Monday, January 09, 2012

Movie Idea: Swamp Spirits

Setting: Florida, small town, panhandle Gulf Coast side. Old beautiful house built post WW2. Very large downstairs layout, smaller upstairs. Big lot (couple of acres).

Family: Dad (40-45), Mom, 3 sons (15-13-8)

Set up: Man inherits old home from his deceased father who used it for wintering and rented it out for years. Home was in family for decades first as rental then as snowbird residence. Monsters are there, and they have to find the cause and the way out.

Man is moving his family to Florida for architecture/planning type job. That was his father's job. Hangs up photo of his dad with two other developers of post-WW2 Florida which includes original owner of this house and third man. Opening scene is the move in, which is in Winter. Home gets decorated, things look great, one co-worker/local acts surprised they are living in house year round, and mentions how that original owner was found dead in the home and there had been other odd accidents the first few years, but things cleared up when his dad bought the home for a song.

Evening 1: On Summer solstice, they have a BBQ. Things go well, the mom and Dad have a drink at the end of the day, and just after sunset she mentions looking forward to the 4th of July for an even bigger party. The Dad lets the dog out and after a minute or two of silence, hears a yelp. He grabs a flashlight and finds the dog dead by a tree with dirt all over it's neck/head area.

Next day, vet says dog must have died running into the tree in the dark. Need a scene of the mom noticing the basement storm entrance is covered in what looks like muddy hand prints. She also has a visit by a neighbor who is shocked someone is living year round there, what with the accidents from the 50s. She wishes the family good luck and leaves behind a housewarming gift/charm. Dad has to explain death to the little boys, and he has heart to heart with older son about losing the dog they'd had his whole childhood. Wife starts digging stuff up online. Can't find much, but news report of original owner's death is news with the weird dirty death.

Evening 2: Dad buries dog in back yard as kids act all sad. Husband-wife have wine/beer, get busy and sleep, but are woken up by someone pounding on doors and 1st floor window is broken. Husband runs down to find odd clump of dirt/grass inside broken window and see shapes move away from the window. On front of house they see smeared revenge.

Next morning, husband scours the yard for tracks, but finds none. Impossible he thinks. Goes back into house and checks rental records from 60-80s. All start after fall, and none end after summer solstice (Oct-May). Normal snowbird season but special stipulation with realtor who handled rentals to never go between those dates. see photo of dad with original owner and other developer. Looks for developer's name. Calls his still in existence business. Gets his oldest son, and location of developer (nursing home). Wife goes to local library and finds newspapers that weren't online to see other mysteries. Accidents and deaths at that house were at night, after summer solstice and happened each year until owner's father bought the home. She calls husband about it. He tells her what he knows, she comes home and he goes to see old timer. He tells her to barricade the upstairs with the kids if he isn't home by nightfall. He drives to retirement assisted living home. Developer is in alzheimers/dementia wing. Nurses say he hasn't made sense in a while but has spells of coherence. Lead brings up living in the home. Developer confuses lead for his dad. Speaks of accident of the two boys, no right the original owner pushed the construction job so hard, should have made right before moving in. Dad leaves not before old developer says "that man must pay for what he did".

Evening 3: Dad is driving home as the sun sets. He race up their driveway and notices the shapes of men moving in the front. He grabs a bat from the garage and charges in to see through hallways what look like earthen swamp men rampaging through the house. They leave everything smeared with mud and dirt. One sees him and charges. He knocks it to pieces with the bat, but it reforms slowly. He yells at his wife to stay tight and upstairs until morning. He goes to the front lawn to draw the 2 things away, they follow him and he leads them away from the house. he hollers and yells for them, leading them down the driveway. As he leaves the driveway, he notices they cannot cross the property line. They withdraw to start going back to the house, but he charges from behind and knocks them to pieces. They are on ground trying to reconstitute T-1000 style, and repeatedly does this as he waits til sunrise with them there. Notices the dirt/grass seems deactivated at sunrise.

Next morning after sunrise, husband wakes up wife and kids to show them what is up. Horrified to see, but more horrified to learn that the damage is from dirt/grass beings, not people. Dad sasy how they seem stronger with each evening. Dad tells Mom about what the developer said. She says "Duh, they never looked for deaths before the original owner". He tells her to take kids and find out what she can and get out of there. She gets kids packed to go with backpacks and money. Oldest two sons say "no dad, we're going to fight these f*cking ghouls with you, they are real, not ghosts, they can be hurt, you proved it". Mom takes youngest boy and goes to library fro old newspapers for construction. She and youngest see that 2 men died during construction. She looks into their records: 1 a single male, 1 a husband and father of 1. Husband and boys are finding what they can from their unpacking to fight monsters. Some macguyver type bits with the bros like using a high pressure water cleaner, axes, load rocks onto the 2nd floor, they slam away at half of the staircase and set up a rope ladder to get to the 2nd floor. One son grabs a hockey stick and says "what else am i going to use this for here in florida?" Mom calls husband with info. He says "find that daughter".

