familiar strangers by Kirk Lohse | Script Revolution

familiar strangers

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81pp

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Logline: 
An estranged family prepares to welcome home their son, missing and feared dead. But the homecoming day joy soon turns to shock, as the young man who appears on their doorstep, is not their son.
Synopsis/Details: 

familiar strangers is the story of The Carsons - a middle class family whose journalist son Harry, goes off to cover the conflict in the Middle East.  Harry along with a number of other Americans is taken hostage and night after night the news features the story of another murdered hostage. US forces make a desperate rescue attempt, only to see the building where the hostages are being held implode under a massive explosion, set off by the terrorists, killing everyone inside.

Or so it seemed.

Five years later, the Carson family is in complete disarray. Harry's parents, Tom and Emily have gone through a bitter divorce. Rebecca, Harry's younger sister, has become an unusually oppositional-defiant teenager, battling with her mother over even the slightest issue. Then, one morning, Rebecca gets a text message from HARRY - it says he has been rescued and is coming home in three days. Hatchets are buried and the Carsons make preparations to welcome home their son. But when homecoming day arrives. the young man who bounds up the front steps and greets everyone in attendance by name, is not Harry.

He is Daniel Allen, an emotionally disturbed orphan and one of the journalists taken hostage along with Harry. During their captivity, Harry has shared every detail of his life with this young man and when their ordeal comes to its horrific end, Daniel’s brittle psyche breaks completely and he takes on Harry’s identity. In his mind, he is going home-home to the loving family who he left five years ago.

His reception at the Carson home is understandably anything but loving. Tom’s abusive language and physical attacks terrify the boy, who cannot understand why his “Dad” is treating him this way. Emily does her best to protect Daniel from Tom, but even she seems distant – not at all the doting mother he remembers so clearly. And Rebecca, his “sister” doesn’t even speak to him. Only Johanna, his former fiancée, seems to know who he is and despite the heartbreaking news that she has married another man, her brief visit strangely brings the young man a precious few moments of happiness.

The bitterness that exists between Tom and Emily grows even more profound as they both struggle in their own ways to find out who Daniel really is and what has become of their son. The Carsons’ failure to recognize him, the questions they ask and Rebecca’s revelation that her mother and father have been divorced for nearly three years confuse and frighten Daniel and he becomes increasingly unstable. The fight between Tom and Emily for control of the situation continues well into the evening and reaches a stalemate with Emily insisting that the young man stay just for one night and Tom insisting that he too spend the night, in order to protect her and Rebecca.

In the quiet of the next morning, Emily learns the heartbreaking truth about her son, as Daniel, his condition now having deteriorated into a somewhat dissociative state, describes the horrifying last few hours of Harry’s life. Emily then realizes that in the wake of Harry’s death, this tragic young man has suffered a complete mental breakdown leaving him with nothing but the memories her son had given him during their time together.

Emily then makes an impassioned plea to Tom that they look upon Daniel as “Harry’s legacy” – a gift to them from their son. She argues that his illness and his desperation to have a home have led him to them in the hope of finding acceptance and love. But Tom’s insistence on having complete control of the situation and his anger over what has happened to Harry makes him unwilling to compromise and he harshly confronts Daniel with the reality of his true identity.

Unable to cope with Tom’s rejection and seeing that the happy, loving home to which he thought he was returning is instead, torn with severe strife, Daniel takes his life in the film’s emotionally charged climax.

Submitted: May 14, 2017
Last Updated: May 14, 2017
Times Downloaded: 6
Last Downloaded: June 26, 2019

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Kirk Lohse's picture

The Writer: Kirk Lohse

Kirk Lohse -has been writing, directing and editing since he got his hands on his dad’s Bell & Howell 8mm in 1970. One time, he made a Godzilla movie and set the backyard on fire! But we digress… His passion for making movies was rekindled with the digital video (DV) revolution of the mid 90s. After taking a number of online and classroom-based courses in DV production, Kirk was fortunate enough to learn professional DVD mastering while working on a DVD authoring project for the Schoenberg Foundation in Los Angeles. Lohse spent two years teaching undergraduate video production classes at Texarkana College, where he also served as Program Director for TCTV, the College’s cable access... Go to bio

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