The Watcher in the Woods (1980) Movie Script

I think this house
will be exactly right for you.
That's what she said about all the wrong
ones she showed us yesterday!
Isn't it rather isolated?
Well, secluded, I'd say.
- Are you sure it wasn't $1,000 a week?
- Quite sure.
- Furnished?
- Indeed.
- What's the catch?
- Catch, Mr Curtis?
A bargain like that
wouldn't stay on the market.
Maybe there's a ghost.
What self-respecting English house
would be without one?
Nonsense. The fact is Mrs Aylwood,
the owner, is a bit eccentric.
She has no family left
and she needs the income,
but she is quite sentimental about the house
and picky about who lives in it.
Look around.
I'll nip to the cottage for the keys.
- Is someone living there?
- Mrs Aylwood.
I expect that's why she wants to make sure
the tenants are the right sort of people.
If we live here, I'm gonna climb this
and go exploring in those woods.
Leave a trail of pebbles so I can grab you
before the wicked witch eats you up.
If she lives in a gingerbread house,
I'll eat it up. I'm starved!
- What is it?
- Mrs Aylwood.
- I've brought a lovely family to...
- You were told to notify me first.
- I tried to reach you by telephone.
- I haven't left the house all day.
Mrs Curtis writes charming children's books,
and Mrs Curtis is quite well-known
in American musical circles.
Pianist and composer. He's here
to conduct one of his own operas.
Mrs Aylwood, are you all right?
I'll get the keys.
They don't build houses like this any more.
What we need is a little light.
There's a large dining room
and the kitchen has full butler's pantry.
The living room is just beyond
the music room. This way.
That's a bit more cheery, isn't it?
How long before lunch?
You just had breakfast an hour ago.
When you said opera,
I thought he was a serious musician.
I have a very soft touch late at night.
Come on, Jan. Let's go upstairs.
I want that room. It's really neat,
and you can look right out at the woods.
Did you hurt yourself?
It's just a little cut.
I thought...
I thought I saw something
out there in the woods.
What sort of person are you?
It's hard to say. Just... average, I guess.
Are you adventurous... and kind?
Are you kind?
I... try to be.
And sensitive?
Do you sense things?
Mrs Aylwood, my husband would like
to talk about the details of the lease.
That is, if you've decided to let us live here.
I'm going to take a chance on you.
Isn't this a pretty room?
- What was all that about?
- I don't know.
What happened to your hand?
I cut it on that window.
Let's see.
- Mom?
- What, darling?
- Couldn't we keep looking?
- This place has everything we need.
- And the price is right. Why don't you like it?
- I don't know.
The whole atmosphere, I guess.
I had such a funny, cold feeling
out by the woods.
Like someone was watching me.
And then there's Mrs Aylwood...
and this house.
Older people, when they live alone,
tend to be a bit unusual.
Something awful happened here.
I can feel it.
Something awful.
Boy, Mrs Aylwood sure is creepy.
Comforting to know
we're the right sort of people.
I've seen the iciest of old ladies
melted by your charm.
- I think your daughter did the trick.
- Me?
No, dear, not you.
She had a daughter, about your age.
- Had?
- Lost, many years ago.
- Perhaps you reminded Mrs Aylwood of her.
- Lost how?
I really don't know all the details,
just that she disappeared.
I believe the circumstances
were rather tragic.
She's going to stay here.
Is that what you wanted?
Let's see. Gooseneck lamp
up here with the rest of my writing things,
mirror in the living room, please.
- Jan, you didn't!
- I don't know what happened.
I wasn't even touching it!
Mom, I couldn't see myself in it.
My reflection wasn't in it.
I couldn't see myself in the mirror.
And then I saw...
I thought I saw... somebody else in it.
You know how old mirrors are. I never made
a move without something getting broken.
That's seven years' bad luck.
Nonsense. I broke a mirror
the day I met your mother.
I'm not sure that makes your point, darling.
It's OK, Dad, I'll get it.
Well, be careful.
- Boy, are you ever jumpy!
- Brat!
Look out! You'll wreck the scariest mask
I ever had! I may want to use it on you again.
- Out!
- Some people are no fun at all.
What is going on?
