Author: Scott Milam
Writer’s Potential: 2
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Daniel goes to a mini-mart, where EDDIE tells him he can only legally buy wine at a liquor store. Although he’s friendly with Eddie, this frustrates Daniel, who gets back into his SUV. Immediately, two shotgun-toting masked thugs (brothers LUPO and XANDER) leap into Daniel’s car. They force him to drive to an ATM, where he withdraws the maximum, $500. They force him to drive to a construction site, where Daniel claims he’s passing through for the holidays. They check his wallet and see his local Wichita address, which infuriates them. Lupo shoots him in the head, then rolls him into a nearby ravine.
The partygoers mingle, having a grand old time…except for Brooke, who’s worried about Daniel. Dave catches Brooke alone and shows her an engagement ring he’s planning to give to Annette. Brooke admires it, but Dave brings up his and Brooke’s past relationship. Lupo and Xander burst into the house, blasting off their guns and yelling for everyone to hit the floor. Nobody does, so fighting ensues. Xander rips open Annette’s blouse, revealing her enormous implants, and attempts to rape her. He’s not really successful because of the commotion. Once Lupo wrangles some kind of control, Lupo demands their ATM cards and PINs. He’s going to drive around with Brooke, collecting money, while Xander waits. If their PINs don’t work, he’ll call Xander to kill whoever lied. Lupo forces Brooke to take him up to the coat room, makes her fill up a pillow case with all their wallets, keys, phones, etc. Brooke tries to shove the pillowcase over his head and strangle him, without success.
Xander asks what happened to George’s face. He says it was a bear attack. Xander rips off Dave’s toupee. Lupo comes back downstairs and decides all of them need to go down to the basement. He tells Brooke to tie them up with duct tape. Xander notices Gina’s ring and demands she give it to him. She can’t get it off, so Dave gives Xander the ring he planned to give Annette. Xander still wants Gina’s ring, so he threatens Treshawn with a knife. Gina yanks it off. Lupo announces that he’ll check in every 15 minutes, and if Xander doesn’t hear from him, he’ll start killing them. To prove he’s serious, they have to choose one of the partygoers to die. Nobody will, so Lupo decides Brooke has to do the honors. Eventually, she nods toward Dave, to the consternation of Annette. Lupo shoots him, then tells Xander to get his girlfriend over to the house with a van so they can load it up. Lupo takes Brooke outside, and she realizes they’re driving Daniel’s SUV. She realizes they’ve killed him and is horrified.
In the basement, Xander forces Toby to have sex with Gina. Toby’s horrified by the suggestion, but Xander insists. Toby tries, but he’s too nervous and frightened to get it up. Thinking Xander’s too distracted, Vela springs for the stairs. Vela shoots him dead, then drags Gina upstairs to rape her. In the SUV, Brooke calls Lupo a terrorist, and he chuckles at the suggestion. He remarks that he was a soldier in the war fighting terrorists. Brooke responds that Daniel was, too, but Lupo doesn’t care. In the basement, the remaining hostages discuss what to do. Annette believes Daniel’s involved, but everyone disagrees. Waiting in line at a bank ATM, Lupo realizes he can’t make out one of the PINs. He ask whose it is, and Brooke tells him it’s Dave’s. He chuckles at the irony. A sports car pulls up and a drugged-out teen, RACHEL, bounces out and goes to the ATM. Brooke tries to indicate Lupo has a gun, but Rachel doesn’t get it and blows the whole thing. Lupo beats down Brooke, stabs Rachel to death with a Bowie knife, then pulls the two other girls — LAURA and JAMIE — out of the car. Laura offers up her ATM card, which Lupo takes. He decides he’ll let one live if she stabs the other. He starts with Jamie, who can’t do it. Then he hands the knife to Laura, and she stabs her immediately. He makes Laura stick Jamie’s body in the trunk of the car, then makes her get in with it.
At the house, CYNTHIA, Xander’s girlfriend, shows up. She didn’t bring the van because it broke down. With him distracted, Gina tries to run away but is unsuccessful. Xander beats her, then brings her back down to the basement — naked and anguished. Cynthia comes down to the basement and is puzzled by the number of hostages. Xander makes them sing “Happy Birthday” to her, and Cynthia is touched. Xander proposes to her, using Dave’s ring. Annette seethes. Cynthia accepts. Xander and Cynthia go back upstairs, and the hostages discuss how to use Cynthia as a distraction to get out.
Lupo calls Cynthia because Xander isn’t answering his phone. Xander’s in the bathroom, so Cynthia walks in on him and forces him to talk to Lupo. Xander tells Lupo he proposed to Cynthia, and Lupo says he slept with her before Xander ever got involved with her. Xander isn’t happy to hear this. In the basement, Cynthia is disturbingly friendly to Gina and Annette. Xander comes down, in a rage, and starts cutting Annette’s hair — which Cynthia just complimented — with his knife. They go back upstairs, and Annette gripes that they all outnumbered their captors, so they should have jumped them the moment they stepped through the front door. Cynthia has locked herself in the bathroom. Xander begs to talk to her, and when she won’t, he kicks down the door. He accuses her of sleeping with Lupo, then tries to drown her in the Jacuzzi. He catches sight of the ring and eases up on her.
In the SUV, Brooke is horrified. Lupo punches her each time she insults him, then forces himself on her. She tells him to wait, then begins to make sexual advances willingly. When he’s on top of her, she flips the radio on and finds some aggressive music that he likes. She presses the cigarette lighter and waits for it to pop out; when it does, she presses it to his crotch, then shoves him out of the SUV. She tries to pull out of the alley he’s parked in, but she’s blocked. Lupo gets back in and beats her some more. She stabs him with the car keys and manages to get out of the SUV and run away.
