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Hung Up
by MSR

Rated: PG-13   Genre: Comedy   User Review: ***
18-year-old Jill is very indecisive. A year out of high school and she is still struggling with college applications. Things get a lot more stressful for her on Halloween night. This is the second draft of a short film I'm working on.

This screenplay is copyrighted to its author. All rights reserved. This screenplay may not be used or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.


JILL (18), holding an envelope, stands a few feet in front
of a blue mail drop box, looking apprehensive. Her car is
parked but running with the driver's side door open. She
slowly approaches the mailbox and opens the lid. Inside the
mailbox we see her put the envelope in and then pull it out
again. She shuts the lid.
She is back inside the parked but running car. The door is
still open. She tears the envelope and pulls out a check
which is made out to DePaul University for five-hundred
dollars. She hesitates and then rips up the check in several
little pieces, clearly frustrated.
Jill shuts the door and drives off.
                       JILL (VO)
Have you ever been so hung up in a
decision, that you sabotaged all
your possibilities? I can think of
at least two good examples.

A shot of a tree branch as a rope with a noose is thrown

Jill is walking her dog down the sidewalk of an upper-middle
class neighborhood at dusk. Houses and yards are filled with
Halloween decorations, and trick-or-treaters are scurrying
about. She is spotted by RICKY (17), who is putting up fake
cobwebs in the outside porch of his house. He stops what he
is doing and runs out to greet her.
Hey, where were you this
afternoon? I thought you were
gonna help me decorate for my
Halloween party.


Ricky squats down to pet Jill's dog.
Oh, sorry Ricky. I forgot. I guess
I was too busy not mailing my
check to DePaul.
He stands up.
The matriculation fee? Didn't you
say that was due next week?
The two begin walking down the street.
I just don't feel right giving
them money when I'm not even sure
I want to go there yet. What the
hell is a matriculation fee
I think it's to confirm that you
wanna go to their school bad
enough to pay five-hundred dollars
for no reason.
I know! It's ridiculous.
So you think you're gonna take the
whole year off then?
I don't think coming in second
semester makes sense anymore. But
my Mom'll have a fit if I wait any
Yeah. Well, I'm sure you'll figure
it out. You're still coming
tonight, right?
I don't know. Honestly, it's a
little uncomfortable going to a
high school party. No offence.


Jill, you graduated last year. And
besides, I'm only inviting a few
I just don't want to have to
explain to everyone why I'm not in
school already.
Ricky's attention shifts to something across the street. He
stops walking.
Whoa. Someone went all out this
Jill stops and turns.
A decorative figure, masked with hair and wearing a long
black dress, hangs from a rope in a tree next to the outdoor
porch of a small two-story house. There are a few lights on
inside, but this property somehow looks more dark and
detached from the rest of the neighborhood.
Whose house is that?
I think Miss. Banks sill lives
You know her?
No. Not really. She used to pay me
to take out her trash when I was a
kid. But, I haven't seen or talked
to her in years.
I can't really picture an old
woman putting out a decoration
like that.
She's not all that old. But,
you're right, it does seem a
little out of character.


                       DARCY WITHERS (OS)
Excuse me, Jill. Do you have
something to clean that up?
The two turn around to find DARCY WITHERS, a forty-something
homely woman, gawking unpleasantly at Jill's dog who is
defecating her lawn.
Minx! Bad dog! Bad! I'm sorry,
Miss. Withers. I wasn't paying
                       DARCY WITHERS
      (looking up)
Oh. Well, I can't blame you for
getting distracted. I don't know
whose idea it was to hang up that
tasteless eye soar but it
completely crosses the line of
How long has it been up there?
                       DARCY WITHERS
I noticed it yesterday morning
when I came out to get the paper.
Honestly, can't people be content
with jack-o-lanterns? It's this
kind of depravity that makes me
think Halloween should cease to
Oh come on, it's all in good fun.
                       DARCY WITHERS
You aren't a mother, Ricky.
Neither are you.
                       DARCY WITHERS
No, but I have two young nieces.
And if they aren't allowed to see
PG-13 movies yet, they shouldn't
have to be exposed to such
sadistic violence in their own
front yard. I've been collecting
signatures from concerned parents
who agree this community should
enforce a strict set of guidelines


