True Fiction (2019) Script

Give me authenticity.

Feel it. Make it count. Come on!




Good... good.

I just... thank you.

I know I don't have the formal credentials some of the other girls have.

Well, what are your informal credentials?

Avery Malone.

Well, I'm passionate. I'm committed.

I have good work ethic.

If I were to pick one of my flaws, I'd say...

Just, just, pretend you're sitting where I am.

Tell me what I want to hear.

Ok, um.

You're an aspiring writer.

This could be quite the opportunity for you.

Believe me, I would do anything...

Are you a starfucker?

Listen. You're young, sweet, polite.

That's all well and good.

But we really only have one concern and that's selling our client's book.

He needs an assistant. Not a writer.

That's his job.

A wannabe' writer is just a distraction, so which are you?

Assistant? Or a distraction?

An assistant.

What do you have that our other applicants don't?


There's nothing special about me.

Honesty. That's something.


Look, I know I don't have the formal training or special skills.

But I do know books.

All books, especially his.

I learn fast.

I don't have anything that I can't walk away from.

Look, anything Caleb Conrad- your client.

Anything your client wants me to do, I will do it.


Look, I-I really need this.

Take off your shirt.

Thanks for your time.

I said I'd go along with this, but if this turns into a legal shit storm it's your ass.

Get in.

You may not have seen our next guest's face before but you've read their words.

Please welcome best-selling author and winner of this year's National Book Award, Avery Malone.

Now lets get serious for a second.

Your book, it's not entirely fictional, is it?

I'm sorry, If you don't...

No it's okay.

Sure, uhh there are some parts that hit close to home.

Your sister, you mean.


Yeah. Just a second.

Hey, Avery?

Called a couple times.

Must be important.

Thanks, Henry. Yeah.

Um, hey.



Avery Malone? Uh-huh, yeah.

I'm calling about your interview.

You got the job.


Sorry. I'll forward the details.

Thank you. Thank you.

Derlain House.

Mr. Conrad's favorite residence.

Ms. Malone?

Your bedroom.

You should have all services and anemitie-anemities-



Your phone.


No phones. No Pictures.

What if I need to make a call?

No distractions.

Thank you.

To Ms. Seville, England, St. Petersburg, December 11th, '17.

You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.

I arrived here yesterday, and my first task is to assure my dear sister of my well fair, and increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.

I am already far north, London, and as I walk in the streets of Petersburg I feel a cold northern rains lay upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me with delight.

Do you understand this feeling?

This breeze, which has traveled from the regions toward which I am advancing gives a foretaste of those icy climbs.


A page turning tour de force.

Brutally divine.

Caleb Conrad takes his throne as the new King of Macabre.


That was in my room.

It was on my desk.

Are you- Did you bring your writing?

No. I mean- I was told not to.

Do you always do what you're told?

I'm Caleb.

And you are?


Are you sure?

I am.

I mean-

See I-I didn't know it was you.

You've never shown your face before so I just didn't know, but it's you.

You're Caleb Conrad.

Guilty as charged.

The public demands a face to the art.

These days you would think the life of the artist is more important than the work itself.

Doesn't your real life mean more to you than your books?

Would you still consider the Mona Lisa a masterpiece if Da Vinci was a thief in his everyday life?

What if Shakespeare was a murder?

How would you feel about Hamlet then?

Artist's lives are boring, horridly so.

That's why they create.

Where they live, who they love, their families, that's not important.

What's important, what matters is the work.

Whether it is interesting or not.

Well I find you interesting.

Well, you find my work interesting.

As a person I could be someone else entirely.

How would you know?

I think I'd know.

Well, lets just say my work is the most interesting thing about me.

Then I guess I already know everything interesting about you.

Well, lets see if this interests you.

A game, two players, for our book.

Of all that I've written, which is your favorite?

Virgin Red.

Besides that.

At Midnight, probably.

Both written in my twenties.

I'm not interested in writing fiction anymore.

I don't have one last great novel in me.

I want the real thing, sincerity.

Purposeful exposure to the purest emotion.

This game is a controlled experiment in fear.

Why fear?