You are supposed to be in bed.
- I was just attacked by that thing.
- Even monsters have to sleep.
Here. Give us a kiss.
- Goodnight.
- 'Night.
- Sweet dreams.
- You, too.
Mom, will you catch the light?
I'm through reading.
Must open door.
Must open door.
Ellie? Ellie, wake up. It's OK.
Ellie, wake up. You were dreaming.
Talking in your sleep. It's OK.
- I wasn't talking. You were.
- No, I wasn't.
Well, you're the only one here.
Who else could it have been?
Jan, can I come into bed with you?
Sure. Then if we talk in our sleep,
we won't wake each other up. Make sense?
No, but I'm coming anyways.
I'll bring Arthur. He'll watch out for us.
Elephants hardly ever sleep, you know.
Mike, you were right.
This one chose me,
so I'd better not hurt its feelings.
It came right away from the mother.
That means she's brave, huh?
- What are you gonna call her?
- I'm not sure. I've gotta think.
She's special,
so it's gotta be a special name.
What's that?
The name of the puppy: Nerak!
- But what does it mean?
- You oughta know. You whispered it to me.
- I was talking to Mike.
- Well, I heard somebody say it.
I've never seen you write like that.
Ring up and Mike will deliver what you need.
That's marvellous. When I'm working, it's
hard to tear myself away from the typewriter.
He can pick things up for you in the village.
He's a good lad, my Mike.
My strong right arm since his dad died.
I wanted him to stay at college, but...
Mrs Fleming? What's wrong?
Nothing. I... I just remembered
I left something cooking. Excuse me.
Look, Mom! Isn't she beautiful?
Her name's Nerak.
We've never known a Karen.
Look, this may not be any of my business.
You want to talk about it?
Jan, we're ready to go now.
I can't. Not now, anyway.
Come on, Nerak! Come on.
Come here, Nerak. Come on!
Come on.
Come on, Nerak! Come on.
Come on, come on!
Come on. Come on.
Come on, come on. Come here, Nerak.
- Bye!
- Bye!
Ellie, can you hear me?
Ellie, please!
Ellie, why didn't you answer
when I called you?
I didn't hear you. And you shouldn't
sneak up like that. You scared me.
- I was yelling myself hoarse!
- I didn't hear.
- I asked you not to come into the woods!
- I had to. Nerak ran off.
If I hadn't come after her,
she would have gotten lost.
Isn't this a pretty place?
Yes, it is.
- That's a happy song.
- What?
The song you were just humming.
I wasn't humming anything.
Come here, Nerak.
- Did you see that?
- See what?
All I can see is this vicious animal
trying to smother me!
- We should head back.
- Tell that to Nerak.
- I mean it! Now!
- Come back, you little...
- No!
- Let go of me!
- Stop! You're drowning her!
- Let me go!
- Stop!
- Get out of my way!
She had to. She had to push you down
to get you loose from the branch.
She saved your life.
- I thought she was trying to drown you.
- Ellie...
Go and fetch some dry clothes
for your sister.
Yes, ma'am. Come on, Nerak.
Dry your hair or you'll take a chill.
I don't know how to thank you for saving me.
What kind of name is that? Nerak?
Ellie just made that up.
It's the name Karen spelled backwards.
What is it? What's wrong?
That was my daughter's name. Karen.
Mrs Thayer told us
you'd lost your daughter. I'm sorry.
Drink this.
- Mrs Aylwood?
- Yes?
Was anything wrong with Karen's eyes?
Why do you ask?
The night she disappeared...
was she blindfolded?
How do you know about the blindfold?
You asked me once if I sensed things.
Well, I have. And Ellie's been hearing things.
It's like someone is watching us.
- And the day we moved in, I saw something.
- What?
An image in a mirror.
A girl... about my age...
with long blonde hair.
And she was blindfolded.
- You saw her?
- I'm not sure.
Could you...
Could you tell me what happened?
How she disappeared?
My husband was killed in the war.
And Karen was everything to me.
She was soon to be 17,
and I stayed up late... finishing her present.
Karen wasn't in her room.
She was always so considerate,
I couldn't believe
she'd gone off without telling me.
Then I remembered there was an eclipse.
