Folks, Harry here with Moriarty's mini-rumblings written in a parodiac styling of Greg Pruss' David Fincher attached first person script called PASSENGERS. Enjoy the headache you are about to receive.... I did, the fucking formatting of this bitch hurt like a medieval spiked mace in the chute.
RUMBLINGS FROM THE LAB:
PASSENGERS WORTH THE RIDE
James G Moriarty
INT. MORIARTY LABS – LOS ANGELES – NIGHT
All the lights are out but one, directly overhead, that shines so bright the pages of the script almost glow.
I AM PROFESSOR MORIARTY.
And I am reading a screenplay called PASSENGERS by g.j. pruss. I should be working on another article, but I’m engrossed. I turn the pages as fast as I can cram them into my eyes. I comment to myself
This is incredible...
but there’s no one to hear my aged North English growl as it echoes off the subterranean stone walls of the Labs. All the Henchmen are sleeping. One of them, a new one I still haven’t properly named, is supposed to be running errands, but he sits slumped by the door, almost sleeping.
Hey. Hey. Hey.
The Henchman doesn’t stir. I get up and cross to where he sits and kick his chair out from under him. As he lands, he wakes up with a girly little scream, and he’s on his feet in a moment, running, not even sure where he’s going, but sure he’s already late.
I can’t help but laugh as I go back to the script.
INT. JOHN ROBIE CATHOUSE – LOS ANGELES – NIGHT
No matter how many times I come to this place, it is always shocking, always tacky, always seeming to hover just on the verge of being raided and shut down for good.
Gregor Samsa wanders in from another bout of crazy porno sex with a vaguely of-age girl, scratching himself, bleating a quick
as he goes by. I don’t hear him, though. I’m too busy ranting at John Robie, who reads even more scripts than I do.
You’ve never read a script like this, Robie.
The whole damn thing is in first person.
It’s the most absorbing thing I’ve ever seen.
It pulls you in, pushes you down the page.
And it makes you see the world that’s being
described. It’s so vivid. It’s perfect for
He’s not impressed. He’s read a lot of gimmicks, and he thinks I’m insane anyway. He’s right, but it doesn’t matter in this case.
But is it all clever on the page in a way that
wouldn’t translate to the screen? Because it
doesn’t matter how good the read is if the film
doesn’t play for the viewer.
Not at all. This is a movie, smart and strange
and emotional. It’s got a more human heart
than FIGHT CLUB, something that people
will be able to latch onto. There’s something
basic and horrifying about losing time, about
losing control of yourself and not knowing
I notice that Samsa has gone slack standing by the door. He just stands, staring at the corner of the room. There’s nothing there, though... at least, nothing I can see. I walk over to Samsa and snap a few times in front of his face.
He doesn’t even blink.
People will relate.
I turn back to say something to Robie, and he’s moving, ducking out of the room. There’s the sudden taste of copper as I catch blood on my lips that’s running from my nose. My eyelids flutter and the next thing I know...
EST. AERIAL – LOS ANGELES – DAY
Smoggy. Monochrome. Heavy. A dead sunbleached whale.
INT. MORIARTY LABS – DAY
... I’m struggling to wake at the foot of my bed; trying to coax my eyes open when I feel the flesh in my face twist in pain. My mouth cracks open like an attic trunk.
UPSIDE DOWN – SLOW PAN
I look across the ceiling. I feel my voice bubble up through warm mud in my throat and hear myself in an older man’s voice say
Now concentrate asshole, and do something bold; like get out of bed.
INT. BATHROOM – DAY
I’m naked and stumbling on tight, sore muscles and cold tiles, and good Christ I’m thirsty.
IN THE MIRROR
I see my lips are smeared with lipstick. Wait... that’s dried blood DRIPPING FROM MY NOSE. I stick my throbbing head under the faucet and drink.
ECHOING louder than it should. Like a hammer on an oil drum. I shake my head and swallow with an open jaw trying to pop the ringing in my ears and the sound fades to normal as I see
THE COMPUTER SCREEN
and my browser has already brought up Ain’t It Cool News. Familiar Velma orange and brown background, new headlines up, and from there it’s just one click to the admin form.
I walk over and bend down to move the mouse and when I reach for it a SHARP PAIN stabs me in the back. I reach for it but can’t find it with my hand. What the fuck is that? I turn, look in the mirror and see
A LARGE SAFETY PIN
WITH A CELTIC DESIGN at the top, piercing the flesh between my shoulder blades. There’s dried blood droplets dappled and smeared near the holes.
What the hell?
That I can’t reach it is not nearly as disturbing as the fact that I can’t remember how it got there. I notice MY CHEEK and someone’s lipstick. There’s MORE there than I noticed. A lot more. Kiss and bite marks down my neck. I search the Labs for clues as to what the hell is going on.
My main clue is the script, that script I can’t forget reading. PASSENGERS is haunting, unforgettable, a perfect fit for David Fincher, one of the producers attached to the film at USA Films. He’s partnered with MICHAEL LONDON on the project, which Greg Pruss adaptated from Robert Silverberg’s short story.
INT. MORIARTY LABS – MOVING
SLOWLY TRACKING PAST
TWO NEARLY EMPTY BOTTLES OF CRISTAL.
I HIT PLAY ON MY ANSWERING MACHINE and Steven Hawking says `
What? And they play.
Just looking for you, Professor. I’ll try Mongo’s
Moriarty, it’s me... Lime. Wanna get in some
serious trouble? I’ve got two Mexican whores
and a cantalope now. Gimme a buzz.
It’s June... jeez, Prof, you could have at least
said hi. You acted like you didn’t even see me.
Junior Mintz was upset. And the rest play on. Late happy birthdays and people looking for me. I keep looking for clues.
WATER IN AN ICE BUCKET.
A FILLED ASHTRAY.
A BROKEN CHAIR.
A SMALL PIPE STUFFED WITH ASHEN EMBERS.
MELTED ICE CREAM IN A QUART CONTAINER.
SOME CHOPPED STRAWBERRIES.
DRIED BLOOD. A small pool. More dripped down the drawers. Some of it on my copy of the script.
I flip through the script. I can’t believe it’s written in first person all the way through. The result is, you have to feel, as a reader, that this is an intimate film. I’ve never read Silverberg’s short story, so I don’t know if he resolves the issue of the nature of the Passengers in his story. The film does not, and it is to the great service of the project.
The script tells the story of Charles, a man who has a life that seems fine from the outside. He’s a partner in a law firm, making $180,000 a year, with a great office, a great apartment. Everything seems perfect, but Charles is alone, and he’s unhappy, and he’s adrift.
And then he wakes up, just like I woke up, and his search of his apartment leads him to ask some hard questions, especially when he learns he lost four days. It happens again, this time for longer. And he begins to look to friends and others for answers. And all he finds as he asks around is that he is alone in a situation he can’t fathom. The one thing that keeps him moving is a memory, a woman’s face. There’s no way he can remember her, but he does, and he sets out to find her.
Charles is also searching for answers about his blackouts, and he’s noticing the spread of symptoms just like his. We’re only given answers in the vaguest of ways, and there’s opposing theories as to the nature of the Passengers. We never see an alien of any kind. We never even see a physical manifestation. This is all played out in the people themselves.
Like Ed Norton’s nameless Narrator in FIGHT CLUB, the character of Charles is iconic, someone that many of us will recognize elements of ourselves in. There’s a dark, sardonic wit to the beginning of this film, but this isn’t FIGHT CLUB. This is a project that is very, very sad at heart, broken and damaged and painful. The second half of this script contains many sequences that approach the emotional pirouettes of something like FEARLESS. There’s such grief, and such desperation, and they’re all mixed up together in a way that would ultimately make this one of the great horror films of all time.
When I use horror here, it is not in a throwaway sense. This is a horror film the way I hope to make horror films, rich with intelligence and insight and mood and texture. This is a film about people, about the fragility of connections, that comments on the empty pursuit of pleasure and illustrates the value of real intimacy. This script hit me really hard on a personal level. I am currently seeing someone, and we’re reaching one of those plateaus, a place where you decide if you like this person enough to move forward. We are at that place where you either open up or close back down, and taking that leap... opening up... it’s terrifying. There’s very few things where we are laid bare the same way. PASSENGERS manages to make an incredibly powerful comment on that moment, that leap of faith, that courage, and its lessons are almost too much to bear.
I’m not sure who Fincher’s thinking of for this film, and I’m not sure when he’s planning to get to it on his production slate. RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA keeps threatening to heat up to active development, and for some reason Fincher’s still circling THE PANIC ROOM, that quasi-retarded David Koepp script that never even manages to deliver on what is, in the end, a fairly pedestrian premise. Throw in wild cards like PATHFINDER, a cat-and-mouse techno thriller, and you’ve got a minefield that Fincher’s making his way through. I hope this film becomes a priority for him in the very near future. I got the same feeling reading this that I did when I read FIGHT CLUB a year before it came out. The hair on the back of my neck stood up at the thought of what Fincher might have planned. The movie plays for keeps, pulls no punches, and Fincher’s going to make people crazy with the movie. He’s going to break their hearts without mercy if he shoots what I read. It’s piercing, but somehow that makes it more human, more real and immediate than anything we’ve seen from Fincher before. The idea of beings that use our bodies as emotional and visceral amusement parks, taking control of us, taking a ride for several days... that’s horrifying. The reactions of the people we meet and the world around Charles... that’s human. In that place where the horror and the human drama meet, that’s where Fincher’s film seems to want to exist. It’s a tightrope walk, a challenge that this writer has thrown down, and I’d love to see what happens when and if he tries.
I finally close the script and set it aside and
I WAKE IN A SUBWAY TRAIN.
I AM ON THE VERRAZZANO BRIDGE.
I STAND ON THE STREET IN THE RAIN.
I AM HOME, IN A BATHTUB OF BLOODY WATER.
I AM IN THE FLAME OF THE STATUE OF LIBERTY.
INT. MORIARTY LABS – DAY
I am still. I am okay. I am alive.