Sex and Death by Sylvia Dahl
An aging rock star gets a visit from her ex-lover: the Grim Reaper.
Ever since Satan tempted Eve to take that first bite of forbidden fruit, human beings have had to face up to their own mortality – and the spectre of The Grim Reaper.
On the plus side, what better lead character than The Grim Reaper? The quintessential villain, arch nemesis, antagonist, (apart from perhaps, the Devil himself) is perfect material for the medium of film.
Look at for example: Metropolis. It depicts one of the most terrifying dream sequences ever committed to celluloid. Futuristic rich kid Freder, in a church full of mourners, turns to confront the skeletal figure of Death. Statues start moving, weird bone-flutes play, and several jarring jump cuts bring the reaper lurching to life, swinging his scythe at the screen.
The other most iconic and subsequent prototype for Death is the chalk-faced Grim Reaper in The Seventh Seal. Symbolic and menacing, Ingmar Bergman’s Middle-ages meditation on religion, philosophy and history is a visual masterpiece brought to life through Bengt Ekerot’s chilling and haunting performance.
Sylvie Dahl’s Sex And Death introduces us to Janice, a down and out rockstar and former front woman for a punk band. She is lying face down on the sofa in her apartment “surrounded by a half empty bottle of whiskey … and empty vials of prescription drugs on the floor.” In her semi conscious state, she reaches for the whiskey bottle when –
Suddenly, in the corner of the room, Janice spots The Grim Reaper – not entirely surprised apparently… Likewise, ‘Reaper’, who laconically removes his robe and places his scythe on a chair, appears as if he’s just come in from buying the groceries.
In Sex And Death, The Grim Reaper presents as the archetypal rock-god – “an Angel Of Death, and, a naked man of supernatural beauty. “ He is beautiful, dangerous, seductive, but also armed with the gift of the gab and a very droll sense of humor.
He compliments Janice:
Your last record rocks.
Even approves of her trendy, artistic living space:
All seems to be going swimmingly well, very polite, very civil. That is, until we learn these two have a bit of a history. During their first meeting Janice was able to cheat death, but this time around the circumstances are different and she might just have pushed things to the point of no return.
Can Janice outwit death and turn the tables a second time, or is her number finally up?
With its gothic tone, no holds barred approach to adult content, examination of the Freudian themes of love, sex, and death, and a denouement you won’t see coming, well…
All we have to say is: Filmmakers, stop dilly-dallying around. The sands of the hourglass run out for all of us, and Sex And Death demands to be immortalized.
Budget: Very low. A decent Grim Reaper costume, and great actors can complete this show.
About the writer: I’m a one time advertising copywriter who has fallen in love with screenwriting. I’ve written a handful of features, one has been produced as a Role Playing Game (RPG) and made its debut at CarnageCon. I enjoy writing short scripts since it’s a fun exercise for sharpening my skills; so far one of my shorts has been produced as a student film project, and I welcome the opportunity to have more of my work produced via participation on SimplyScripts. Sylvia can be reached at sylviedahl (a) AOL.
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About the reviewer: L. Chambers has been writing all her life – especially in her head, and on scraps of paper. It’s only in the last few years she began to get serious about screen-writing. Prior to this she worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, and trained as a FAD. She currently works as a freelance web-content editor and lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia.