HE WAS THE PERFECT HOUSEGUEST...
BUT HE TOOK ADVANTAGE...
Families are dying in the sleepy northern California town of Riverhead...and it's not from natural causes. Trish Burchall (Kelly McGillis: Witness, Top Gun, The Accused) is the local small town radio journalist. She finds herself reporting on the deaths of the families of two of her daughter Lisa's (Kate Elliott: Street Legal) best friends.
Investigations lead her to an old story of crime from many years before. But Sheriff Joe Webster (Barry Corbin: Northern Exposure) is not listening. He'd rather chase the easy options - the mystery House Guest of one of the victims or the suddenly missing boyfriend of one of the murdered girls, Dirk Metcalfe (Daniel Gillies: Street Legal, Spiderman 2).
Meantime, Trish gets an unexpected call from the son of a friend of her recently deceased husband. Robert (Kieren Hutchison: Shortland Street, Young Hercules) sounds like a nice boy, but with the serial killings in town, Trish is worried. She promises to get back to him.
Trish is called to the site of a clue to the murders and Sheriff Joe despatches Deputy Henley (Craig Parker: Shortland Street, The Lord of the Rings, Xena: Warrior Princess) to look after the Burchall house. At home are Lisa, her boyfriend Ben (Tom Huntington: Saved By the Bell) and Lisa's younger sister Amy (Emily Barclay: Shortland Street).
When Trish does not call back as promised, Robert shows up at the isolated Burchall household. Lisa and Amy like his looks and despite the reservations of Ben, the family and Deputy Henley decide he can stay till Trish gets home. With three house guests, Dirk Metcalfe sneaking around the outside of the house, Trish walking home from a broken down car and an increasingly stormy night, the scene is set for mayhem...and remember...no one can hear you...
FULL MOVIE SYNOPSIS (spoiler!)
It is late at night. Rachel Watson walks home from a friend's house, when she sees a car that is approaching her slowly. She is scared until she recognises the driver. It's Dirk Metcalfe, her boyfriend. Dirk is a handsome but hot-headed young man. Rachel gets into the passenger seat of his red jeep. Soon they begin to argue. Dirk is jealous, he thinks that Rachel has been fooling around with her cousin Hal, a backpacker, who has recently arrived at the Watson house. Rachel exits the car. She demands to know when Dirk will tell his other girlfriend, Tracy Johnson, that it is over. Tomorrow, he promises. Rachel does not believe him and walks home.
Meanwhile Rachel's friend Lisa Burchall is trying to call her. She needs some history notes for a school project. Someone in the Watson house listens to the message Lisa leaves on the answering machine and erases it. Rachel comes home. The light switches are not working. Rachel falls over something on the floor. She grabs for a lamp from a table and switches it on. Horrified she sees her parents and cousin bound and gagged with sticky tape. Then she hears a male voice whispering the words "True love never dies" again and again. Rachel tries to get away, stumbles again and is trapped in a corner.
Sometime later someone drives the car of the Watson's out of the garage and to a nearby lake. The person crosses out Rachel's face on a photo with a red marker before letting the car run down into the water.
The following morning at the Burchall house, in a wood some distance out of the town Riverhead, Trish urges her younger 14-year-old daughter Amy to hurry. Her older daughter Lisa is already in the car outside, waiting impatiently. On the way Lisa asks her mother if she can go to a dance with Ben Kelly, a school mate. Trish has no objections.
Just when the Burchall's have left their phone is ringing. The caller is a backpacker calling from a phone booth. He jots down Trish's office number that is given on their answering machine in his notebook with a red marker. Then he walks on. The Burchalls pass him with their car on their way to town but they down stop when he puts his thumb out.
Trish parks in front of the Watson house. Lisa gets out of the car and knocks on the door. There is no answer. Trish sees the open and empty garage, so she assumes that they have left already. They drive on and Trish drops her girls off at school. Before she can continue on her way, Pat Kelly, Ben's mother, talks to Trish. She tells her how much she enjoyed one of Trish's broadcasts, for Trish is a radio journalist.
Ben catches up with Lisa in front of the school. He asks her again if she will go to the dance with him. They watch Dirk Metcalfe driving Tracy Johnson to school. Ben used to go out with her and cannot understand what she sees in Dirk. Lisa thinks it's his car and tells Ben that what's in the heart is what really counts.
Sometime later Lisa gives her friend Tracy an early birthday present. Tracy opens it and finds a necklace with a pendant reading ANGEL. She loves it. Dirk joins them. It is obvious that Lisa does not like him at all. She asks them, if they have seen Rachel. They haven't. Dirk makes a mean remark and Lisa hints that she knows about him and Rachel.
Trish arrives at the radio station where she works. She is not in her office for long when Mack, one of her colleagues, tells her about a homicide. She leaves to find out what has happened. After she is gone, her phone rings. It is the backpacker again, who has reached the town on foot and is calling from another phone booth. No one is picking up the phone.
Trish drives back into the street where Rachel lives and discovers that the Watson house is the scene of the crime. Sheriff Joe Webster, an old friend of Trish's, calls to Deputy Henley who is guarding the police barrier, to let her through. Joe tells her not to go into the house and fills her in. The entire family has been murdered. The killer has herded them all together before cutting their heads off. Trish is shocked. She gets a call from Lisa on her mobile phone as news of the tragedy has reached the school. The sheriff asks to talk to her. Lisa tells him about Rachel's cousin Hal. His body is not among the victims therefore Sheriff Webster considers him a suspect. Joe asks Trish to buy him some time and say on the news that it is too early for a police statement. Trish promises this and leaves.
Sheriff Webster tells Henley to find out everything he can about Hal Watson. It is very clear that his opinion of the young showy deputy is not very high. One of the other deputies has found a typed poem beginning with the words "True love never dies" that he believes might be a lead but Webster dismisses it as homework.
Attracted by the crowd the backpacker watches the proceedings through his camera for a while before moving on.
Trish remembers a similar murder taking place several years ago. She begins to research and finds old news reports. Fifteen years ago all the members of the James family were murdered the same way the Watsons were. The only survivor was the three year son, Charles Henry James. The killer, Billy Woods was sentenced to death and executed. The verdict had been controversial at the time.
At school Dirk Metcalfe catches Lisa in the hallway. He tells her that he is not the killer and warns Lisa not to tell Tracy about his affair with Rachel.
Trish drives out to the Wallace County Hospital to talk to Billy Woods's psychiatrist. The doctor tells her that Billy had been dumped by his girlfriend when he had been 17. He never found a girl that measured up to his ex-girlfriend Susan. Years later, after Susan had married and started to have babies, Billy looked back on his life and blamed her for his current situation. One day he waited in her house as the members of the James family returned home one by one. Susan was the last to arrive. She had to watch while Billy beheaded everyone and killed her last. He only let the little boy live because he thought Charles was to young to understand and share the guilt of his mother. But Charles must have witnessed the massacre as he was found in the room with the bodies. Even though he was questioned, Charles never talked about it. The doctor does not know where the boy is living now, only that he was adopted out of town.
After her talk with the doctor Trish picks up her daughters from school. Driving through town they pass a park where the backpacker is erecting a small tent, but they don't see him. At the turnoff for the road leading to their house Trish stops at the mailbox and empties it. One letter is for Lisa. It is a typed poem starting with the words "True love never dies." When they reach the house and open the door they find that the family dog, Chopper, has emptied the trash all over the hallway floor.
At night Tracy walks away from her date with Dirk. They argued. Tracy is still shocked by the Watson homicide and believes the killer could be anyone, maybe even Dirk.
Lisa calls Tracy before she is home. Again, Lisa leaves a message on the answering machine. She says she might know who the killer is but says no name. Lisa also mentions the poem and comments on it. As in the previous night the killer is already in the Johnson house, waiting. And as before he listens to Lisa's message before erasing it. Tracy returns home by taxi. She sneaks inside and into her room where she changes. After coming out of the bathroom Tracy notices that the door to her parents' bedroom is ajar which is unusual. She goes to investigate and to her horror finds her parents tied with sticky tape, lying on their bed. Then a voice starts talking to her in whispers. Tracy tries to run away, toleave the house. But the front door and the back door are locked and eventually the killer catches her.