                       DARCY WITHERS (cont'd)
on what holiday decoration is and
isn't appropriate.
Why don't you just go over there
and talk to Miss. Banks.
                       DARCY WITHERS
Miss. Banks. The woman who- Well
at least I think she still lives
                       DARCY WITHERS
I have to take greater action than
that if this problem is going to
be addressed first hand. Now let
me get you a bag so you can clean
up this mess.
Darcy walks back to her house. Jill and Ricky continue to
stare at the hanging figure across the street.
Sitting at the kitchen table, which is holding her laptop
and a full bowl of candy, is PAM (40s). The side door opens,
and in comes Jill and Minx the dog. Jill grabs some candy.
Hi Mom. Candy business is slow
tonight, huh?
Did you take care of everything
you needed to today?
You're not very good at greetings,
you know that?
I'll make note of that. Let's see
how good you are at honesty. What
exactly did you do today?
I worked on college apps most of
the day. Took Minx on a walk.


And the check I wrote you. Did you
mail it yet?
Not yet.
Well, that would be the half
truth. I was rummaging through the
car today and look what I found.
Pam holds a small scrap of the check Jill ripped up.
Looks like you failed to destroy
all the evidence.
When exactly were you gonna tell
me that you shredded the check I
wrote? I don't know if you're
aware of this but when someone
writes a check and it doesn't get
cashed, it completely screws up
their whole account.
I'm sorry. I just got freaked out.
I was gonna tell you.
Freaked out? Over what?
Over sending a nonrefundable check
for five-hundred dollars when I'm
still waiting to hear from my
other schools.
I thought DePaul was your first
Right now it is. But, all that
could change. It depends if I can
get housing anyway.


It's not your money, Jill. If you
send that check and decide to go
somewhere else this winter I won't
be upset.
But I will. We're struggling as it
is. We shouldn't have to pay these
arbitrary fees until I make a
But you're never gonna make a
decision! You're gonna keep
backing down until it's too
goddamn late to start!
I'm sick of it, Jill. It's always
been this way. You've never
committed to a single thing.
You've quit every camp, every
sport, every instrument, every
extracurricular activity you've
ever been apart of.
This is more important than all
that stuff.
I agree. It's probably one of the
more important decisions you'll
ever make. And, I've done nothing
but try to open doors for you.
By spending money you don't have.
Am I the only one who cares about
Yeah, you care so much, you
destroy my checks without telling
me. What would I do without your
financial expertise?


Fed up, Jill heads back out the door.
Ricky comes to the front door which is being furiously
pounded on. He answers it. Jill briskly walks inside.
Sorry, little girl. No costume, no
I'm here for the party.
And you're only three and a half
hours early.
I got in a fight with my Mom.
Over what?
Take a wild guess.
College stuff?
I don't get it. You just started
senior year and you're already
positive you want to go to
For now. It's a little easier when
you go with the family legacy. My
school's already dad and older
brother approved.
Maybe I should just forget about
college and marry some old rich
guy instead.


As ambitious as that is, I don't
really see you as the marrying
What's that supposed to mean?
You're not much for commitment,
Jill. Remember last year when the
yearbook committee nominated us
for cutest couple? You dumped me
so we'd be disqualified.
We only went out for two weeks. I
wasn't ready for our relationship
to be immortalized.
And my wounded heart still cries.
I think you've recovered just
Or so you think. Hey, I got
something to show you.
Ricky walks over to the living area where a Ouija board is
sitting on a coffee table next to a couch and some chairs.
Remember when we used to play as
Oh wow. Where did you find this?
      (sitting down)
In the attic under a pile of
cobwebs. I thought it'd be great
for the party. Sit down. Let's try
it out.
      (sitting down)
I'm trying to remember what we
used to do on this thing.


Contact dead spirits.
Yeah, but how?
Circle 3 times around the sun for
a random spirit, 4 times for a
specific spirit, and 5 for an evil
Well, I think I can do without an
evil spirit tonight. How about a
random one?
How about the closest one?
Closest? How do we do that?
Ricky leads the planchette and Jill's fingertips around the
sun 4 times. He chants as he does this.
Oh mighty Ouija board, please send
us the closest spirit you can
Now what?
Ask a question.
Who are you?
The planchette instantly starts moving.
Are you doing that?
B - A - N
The board spells "BANKS."


Miss. Banks? Shut up, Ricky!
That's not funny.
I didn't do it. I swear.
Oh come on. It's never worked this
well this fast.
Maybe it works better on
Halloween. Ask another question.
Is this Miss. Banks?
The planchette shifts to "YES."
Are you dead?
The planchette again shifts to "YES."
How did you die?
The board spells "HANG."
      (looking at Ricky)
There's no way. It couldn't be.
The two run to Miss. Banks' yard a few houses down. They
approach the hanging figure whose feet are not seen due to
the length of the black dress. Jill nervously reaches out to
lift the dress up. There are two shoes underneath. She pulls
off the left shoe, and sure enough, a swollen, pale foot is
exposed. The screen goes black over the sound of screaming.
A local news anchor is behind a desk reporting on the story.


                       NEWS ANCHOR
Here's a perfectly morbid
Halloween story from last night.
The apparent suicide of a woman
found hanging from a tree in her
front yard went unreported for two
days because neighbors and
trick-or-treaters alike mistook it
for a Halloween decoration.
As Jill narrates, we see the bottom of Miss. Banks' dress
and the other side of the street. The scene begins in the
morning and runs in hyper fast motion, showing tons of
passers-by throughout the day and into the night, no one
paying close attention to the body.
                       JILL (VO)
It was one of those stories that
spread like wildfire, beginning
with actual reports from the
papers and TV and soon
transitioning into the type of
urban legend office co-workers
send each other in mass emails.
Everyone drew their own
conclusions: some focusing on the
danger of gory Halloween
decorations, others offering the
theory that today's suburbs are as
impersonal as our major cities.
The first few days after the
incident reporters bombarded us
with questions like-
A montage of reporters facing the camera and asking
                       REPORTER 1
How did you react when you first
realized it was a real woman
hanging from the tree?
...Previously unseen but very much heard shot of Jill
                       REPORTER 2
Have you met the victim


MISS. BANKS (54), sits in a chair in her kitchen as a
TEN-YEAR-OLD JILL carries a garbage bag out.
                       JILL (VO)
I used to take her trash out when
I was a kid.
                       MISS. BANKS
That's not too heavy for you is it
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
                       REPORTER 3
Why do you think she did it?
                       JILL (VO)
That was the one I knew I couldn't
answer, but I also couldn't stop
asking myself.
Jill is on her bed with Minx listening to talk radio on her
                       TALK SHOW HOST (filtered)
Joining us now is psychic, Miranda
Blume, here to offer her
perspective on the incredible
story of the Halloween hanging
that took place last week in Lake
Forest, Illinois.
Jill reaches over and changes the station.
                       RADIO DJ (filtered)
I don't know why everyone's making
a big deal over this doped-up
narcissistic old broad. Bitch
hanged herself. Get over it.


Jill changes the station again. The song, "Suicide is
Painless" plays. Frustrated, Jill turns off the radio. She
rolls over in bed. Downstairs, the sound of her Mom talking
is heard.
Pam is holding the door open. Darcy is standing outside.
I appreciate your concern, Darcy,
but I think it would help Jill if
she just laid low for a while.
She's been forced to answer a lot
of difficult questions lately.
                       DARCY WITHERS
The poor thing. It must be
difficult for you to juggle all
this, Pam. I know first hand
single parenting is no picnic.
Well, it hasn't changed much over
the last eighteen years. But, I
think I'm getting the hang of it.
                       DARCY WITHERS
I've just been so distraught over
this whole mess. Our little town
has been all over the news. And
all because some insane woman
wanted to make a spectacle of us.
I mean, hanging yourself in your
front yard two days before
Halloween. The woman was obviously
starved for attention.
It doesn't seem like anyone on
this street knew much about her.
                       DARCY WITHERS
That's funny. I just read in the
paper that Jill used to take her
trash out when she was nine or ten
years old.
Oh please. That was ages ago. And
I really don't think it left much
of an impression on her.


Jill, still lying in bed, closes her eyes.
Ricky and Jill are sitting over the Ouija board as before.
You didn't tell the reporters
about the Ouija board, did you?
No. I didn't want them thinking we
were some disturbed
devil-worshiping teenagers.
Good. Then this is just for our
own closure. We tell no one about
Agreed. Ask a question.
Why'd you do it? Why'd you hang
It's not moving.
                       MISS. BANKS (OS)
Oh, please, dear. Will you stop
fiddling with that silly board? If
you have a question just ask me to
my face.
Jill looks up.
The same scene as in the flashback. Ten-year-old Jill is
holding a trash bag and Miss. Banks is sitting in her chair.
Though Jill is portrayed as 10 years old here, she speaks
from her current state of mind.
                       MISS. BANKS


                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
Why'd you do it?
                       MISS. BANKS
Why’d I do it? Come on. Wouldn't
you rather know if there's a God,
or a hell, or which religion is
the least crazy?
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
I don't care about that stuff. I
wanna know why you killed
yourself. The reporters, my
friends, my neighbors, everyone,
they keep asking me why I think
you did it and I don't have an
answer. I'm 18 years old, I should
have other things on my mind
besides some stupid old lady's
suicidal motive.
                       MISS. BANKS
Don't you think you're being a bit
harsh. I was 62 when I killed
myself. That's not that old.
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
                       MISS. BANKS
No. I'm the one who should be
sorry. I put you through a lot,
kiddo. Had I known you were going
to discover my corpse like that, I
never would have done it outside.
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
Did you just do it for attention?
                       MISS. BANKS
No. Attention is surprisingly
unrewarding when you’re dead.
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
Then why? What was so wrong in
your life that you felt there was
nothing else you could do but kill
yourself? Were you really that


                       MISS. BANKS
Not at all. I had more freedom
than I knew what to do with.
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
Then what was the problem?
                       MISS. BANKS
I didn't know what to do with it.
It was so much easier when Harold
was alive. You're probably too
young to remember him. He had a
plan for every day of his life,
all the way up to his last. I used
to think he was overbearing, and
he was. But, he did provide a kind
of structure to everything.
Without him, all I could think to
do was work. And when that ended,
I didn't know what to do.
That's it?
                       MISS. BANKS
I retired from my job. Had nothing
to keep me busy. My husband was
long gone. Had no one to tie me
down. In sixty-two years I had
never had so much freedom. It's an
exciting feeling, at first. And
then it gets a little scary. You
create list after list of all the
things you want to do with
yourself. All the things you
should do and places you should
see. You just don't know where to
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
So you never did?
                       MISS. BANKS
Even the little commitments start
to scare you. If you spend your
day buying groceries you sure as
hell won't have time to start
working on your garden. So you
stop leaving your house.
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
Altogether? For how long?


                       MISS. BANKS
I stopped counting after the third
or fourth month.
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
But why hang yourself in your
                       MISS. BANKS
October was rolling around. The
trick-or-treaters would be
knocking on my door, playing
pranks and all that. I didn't want
anyone to see what I had become. I
had to leave my house. I figured
if I could make it passed my front
yard and it didn't kill me, I
would walk a little further. As it
turns out, it killed me.
                       TEN YR. OLD JILL
You act like you didn't have a
                       MISS. BANKS
No dear. I had a choice. I had
lots of choices.
                       PAM (OS)
Jill, can I talk to you for a sec.
Jill opens her eyes to see her Mother sitting on the end of
her bed.
You awake?
How have you been doing?
Mom, it's not too late to send
that check if we send it express,
It's possible. But, I thought you


I know. But, I've made a decision.
Jill and her mom are parked outside the mail drop box. Pam
is in the car waiting for Jill. From inside the mailbox, we
see Jill open the lid, take a deep breath, and slip the
envelope inside. She shuts the lid and the screen is black.


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From Zach Shevich Date 5/21/2006 ****
Wonderful short. The dialouge is smart, real, occasionally funny. The plot, although a little farfetched (sp?) for my taste it is excellent and comes full circle (which I think happens to be one of the most difficult things with a script so short). Normally when someone writes something short and it's good I tell them they should expand it, and I think you could expand if you wanted to, but right now there's no need. Great job!

From Adam Moss Date 5/20/2006 **
I think you gave some of the shock value away in your logline "the incredibly bizarre suicide" and was a little confused,is Ricky and Jimmy the same person? But I did like the story.

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