A young girl volunteers for service in the Philippines, and finds herself embroiled in a world of sex, corruption and dark local legends…which may ultimately prove to be all too real.
“If you don’t hunt it down and kill it, it will hunt you down and kill you.”
A powerful statement by American writer Flannery O’Connor from her novel “Wise Blood” published in 1952. Have you read it? If there ever was a single perfect tagline, this is it!
And as for all things Horror, it’s a theme that always applies.
Good versus Evil is a universal mantra for all genres of storytelling – and particularly essential for Horror. In order for a good guy to triumph and find redemption, there must be an equally capable sinister being — a person, place, or thing which threatens every shred of innocence.
But is Good versus Evil always black and white? Anyone who’s survived to adulthood knows that compromise is a fact of life. So – what if the greater good requires sacrifice? Is that acceptable? Maybe. And if that’s the case… isn’t the bad guy sympathetic then?
It’s concepts such as this which elevate Horror films to classics (as opposed to simple gore and jump scares.) And it’s that question that screenwriter J.E. Clarke tackles in Territory – a horror with a refreshingly unique mythos and an intelligent, contemplative theme.
The setting: Angeles City, Philippines – a dreary place “awash in neon and rain.” There’s not much to smile about here – only the constant perpetuation of prostitution, drugs and alcohol. A world where women are forced by starvation and monetary concerns to endure every indignity of life.
Enter Cate Mitchell (23). A recent political science major from California, she arrives one night on a bus. In the rain. A privileged girl from an affluent family, graduate Cate’s determined to travel and see the world – not to mention do good deeds in her life. Her goal in Angeles: to volunteer bookkeeping services to Pasaga Mission, a charity that helps out women in the city’s sex industry… providing shelter, food, and job training.
Upon arrival, Cate meets the staff at Pasaga: Administrator Daniello Reyes – a street-toughened character, accustomed to skirting “moral grays.” Which is true of Sister Eva Flores as well. The headmistress of Pasaga, Eva’s the Mission’s true backbone – nicknamed the “Titanium Butterfly.” Then there are Cate’s fellow volunteers: Indian New Yorker/Photographer Kurt Kapoor, and long-term worker Paul – a charming rogue from Australia.
As Cate learns the ropes at the Mission, various truths come light. Especially that money’s tight and comes at a price. As the sun sets every day – bathing the city in neon signs – the Mission makes compromises; tapping unorthodox resources to survive. Faced by the realities of Port Angeles’ sex industry, Cate finds herself overwhelmed. Has she bitten off more than she can chew? Though dedicated to helping women, are the colorful personalities at Pasaga doing anything useful for their plight?
And if conditions aren’t bad enough – worse Evils lie in wait. Soon, a serial killer targets the street girls. A predator lingers in the shadows – on street corners and doorways. It’s possibly a rogue tourist – killing and mutilating his prey.
But there are other suspects as well: Kurt, who seems to have taken a liking for the girls. Paul, who appears to harbor deep secrets, and disappears many nights. Then there’s Daniello and Eva. After all, Pasaga isn’t perfect. And it may be worse than it seems.
There are even rumors of an Aswang on the loose. A terrifying creature of Filipino legend, Aswangs are vampiric shape changers – monsters that prey on children and the elderly. Not to mention pregnant women…
Trapped in a world and culture she can’t understand, Cate vows to protect the women she’s come to view as friends. Only to be targeted herself… Will Cate survive the dangers of Port Angeles? And – even if she does – will her world view be destroyed in the fight?
A horror with a fresh spin and deep premise, Territory is a complete package for Horror fans. A gritty blood splattered tale, it presents a formidable struggle between Good and Evil. Not to mention moral grays. Are you a Horror director that admires Pan’s Labyrinth, and Guillermo del Toro’s gothic style? Then grab Territory for a read. Because sometimes reality bites. And when you live in third world poverty – fairy tales become nightmares…
Budget: Moderate. An establishing shot should suffice to set up the Philippines location. Lots of neon for the dark, dank underworld atmosphere and to replicate the Mission, bars, city streets, and alleys. This women-centric story offers a variety of strong roles for actors, a huge plus. And if you’re the traveling type… the actual Philippines is cost effective as well!
As for the wicked twist, any horror-savvy director will know what needs to be done. 🙂
NOTE: While the feature length is available only on request (email janetgoodman “at” yahoo), the original short script of Territory can whet your directorial interest here!
About the Reviewer: California über reader/reviewer KP Mackie is working on a historical feature.
About the Writer: Known for her unique characters and plots, J.E. Clarke has placed QF and SF for feature lengths in Page, and has two feature length films optioned for 2015/2016: limited location horror “Containment.” and SF feature “Stream of Consciousness.” More of Ms. Clarke’s work can be read at www.philclarkejr.com/jec.html. Ms. Clarke can be reached directly at janetgoodman “at” yahoo.
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