Gifted Children by Jerry Robbins | Script Revolution

Gifted Children

A small-town journalist uncovers a deadly secret at a school for gifted children and plans to expose the truth, but the youthful, mysterious occupants soon show her that terror comes in all sizes.

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107pp

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The Talonford Home for Gifted Children — a dark and brooding Victorian mansion in the country. Young David is brought in by his aunt Leigh, who must see to his welfare before inheriting money from her late sister's will. The proprietors, elderly Mr. and Mrs. Shonts, refuse — until Leigh threatens blackmail with a bogus sexual abuse story to the paper. Soon after, David is lured into the woods and killed, then Leigh as well. Young Arthur sees to hiding the telltale car.

Reporter Mel, seeking a story to take her out of small-town news to big city journalism, gets wind of the Home when she spots Arthur interacting with an old man at the town's rest home. She prevails upon the Shonts to allow her to stay for a few days to do a human interest piece. She arrives with her photographer Ed, who snaps photos. No phone or internet out here, except for an ancient landline, so she'll be out of touch.

From the start it's clear this is no ordinary establishment. There are no mirrors at all. Arthur smokes cigars, and he's a crack shot at pool. The children are bold, eccentric, wise beyond their years, their speech loaded with anachronisms — they seem to be transplants from a vanished age. An unsettling nightmare on her first night sends her back to town to talk to the old man again — only to find him again with Arthur, who warns her to mind her own business. Meanwhile, back in town, photographer Ed's researches turn up an old picture of the home — from 1900 — showing several of the current children looking no different than they do now...

That night, young Phineas prevails upon the Shonts to bring him down to the basement. There, he drinks of the water seeping from a natural spring — and dissolves into a pile of dust! Later Mel finds the dust, and Phineas's gold tooth. Certain they are killing children, she goes back to the rest home, where the old man reveals that Arthur is not his grandson but his father — aged 133!

Mel calls Ed and has him search the internet — where he finds that all the children correspond to rich individuals who vanished mysteriously. The phone call's monitored by Mrs. Shonts. Believing she's close to cracking the case, Mel has Ed come to the house, where she slips him the gold tooth and a USB drive containing what she's found. She's intent on breaking this story herself, and goes to Mr. Shonts' office for a final confrontation.

Mr. Shonts comes clean. The Fountain of Youth is real... and it's under this house. A person can drink and be restored to their childhood form. But only six times — any more than that, and the ages will reclaim what is rightfully theirs. And now that Mel knows, she's never leaving — Arthur, having garroted Ed outside, brings in the gold tooth and the USB to make this clear.

A macabre game of hide-and-seek ensues, where Mel is pursued to the attic. There among the house's mirrors — which show the children's true ghastly forms — Mel is overpowered...

Later, her publisher comes out to investigate, and is told Mel and Ed have eloped. But a little girl, no more than 10, follows him out, claiming to be Mel... which the Shonts laugh off as the impossible fancies of a child...

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DOUBLE RECOMMEND Script coverage. Screenwriting Staffing 5-30-20

Submitted: February 19, 2020
Last Updated: July 10, 2022

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Jerry Robbins's picture

The Writer: Jerry Robbins

I'm a produced writer of two features - CATCH THE BULLET (Lionsgate) and THE LEGEND OF LAKE HOLLOW (Penumbra Films, being released in 2023). My screenplay THE UNEXPECTED ROMANCE OF CAPTAIN SAM is under option with Citizen Skull Productions. I began in the world of audio dramas, writing 480 audio drama scripts (features and series episodes) that were hosted on Sirius/XM Radio for eight years. In that time, with the Colonial Radio Theatre, I was fortunate to have collaborated with Ray Bradbury, William Luce, and Walter Koenig on various audio productions. I adapted one of my audio dramas into a screenplay, which later resulted in my leaving audio behind to write exclusively for film - my true... Go to bio
Agency: Stephanie Rogers & Associates
Manager: Stephanie Rogers

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