Author: Adam Green
Writer’s Potential: 7
Logline:Three friends are driven to extreme measures when they find themselves stuck on a ski lift after it closes for the weekend.
Synopsis:Three college students (LYNCH, DAN, and PARKER, all 19) wait in line to get on the chair lift at a ski resort. Parker sneaks to the front of the line and uses her good looks to charm the chair lift operator, JASON, into letting her and her friends onto the lift without tickets. He refuses, so she sweetens the deal by offering her $50, then ups it to $100 when that still doesn’t work. Jason takes the money and lets them up the mountain without tickets. Dan and Parker, who are dating, argue over pet names. Lynch mentions a girl who used to call him by his last name during sex, which made him uncomfortable. They realize Parker gave them the full $100 and playfully ridicule her. Parker lights up a cigarette, frustrating Lynch. Parker mocks the hypocrisy of Lynch being a pothead and hating tobacco smoke. Suddenly, the lift stops, terrifying Parker (who has a fear of heights). Dan calms her down by saying it’s just stopping, there won’t be some sort of accident. True to his word, the lift lurches to life, and they get up the mountain.
While skiing, Lynch sees a cute girl (SHANNON) fall over and offers her some help. Her hulking ex-boyfriend (RYAN) lumbers toward Lynch, making threats. Frustrated, Lynch backs away. Parker mocks him. Later, Shannon approaches sans Ryan to apologize and let Lynch know that they’re no longer going out and have been trying to be friends — which, she notes, is not working. She gives Lynch her phone number and mentions she comes up to the mountain to ski every weekend. Later, Dan and Parker argue with Jason, who won’t let them go back up the mountain because the park is closing early on account of bad weather moving in. Lynch runs up, asks Dan to help remember half of Parker’s phone number (he had nothing to write it down with). After begging and pleading, Jason lets the three of them back on the lift.
As they ride up the mountain, a fellow EMPLOYEE runs up to Jason to say the manager wants to talk to him about next weekend’s schedule. Jason’s annoyed, since he was supposed to have the weekend off to go to his brother’s bachelor party — he’s the best man. Jason leaves the Employee to cover him, mentioning he has three more skiers on their way down. As Lynch, Dan, and Parker continue up the mountain, they see three skiers racing down below them. The Employee calls to another coworker to take over so he can use the bathroom, but the other employee refuses. The three skiers who passed below Lynch, Dan, and Parker race to a stop past the Employee. He radios that his last three returned, giving them the clear signal to stop the chair lift. Lynch, Dan, and Parker are still on it.
Jovial concern turns to panic as dark clouds cover the sun — they weren’t kidding about the weather. Lynch starts to get impatient, then Dan asks the others what they think would be the worst way to die. He says shark attack. Parker makes a few suggestions, which Lynch pokes holes in. She yells at him to give his worst death, so Lynch offers the Sarlaac pit from Return of the Jedi. Dan and Parker consider it. Wind starts blowing. The trio are freezing. Suddenly, the lights along the ski trails turn off, leaving them in darkness except for the moonlight. Their panic turns to anger as they realize they’ve been forgotten. Lynch still tries to keep things light, but Dan and Parker get into a fight. Dan considers jumping below and skiing down, but they agree it’s too much of a drop… And then Parker announces she has to pee. The group tries to figure out how to orchestrate such a maneuver, as Lynch just opens up his fly and urinates off the edge of the lift. Parker refuses to stand in the left to squat over the edge of the chair. She decides to just hold it.
Dan tries to speculate that crews will be around the park if they can just make it until morning, but Lynch pokes holes in that, too — it’s Sunday, the resort doesn’t reopen until Friday, so why would anyone come around? Lightning and thunder roll in, and a freezing rain begins. After awhile, they see a Snow Cat rumbling down the mountain. The trio scream to catch the driver’s attention, but he doesn’t notice them. He’s radioed to stop and take a different path, which the trio mistake for rescue. When he turns around and still doesn’t seem to notice, they begin throwing their skis and snow boards at the Snow Cat, narrowly missing each time. Parker starts bawling. Lynch tries to ask random, pointless trivia questions to keep their minds off impending death. Parker announces that she’s peed in her pants.
