Cul de Sac | Script Revolution

Cul de Sac

Cul de Sac
A couple of city dwellers move to the suburbs and are bombarded by their hyperactive neighbors
who aggressively try to get them to try a strange, new health product.

Beware hyperactive, kooky, and creepily convivial neighbors, bearing gifts in the form of furtive food and other strange sundries. Which is the perfunctory moral of the story in Brandi’s Self’s quirky and queasy short screenplay: CUL-DE-SAC.

The start of this rather familiar ‘Fish out of Water’ or ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ story introduces the audience to our two main characters: BONNIE and CHANDLER. Young 30-something hipster millennials, who have decided to move away from the ‘hectic city’ to a more ‘suburban’ setting, where life is quieter, unhurried, and completely and utterly prosaic. Which may be why Chandler is initially having a harder time adjusting to their new home.

CHANDLER
I miss the city already.

BONNIE
You better get used to it, this is our new home.

CHANDLER
Conform or die, right?

BONNIE
Well, we are the adults.

Theoretically, yes. But are they truly prepared to face the vapid verisimilitude of suburban life? A life typically tied to a Gordian knot of overly-friendly neighbors, who reside in cookie-cutter houses, wear similar swanky sportwear, continue to tote the ‘Rachel from Friends’ hairdo, and treat gossip like a contact sport. Which is a theme that becomes abundantly apparent the first time our erstwhile city-slickers come face-to-face with a kinetic coterie of spandex-wearing 30-something neighbors out on their morning run/walk, full of vim and vigor. Scratch that. Not full… more like… overflowing.

SHERY (O.S.)
I feel amazing!

TATE (O.S.)
(overlapping)
Never felt better!

KATE (O.S.)
(overlapping)
I’m on top of the world!

Sadly for Bonnie and Chandler, they are obliged to be friendly and exchange pleasantries with this rather manic trifecta, who can’t stop obsessing over how amazing they feel. That’s when Bonnie notices each of them have a ‘square patch’ on their arms with the letters: ‘PC’. She inadvertently mistakes these appliqués for a nicotine patch - but is abruptly rebutted. Indeed, the very idea of smoking is clearly abhorrent to this inscrutable triumvirate of oddballs. So, they quickly pivot the chit-chat to what is presumably the cause of their enigmatic mania.

SHERY
You hungry?

BONNIE
What?

KATE
Have her try one of the bars!

TATE
Oh, yes, she has to!

Shery pulls out a protein bar with a label that says, "Petite Complete".

BONNIE
“Petite Complete”?

SHERY
It gives you energy.

KATE
Lots of energy!

TATE
Tons of energy! Take a bite.

BONNIE
No, thanks. I should probably get going. Boxes to unpack.

Bonnie and Chandler work together to quickly find a way to unravel themselves from this rather bizarre conversation, and get back to unpacking their belongings. However, the oddity of the exchange wasn’t completely unnoticed. Or, as Chandler pertinently quips:

CHANDLER
The suburbs are weird, man.

Our city-couple continue to unpack and settle into their new dwelling. But are interrupted again the following day when they're ‘ambushed’ by the threesome of weirdsome. Once more, the chipper ladies are keen to lure the city kids into investing in their ‘lifestyle’ product, which Chandler cynically yet understandably sees as a not-so-subtle sales pitch to be a part of a ‘pyramid scheme’. Basically, they didn’t make a choice to leave the city, to become an ‘Avon Lady’.

That said, the tigerish triumvirate are intractable in their determination to persuade the newcomers to partake in their feverish fixation. In fact, they invite Chandler and Bonnie to a BBQ later in the evening. Chandler's desperate to avoid it at all costs. However, Bonnie is determined to make a good impression and avoid alienating themselves from the local community… regardless of their objectively bizarre and beguiling behavior.

As they dress to go to the party, Chandler continues to chunter away about the whole thing being a waste of time...  until he comes across one of the ‘Sweet Petite’ protein bars given to Bonnie by one of the Trippy Triplets. Feeling hungry, he throws caution to the wind. He takes a bite of the bar, fully expecting for it to be exactly has he had predicted: A grown-up version of a Girl Scout cookie.

Alas, whatever is in the bar transforms Chandler into a super-energetic and enthusiastic automaton, like the other ladies of the neighborhood. Something that does not go unnoticed by Bonnie. Who in turn insists they skip the BBQ, as she is now genuinely concerned with what is being put into these ‘Sweet Petite’ patches and nibbles. Her once reliably cynical partner has gone full Stepford.

BONNIE
You’re acting weird. I don’t know if I want to go to this party.

CHANDLER
Are you kidding me, it’s going to be amazing!

BONNIE
I’m suddenly not feeling too good.

CHANDLER
You probably just need a little protein, that’s all!
Once we get over there—

BONNIE
You said we weren’t going to buy anything.

CHANDLER
If it makes me feel this great, hell, I’ll buy the whole lot!

Despite Bonnie’s plaintive protestations, they still attend the party. Chandler's so far gone by this stage, he’s been fully assimilated into the suburban Borg. This piques Bonnie’s interest, as she is certain something sinister is going on behind the scenes. So, she makes the mistake of looking for some ‘questions that aren’t good answers’.

What she discovers is ‘Petite’, but anything but ‘sweet’. Quite the opposite in fact: a truth and a horror that can’t be unseen or ignored. The only choice is to either go with the flow, or make like a tree and leave.

Brandi Self’s sumptuous dark and delicious tale of suburban dystopian hell is a surefire festival audience pleaser. It's also perfect for a more experienced filmmaker who have cut their teeth on a couple of low budget, low risk shorts, and are aiming to take on a project that can truly showcase their talent. As this story’s success will crucially depend on the director’s vision and ability to amplify the underlying foreboding, to make their audience both engaged and uncomfortable. Make them feel like they’ve just moved into a Cul-de-Sac, where the HOA is run by a ‘murderers row’ of big league hellions, such as Hitler, Jack the Ripper, and Satan.

Check out this macabre masterpiece, and you might just find it’s the perfect petite film, with a sweetly sickening twist viewers will dine out on for years to come.

The Script

Cul-de-sac

A couple of city dwellers move to the suburbs and are bombarded by their hyperactive neighbors who aggressively try to get them to try a strange, new health product.

About The Reviewer

J.B. Storey's picture
Real name: 

I originally hail from the UK, but now reside in Seattle, WA.

Over the years I've written award-winning feature length & short screenplays. As well as award-winning stage plays (Last Cup of Sorrow, Wolves at the Door).

I've had four pieces of my work produced for screen and stage: An Angel Whispers (short film), Adrifting (short film), Good Deeds (short film), and Last Cup of Sorrow (stage play).

These days I write, because it's a creative outlet, and I enjoy the...Read more

About The Writer

Brandi Self's picture
Real name: 

Produced/Optioned Screenwriter 

I create surreal, carefully constructed stories that dissect love, morality, oppression, identity crises, alienation, and stagnation by catapulting characters into sometimes absurdly juxtaposed worlds where they must use self-examination as a tool for escape and redemption. 

 

Influences: 

Rod Serling/Twilight Zone

Charlie Kaufman 

Franz Kafka

 

Background:

I guess it all began with me hanging out...Read more