Early next morning Trish reads a statement on the air that she has written the night before. A little later she arrives at the Johnson house to meet Sheriff Webster. The radio journalist tells him abut her theory that Charles Henry James could be the killer, but the Sheriff thinks that is too far fetched. He asks Trish to pick up her girls and bring them to his office as he would like to question Lisa about her friends. On her way back to the car, Trish gets a call on her mobile phone. It is the backpacker, who has gotten the number at the radio station. He introduces himself as Robert Player and tells her that he is from Iowa. His dad knows her husband and Robert has a gift for Mr. Burchall from his father. Trish tells him that her husband Vaughn has passed away three months ago. Robert is saddened by this news and expresses his sympathy. When he mentions that he is staying in a tent in the park, she asks for his parents' phone number to check out his story, just to be sure. She calls the Players but gets only their answering machine. Trish leaves a message.
Then she drives to the school to pick up Lisa and Amy. Trish also agrees to take Ben along, whose mother is working late. They stop at the Sheriff's office. Ben and Amy wait in the car, while Trish goes inside with Lisa. Lisa is very upset. She is aware that she called both of her friend at the time when the crimes were committed, that the killer heard what she said. Lisa is afraid that she might be next. She tells the Sheriff that she thinks that Dirk Metcalfe might have done it and that he has been dating both girls. Joe Webster tries to reassure her. Just to be on the safe side he promises to assign a deputy to look after her until they have caught the killer. Afterwards Trish sends Lisa ahead, so she can talk to Joe alone. Again he asks for her help to keep the people of the town calm.
Trish drives home with her daughters and Ben. There is another poem in the mail for Lisa. Ben calls his mother to let her know where he is. Trish makes Lisa promise to stay inside the house and lock the doors, before leaving for work. When she opens the door she sees a police car approaching. After getting on her way Trish remembers Robert. She calls the number of the phone booth that he has given her, but there is no answer.
Trish makes a plea for calm over the radio. Afterwards she receives a call from Sheriff Webster. A wreck matching the description of the Watson's car has been found in Lake Whitmore. The Sheriff would like Trish to come and see what they find. She is reluctant but he manages to persuade her to come.
Meanwhile Robert has decided to find his way to the Burchall house and just show up there. And Dirk Metcalfe is cruising around in his jeep.
Lisa and Ben are outside in the garden by the swing when Robert suddenly appears behind some bushes. He tells his story, but Ben and Deputy Henley are suspicious. Lisa tries to call her mother but cannot get a connection. Finally Henley decides that Robert can stay until Trish gets home but that he will keep an eye on him. Robert is grateful. When he gets ready to take a shower Amy shows up at the bathroom door and tries to chat him up. Robert is somewhat annoyed but makes an effort to be polite, before shutting her out.
Ben is not happy when he hears Amy telling her sister how hot she thinks their house guest is. Ben is upset that Robert has been allowed to stay at all and believes the girls should be more cautious with strangers. Lisa thinks he is overreacting and soon is fed up with his fretting.
Approaching the lake Trish tries to call home again. Due to the distraction she almost drives into the tow truck that has been called to the scene. Smiling, Joe tells her it's an offence to talk on the mobile phone while driving.
It has grown dark before the car is pulled out of the lake. Inside the wreck the police find the body of Hal Watson. The sheriff is relieved, he believes that the case is solved. But Trish is not so sure. She leaves, upset with Joe and still fearing for the safety of her daughters.
Dirk Metcalfe is sneaking up to the Burchall house. Peeking through a window he sees Amy, Lisa, Ben, Robert and Henley having dinner together. Obviously they are having a good time. Robert takes a picture of Amy and Lisa with his camera. Ben, however, is jealous and feels "threatened" by Robert's charming presence. Henley tries to keep the situation under control.
Driving home Trish fumbles for her mobile phone, when suddenly a truck is coming towards her on the narrow road. She turns the steering wheel and drives off the road into the ditch to avoid a collision. One of her rear wheels gets stuck in mud and she cannot drive on. Trish tries her mobile, but she can get no service. So she decides to walk the rest of the way despite an approaching thunderstorm.
