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THE POOL

Character-driven psychological horror thriller set in a suburban house, with a disturbed female lead and a shocking twist ending, inspired by Henry James' "Turn of the Screw". Two children seem to be haunted by the ghost of their dead mother's secret lover, as seen through the eyes of a young, troubled woman hired as a nanny while their father leaves town on business. Their suburban house evolves into a nightmare world of psychological evil that seems to emanate from the back-yard pool. Hook: is there a ghost in the house, or is the nanny imagining it and going mad?

JULIE (20's), a prescription-addicted landscaper moonlighting as a temporary nanny, is haunted by the childhood death of her little brother who drowned in a swimming pool under her care. She's been trying to compensate for her guilt ever since, barren but desperate for children of her own.

Julie takes care of two children in suburbia, their father PETER leaving on an overseas business trip for the summer. Their mother was killed in a car accident the previous summer. As Julie is left alone with SEAN (11) and MELISSA (14), two unhappy kids with too many secrets between them, nothing seems normal in this household...

Strange things occur, particularly from the back yard and its "haunted" swimming pool. Sean seems to be tormented by some invisible demon from the past. And people are disappearing: the gardener, the pool man, then a neighboring babysitter. Julie bonds with the two disturbed siblings, determined to learn their secrets and heal their wounds out of newfound love, and to redeem her guilt-ridden past.

As the mystery unfolds, Julie learns the truth about their mother JESSICA's death and her secret affair with violent, womanizing MAX STRYKER, a neighbor with a prosthetic claw-hand. Both died together in the same car accident under sinister circumstances. Max's ghost, or some manifestation of Sean and Melissa's hidden fears, begins to terrorize Julie and endanger both her and the kids.

Julie's live-in nightmare and misguided efforts to save them from a hostile entity culminates in an unexpected twist, where nothing is what it seems in this house...nor in the pool, an ominous epicenter of horror and death.

Coverage excerpt from 2011 Award Winning Scripts Contest Finalist:

"This is a novel and original script, written by a writer who clearly knows how to manipulate the medium in terms of both historical and contemporary mystery thriller film precedents. Scary, inventive, and confident enough to find terror in the mundane details of every-day life, this is a story that produces some genuinely unsettling and hair-raising sequences.

"Water, overall, is both a plot device and a metaphor in the style of Clouzot's Diabolique, a carrier for fear that is utilized with great skill throughout the story. The suspense scenes are inventively realized in an extremely engaging and visceral manner. Even in those scenes in which nothing much visual happens, there are genuine psychological jolts.

"The dialogue, is highly polished, and the kids talk like real adolescents. Julie has some great dialogue, and this overall naturalism contributes to making the story credible and fluid. Julie is a likable protagonist, and the gradual way in which she forms a bond with the kids makes for a story that's easy to identify with and root for the characters in their predicament."

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Budget:
Low
Starring Roles For:
Jennifer Lawrence
Shailene Woodley
Elle Fanning
In the Vein Of:
The Orphanage
The Others
The Innocents
Posted:
09/03/2009
Updated:
12/31/2020
Author Bio:
ANTON DIETHER is the writer of the Hallmark TV miniseries Moby Dick, the highest-rated long-form show in basic cable history, nominated for five Emmys and two Golden Globe Awards; ABC-TV miniseries Cleopatra; and Hallmark miniseries Stranded. Anton developed Beauty and the Beast for Fox, Land of Oz for Disney, Gold Fever for Phoenix Pictures, Operation Greylord for Showtime, Lost At Sea for TNT; currently Gang of Dreams TV miniseries for Little Studio Films, The Revolt for Revolt Prods, Taj Mahal for Threshold Ent.

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Contest Results:
Table Read (Finalist) [2013]
Austin Fest Film (Semifinalist) [2012]
AWS (Finalist) [2011]