MOVIE PITCH #17: ‘The Hole in the Forest’ – Pitched by David Lynch
Genre: Bizarro psycho-drama
Setting: Unspecified forest/town
Characters: Boy [Unknown], Father [Eric Bana], Mother [Diane Lane], Hypnotist [Kevin Bacon]
We fade in on a cottage in the woods. The country is unknown, and it’s night. The camera moves towards the cottage but doesn’t go in. Instead it spends the first twenty minutes of the film looking in through the windows, seeing a family of four…Father, Mother, a son and a daughter…they seem happy at first, and the son hovers near the father and follows him from room to room, but then the mood changes and things become dark. The father turns from smile to rage and hits the mother. The two kids say and do nothing, and the father walks out of the room and out of the cottage.
Then…the father picks up an axe and walks into the darkness of the forest and we follow him, hearing him muttering some horrible things to himself, gripping the axe tight, swinging at random trees and leaves. Finally he gets to a clearing and finds a hole. It’s about the same size as a manhole and he moves closer and stares into it. Then, dropping the axe, he smiles and falls in.
Switch to…an undetermined time later. We’re inside the cottage now and things are bleak. The mother is cleaning the kitchen even though it already looks quite clean, the daughter is staring at a toy rabbit, and the son is talking to a photograph of his father, while at the same time trying to feed it a piece of toast. After a few minutes of this scene, the son stands up and walks out of the cottage, carrying the photograph with him.
Later…he sits by the hole in the forest, throwing twigs down into it and asking the darkness if his father is down there. Suddenly, the hole talks back. It says, ‘I am down here, son. Come to me.’ The son crawls away from the hole in horror, but the voice comes again, and it is undoubtedly his father. ‘Fall, son. Just fall.’ And the son conquers his fear and crawls back towards the hole, and just as he’s about to fall, his mother appears and pulls him back. ‘You’re needed back in the cottage,’ she says, and carries him off.
Next…The mother, daughter and son go into the town and there’s a circus. They walk through it and see dwarves and knifemen and lions and giants, and finally a hypnotist. The son breaks away from his mother and follows the hypnotist into a tent, and then sees the man enter a cabinet. He walks over and opens the cabinet door, but it’s empty. He climbs into the cabinet and closes the door and waits. Nothing happens.
Later…the cabinet door opens and the boy exits, alone. The hypnotist is sitting at his desk, smiling at him. He hands him a card which reads, ‘Half-hypnotist, half-magician.’ The boy sits down opposite him and starts to tell him about the hole, but the man holds out a finger and stops him. He says he already knows everything. ‘You must take me to the hole,’ he commands.
And then? The boy and the hypnotist stand by the hole and hear the voice again: ‘Fall, just fall.’ And the hypnotist asks the boy if he is afraid, and the boy says no. ‘Very well then.’ They walk forward together and fall into the hole. But then they are standing by the hole again. They look around and it’s the same forest, the same hole. They walk forward and fall into the hole a second time, but the same thing happens. The hole leads back to the hole. The hypnotist asks the boy if he felt the sensation of falling, and the boy says no. The hypnotist picks up a large branch off the ground and throws it into the hole. It disappears. ‘Well, what makes us different from a branch?’ They stand there a while longer until the hypnotist says he must return to his cabinet and think further. The boy asks why, but the hypnotist doesn’t answer. And then he’s gone.
Ending? The boy sits down and throws more twigs into the hole, until his sister’s toy rabbit comes and sits down next to him and tells him they should go and see the cottage. So, the boy takes the toy rabbits hand and they walk back to the cottage, but don’t go inside, and from the windows the boy can see the same scene as at the start of the film, the family of four, including a version of himself, talking and existing. He tries to go inside, but the door won’t open, and he keeps throwing himself at the door until it finally opens and his father walks out, picks up the axe and walks off into the forest. The toy rabbit tells him that ‘this is red then black then red then black and so on’ but the boy doesn’t understand and instead follows his father to the hole where he sees him drop the axe and fall in. The boy runs over and jumps in after him and this time he goes somewhere different…
Where? He’s sitting in a tiny, tiny room with a simple bed and a simple wardrobe, and a drawing of all the circus people on the wall. The boy stands up and touches the picture and asks the characters to come out of the paper. Nothing moves. The door opens and his father enters and tells him to come into the bathroom. The boy follows him out of the room and into a dark corridor, and as they walk the father is loosening and taking off his belt, and when they reach the door to the bathroom, the boy gets scared and starts screaming, but the father has him by the arm and tells him it’s only the bathroom. The boy continues to struggle, screaming ‘red then black then red then black and so on’, before his father drags him inside the bathroom, the door closing behind them.
Back by the hole in the forest, the toy rabbit stands alone on the edge, looking down into the darkness. A single tear runs down its furry face. Then it falls.