Evening 4: Sun sets. Father gives them a talk that it is possible to crush these guys. Might be swinging all night. Save energy to last the night. This is their house. Worst case scenario, they make a run for the property line. The father and boys have all lights on, outside lights on, and multiple fires going in pits to light the yard. They wait for it, and then hear mud splatter on overhead, exterior lights. The monsters want to reduce visibility. Cut to scene of Mom and youngest son arriving at trailer. Find mid-50s woman living alone. She speaks a Southern patois. Mom explains why she is there, how she found her, she knows her story. Trailer lady explains what happened. Dad from Louisiana came for construction job, brought pretty young wife and daughter. Father died from original owner pushing ahead with construction on questionable evening. Promised under the table overtime pay. Two men died. Afterwards original owner took interest in vulnerable widow, banged her, gave her gifts, then tossed her aside with some token cash. Widow got angry, cursed ground. Called on some Louisiana mumbo jumbo. Didn't think it would work. Went mad and died once she realized what she unleashed a few years later. As she is leafing through an old looking book, the woman says she thought her mom only wanted to bring her dad back to haunt the man. Cut to scene of dad and sons finding the monsters and bashing them. Pick their spots and fight. Dad says they are more coordinated, faster and stronger than before. Sons use all weapons shown in the build up scene. Some fun water hose melting of the beings as they reconstitute faster than the night before. After a severe beating to the monsters, with the middle son bailing out the older son with whacks to a monster, the dad orders them up to the 2nd floor so they can throw rocks at the monsters. Cut to Mom and youngest son with Southern lady. She's setting up some voodoo type sh*t with the grimoire. Says she respected it more than her mom and knew not to meddle with this. She lights candles, looks in the book and says she thinks she can make a spell to get rid of them. She needs blood of the child of the original team where the tragedy was. Mom stumped for a min since she wasn't the daughter, but wait, she has her son, who was the grandson of the one of the develops. As the ceremony starts, Mom looks up and does the good Southern girl plea to Jesus "Lord, forgive me for this". Voodoo thing starts as the scene is intercut with the dad fighting off the monsters. The boys are throwing rocks at the monsters which makes one aware they are inside and upstairs. Dad fights one off with bats, sticks, shears, you name it. Cut back to woman doing ceremony. Quiet plea for mercy and peace for those souls. Blood debt has been paid in both destruction and sacrifice. Innocent lives taken that were never meant to be taken. Dirt monster tries climbing rope. Boys whack at him. Can't stop him so they barricade themselves in room. Monster gets up and starts pounding at door. Dad is smashing other monster, but he keeps coming back. Dad is tired. Cut back to Southern woman mumbling creole sounding words. Cut back to house where suddenly pounding stops and as Dad goes to knock the 2nd arm off a monster, it disintegrates to pile of dirt on the ground. Man yells to sons, they yell to their dad. They slide down rope ladder and all embrace. Wife thanks Southern woman & hopes it will work, expresses sorrow for what happened to her family, "what is done is done. you shouldn't ask for forgiveness. the actors of that day did not know the history they would leave". Wife and youngest child drive to reunite with husband/sons. Reunion scene in driveway as sun rises. I see the film ending with them in the driveway and the camera pans through the destroyed home and out to the woods on their lot.

Dad - Patrick Wilson - Smart looking yet really dad like in his build. He has that bearish look to him that you could see swinging a baseball bat at monsters, but smart enough to be an architect who pieces together the mystery with his wife.
Mom - Reese Witherspoon is too highbrow now, but I think the smart loving Southern mom is right up her alley.
Kids - 15 yr old should be the lanky type, 13 yr old that stout early teen and the 8 year old is the cute little one.
Southern Voodoo Orphan - Ileana Douglas - As long as she can do a Southern accent, she can be in this movie? A little make up to make her look older would help.
Old Developer in Nursing Home - Hal Holbrook - Yeah, I use him a lot, but he's awesome. Maybe Phillip Baker Hall. I love his work, and he can do a gret Southern accent.
Flashback Developer - The guy who plays Roger Sterling. Slick older gentleman who would seduce a young, poor widow and then toss her aside? That is sterling.
Flashback dead guy and pretty wife - Can we just grab one of the 'couples' off Friday Night Lights?
Neighbor - Alfre Woodward. I like her, and since this is set in the South, I have an excuse to cast her.

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