FROM BEFORE by James Austin McCormick | Script Revolution

FROM BEFORE

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15pp

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An ambitious university professor finds the things he’s done to come so far so quickly come back to haunt him, quite literally.
Synopsis/Details: 

A university professor begins having visions of his younger brother, badly burnt and in a coma in a nearby facility. Visiting the hospital, he learns his sibling has just died, committing suicide in a room full of esoteric runes and occult symbols. Soon after, the visions grow worse until his brother’s dark intentions become all too clear. His spirit wants revenge, blaming the older brother for a magical ceremony which went so badly wrong. And, if it gets its way, there’s going to be hell to pay.

This Script Has Been Reviewed By Shootin' The Shorts

From Before
An ambitious university professor finds the things he’s done to come so far so quickly come back to haunt him… quite literally.

As a massive horror fan, it might be surprising to hear that I am not a massive fan of horror films about the occult and satanic rituals. I’m not sure why, exactly, though I’ve seen a few really, really good ones – Rosemary’s BabyThe Wicker Man (not the Nicolas Cage remake), the excellent South Korean film, The Wailing and, more recently, Ari Aster’s films, Hereditary and Midsommar. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, for me to enjoy a horror flick about the occult, it has to be really, really good. The same goes for screenplays.

Luckily, I stumbled upon James Austin McCormick’s twisty, uber-creepy occult horror short, From Before, which is currently available for production.

The story kicks off when we meet the ambitious and already very successful Dr. Sam Adams, a 26-year-old professor of literature and vice chairman of the committee of trustees at his college. He’s speaking to his class about Faustus – a nice touch of foreshadowing – when, suddenly, he begins to smell something burning. He continues to quiz his students on Faustus but can’t seem to shake that odor that only he seems to smell. That’s when he looks to a student named Michael and notices peculiar burn marks fresh upon his face.

SAM
Michael, what’s wrong with your face?

MICHAEL
You did this to me.

SAM
What do you mean?

Sam looks at the other students. All of them seem like statues, unblinking, unmoving.

MICHAEL (CONT’D)
I’ll see you soon Sammy. I promise.

After blinking his eyes in disbelief, Sam looks to Michael again – but there are no burn marks.
So, what the hell just happened? Was it all in his head?

CLAIRE
Parasomnia.

SAM
Para…what?

CLAIRE
A waking nightmare. It’s more common than people realize.

Claire, Sam’s girlfriend, seems to think these waking nightmares are the product of stress. After all, Sam is taking on a lot of responsibility for someone in their mid 20s after rising up the ranks so quickly.

After a love-making session to shake off the stress, Sam wakes up to the horrifying image of a demon-like figure in his room named Jack – staring at Sam through the dark with reptilian eyes and claws. Jack tells Sam the same thing that he thought he heard in his earlier waking nightmare – “I’m coming for you.”

We soon find out that Jack is also the name of Sam’s brother, who has been lying in a coma for the past three years. You see, at least according to Sam, Jack was into magic and the occult and lit himself on fire as part of a magic trick. After Sam’s most recent waking nightmare, he learns that Jack has indeed passed away – one hell of a coincidence, so it seems. Of course, we discover that it wasn’t a coincidence at all.

As the story ensues, Sam’s mental health continues to spiral to the point where he’s scaring his girlfriend Claire, who’s quite disturbed by all the symbols and markings Sam has decorated his house with – he claims it’s for protection. But protection from what, exactly?

To reveal anything more would be spoiling it for you. But I will say there is quite a double swerve at the end – a very satisfying one at that. A very tight script with plenty of twists and turns, this little tale also has some genuinely creepy moments and even some great jump scares – which is difficult to pull off on paper. If you’re a filmmaker looking to scare the “hell” out of your audience, I recommend taking a look at From Before.

Review by Michael Kospiah
Submitted: May 16, 2020
Last Updated: May 16, 2020

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James Austin McCormick's picture

The Writer: James Austin McCormick

I'm a college lecturer and compulsive writer of speculative fiction. To date I've had many short stories published in various anthologies, as well as novellas and novels published with Class Act books. Anyone who wants to check out my fiction can find a detailed list at the link below: http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/ea.cgi?195589 And my page on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/James-McCormick/e/B00F3F9SGY%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_... I also enjoy screenplay writing and along with a co- author had three horror scripts optioneds. I have also had several scripts place highly in international competitions. In addition to full length scripts, I also write shorter ones. One of these, "In the Silence" (... Go to bio

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