Script Files

Past Presence

From a cabin by a river, DR. EMERSON (50s) emerges. He lifts a boat out of the river and rows it onto the water. From his bag, he brings out a knife, looking anguished.

Flashback to 20 years ago: EDGAR, DAVIS, SUZANNE, and JULIO (early 20s), using food and money, entice a homeless man, JAMES, to come with them. They take James to a barbershop, where they conduct an experiment to discover James's past life. The experiment seems to work, but James panics and flees.

Edgar and his friends chase after James but are unable to find him. They conclude that James was indeed experiencing his past life. However, Edgar's obsession with the experiment drives a wedge between him and his girlfriend, Suzanne. In the present, Edgar has continued his experiment and written a book about the subject.

Dr. Emerson, a professor of psychology, is obsessed with the ideas of past lives after one of his patients, ANNABEL, was able to see into another lifetime under hypnosis. It is revealed that Annabel later killed herself. Emerson is now married to MEGHAN, but he remains fixated on Annabel and keeping her memory alive.

Drawn to Edgar's book, Emerson introduces it to two of his students, JAKE and ALICIA. They accompany him to Edgar's house to discuss the matter further. At his house, Edgar introduces them to his assistant, ALEXINE, and shows them his machine. There is some connection between Emerson and Alexine.

That night, somebody breaks into Edgar's house and destroys the machine's power source. Edgar asks Emerson to drive Alexine home. Emerson tells her about his troubled marriage; they kiss, but Alexine, who has left her fiancé at the altar, pulls away.

After the machine is fixed, Emerson volunteers as the next subject. The machine shows a 19th-century woman resembling Alexine, several images from the 18th century, and Chinese warriors running into battle. Instead of feeling fulfilled or satisfied, Emerson is overwhelmed. Alexine then shows him her own past lives, saying that they are drawn together now because they met in a past life. However, Emerson is less certain.

Flashback to 5 years after the experiment with James reveals that Edgar is planning to hire Julio to publish his book, but when he is approached by another publisher, Edgar goes with them instead. A furious Julio vows to get his revenge. In the present, Edgar's house is burned down while Edgar is out. Upon returning, he is shocked to learn that the arsonist is Davis.

Emerson remains distracted. He goes to the cabin to stay with Alexine but is still haunted by the images of his past lives. At the police station, Edgar confronts Davis. Davis reveals that 20 years ago, he experimented on himself and discovered he was a murderer in all of his past lives. Burdened with this knowledge, Davis vows to destroy the machine.

Back at the cabin, Emerson has had enough and leaves - we're back at the opening scene. Emerson tries to kill himself but cannot go through with it. While trying to stop Emerson, Alexine falls into the river, hits her head, and drowns. Meanwhile, an unrepentant Edgar recovers his machine and moves it to a new location, ready to start his experiment all over again.

  • Kevin Mongelli
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  • Number of Pages:
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
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  • First-time Screenwriter:
  • Student Project:
  • Quarter-Finalist at the 2016 Screencraft Sci-Fi Screenplay Contest
  • Bronze Medal Winner at Depth of Field Script Writing Competition
  • - Movie Scene Winner at Wildsound Film and Screenplay Festival. Movie can be viewed here:
  • - 1st Scene Contest Winner at Wildsound Film and Screenplay Festival. Live read can be viewed here:
Writer - Kevin Mongelli