Finally, Dan makes a decision — he’s going to jump for it. They’re going to die anyway, so he’d rather die trying to help their situation rather than do nothing. He tosses his snow board down, gets himself into position, and makes a jump… His landing shatters both of his legs, and he’s forced to lie there, a bloody mess, bones protruding from his mangled ski suit. Lynch and Parker try to convince him to crawl down the hill, but Dan just can’t move. Parker tries throwing her scarf down, but it’s carried away by the wind. Lynch balls his up and tosses it down, and Dan uses it to tie off his legs.
With few options left, Lynch contemplates climbing up to the lift cable and moving from chair to chair until he reaches one close enough to the ground make a proper dive. Parker doesn’t think he’ll make it, and Lynch has to admit she’s probably right. Instead, he glances back and sees a bed of evergreens below the chair behind them. He decides to go for it, with Parker’s help, but as they get him into position, Lynch hears something — a soft moan. They think it’s Dan, but then they hear it again, louder: it’s a wolf. Trying not to panic, Lynch speculates it’s distant and won’t come after Dan. He’s wrong — the wolf emerges from the woods, heading right for Dan. Freaking out, Lynch gets back down on the chair, and he and Parker toss more of their things down to scare him off. It works. Lynch notices extreme frostbite on Parker’s face. He asks her to rub her face, and skin peels right off.
Parker helps Lynch get back into position. He grabs the cable, starts moving — then makes the mistake of looking down, where he sees a pack of six wolves surrounding Dan. He freaks out yet again and returns to the chair lift to shield Parker from what’s happening below. From the ground, Dan begs Lynch to keep Parker from looking. Lynch tries, but Parker still steals a glance — sees the wolves ripping him apart. The camera hangs on them as they listen to the sickening sounds below. Eventually, they stop. Lynch and Parker have an awkward conversation, trying to ignore what just happened below. Parker redirects the conversation to her puppy, who will have nobody to feed her or walk her and will end up dying and not understanding why. Lynch tries to convince her they’ll survive. She’s not so sure.
The next morning, Lynch and Parker look like they’re frozen to death, but suddenly, Lynch wakes with a start, shaking the chair, which wakes Parker. Her face is almost black from frostbite, and Lynch’s isn’t much better. Depressed, Lynch admits he thought their predicament was just a nightmare. He considers the possibility of maintenance crews or somebody seeing them, then decides, once again, to carry out his plan to get to the other chair and drop to the forest below. Lynch gets into position, Parker holds him steady. He counts to three.
Comments:The writer has executed a harrowing story of survival, gliding effortlessly from what I assumed would be a light comedy into a bleak tragedy. Since the bulk of the script hangs on three people stuck in mid-air, dialogue drives this story, and the author writes clear, conversational banter loaded with wit. It’s never on the nose, but it’s packed with character information, as are the limited number of actions carried out by each person.
Although the writer does a nice job overall, Dan could use some work. His actions speak volumes, but up until he dives off the chair lift, we don’t know much more about him than “He’s dating Parker.” Much more is revealed about Lynch and Parker, even before Dan dies, but it would be nice to have a little more information about him — occupation, interests, anything — before he goes. The script doesn’t depend on knowing these things about him, but it would make his death all the more tragic if he had a bright future, or maybe even more tragic if he had no future but this experience convinced him to finally get his shit together. In fact, it might enhance all three characters to understand how this situation will change them as people; we get a lot of small details and insightful moments but few big ones.
My biggest concern was going to be that it’s too short. Clocking in at 72 pages, it’s barely feature length, but when I got to the end… Well, there’s no end. It stops right where the third act should start, and just says “To Be Continued…” What I have read of the script is very good, with the writer making effective use of his premise and setting limitations. Unless the writer completely botches the ending — which is not out of the realm of possibility — it’s certainly worth considering.
The nature of the story might draw in a portion of the horror crowd, but this script is more likely to tap into the people who find comfort in this type of “survival struggle” disaster drama. This will find the same audience films like Alive, The Perfect Storm, and Titanic found.