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The Living Photograph
by Linh Do (s3183636@rmit.edu.vn)

Rated: PG-13   Genre: Horror   User Review:

A short story about how scary hopeless one side love can turns out to be.

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.


Upon one of the high mountain in an imposing mountainous
land, two people - XUAN (20) and NAM (24) - are standing on
a cliff stretched out from the mountain. The scene is quite
dim, maybe because of the fogging air at early morning of
the day. From where the two people are staying, they can see
the whole natural scene below. Xuan is holding up an
expensive camera, looking at the surrounding scene through
its lens, while still have another camera hanged in front of
her chest.
The scene looking though your
camera is really good. I wonder if
this is the reason why you take
such good photographs.
If you like the camera that much,
then just take it.
Xuan puts the camera down, surprised, looking at Nam.
How comes, looking at you, such a
generous man.
Xuan is smiling bright, and then she holds up the camera,
pointing it to Nam, and takes a shoot of him. Nam tries to
get out of the shoot and Xuan is laughing with his actions.
Looking gradually up from where they are staying, the sky
looks so fine.
                       XUAN (V.O)
      (self thinking)
I have never told you how much I
love you, how much I adore you.
Now it is too late already.
In the sky, clouds are lazily flying. The scene gradually
changes. And we see...
...that the clouds from last scene turn in to the clouds in
a photograph in the dark lab. This is Xuan's house. Xuan is
developing the films and she is hanging the photos up to the
wires in the room. Slowly. There is no expression on her


face. She was thinking something or maybe just nothing. She
looks at the photographs over and over. Concentrating. Then
suddenly the door bell RINGS and Xuan goes out of the lab to
open the door.
The door opened. Xuan is surprised to see LAN (24) is
standing in front of her door. LAN is smiling with XUAN.
Hi, I'm here for the 49th day
ceremony of Nam's death.
Two women are looking at each other.
The living room is big but very well decorated. The room
looks luxury like it belongs to a rich person. There are a
lot of photographs hanging on the wall of the room. Xuan is
preparing tea for Lan and herself. They are sitting in the
wooden sofas near each other, next to a big window which
from it you can see the sky and trees outside. There are
many flowers and trees inside the house, which partly show
Xuan's love for nature and why she sticks with landscape
photography. Xuan gives Lan a cup of tea. Lan softly nods
her head to express her thank in a polite way.
Nam's 49th day come so fast I
can't believe that he has really
gone. After the funeral
everything becomes so hard for me.
Now I'm a widow.
Lan lifts the cup of tea Xuan has given her up, drinks a
small gulp. Xuan is still looking at her, saying nothing.
Lan continues her talk looking at the tea cup.
                       LAN (CONT'D)
Our family decides to hold just a
small meeting for close people and
I think that I should invite you.
When he was alive, you guys were
really close and he treated you
like his younger sister. I really
hope that you can come to the


Xuan is looking at Lan while Lan doesn't notice. Xuan shows
a hateful expression in her face towards Lan.
                       XUAN (V.O)
      (self thinking)
I really hate this woman, how can
she acts like nothing is wrong
after her husband's death?
Xuan tightens her lips, looking at Lan with hostile eyes.
                       XUAN (V.O)
      (self thinking)
She thinks that she is the only
one close to him? What does she
treats me as?
Mean while, Lan puts down the cup and looks at Xuan, Xuan
starts, being afraid that Lan may discover her expression,
she hides her face away. Lan doesn't notice Xuan's strange
action, she friendly smiles at Xuan.
I heard that your recent
photograph has been chosen to join
a competition in the States?
People say that the criticizers
highly appreciate your artwork;
they say that the photograph looks
really exceptional, and real, and
many even call it "the living
photograph". Though I don't
understand much about photography,
I still want to congratulate you.
Nam must be really happy to have
such a talented student.
For a moment, Xuan's face gets brighter, and she smiles, a
weird smile that makes it hard to figure out what she is
actually thinking. She gently holds up her cup of tea, lift
her head toward a photograph hanged on the wall. The
photograph position is right behind Lan.
Actually, you are talking about
the photograph behind you. I took
it on the field trip with Nam
couples of weeks ago. The
unfortunate trip that he got into
the accident.
Lan is surprised, then she turns her head back, and looks at
the photograph behind. Her face looks so down and shocked.


