PACKAGING (6 page short horror script in pdf format) by Rob Barkan
A young couple’s stopover at an isolated mini-mart grows more mysterious-and-dangerous-with each passing minute.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. Halloween… Tis the season to indulge in all things spooky, scary, spine-tingling, and out of this world.
Cue one essential horror trope that I’m a big fan of: The road trip gone wrong. Oh, the perils of being on the open road, off the beaten track and far far away from the safety of home. Flat tires, busted windscreens, an overheated engine? Those things are nothing compared to the terrors that can befall characters in horror movies.
Just look at the rather aptly titled: Wrong Turn; fill up the tank and stop off for a cuppa in The Vanishing, follow the mind bending puzzle of In Fear, hitch an ill-fated ride in Wolf Creek, or, if you dare, get out of the car and follow the trail of a demonic flesh eating creature to his lair in Jeepers Creepers.
Which leads us to: Taking a wrong turn, and the dreaded road trip pit-stop. Two things that should be avoided at all costs.
The characters in Packaging really should have heeded that advice and stayed in the car. But, a wayward GPS, the loss of cell-phone signal, and an ill-advised but much needed trip to the rest-room forces their hand. It’s a split-second decision that could lead to a detour to hell for one young man and his very pregnant wife.
Writer Rob Barkan, knows how to craft horror so subtle it creeps up on you, and then shocks you when you realize exactly what you’re looking at. With an opening scene of deftly choreographed visuals and an unsettling sense of foreboding and fear, if you’re anything like me you’ll at first be not quite sure what you’re looking at or what you’re afraid of… And then it’ll hit you. And you’ll just know, it ain’t going to end well.
We open on a close-up shot of a large spider spinning its web then segue seamlessly to a surreal scene in a parking lot:
A small, run-down mini-mart tucked against the flank of a dark mountainside. Shreds of fog settle over gas pumps. A row of parked cars and SUVs line the storefront,
lights on, engines (still) running.
In the distance … Headlights bathe the deserted highway. The purr of a Volvo’s engine as it pulls into the lot and parks next to the other vehicles.
Rob Barkan knows how to spin a yarn where nothing is as it first appears to be, where horror masquerades in the ordinary, where further inspection of the finer details reveals the true horrors that lie beneath – where two innocent characters are lured into a web of unsuspecting terror.
Filmmakers: Here’s your chance to take the right road, no detours along the way. Rob Barkan’s Packaging could be your big ticket out of town. Your ultimate destination: success.
Production: Cast of two adults – male & female early 20s. Mostly one location/one room cafe/store int & ext, plus minimal on-road footage. Some minor SFX, blood & gore.
About the Writer: Rob Barkan has been writing horror, fantasy and science fiction since the age of seven. He has placed several short tales in small press and online magazines like Lovecraft’s Weird Mysteries, Dark Planet and Strange Fire. A more extensive collection appeared on his award-winning Deathlife Gravesite. He has taken a deep plunge into screenplay writing for the past few years, totally enjoying mastering the art of visual writing. He recently scripted segments for a Hollywood director’s horror anthology project, showing a great ability working under time pressure to make required changes. His short scripts have all gotten favorable reviews.
Rob resides in the Arizona mountains with the three loves of his life: a beautiful poet-artist wife and two adorable poochies. He can be reached at robbybarkan (at) yahoo.com.
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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.
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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.