Horror - Development 2007

    • Year of production
    • 2007
    • Genres
    • Horror, Black comedy, Action/Adventure
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • 1 - 3 M$
    • Duration
    • 90 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Mik DUFFY
    • Writer(s)
    • Mik DUFFY
    • Synopsis
    • One-line summary pitch:
      The most dangerous prison on Earth has just gotten a whole lot deadlier.
      Story Outline:
      Somewhere in the not too distant future….
      At a military tribunal KATIE MCMURDO is convicted of a long string of violent crimes and is sentenced to several life sentences in the notorious Ninth Circle Woman’s Penitentiary. Before her trial ends she adds one more crime to her rap sheet. Blinding a court guard. En route to prison Guard O’BANNON propositions Katie. She kills him but is injured in the fray. Heaviliy sedated whilst in the infirmary, she comes to in her cell and meets new cell-mate NATALIE, a heavily medicated and strangely naïve young woman who seems out of place.
      As they eat breakfast in the canteen Natalie gives Katie the run-down on the other key prisoners in the facility. Most notably the ‘Serials’, a group of female serial killers including MISS ZODIAC; and the Aryan Sisterhood, led by UBER-ALICE, a charismatic neo-nazi, whose daughters– GWENDOLINE, TAMERLANE and BRUNNHILDE are also in the prison. A fight breaks out between a Satanist inmate and CRUCIFIX HAIRDO, a fundamentalist Christian – who is killed. Then the prison doctor CORBUCCI arrives, to take some prisoners away to be experimented on. Natalie guesses that prisoners are being used to grow embryos, but no one really knows what goes on up in ‘Med-Wing’.
      Katie is subjected to psychiatric evaluation by a PSYCHIATRIST with an artificial voice-box. She threatens to kill him. After an encounter with Uber-Alice tells Katie she runs the jail, and tells her not to cross her. Katie insults her and they fight. Katie ends up in solitary, but manages to kill the guard providing her with food through the service hatch. Meanwhile Corbucci leads women off to be experimented upon, including Gwendoline, to Uber-Alice’s fury.
      Someone enters Katie’s cell, and Katie reacts violently – only to discover it’s Natalie. Natalie explains that a prison riot has started, and that nowhere is safe. Katie then sees Coven Girl snarling like an animal biting into a dead guard. Katie attacks her, but Coven Girl’s condition has given her hyper-adrenalised strength. Katie kills her with the dead man’s pump-action shotgun. Katie and Natalie assume Coven Girl’s transformation is due to some sort of biological-weapons-trial gone wrong. It seems most of the guards are dead, and that more infected prisoners are running riot. Katie – strapping on body armour – takes charge.
      As they move through the facility they run into MANIAC MAGGIE, who has been bitten by an infected prisoner. She turns ‘inhuman’ before their eyes. Katie kills her. A bunch of ‘Crazies’ are blocking the exit from the laundry where they are hiding, so Katie gets Natalie to let them in, while she guns them down. They reach a locked door they cannot penetrate. They are forced to go via Med-Wing. They find Corbucci dead. Natalie locates a video-log which reveals what happened: the prisoners rioted, accidentally realising the weaponised “Amok virus.” Everywhere, staff lie dead. Some guards approach, they’re trying to escort the Psychiatrist to safety. Katie and Natalie kill the guards with some help from Miss Zodiac, now wielding a machete, after having independently fought her way through the infected hoards. Before they kill the Psychiatrist it’s revealed that Natalie in an abuse survivor imprisoned for having an illegal abortion.
      Zodiac shows Katie and Natalie a tracking screen which enables them to see where the infected prisoners and guards are moving within the prison. She reveals all prisoners and guards wear implants inside their thumb behind the nail, so can be tracked anywhere. Katie removes her own and Natalie’s thumb-nail with pliers, and extracts their implants. They cut off guards thumbs, and place these in their pockets, so they will be mistaken for guards by the prison authorities, and thus avoid pursuit.
      The trio proceed through the jail in search of the exit. They shoot down infected ‘Crazies’ as they go, eventually reaching a guards’ enclave, and persuade them to let them in thanks to the stolen implants. They take control and demand that guard EDDISON help them escape, as his retina-imprint will be needed for the prison’s last exit. Eddison is in fact a military officer, part of the “Amok Weapons Project.” Eddision reveals that the virus has been engineered to only target women.
      Katie discovers that the virus was made specifically for women. Meanwhile Natalie’s meds run out, and her personality changes for the better – she gets her identity back. The trio lead Eddison through a service duct, as Crazies scream nearby and attempt to get at them. One of the Crazies – DOLORES – works out that the trio are inside the vent and starts shooting through the metal, a mob in tow. She hits Miss Zodiac, who falls into the middle of the Crazies. She slashes many to death with her machete, before she is then devoured in a feeding frenzy.