No way, it's such a coincident...
Xuan is smiling. And above her, outside from the window, the
sky is shining so bright. Xuan nods.
      (soft voice)
Yes, that's why this photo is very
special to me.
We look at the window, towards the sky out of the room.
Clouds are moving gently and slowly. It is a beautiful day!
Bird is SINGING and foliage is RUSTLING in the light breeze.
Two women are saying good bye in front of Xuan's house.
Though we can't see their faces, we still can hear their
                       XUAN (V.O)
Please take care; I will come to
the meeting on time.
                       LAN (V.O)
Thank you, please take care of
yourself too. See you later.
                                         CUT TO:
The window of the living room has been opened, wind gets
stronger and make the curtain of the window flying high.
Everything inside the room is still the same, with tea cups
on the table haven't been cleared yet. Light is not turned
on, making the inside part of the room quite dark. Xuan is
standing in that dark part, in front of the big photograph,
starring at it, without moving or saying a word.
The photograph is still the same. It's not moving or living.
But it spreads out a scary, indescribable feeling.
Especially when Xuan is looking at it and her eyes got
brighter and brighter, she was thinking something. Her face
is unreadable.
We look closely to the photograph. And it gradually turns


                                         FLASHBACK TO:
... a real scene. It was the scene of the cliff Nam and Xuan
were standing at the beginning. The view of the photograph
is actually the landscape people can see standing on the
cliff. When the photograph gradually becoming real, a person
also appears on the real scene. It is Nam, who is being
roped tight, placed sitting on a foot of a tree, right next
to the border of the cliff. Very dangerous. It feels like
just one small movement and he can easily fall down the
cliff. His face looks angry.
In front of him is Xuan, with the same expression when she
looking at the photograph in her house. She is smiling at
Nam as if nothing happened, then she turns aside, holding up
a camera carefully in her hands, and looks at the scenes
surround through its lens. We can guess that this is Nam's
camera because she has another camera with trap hanged on
her neck.
The scene looking though your
camera is really good. I wonder if
this is the reason why you take
such good photographs.
She is talking without taking a look at Nam, who is
miserably trying to get rid of the ropes. Hearing Xuan says
that, Nam angrily stares at her.
If you like the camera that much,
then just take it.
Xuan puts down the camera, looks at Nam, smiling.
How comes, looking at you, such a
generous man.
Let me get out of this!!
Xuan lifts the camera up again and takes a photograph of
Nam. Nam is trying to turn his face away so that Xuan can
not capture him. Xuan stops, laughing at Nam's actions. Then
she steps near him, stoops to see him face to face. She puts
his camera trap around his neck and tries to hug him. When


her face gets near to his ear, she is not smiling anymore,
she looks serious and scary. She whispers in Nam's ears.
You think that I need your camera?
NO. I don't even want it. What I
really want is YOU.
Mean while, Her face gets stretch back, she looks relax and
continues smiling. A weird smile.
She stops hugging Nam, putting her hand on his shoulder,
standing in front of him, seeing him face to face again.
      (grumbling/ bitter)
But I know that you will never be
mine, so the best thing I can do
now is destroying you, so that you
will not belong to anyone else.
After saying these words, with all her strength, Xuan pulls
Nam away to the back. Following the momentum, Nam's roped
body falls out of the cliff, to the abyss.
From a wide view, we can see his body fall down and down,
until it disappears into the dark of the deep abyss below.
All left is just the sound of the soft wind going through
the corners of the mountains, echoing.
Xuan is still standing on the cliff. She is trembling. Her
hands slowly reaching her chest, to the camera hanging
there, she holds it, tightly. Taking a deep breath, Xuan
lifts up the camera, opening the lens. Carefully, she
contemplates the scene in front of her through the camera
lens. She wants to take a photograph of the view that just a
moment a go, Nam was there.
The shutter sound from the camera ECHOES in the imposing
mountainous scene.


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