The Fear by R. J. Cardullo | Script Revolution

The Fear

"The Fear" is an eerie tale that features not only an isolated, nighttime setting, but also a female protagonist who has an obsessive, increasingly unhinged fear that she and her husband are being stalked.



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Based On: 
"The Fear” (1913), a poem by Robert Frost.

A man, Joel, and a woman—his wife, unnamed—are seen in the shadows outside a barn, near their house. The woman is convinced she has seen a man’s face in the bushes alongside the road. She and Joel soon enter into a disagreement about what the woman thinks she saw, and this becomes the central conflict in the script—and seemingly in the couple’s relationship.

The woman is unable to leave the vision alone; the man, however, is doubtful and dismissive. She describes how returning to a dark house always makes her feel a bit uneasy. Joel, for his part, wants to keep his wife from searching the bushes and grasps her arm to hold her back. The woman reminds Joel that they live in an isolated place, and therefore there is more likely to be something to fear. The couple never discloses who they suspect the interloper is—but it might be someone they know and fear.

As tensions increase, the woman pushes herself past Joel to get a lantern from the barn and go looking, as she will not be able to rest until she quiets her fears. She finally summons her strength to address the unknown figure who, she senses, is lurking in the bushes. This man might be an old lover of hers or a former husband—or someone more sinister may be out there. Debate and disagreement continue between Joel and his wife about how to deal with such an undetermined threat. The woman imagines that whether it is whoever they think it is, or someone this person has sent to spy, now is the time to deal with the matter. The dispute between her and her husband then becomes a matter of who should be the one to go and address the unknown.

In the end the woman forges ahead, but with Joel by her side. She asks the intruder what he wants, and he says “nothing.” Though she was certain of his presence, the woman is still so stunned by his response that she almost faints and must hold onto her husband for support. As the stranger speaks, he reveals that he is unthreatening and even shares in the woman’s trepidation. He comes into the light and lets her see him—particularly since he has a child by his side, which immediately makes him a benign figure, even under these circumstances. The man and the child were simply out for a nighttime walk, and they now move on.

That is all there is to it, then, as far as the woman is concerned. Since she and her husband live in a very lonely place, she believes they have to be careful. Joel says nothing at this point—indeed, he is silent for the reminder of the action. Something in the woman’s growing regret and lingering fear—no longer of the dark or the unknown voice, but instead of what might have happened, been brought to light, or become the subject of conversation—now causes her to lose hold of the lantern in her hands. The lantern goes out, and darkness engulfs everything.

Submitted: February 5, 2021
Last Updated: April 24, 2021

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R. J. Cardullo's picture

The Writer: R. J. Cardullo

A former university film teacher, I turned to screenwriting several years ago. I have also written film criticism for many publications. A New Yorker by birth, I grew up in Miami and was educated at the University of Florida, Tulane, and Yale. My last U.S. address was in Milford, Connecticut; I am now an expatriate residing in Scandinavia. Many of my scripts (both long and short) are adaptations of lesser-known works by well-known authors. I am happy to re-write, collaborate, or write on demand. Thanks kindly for any attention you can give my work. Go to bio

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