      Katie and Natalie finally reach the prison loading yard. Uber-Alice – transformed into a Crazy – leads a troop of infected prisoners towards them. Eddison’s retina unlocks the gate, before he is left to be devoured. Uber-Alice and Katie slug it out before Uber-Alice is severed in half by the exit-gate, as if by a guillotine. Katie and Natalie are finally free, but Natalie has sustained a bite in the carnage. She is infected. Katie has to shoot her. And Katie – free at last - walks off into the horizon.
      Whilst many modern horror action films soft-pedal their thrills or pull back for fear of causing offence Deadlocked aims to go for the jugular. And whilst movies like the remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre or the Saw series depict their grisly carnage with po-faced pretensions Deadlocked will be a genre film, in the tradition of Mad Max, Robocop or the original Dawn of the Dead, combining mayhem with dark wit. The film will also draw heavily on the British tradition of gritty dystopian Sci-Fi/Horror.
      Tonally we want to recall the darkness of Nigel Kneale’s Quatermass stories as well as the social criticism and black comedy of 2000AD comic-strips such as Judge Dredd. The universe of Deadlocked is a bleak one but it also offers scope for social satire, an ingredient all too often missing from recent genre fare. Though we can’t afford to compete with Hollywood in terms of visual spectacle we can and will deliver a story with genuinely subversive B-movie bent.
      Utilising genuine prison locations Deadlocked’s vision of a dystopian Near Future American Gulag can be achieved without the need for expensive sets and with a minimum of digital trickery. The gore effects are to be realised using practical make up effects: an old school Fangoria magazine approach will be adhered to.
      In terms of costume, set-dressing and design work the film will rely heavily on the notion of “retro-fitting.” In Deadlocked’s “grim meat-hook future” the recycling and repair of techno junk and weaponry is evident everywhere. The film will also play with the images of Prisoner abuse now, depressingly, part of every movie-goers’ visual vocabulary post Abu-Ghraib and Camp X-Ray Delta.
      Most modern films in the horror action genre are, twenty years after the fact, still recycling the character of Ripley from Aliens. Alas, films like Resident Evil fail to excite or endure because their female protagonists tend to be two dimensional. Ripley works because she has a back story and character quirks which make her more than just a monster fighting babe. With Deadlocked the intention is to step away from the nth generation Ripley and Buffy clones currently polluting the genre and give us a type of female protagonist we’ve never seen before: a genuine anti-heroine.
      A violent criminal with a military background Katie is both tough enough to survive and ruthless enough to prevail in most situations. Laconic, resourceful, and nihilistic she has more in common with the gun-slinging bastard heroes of the Spaghetti Western.
      Supporting characters:
      Natalie exists to provide a wide-eyed innocent contrast to Katie. A damaged innocent her very vulnerability should serve to amplify the tension. Whilst it’s hard to imagine anything defeating Katie Natalie gives us someone to be scared for. Miss Zodiac on the other hand, by being both more psychotic and less self-assured than Katie, makes our anti-heroine seem more like a protagonist we can root for.
      By and large the nightmarish prison itself and the “Amok virus” are the villains of the piece. That said the darkly comic near future setting gives us latitude for all manner of colourfully unpleasant bad guys. Notable baddie Uber-Alice, though an over the top grotesque, is still a frightening figure. Like Grendel’s mother in the sage Beowulf her violence is largely driven by her maternal instincts.
      The prison staff, including Corbucci and Eddison, though clearly partially responsible for all that happens are also, on another level, merely parts of a machine. The system at large is most to blame.
      Project History:
      Deadlocked has been offered development funding by the Northern Ireland Film and Television Commission. A first draft screenplay received coverage from the NIFTC’s development executives, summarized as follows: “This project is worth developing as a commercial project attainable on a reasonable budget. It has a strong commercial and marketing potential, along with an automatic niche audience of horror fans. The twist that this is also about a prison-break brings something new to the genre, and the fact that all the key protagonists are female adds to the strength of the hook and widens the appeal.”
      The idea for the film developed from the professional relationship between awardwinning filmmaker Mik Duffy and producer Paul Largan. Having worked together on two short films written by Mik Duffy, Flying Saucer Rock and Roll and Mortice, they further collaborated on Mik’s first short as a director, Hitch in 2005. Described as a “well-executed, clever twist on genre expectations”, Hitch won the Claire Lynch Award for Best First Short by an Irish Director at the Cork Film Festival, October 2005 and has subsequently screened in competition at Rotterdam, Cinema Jove Valencia, Galway, Clermont Ferrand and the San Sebastien Fantasy and Horror Film Festival. The film has recently been broadcast on RTE’s Network 2. Canal + France acquired rights for all French-speaking territories world. Canal + Spain acquired rights for Spain and Andorra. AtomFilms acquired non-exclusive internet rights and the online feedback has been exceptional.