She might have gone to watch it at the pond.
Karen, where are you?
Mary! John!
Tom? Tom Colley!
They searched the ruins...
but there was no sign of Karen.
No sign at all.
Didn't the other kids
know what happened to her?
Why was she blindfolded?
They said it was part of a game.
They used to meet in the chapel.
Sometimes there seems to be
something out there.
Sometimes... I hear someone
whispering in the wind.
Mrs Aylwood, what do you think
happened to Karen?
I think she's still out there.
- What nonsense.
- I told you there was a ghost.
As long as it keeps out of the house,
I can live with it.
For heaven's sake! I knew Mrs Aylwood
was strange, but this is ridiculous.
I did see something in the mist at the pond.
That's why I fell in.
We'll always be grateful
to her for saving you,
but I won't have her filling your head
with these far-fetched fantasies.
Excuse me.
- I'll catch you later. I want to watch Mike.
- OK.
She seems less moody today.
This is what she needs. It'll do her good.
Knight on shining motorcycle.
- How many sandwiches do we have?
- Four for me and one for you!
Come on!
Come on, Mike!
- Hi, guys!
- Hi.
Grab a sandwich
before your sister eats them all.
Ellie, let's get closer.
Well, be careful now.
- There he is!
- There's Mike!
Jan! Come quick!
What is it?
Jan, quickly!
Wow! Did you see that?
- What did you want?
- I didn't want you. Nerak did.
- It's lucky you moved off that rock.
- It wasn't luck.
- What do you mean?
- It's nothing. Forget it.
- It's just been a crazy kind of week all round.
- Do you want to talk about it?
Mrs Aylwood told me that Karen,
her daughter, disappeared years ago,
when she was about my age,
and was never seen again.
If Karen was murdered, that would explain
her haunting the woods, wouldn't it?
Mrs Aylwood said there were three kids
with Karen that night.
One was John Keller,
and there was a Tom something. Collier?
Tom Colley. He lives in the woods
in the old lodge. Kind of a hermit.
And there was a girl. Mary... Mary Pierce.
- Mary Pierce?
- Yeah.
That was my mother's name
before she married Dad.
It was a long time ago. It's best forgotten.
- How come you never told me?
- It happened years before you were born.
I remember your dad saying it's important
to live in the present and leave the past.
There's something about those woods
that bothers you.
You never go near them,
not even to take the short cut to the village.
Across that rickety old bridge?
I should say not.
Mum, what do you think
really happened to Karen Aylwood?
I think she ran away from home.
I don't know why she did,
but it's the only logical explanation.
What were the four of you doing?
We were just... just larking about.
It was John Keller's idea.
It was... just a game.
Then there was a... sudden summer storm.
Lightning struck the belfry.
The whole thing was aflame.
We ran out.
At least... three of us did.
I've never been back to that place again.
Look what Daddy made me
to watch the eclipse on Saturday.
- I can show you how to make one.
- Not now. Mike's taking us riding.
I'll get ready.
- Mom said she'd only be a minute.
- That means ten.
- I wish you didn't have to go.
- So do I.
But if I don't, singers, dancers
and musicians will be unemployed.
- Jan, I'll be back in time for supper.
- OK.
- See if you can find some peanut butter.
- Crunchy or smooth?
- Smooth!
- Crunchy!
OK, I'll handle it. Have a good ride.
- Bye.
- Bye.
- Bye!
- Bye!
Good riding, Ellie. Ride ahead
and make sure the path's clear of Indians.
It gets me out of the way so you two
can be alone, doesn't it? See you.
Come on. Come on, Snowball. Let's go.
I tried to talk to Mum about Karen.
She was very evasive.
She really didn't want to talk about it at all.
Come on, you guys. Hurry up!
Let go back through the woods.
- No, Mike, I don't think we should.
- Oh, come on!
Help! Help me!
Help! Mike, help!
- Stop, Snowball!
- Hang on!
Cocoa! Help!
Mike! Help!
Stop! Cocoa, stop!
Anybody there?
Is anyone in there?
Are you OK?
- That man!
- It was Tom Colley. He didn't hurt you?
I saw Karen's face again!
In the chapel. In a coffin!
It's only a reflection.