What else is a horror author qualified to write about?

It'll give me a chance to study true fear.

To document it and control it.

Understand it.

So you want me to be your guinea pig?

Not without your consent.

This game, it'll help you write again?

The novels, I mean.

All I know is that fear is to horror writers what sugar is to candy.

It's an essential ingredient.

It's a means to an end.

This contract, it's merely a formality it states you accept liability in the unlikely event that something might happen.

It's really more for my protection.

I can be pretty unpredictable.

As I predicted.

What else did you predict?

What if we write a boring book?

A fate worse than death.

I need another writer.

I need you.

Or perhaps I should look elsewhere.

If sugar is what you need, I'm your Willy Wonka.

Well then lets consider that your golden ticket.

In the next couple of days we will do an in depth analysis of your personality.

Your fears.

Your desires.

It will take some time, but when it's over we can begin writing.

We will build a narrative catered to your profile.

Dive into what makes you tick.

I can't promise it will be a pleasant experience, but if we do it right...

I'm your Willy Wonka.




Okay. Good.

How do you feel?

Good. Yeah.

Do they just give these things to anyone?

Lie detectors?

Are you female?

What? Um...


If my questions seem arbitrary or personal it's because I intend them to be.

Your favorite book is Virgin Red?


Are you a virgin?

Yes, no.

Easy. I'm not though.

Calm breaths.

The machine is registering that I surprised you.

Your parents, were you close?

My father left us... Yes or no answer, please.


Have you murdered anyone?



Does fear prevent you from pursuing your dreams?


Have you ever suffered from symptoms of depression?


Would you describe yourself as socially isolated?


Would you describe yourself as fulfilled?


Are you scared yet?

Scared? No.

Absolutely terrified.

How long do I have to stay in this thing?

Sensory deprivation doesn't really have a time limit.

What if I freak out?

I'll be right here by your side the whole time.

Okay. Okay.

I'm going to put the mask on now.




Caleb, take it off.

Caleb, Caleb, I can't breathe, take it off.

Caleb, take it off. I can't breathe.

Let me out! Let me out!





It's okay. Come on, it's okay.

I'm right here, I'm right here.

It's ok, it's ok.

You did great.

We need to stop.

I knew there was a risk, but this early your reaction I could never have predicted.


I want to keep going. I want to finish.

What did you see?


You said you didn't know your family.

I said I wasn't close with my parents but it wasn't them that I saw, it was-

it was my sister.

You never mentioned you have a sister.

I don't know.

They never found a body, so I don't know.

After mom was gone...

we were so young.

She, uh-

She'd always leave.

I don't know where'd she'd go but she always came back.

And then one day she just- she didn't.

She would have been in her twenties now.

She would have been a woman.

What about your family?

I think that's enough for today.

That footage of me in the video how did you get it?

It came from inside my room and my door was locked.

I'm not mad or anything, I just, I just want to know.

I made that video years ago, it hasn't changed since.

So that's just part of it then?

Part of the game?

It was there. I saw it.

You're the perfect candidate, Avery.

You're prone to paranoia, suspicion, doubt.

It's all here in the tests.

You've given me more than enough to work with.

True Fiction.

About you and I.

You're here to inspire me, aren't you?

I've never been in a book before.

Well, you relate to the heroes in the stories you write.

Don't you?

Not mine.

Stay with me on this.


There, there's someone in my room there.

There, there, there, he touched my head.

There, there, there, the glove was right there.

Did you not see him touch my head?

Who touched your head?

Play it again. I saw it.

Saw what?

It was-it was right there.

Okay, Avery.

It was there.

It was right there.

You don't look so well.

I can fix you something else if you want.

I'm okay.

So did you read the pages that I left?

Yup. And?

They're okay.


Any ideas on how to improve them?

Yeah. You need more stakes.

Your character doesn't have enough stakes?

My character is fine.

She has fears and insecurities.

Every little detail is out in the open.

It's your character that needs work.

I don't know who Caleb Conrad is.

What are his fears? What are his motives?

Who is he on the inside?

What's the point of all this?

Why should I care?

Point taken.

Thank you.

