then:
A flutter. (A HAND, WAY OUT OF FOCUS FLUTTERS IN FRONT OF CAMERA IN DEAD-SPACE AREA NEXT TO HIS HEAD WHEN HE IS LOOKING AT LAMP)
He walks into the laundry room.
He opens the washer. (CU OF HAND OPENING LID)
The clothes are still in several inches of water. (MS, OVERHEAD)
No matter. He opens the dryer. (CU OPENING DRYER DOOR)
He begins to unload the wash, while droplets of water drip off the clothes and form a little puddle at his feet. (CU ⇒ MWS, Man IN FOREGROUND, FACE IN CU ON LEFT THIRD LINE OF FRAME, DOORWAY IN MWS ON RIGHT THIRDLINE, OTS OCCUPYING CENTER OF FRAME, LOCKED OFF ON TRIPOD CUTS TO INSERT OF WATER DROPLETS HITTING FLOOR )
A shadow begins to inch its way across the floor, slowly. It crawls up his body, blotting out the light. (MWS FROM OVER TOP OF LIGHT AGAIN, BUT PUSHED IN CLOSER THIS TIME)
He continues to load the dryer. (BACK TO CU ⇒ MWS, BUT THIS TIME HANDHELD, FOLLOWING HIS FACE AS HE GOES FROM WASH TO DRYER AND BACK) He is oblivious—but there is nothing behind him.
He comes up to grab more clothes out of the wash, and there is a definite, humanoid shape behind him. It stands in the doorway, immobile, featureless. It’s front steeped in shadow. A puddle spreads about on the floor around it.
He goes back down to the dryer. He comes back up and it is gone.
He goes back down to the dryer with more clothes. He comes back up and it is standing right behind him. Water streams off of it. (CUT FROM HIM GOING TO PULL CLOTHES OUT OF DRYER, TO CU OF HIS FEET IN FOREGROUND, “IT” IN MCU B/G, CENTER-RIGHT FRAME, WATER SPREADING OUT FROM ITS BASE)
A larger puddle spreads out around its feet.
He is still oblivious. (CUT BACK TO CU OF HIS FACE HANDHELD GOING FROM WASH TO DRYER, CLOSES IT, AND BACK UP)
He takes the last load down to the dryer, and when he comes back up it is gone.
So is the puddle. (CUT TO ECU OF SAME SHOT FROM EARLIER, BUT ONLY PUDDLE FROM THE CLOTHES IS THERE)
He walks away from the washer and dryer— (CUT BACK TO LOCKED-OFF SHOT AS HE WALKS INTO LIGHT, CAMERA HAS SLIGHT DOLLY UP)
only to slip in the first puddle, still in the doorway. (ON slip CUT TO RAPIDLY SETTING SUN)
He begins to drown. But not in the millimeters-deep puddle. He is choking on water, spewing it forth as if his body is drowning itself (QUICK CUTS—CUT TO MCU OF FEET SLOSHING ABOUT IN WATER GRAPHICALLY MATCHED TO MOUNTAINS IN SETTING-SUN SHOT, TRACING LEGS LEFT TO RIGHT, UP TO SPASMING KNEE. CUT TO MCU OF ELBOWS TRACING THEM LEFT TO RIGHT UP TO SHOULDERS SLOSHING ABOUT IN WATER. CUT TO CU OF WRISTS, TRACING THEM UP TO HANDS GRASPING NECK. CUT TO ECU OF SILHOUETTED CHIN DOLLYING LEFT TO RIGHT TO MOUTH SPEWING BACK-LIT WATER INTO THE AIR. CUT TO VERTICAL WS LOOKING STRAIGHT-DOWN ON SPASMING BODY IN PUDDLE.
His face is contorted in shock, fear and pain. (CUT TO MCU ⇒ ECU DOLLYS IN TO RIGHT EYE, REVEALING REFLECTION)
In his eyes there is more than fear, there is death itself. (IN REFLECTION, SKULL ENTERS STREAM OF LIGHT FROM SHADOWS)
There is one last image his eyes—those perfect camera obscurae—ever see. Through his water-distorted pupils, through the fear and the motion and refracted single light, is the unmistakable image of a gleaming white skull, smiling at him the rictus of mortality. (CUT TO REVERSE: POV, SEEN THROUGH WATER, MOVING AND THEN STILL SHOT OF DISTORTED SKULL. CUTS TO BLACK, PAUSE, THEN: