Living Nightmare by Warren Duncan | Script Revolution

Living Nightmare



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A woman with severe insomnia finally gets some rest, but it comes with horrific consequences.

This Script Has Been Reviewed By Shootin' The Shorts

Living Nightmare
A woman with severe insomnia finally gets some rest, but it comes with horrific consequences.

 “My best dreams and worst nightmares have the same people in them” – Philippos Syrigos

There’s something both delightful and harrowing about the perpetually morphing nature of our dreamscapes. The ethereal vignettes our subconscious spawns when we sleep are often nothing like the reality of our waking lives. They follow no rules of time or reality. One minute you can be a kid again, riding a bike with your best friend. The next minute the Earth is swallowing you whole while space demons hound you into a hellish oblivion. They often make no sense on the surface, and yet they tell so much about our unconscious mind. Our fears. Our hopes. Our regrets.

‘Living Nightmare’ by Warren Duncan brilliantly explores what can happen when our conscious mind can no longer distinguish between realism and fantasy.

Cassie is a 30-year old woman who suffers from insomnia. Concerned about her ceaseless exhaustion and lethargy, she eventually visits a doctor. She tells him about her problem, and that when she does nod-off it’s not a restful sleep and nor can she recall her dreams.

In response, her doctor prescribes something to help her get some shuteye.

I think it’s a classic case of Insomnia.
I’m going to give you something to help you sleep.

He produces a prescription pad and fills the top of the page.

Are there any side effects?

Nothing to worry about. 
Some people suffer from dry mouth,
others report vivid dreams,
at the very worst you may sleep walk.
If you experience anything more severe,
let me know and we can try a different medication.

Armed with her new sleeping pills Cassie hits the sack and for the first time in a long time she has a long, deep and peaceful sleep. However, just as the doctor had cautioned, she experiences ‘vivid dreams’.

Initially this ‘side effect’ is welcomed by Cassie, as she get to dream of her long-lost twin sister, Jemma.

Within a few days the dark bags under Cassie’s eyes begin to fade away and her countenance goes from bone-weary and gloomy to vibrant and positive.

Sadly, this blissful state doesn’t last long, as Cassie’s dreams about her estranged sister become more vivid and intense. Her unconscious grief regarding Jemma pervasively manifests itself in dreams that evolve from whimsical nostalgia to visceral nightmares.

Desperate and frightened, she goes back to her doctor seeking a way to quit the sleeping pills. He prescribes her something else but warns her it’ll take a few days to get the other drugs out of her system.

Too terrified to sleep, Cassie tries to stay awake until the potent sleep drugs dissipate. But there’s only so long a person can resist sleep, as they will inevitably close their eyes and surrender to the sandman.

Once this happens, it’s impossible to avoid the wicked nightmares that have been plaguing your unconscious imagination.

Warren Duncan’s unsettling tale deftly leads the audience to a sickening and cruel twist that’ll leave some dreading a return to the land of Nod. But for filmmakers influenced by disturbing yet evocative movies such as Nightmare on Elm Street, Dreamscape and The Cell, this is the perfect short screenplay to take your directing skills and creative brand to the next level.

Just remember to leave the light on when you read this… as the last thing you’ll want is to take this story into your own dreams.



Review by Jeremy Storey
Submitted: August 26, 2018
Last Updated: August 26, 2018
Times Downloaded: 78
Last Downloaded: March 12, 2020

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The Writer: Warren Duncan

I am an aspiring screenwriter from Australia. I have had multiple shorts produced and currently have several on option. I typically enjoy writing horror, thriller, and drama scripts. Please feel free to contact me at or check out my website using the link below. Thanks for taking a look. Go to bio

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