Caleb is a has-been.

He lost something vital to him and he wants it back.

His fear is that it's gone forever.

And that it's his fault.

He hopes that he can get it back someday.

Or accept it if he can't.

And maybe all of this...

this will help.

How's that?


He sounds more human.




What are you doing?

I just- needed to go out for a minute and get some air...

Did you hear something just now?

No. Why?

You didn't hear someone screaming a few seconds ago?

Yeah that was me.

I thought I saw something so I screamed and I couldn't sleep so I was walking around and I thought I saw something but I didn't and that's why I needed to get some air.

Can you open the door, Caleb?


What did you see?


I thought I did but it was nothing.

You're lying.

No, I'm not.


You are.

Now what did you see?

The door is locked... Forget the fucking door!

It's locked.

And it's going to stay that way until the book is done because that's the deal, right?

Now, show me what you saw.

Are you coming?

So this is the last room.

Are you satisfied?

There's no one here.

Get back! Hey, hey.

Calm down, calm down.

Get away from me. What did you see?

Just-just stay back.

Tell me what you see.

The woman in the corner.

The corner?

There, the woman right there in the corner.

This corner?

This corner here?

Hey, hey. Calm down.

What is it? What is she doing?

I don't know, she's hurt.

She's screaming.

You can't hear her?

Which woman?

She's there. She's right there.

Is she over here? No.


This woman?


Avery, come back.


Avery, open the door.

Open the fucking door!

Shit. Avery?


I think we should talk.

It wasn't supposed to play out quite like this.


Tell me how to get out.

Open the door and we'll talk.

I'll get things on track.

This whole thing never happened.

We're going to be waiting quite some time if you don't play along.

I'll wait as long as I have to.

Will you?

You're scared and confused.

I get it.

And maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all but that's okay, because what is all of this?

Do you remember?

It's just a game.

Open the door.


Okay, clearly this wasn't going to work out.

I thought you wanted to find some purpose in life, I thought we trusted each other, but if you want to quit then it's done.

Game over.

Alison, come here, please.


Alison, meet Avery.

Avery, this is Alison.

I think you two have met.


Alison is an actress.

I hired her to play in our game.

Didn't I, Alison?

Yes. There, it's done.

So how about you open the door and we have a laugh over some wine?

Fair enough?

Alison is shivering like a leaf over here.

I don't know what this is.

If it's a game I don't want to play anymore.

I want to go home.

It's over. We're done.

But I can't let you out if I'm locked in here, can I?

Open the door.


Stop. Stop. Stop.

Please, stop it.

You did this.

You did!

There's not an exit I haven't sealed.

Nowhere that you can hide.

And I will find you just like I found the others.

People know where I am and who I'm with.

And who are you with?

You didn't stop to think of the sheer absurdity of it all did you?

That you were hired because you were Caleb Conrad's biggest fan?

That you deserved this over the others?

That you're special?

It doesn't matter.

They know I'm gone. They'll come looking.

Come looking where?

To an address you never had?

What's that matter when there's no one to look for you anyway?

That was why you were chosen.

You're alone.

No family.

No friends.

Remember? You're the perfect candidate.

Hell, you were the only candidate.



I'm sorry.

I know. It's okay.

Get back up to the room and wait.

I know what you're thinking.

I cheated.

It's not fair.

I think you'll forgive me when you read these.

Allow me.

Avery snapped awake keenly aware that someone or something was active on the second floor of Derlain House.


Okay. I'll skip to the good stuff.

Over the radio she heard her master's unknown accomplice the menacing shadow of Derlain, "The Third Man." That's my homage.

Why are you doing this?

Perhaps another time.

Now, you can put the knife down and we can talk like two mature adults.

Or you can restrain me with these.

I would like to elaborate on why maybe this was a bad idea.

Can I have my typewriter at least?

Stop talking.

The sooner we finish the book the sooner you get to go home.

"Her master's voice."

The room was occupied for quite some time.

That much was evident from the soiled clothing and congealed food.

A radio hissed white noise punctuated by a voice.

Her master's voice.

Did you see The Third Man?