Ben starts to apologise to Lisa for his rude behaviour but they end up arguing. Lisa tries to call her mother again, but she cannot get a connection. While she is trying the line turns dead, someone has cut the wire outside. Lisa tells Henley about this, when the power also goes out. Illuminated by lightning Lisa sees Dirk Metcalfe in the garden. She gets a candle to have some light. Henley goes outside to investigate. He believes that lightning took out the power line. Amy is scared and calls her sister. Lisa promises to bring a candle up to her room. When she is in the kitchen to get one Lisa is startled by Robert, who unexpectedly walks in from the garden. He says, he heard a dog yelp and went to check it out. Lisa does not know where Chopper is. Robert suggests to get the fire in the fireplace going again so they will have some additional light until the power is back on. Lisa tells him where to find some wood.
Meanwhile Henley is searching the immediate area around the house with his gun ready. He is scared but tries to act professionally. Going around the building he finds the fuse box has been smashed deliberately when someone viciously strikes him down from behind.
Ben sneaks into the guest room and goes through Robert's things. Robert catches him doing it and they struggle. A little later one of them drags the other down the stairs and out into the tool shed. Lisa passes the guest room and sees shreds of a broken lamp. She looks closer and finds the necklace she has given Tracy next to the shreds. Now she knows that the killer is in the house.
Chopper lies on the porch outside with his throat cut. The killer is in the shed and looks at a picture showing Rachel, Tracy and Lisa. The first two are crossed out with a red marker.
Lisa calls for Ben and Henley but receives no answer. Amy hides beneath her bedcovers, praying. Lisa slowly descends the stairs. When she reaches the bottom she is suddenly struck down from the side.
At the lake the doctor finishes his preliminary examination of Hal Watson's body. His throat was cut, which means he was murdered too. Sheriff Webster is not at all happy to hear this. Then he finds out that the deputy sent out to look after the Burchall girls is Henley. Webster orders everyone to the Burchall house at once.
Trish passes the saw mill that lies on the road leading up to her house when she gets a call on her mobile phone. It's Pat Kelly, Ben's mother, who is worried because she does not know where her son is. Trish is surprised to hear this since she has heard Ben calling her. Slowly she is piecing everything together. Ben had gone out with Rachel and Tracy. And he is not Pat's real son, he has been adopted. Pat acknowledges that Ben is her sister's son. Ben is Charles Henry James - and the killer! Terrified Trish starts running the rest of the way.
Lisa wakes up inside the tool shed. She is bound with sticky tape. It becomes clear to her quickly that Ben is suffering from a split personality. He believes that Rachel and Tracy betrayed him and that Lisa would have betrayed him as well, with Robert. Ben shines a light sideways and Lisa sees the backpacker hanging upside down from the ceiling with tape over his mouth. She tries to talk to Ben but he refuses to listen and eventually silences her with a tape over her mouthl. Then he raises an axe and brings it down near her throat, but without touching her yet. Amy's voice calling for Lisa reaches them. Ben leaves to go after Amy with the axe. While he is away Lisa manages to get up and find a saw to cut open the tape around her wrists. She also frees Robert.
Amy manages to evade Ben for a while, locking doors to delay him and smashing through a closet wall with a bowl to escape to another room. At last Trish arrives at the house. She knocks Ben down with a vase before escaping with Amy through a window. But Ben has recovered quickly and gets in their way, his axe raised high. Out of the darkness Robert comes running, tackling Ben. They struggle. Henley, who has regained consciousness, also appears at the scene. The deputy misreads the situation, however, and shoots Robert. Ben rewards him with striking the axe at his throat. Lisa appears behind Ben. She teases him to follow her, so her mother and sister will be safe. It works. Ben follows her. Trish follows Ben and orders Amy to stay behind.
Lisa leads Ben to the saw mill, where she has plenty of hiding places. But he finds her eventually. Trish is close at his heels and attacks Ben from behind. They struggle. The police cars rush past, sirens howling. Finally Ben gets the upper hand and aims his gun at Trish. Before he can pull the trigger, however, Ben is shot twice by Sheriff Webster who has arrived just in time. The Burchalls reunite, it is over.
Two weeks later Robert is recovering from his wound. He and Lisa are very close now and she is happy when he tells her that he will go to college in a town not too far away. He will major in photography. Together they walk up the road to collect the mail. Robert looks on while Lisa empties the mail box. Suddenly she drops all letters except one. It is another poem starting with "True love never dies" and a photo. She whispers "No", drops those as well and starts running back to the house. Confused, Robert picks up the letter and the photo. It shows Lisa, crossed out with a red marker…
© 2000 The Thriller Films Production Partnership