Bark is a 90-minute horror fantasy with a strong, modern social message bubbling up under the surface.
When a documentary crew finds themselves hunted by a shape-shifting creature that takes the grotesque form of past traumas, director Alex and her two crewmates must face their dark childhoods before the sun rises and a mythical doomsday takes place.
ark is bookended with a scene involving a young boy, DAVID. He is visited by a stranger who at first is charming, seductive.... until it becomes sinister. This “Outside Man” is revealed to be some kind of creature, but it is unclear what he is.
We turn to a different scene, one of a film crew. ALEX is a young female director in charge of her three-person crew, filming a documentary about unique treehouses. It is evident that she is using this documentary as catharsis for a troubled past. The three women in the crew are old friends who have a shorthand in regards to each other and their work. There is MAYA, the sporty camera operator, and LILLY, the witty but introverted sound engineer. During this second to last stop, strange things happen, they see strange flashes of grotesque things, and the father of the house assaults them verbally. This confrontation and their response further reveals their complex pasts.
It is set up that Alex, Maya, and Lilly are conducting their own interviews of themselves as part of the documentary. This is an additional entry point for learning more about them.
When they travel to their last stop for the film, a tree with three treehouses decorating its tall facade, they befriend the boy there, David. They are suddenly attacked by a giant creature called a SKINWALKER. They must take refuge in the lowest of the treehouses. There, David tells them that they must conduct a ritual or this shapeshifting creature, with the ability to transform into the embodiment of their past traumas, will climb to the top of the tree and bring about the end of the world.
As we learn of their dilemma, we are introduced to SHURI, a student who has been invited to meet with a bizarre character named DR. RUSSELL. He is suspicious, and the audience isn’t sure what to think of him or the connection to the main narrative. Eventually as she lets her guard down she finds that an experiment he is conducting is connected to her past and the three women.
When we continually return to Alex, Maya, Lilly, and David, we find them creating resourceful means in which to get to each treehouse while keeping the creature at bay. And in each treehouse, a woman is left behind to face the creature. We learn more about each character through documentary footage so that when the creature appears in their respective treehouses, it has transformed into something new and fantasmagoric while we understand why it is appearing in that form.
In time we find out how Shuri, Dr. Russell, and the horrific events the three women are trying to survive all coincide to form a tense psychological web that has deep ramifications for all of them. These three women are part of a dream therapy experiment, conducted by Dr. Russell and shepharded by his dream younger self, David. Dr. Russell is the boy David, and his own trauma was the catalyst for the dream therapy.
Dreams work in metaphor. Facing their monsters, a creature that embodies their trauma as a grotesque shapeshifting but very tangible entity, is the ultimate form of facing a demon that they no longer can face in real life. Along the way, we witness a creature that progressively transforms into some of the most horrifying examples of body horror ever put to screen.
In the suspenseful climax, Alex faces the final form of the creature in the 3rd and highest treehouse. When she is about to be killed like the others, a fate that is supposedly unavoidable, Shuri in the real world devises a plan to help her. In this action, Dr. David Russell learns that help from others is necessary, and defeating the creature is possible.
The final scene returns to David as a boy, where he now has a tool to defeat his own monster, the Outside Man.
n the fall of 2020 the short film "Trap" was shot, with the intention that it would be the proof-of-concept for the feature film. It touches on the themes while providing a glimpse of the practical SFX expected for the feature.
he 91-page script of Bark has been workshopped and re-written a few times to address previous issues. It is traditional in many ways, with the protagonist's internal struggle set up in the first 10 pages and the main antagonist (a shapeshifting creature) introduced around page 25. Both conflicts are resolved in the climax, along with other conflicts set up with other characters. Though the structure is traditional, there are many aspects of the script that are original, including the lore that is introduced and the way this particular twist is implemented.
Below are a few pages and a selection of accompanying storyboards.
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