Seeing her machete wielding neighbor,


carefully eluded


What secret passageways did Derlain House have in store for her?

You're lying.

Of course I am.

But it makes for a better read.

Bound by his work

The master knew for certain two things:

he was less afraid than she,

and he knew exactly what she was thinking.

He's listening. Yes.

He knows where we are? Yes.

Call him. Finish it.



Because it's bad writing.

I need a hero.

Give me something to work with.

Use your imagination.


Who wrote this?

You don't like it?


You've been here the whole time.

How did you know the exact room I was in? How?



If there's a detail off, I can fix it.

I just want to go home.

Please, I won't tell anyone. Avery.

I promise. Please.

Avery, you're doing so well.

I'm not. I'm scared.

Look at me.


Avery, look at me.



We've got some really good stuff here.

Let me out of this fucking house!


The pages are sincere.

Stop it.


Brutally divine.

Let me go.

Let me go.

We're done.


Hand me the keys to the handcuffs.

I said we're fucking done.

Take the cuffs off.

83-41-24 In my bathroom.

83-41-24 is the combination to my safe in the bathroom.

That's where the keys to the front door are.

Thank you for trying.

I can't say it won't make for a shitty short.

Fit in with the rest of my work.

Do you want them?

As a keepsake?

Read them.

Tell me what you think.

Can you read them aloud, please?

All outcomes are predictable thought the master.

Whether or not they are predicted correctly is another matter altogether.

Had Avery turned left instead of right...

It rambles for a little bit.

Get to the last couple of pages.

Despite herself, she pressed on.

That tiny malignant thought never entirely left her mind.

It's just a game.

Rationale betraying instinct.

It's just a game.

Even as she read these words, her instincts fought valiantly.

Run now.

Run, for God's sake run and don't look back.

Run you stupid bitch.

He's right behind you.


Your brother, he was the driver?


What did you do?

I'm going to go home now.

Avery, what did you do?

What did you do to him?!


What did you do to him?!


Don't leave!

Avery, don't leave me!


Don't leave her like you left your sister.

Where is she?


The girl, Alison. Where is she?

I don't know. Yes you do.

I don't!

Jesus Christ.

She was an actress.

I hired her for a role.

This is a game, remember?

I'm not playing anymore.

I don't know where she is.

She's in the house somewhere.

She goes from room to room.

She's coming with me.

What? I'm taking her away from you.

When we get to the hospital I'm going to tell the police all about this game that you and your brother like to play with young women.



She knows to stay put no matter what I say.

But you can talk to her.

If she's in Colton's room she'll hear you.

You talk to her.


Alison, it's over.

You can come to the library.

Colton Conrad.

Brother to Caleb Conrad, that's good.

I swear to God it's true, Avery.

And Alison, she's an actress?

Caleb's secret mistress?

Caleb's worst isn't even that bad.

Who are you?

I'm Caleb.

Look at me.

I'm Caleb Conrad. No.

No. He wouldn't do this.

He wouldn't hurt someone. Not like this.

Not for a book.

Your signature was the first tell.

You don't really get it, do you?

This was all part of the plan.

I saw the book when I went inside your room.

I deliberately falsified my signature.

Don't you see that?

The rest of it, it's all in your mind.

And you acted exactly...

Exactly as you predicted?

Sign it.

What? Sign it!

I learned his signature too.


Alison, run!


You can't just strap it on and expect it to work.

You have to calibrate it to the individual otherwise it's unreliable.

Are you a man?


Yes. I'm a man.

Oh, for Christ's sake.

This isn't exactly scientific.

Are your eyes brown?

Stop this.

Answer it.

Yes they're brown.

Is your real name, Caleb Conrad?


State your name.

Caleb Conrad.

Say it again.

Caleb Conrad. Again.

Caleb Conrad! Again!

Caleb Conrad.

Born to Darlene and Frank Conrad November 11th, 1965.

Moved to Indiana, Indianapolis when I was 12.

Graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame.

Married and divorced before I was 30.

Sold a few good books and many more shitty ones.

No family.

Just a younger brother, Colton Conrad.

