Play Dead

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10pp

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In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, one man believes he has the perfect strategy to survive, but what will his plan cost him?

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This Script Has Been Reviewed By Shootin' The Shorts

PLAY DEAD
In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, one man believes he has the perfect strategy to survive, but what will his plan cost him?

Decades before George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead ever hit the screen, the first feature length zombie horror film made its début. Its title: White Zombie, starring the inimitable Bela Lugosi. Prior to this in 1920, Robert Wiene mesmerized audiences with his silent film: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which depicted a killer in the guise of a sleeping-walking zombie.             

Fast forward to the 80s and George Romero set the gold standard in popular culture with his unique and oft imitated vision of the Undead as plodding lumbering cannibals.

Various Zombie incarnations have proliferated since. Though the source of Zombie plagues is often not divulged, zombie outbreaks often represent a decaying society, and are depicted as allegory and cautionary tales. In a post apocalyptic world, corrupt governments, leaked mutant viruses, radioactive fallout and even supernatural occurrences frequently act as catalyst to outbreak. 

Zombie settings and genres are equally diverse. From outer space, to period drama, to  movie musical: Zombies On Broadway. From the brilliantly funny Zom-com: Shaun Of The Dead, to Zom-Rom-Com: Pride And Prejudice and Zombie, and the angst-ridden romance that is Warm Bodies. From the lumbering and kooky to the frenetic superfast avalanche of zombies in World War Z, and the grim and bloodthirsty mutants of Richard Matheson’s, I am Legend. How can we forget Danny Boyle’s provocative and intelligent reworking of a world gone to rack and ruin with its special brand of Rage-Zombies in 28 Days Later and its sequel: 28 Weeks Later.

From book, to comic strip, to video game, to movie and television, it seems our fascination and appetite for the Living Dead is insatiable.

So what makes a good Zombie script? Well, a fresh angle and originality is key. An audience wants to see something they haven’t seen before.

No easy task, but Stephen Well’s Play Dead, ticks all the boxes with his very cleverly crafted story.

We open on:

A SKELETON sits propped up against a gas pump.

MAN (V.O.)
In every city and every country
people died in record numbers. It was
a global pandemic. The end of mankind
as we knew it.

Suddenly, the sound of FOOTSTEPS. Slow and listless.

MAN (V.O.) (cont'd)
Then the darndest thing happened. The
dead started to rise.

A SHADOW looms over the skeleton and a figure staggers into view... A ZOMBIE.

We meet: Trapper Hat, the protagonist and narrator of the piece. By his own admission Trapper’s a survivor, doing his best to blend in with the Undead around him. It’s also clear Trapper Hat will do anything to survive. Through every word he utters it’s clear he’s capable and smart, but he’s also conceited, full of pride, and ruthless.

And yet:

TRAPPER HAT (V.O.)
I shouldn't have left them alone.

Trapper is also plagued by a guilty secret. A secret that will either redeem him, or could prove deadly.  

He rips the knife from the creature's skull and uses it to open up its mid-section.

TRAPPER HAT
I don't need backup. I just do what it takes.

He reaches in, takes two handfuls of blood and innards, smears them over his body and face. Gives himself a fresh coat of gore.

At this point the reader may well jump to the conclusion that this trope (above) seems a little familiar, but what happens next will shock and surprise you. From here on in this one definitely ain’t treading clichéd ground.

With its original storyline, visual writing and universal themes of love, loss, and betrayal, its multi-layered well drawn characters, and masterful twist, Play Dead is guaranteed to not only shock audiences but also bring a tear to your eye.

Play Dead was one of two Reader’s Choice picks in the April 17 Apocalypse Themed One Week challenge on Simply Scripts.

Filmmakers:  We just know you’re dying to sink your teeth into this one and bite off all you can chew.  You’d better move fast though, or you may well be left for dead.

Review by L. Chambers

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Stephen Wells's picture

The Writer: Stephen Wells

Hailing from Derbyshire, England, Stephen Wells is a graphic designer who has been writing for several years after first getting the screenwriting bug in 2009. He had a feature script optioned in 2013 and placed as a Quarter-Finalist in the 2014 Bluecat feature competition. Go to bio

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