The hostages have gotten free of their tape, and Gina finds the bag of their Secret Santa gifts. They decide to exchange them to lighten the tension. At the mini-mart where Dave was kidnapped, Eddie watches two white, wannabe gangstas (LEON and TONY) play an arcade game. A bloodied, barely mobile Brooke rushes into the store and collapses. Lupo pulls up shortly thereafter. Eddie says he’s calling an ambulance, it’ll be fine, but he’s on hold. Lupo tries to convince Eddie to move her into his SUV, that he’ll drive her to the hospital. Eddie doesn’t quite trust her, but Lupo gets Leon and Tony to lift her. Eddie notices a dreamcatcher inside the SUV and realizes this is Daniel’s car. He tries to stop them, but Lupo pulls the gun on them. He forces them toward the freezer, but Eddie cracks a broom over Lupo’s head while Leon and Tony rush him. He loses the gun, which Brooke manages to grab. Brooke forces Lupo to call Xander and tell them to leave and let everyone go, but Lupo says he’s already called Xander to kill them all. Lupo won’t do it, so they threaten to pour scalding coffee all over him unless he makes the call.
Annoyed by the Sohappy’s puppy, Xander throws it in the oven. His phone rings, and Lupo asks to talk to Gina. Xander’s confused, but he does what his brother says. While Lupo waits for Xander to get to Gina, he kicks the coffee pot out of Eddie’s hands and reclaims the gun. He shoots Eddie in the chest. Xander gives the phone to Gina, and Lupo tells her Brooke is the reason they’re all going to die. When Xander gets back on, Lupo gives the order to kill them all. Xander gives them five minutes to say their goodbyes. Lupo shoves Leon and Tony in the freezer and makes them undress. He goes to the mini-mart ATM with all the stolen cards and makes Brooke withdraw money while he robs the cash register. Lupo makes Eddie open the safe, but Eddie says it’s on a time lock and will automatically open in an hour.
In the basement, Toby unwraps his gift from Daniel — a cutlery set. Lupo shoves Brooke into the freezer, then makes Leon and Tony give each other blowjobs. Meanwhile, Xander goes to the basement with a gun and makes them play Russian roulette. When it finally gets to George, he turns the gun on Xander and fires enough for them to realize the gun was never loaded. Xander laughs and goes back upstairs. A tow truck driver shows up outside the mini-mart, and Eddie tries to flag him down, but he’s too injured. Lupo finds him, and Eddie begs for his life, saying his wife just had a baby. Lupo shows remorse, shoving him into the freezer with the others. Then he pulls Brooke out and shoots the remaining three dead.
In the basement, the hostages make their plans with the cutlery set. Xander makes Cynthia go and get the van. On the phone, Xander tells Lupo he’s killed everyone. He goes to the basement, and the hostages all take turns stabbing him. They hear Lupo arrive. Treshawn grabs Xander’s gun and leads the others up the back stairs. Lupo sees him and shoots him in the face. Treshawn is alive but severely injured. Lupo demands to know where Xander is, then goes down to the basement and sees the body. He demands that they drag it up. Xander’s still alive, begging to go to a hospital. Lupo insists that Treshawn, a doctor, stitch him up — that he saw people in Iraq who did more with less. Lupo makes Gina drive Xander to the hospital. Xander can call when he’s there, and Lupo will let them all go. In the basement, Annette and Brooke get a moment alone, so she demands to know why Brooke chose Dave. Brooke reminds Annette that he had cancer. Also, it turns out the puppy is okay because Xander set the preheat but didn’t turn on the gas.
After awhile, Lupo forces them all to get into the pool in the backyard, says for them to close their eyes and count to 100, and he’ll be gone. Instead, he shoots the four remaining hostages. Meanwhile, Gina throws Xander off a bridge. Lupo watches Brooke and Daniel’s wedding video, on which Dave gives a speech about friendship. Lupo goes to a nice suburban home. He kisses his WIFE on the forehead, checks in on his SIX-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER, kisses her on the cheek, and drops Brooke’s puppy next to her, then enters a security code on his home security system.
Nothing happens in this story. It’s 115 pages of sadism, torture, rape, gunplay, knifeplay, and half-baked dialogue, all adding up to — what, exactly? With the absurd ending and the insulting references to the brothers’ time in the service, it seems like the writer wants to make some sort of warning point about the psychological trauma of servicemen. Maybe a serious exploration of that would be interesting — if depressing — but this uses the Iraq war as a cop-out, and none of the hostages call them on this crappy excuse. Even Brooke — whose husband fought in Iraq — doesn’t make this argument, even though she could easily make the case that her husband hasn’t gone on any killing sprees since returning; instead, she chastises Lupo for killing “a brother in arms,” as if it’d be acceptable if he killed only non-veterans. Lupo, Xander, and Cynthia are sociopaths. There is no other term for them, and the writer wastes valuable time attempting to humanize them and hint at their true motivations. Robbers don’t rape, torture, and murder people over a few thousand dollars. There’s a psychology there that can’t be explained with a few throwaway lines about going to war, and using that as a motivation certainly won’t play well with audiences.
As for “our heroes” — well, who wants to watch a movie where all but one person is shot in cold blood at the end? Lupo and Xander are incredibly, incredibly stupid people, so it’s especially unsatisfying to have to align ourselves with people who somehow can’t outwit these idiots. There’s no dramatic tension or suspense, so the only surprise is how quickly the hostages’ plans fail. Heroes don’t always have to win, but here, their losses are so severe, it’s mind-boggling to think anyone would derive any pleasure from watching it.
Finally, a movie targeting the elusive sociopath demographic! This script honestly has nothing that would make an audience — even fans of “torture porn” — want to see it.
Posted by D. B. Bates on October 15, 2008 11:14 AM