A late night talk jock gets an unsettling caller.
Hollywood and its inhabitants live in a crazy paradox. In one breath, they claim originality to be extinct. Yet they pan for it… daily. Then, when a true nugget of uniqueness is found, it’s immediately turned into a movie dating game:
“Think of it as Superman meets Super Fly!”
“The Godfather – meets George Burn’s Oh, God!”
“Mary Poppins Meets Mary Jane!”
(I think that last one actually happened. At least my hallucination-induced penguins say so.)
And David Troop’s hauntingly clever Insomniac could certainly be pitched in those terms. It’s “Play Misty for Me” meets “Se7en.” Now there’s an easy elevator sell. But I’d rather call it… screenplay gold!
Like many an evil tale, Insomniac begins at the edge of night. Late night talk show host Dave Burrows burns the late night oil in Philly – catering to listeners who’d rather not be listening, but have tuned in for multiple sorry reasons: “My husband snores.” “You catch the Eagles game, Dave?” In other words, they’re insomniacs. Sleep’s a distant memory.
But Dave’s rapport with his listeners soothes their woes… well, mostly. Treating each anonymous caller as a long-lost friend, his delivery is warm and glib. Especially when he gets a ring from “The Caller”, who tells him – “I’m having this nightmare. But I’m awake.” The Caller worries out loud that he’s gone crazy.
“No. Actually it sounds like my first marriage,” quips a weary Dave. “Get out and take a walk. Clear your head.” Spot on advice. Or so it seems.
Two weeks later, the “Caller” resurfaces. This time it’s to thank Dave for his sage advice. The Caller’s enjoyed his new practice of walking at night. Especially that time he met a freshman girl. “She looked young. Almost too young to be in college…”
The Caller trails off, his voice sinister. And Dave snaps instantly awake. Both he – and the reader – know immediately when this story’s heading. Details of a butterfly shaped toe ring. A foot tied to a bed. Muffled screams. And a bedpost slamming against a wall. Helpless to do anything, Dave (and his technicians) take the horrifying sounds in.
But ultimately – is it just a prank? A sleep-deprived man’s sick idea of humor? Or is the Caller horrifyingly real – leaving a mysterious trail of terror, wafting over the city like scattered radio waves? You’ll have to read Insomniac to find out. Inspiringly original, it’s a throwback to the golden age of terror and suspense. A case of “clever” meets “terrifying.”
Budget/casting: Locations minimal. A rented sound booth would be great, but any office setting will suffice. An apartment and a toe ring. Four actors…and a foot. Also, I immediately heard Kevin Spacey as the Caller. If you can get him, give HIM a call. Immediately!
About the writer: David M Troop resumed writing in 2011 after a twenty-five year hiatus. Since then, he has written about 50 short scripts, two of which have been produced. Dave would like to make it three. He was a regular, award-winning contributor to MoviePoet.com. Born on the mean streets of Reading, PA, Dave now resides in Schuylkill Haven with his wife Jodi and their two lazy dogs Max and Mattie. He can be reached at dtroop506 “AT” Gmail
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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
About the reviewer: An accomplished writer as well, Zack Zupke lives in Los Angeles. He can be contacted via email at zzupke “AT” yahoo