It couldn't have been my reflection.
I wasn't standing here.
I was back there. It was Karen, her image.
She was lying in that coffin
as if she were dead.
I think I was sent here for a reason.
You were on a runaway horse.
He could have bolted in any direction.
He bolted because
something in the woods spooked him.
Don't build it up into a...
What made the windows break?
The wind. It just came
blasting through the chapel.
But there wasn't any wind outside.
Overlapping circles. What does it mean?
- Can't we go now, Jan?
- Sure we can, Ellie. Come on, Jan.
Mike. There was a shadow of a triangle
on this coffin when I came in.
The same triangle
that's on the window in my bedroom.
These circles, they must mean something.
There was a circle
on the water at the pond, too.
It was strange.
I've seen her, Mr Keller.
As God's my witness, I've seen her.
- She was in the chapel, she was.
- You're drunk.
Not then, I wasn't.
She was there, I tell you.
She come in and went right to the coffin
and looked inside.
- That's impossible.
- Listen!
It's thundering.
There was thunder and lightning
that other night. The night we...
Now, I've told you
never to talk about that night!
All that time gone by, and her looking
like it was yesterday it happened.
- How could that be?
- Get hold of yourself, man!
It's been nearly 30 years.
Now, none of us could look the same,
could we?
What was it I seen, then?
Has she come back from the grave
to haunt us for what we done, Mr Keller?
Is it the ghost of Karen I seen?
Works every time!
We should bring Ellie.
It might curb her appetite.
- What took you so long?
- I saw her again.
- What are you talking about?
- In the mirrors.
She was reaching out, begging me,
pleading with me to help her.
- She's trapped and needs my help.
- Oh, come on, Jan!
- It means something, Mike.
- You're not making sense.
There's something I've got to do.
Maybe she wants me to find out
what really happened that night.
- How?
- I don't know, but I've got to find out.
Didn't you see the signs?
This is private property!
Mr Keller, I had to see you.
It's about Karen Aylwood.
- What about Karen Aylwood?
- She needs help.
- How would you know that?
- I've seen her.
- Where?
- In mirrors.
Mirrors. You see yourself as Karen?
No! It was her image!
Why was she blindfolded in the chapel?
I've gotta know what happened that night!
Why do you? You're a stranger here.
It's none of your business.
Don't you see? She needs my help.
She's trapped somewhere...
That's enough. I've better things to do
than listen to hysterical fantasies.
What happened to Karen
was a tragedy that touched us all,
changed us all, but it's best forgotten!
- Have you ever forgotten?
- Get out of here!
- Mr Keller, please.
- I said, clear out.
Tom Colley?
Tom Colley?
Please, don't be angry.
I didn't mean to come inside.
I called but nobody answered!
- You ain't no ghost.
- I'm the girl you saw in the chapel.
You ain't Karen come back to haunt us.
Why would she do that?
Can't talk about that.
Mr Keller, he said not to.
Nasty poacher hurt its paw,
but old Tom'll make it right.
Like he did for you, eh?
Nearly right now, ain't you?
Not like them poor little ones there.
When I finds 'em like that, dead,
I buries 'em.
Tom, was Karen dead when you found her?
Never found Karen. Looked and looked.
Here. Hold.
It won't hurt you none.
They know when you try to help.
- Karen needs your help, Tom.
- Needs me?
Yes, she needs you.
But Karen's gone.
- Tom, if you knew Karen was trapped...
- Awful things, traps. They hurt.
- You'd set her free, wouldn't you?
- If I could find her.
You don't have to, Tom. All you have to do
is tell me what happened in the chapel.
Why did you blindfold her?
What was it you did?
You and Mary Pierce and John Keller?
Mr Keller said mustn't talk about that.
- Mary Pierce said you were playing a game.
- She said?
Yes, Tom. What kind of game?
Ring Round the Roses, it was.
Never meant to harm Karen.
Loved Karen. Wouldn't ever hurt her.
There was three of us.
Me and Mary made our way
to the secret meeting place, the old chapel.
We had blindfolded Karen.
That was what John Keller had told us to do.
She was the new one, you see.
John Keller was already in there.
You have been brought to this place to prove
yourself worthy of our secret society.
We number only three. We alone
have passed this test of courage.
Many have tried and failed.
Once we link hands, you must not show fear,
you must not speak, you must not remove
the blindfold, you must not move at all.
We shall hold hands around you and you
must not break the circle of our friendship.
Whatever happens, whatever we say or do,
you must abide by our code.
Banish all thoughts from your mind.
Do you understand?
Let us join hands...
...and concentrate.
Mary Pierce, Tom Colley and I, John Keller,
we are looking upon you, Karen Aylwood,
willing you to be as one with us.
We ask the question, is this person worthy...
She wasn't there any more.
When the bell come down,
she was gone already.
- Are you sure?
- I told 'em what I seen.
"Where could she have gone?" they says.
There was no other way out.
And they looked and looked...
and never found nothin'.
Nice to me, she was.
So nice.
She was my friend.
Where'd you hear that song?
From Jan. She was humming it at the pond
the day she fell in the water.
Come in, child. There's something
I want to show you. I think you'll like it.
- My mother said I was never to bother you.
- It's no bother.
Come on. I was just about
to have some tea and cakes.
This belonged to my daughter.
I gave it to her on her fifth birthday.
She loved it.
She played it at night
before she went to sleep.
It's the same tune you heard at the pond.
Your sister tells me you hear... other things.
Voices that tell you to... do things?
I was just dreaming.
Not when you named Nerak.
She named herself.
Listen, child. Listen to the music.
See if you can hear that voice again.
- Mrs Aylwood.
- Hi, Jan.
Look at the music box. Isn't it pretty?
In a minute, Ellie. I've something to tell
Mrs Aylwood. I just came from Tom Colley's.
He said it was some kind
of initiation ceremony.
He said there was a flash of light,
just like you saw,
but when the bell crashed,
Karen was already gone.
There was no other way out.
That's what Tom Colley said.
The bell crashed. Karen was already gone.
Karen. Must help Karen.
Must help.
No! We must listen.
How can we help Karen?
Door. Must open door.
- What door? Where?
- Chapel.
Soon! Very soon! Help Karen very soon!
Karen, tell us how.
No, not Karen, but need help.
- If you're not Karen, who are you?
- Tell me what to do, Karen, please!
No! Not Karen!
Stupid, stupid, stupid!
- Who are you?
- Ellie!
- What have you done to her?
- It just happened.
I didn't want to hurt Ellie! I love her!
It's all right, baby.
Everything is gonna be all right now.
I'm taking you out of here. I'm taking
both of you away from here tonight.
No! You can't. Not now, Mom!
It's not Karen outside there.
Don't you understand? It's someone else!
You get your things ready.
We're leaving here right now.
- What's happening?
- I don't know.
- The battery's shorting.
- It's trying to stop us.
Nothing's trying to stop us.
- We must go back.
- Don't be ridiculous.
- If we go back, they'll start again!
- Jan, stop it. Just stop it!
- What are you doing?
- We have to get off the bridge!
Come on! Get out!
- Enough of this hysteria! Give me the keys!
- I can't!
Sorry she made you angry.
You're not Karen. I know that.
I don't know who you are,
but, please, leave my little sister alone.
- Stop that.
- Mom, I can't. I can't stop!
There's something I've got to do,
or Ellie and I'll go on being haunted!
Whatever is out there
won't tell me what it wants!
Stop it this minute!
Mom, I'm scared.
Whatever it is out there,
it's not going to use you, either of you.
Not Karen!
We've got to hurry!
Nearly too late.
- Hardly ever happens.
- What hardly ever happens?
Ellie, you said it hardly ever happens.
What does it mean?
I don't know, Jan.
I can't remember.
"Do again tomorrow."
Do what?
I don't know.
I'm scared.
Good, you're up. Mom said not to wake you.
Seen my thing to watch the eclipse?
Dad says you can't look straight at the sun
or it'll ruin your eyes.
- I hope he gets here in time to see it.
- Daddy's coming?
Mom called him.
Help me look, Jan. It's nearly too late.
Nearly too late.
Here it is!
That's funny. I looked in there before.
We can all take turns using it.
It hardly ever happens.
Hardly ever happens.
- What hardly ever happens?
- I just told you. The eclipse.
There are lots of moon eclipses,
but a sun eclipse is special.
What time does it start?
12.30. Oh, rats!
When Mike did this, it came out elephants,
not Ring Around the Rosey!
Ring Round the Roses, it was.
What's wrong?
Nothing. Tell Mom I'm going back to sleep.
- Hello?
- You gotta do something for me!
- Jan, what's wrong?
- I think I know what those circles meant.
- The overlapping ones meant an eclipse.
- There's an eclipse today.
And the circle at the pond
meant a circle of people.
I can't explain it all,
but I have to get Keller, Tom and your mom
to the chapel now before the eclipse.
I need your help. Tell her anything.
Say it's a matter of life or death.
Where are you going?
I'm going to the chapel with John Keller,
Tom Colley and Mary Fleming.
I want them to repeat
the ceremony they held, linking hands,
like in a seance
when people make objects move.
- I think that's what happened to Karen...
- No! You mustn't do that!
Whatever happened to my Karen
could happen to you.
Mrs Aylwood, I have to do it.
Whatever is haunting Ellie and me
will never leave us alone.
God be with you, child.
- Karen Aylwood's dead!
- How do you know that?
She never would have put her mother
through suffering!
Part of the suffering is not knowing.
Maybe we can find out what happened,
how she disappeared before the bell fell,
or how she died, if she died.
I told you before, it's none of your business.
Mr Keller, it was your idea, wasn't it?
The secret society?
The initiation ceremony?
Don't you wanna know the truth?
Who do you think you are to disrupt lives
and reopen old wounds?
They never really healed, did they?
Isn't that why you lock yourself away
in that dreary house,
a prisoner of your own guilt?
Mr Keller, I don't have much time.
But you owe it to Karen
and you owe it to yourself
to try to help make this happen.
- They should have been here by now.
- They won't come. Not back to this place.
But they are! They're coming!
Nerak, look...
Nerak, get over here!
Nerak! Come back!
- I can't.
- You must.
We're running out of time.
We can't waste it arguing.
It may not work, Mrs Fleming,
but we must try!
We have to repeat the ceremony.
No. No!
Whatever happened 30 years ago
was during an eclipse.
The same thing's happening now,
so maybe we can bring her back.
Don't do it. When Karen did it, something
went wrong. She was never seen again.
The circle won't be broken this time.
No, no, no! We ran away once before
and we've regretted it ever since.
- We must not run out again!
- The blindfold.
Mr Keller, I have to know exactly
what you said and did that night.
- I told Karen...
- To me, Mr Keller. I'm Karen now.
- Say it to me!
- Very well.
Once we link hands, you must not show fear,
you must not speak, you must not remove
the blindfold, you must not move at all.
We shall hold hands and you must not break
our circle of friendship.
- If anything happens to Jan, I'll break it.
- Don't interfere! Move away!
We are looking upon you, Karen Aylwood,
willing you to be as one with us.
We ask the question: is this person worthy?
Ready to return.
I have been trapped on your planet.
Karen was my intervention.
We exchanged places by mistake.
Magnetic pull of the eclipse
transferred our positions.
Now exchange places again.
- Almost time.
- Ellie!
I must return home.
Where's home?
What happened to Karen?
Continue. Continue.
My power comes from you,
the three linked as before,
when darkness comes at noon.
- The eclipse.
- It's almost time. Hurry.
Go on with the ceremony, Mr Keller!
We've gotta beat the eclipse.
Come on!
We shall hold hands around you.
You must not break our circle of friendship.
With joined hands,
we call upon the powers of the universe
to grant us...
This is our chance!
Don't break the circle!
Mary. Give me your hand!
Must return home.
Time's running out. Hurry.
- Hurry.
- But where is Karen?
Karen was in the way.
Mistake. Transferred by mistake.
In error we exchanged places.
Karen's still in my dimension.
Trapped and suspended.
Must reverse the process.
Exchange persons again. Transfer back.
Now. Later too late.
Now. Now.
- It's taking me!
- Jan, you have to get out of that!
I can't!
Jan, move! Move!
Break the ring! Break it!
It's Karen.
We brought her back!
You're home.