There's nothing on Caleb to verify his birthday, his age, his parents.

It's like he's a ghost.

Why did you choose me?

I don't know.

You got the job because you fit the position.


How many times have you sent fan mail to someone you admired?


And how many times have you gotten back a personal response?

Not some form letter by a secretary but a personal response?

I read everything you sent, Avery.

I know who you are.

What you love. What you hate. What you fear.

How you can't move on and the guilt you feel when you try.

It's your sister. Don't you see that?

It's her.

How do you think I constructed all of this?

A woman taken, held against her will.

A woman who needs to be saved.

That was all for you.

You were going to save her.

You were going to save your sister.

You don't know who I am.

Tell me, what hurts more?

That she was taken away from you or that she left by her own free will?

You got the job because you fit the story.

There was no exclusive open call.

There were no more applicants.

There was only you, Avery.

And you took the job.

You took the job as I predicted.

As you predicted.



You couldn't cut through those cuffs.

What are you doing?

You almost had me believing you with that story.

Get on the ground.

Avery, whatever you're thinking of doing don't do it.

Maybe you practiced your routine long enough to beat the lie detector.

Coached your brother into playing along.

Get on the ground.

Don't make me ask you again.




Sorry about the ether.

The headache should pass once the painkillers kick in.


Sorry about that.

Let me get these for you.

Here you go.

That's better.

Avery, what are you doing?

What is this?

Well, that machine told you all about me.

Now it's going to tell me all about you.

I told you everything.

What do you want me to say?

That you're a killer of women.

Avery, please.

Whatever you're thinking of doing don't do this.

Oh, you know what this is.


You should. You wrote it.

"At Midnight."

Help me!


Help me!

When Dr. Sydow was forced to torture his own patient to save his missing wife he cut off a finger for every lie.

Only he had the proper tools and anesthesia.

Answer yes or no.

Pinky first.

This isn't you, Avery.

You wouldn't do this.

Your brother, he was the driver?


Was he going to kill me?


See, I told you.

It was just a game.

Hold still.

I don't want that to get infected.

Yes or no.

Do you understand?

Do you understand?


Hold still.

Your ring finger.

Alison, is she in the house?

I don't know.

No. No!

Is she in the house?

Yes or no.

Yes. No.

You don't know?


Did you kill her?


Do you love her?


Do you love her?

I don't love her!


Don't you fucking move.

I came back for you.

You back away.

Back the fuck away from me.

I came back for you.

What did you fucking do to him?

Oh God, Caleb. Look at me. Look at me.

Stay with me...

You crazy fucking bitch!

You're going to rot in a fucking prison cell!

You had a family.


Or daughter?

Caleb, the game is over.


What do you mean, neither?

An abortion?


What were you going to name it?

You were going to name it, weren't you?

Every child I've ever written has had a name.

Every one.

Avery, what are you doing?

If they don't matter they burn.

Avery, please don't.

My family was taken from me.

But you, you left yours.

It was never a family.

They were living, breathing real human beings not like your fucking books.

They mattered.


No, stop! Not the pictures!


Because they don't belong to me.

They're not mine to destroy.

They're not- they're not anybody's to destroy.

I'm not Caleb Conrad.

And I never was.

But I'm not a killer or a psychopath either.

I got hired to play a role.

I'm an actor.

I needed the money.

You're an actor?

You let me cut off your fingers, kill two people, because you're an actor that needed the money?

I didn't let you do anything.

You did that all on your own.

But you went along with it anyway.

For these.

They told me the rules and I played by them.

What do you, what do you want from me?

You want me to prove it?

They gave me a number to call.

There should be a phone the top drawer in my desk.

Yes, I need to speak to Peter Lavigne, please.

I'm one of his clients.

I need to speak to Peter Lavigne, please.

Thank you.

Peter, it's me.

I need to speak to Caleb Conrad.

No, listen to what I'm saying.

I need to speak to Caleb Conrad, please. Yes.

I need you to put him on the phone.

Okay, I got a little bit of a situation here.


It's regarding his next book.

He needs to call it off.

Yes, thank you.

He's going to connect you.

Caleb's going to talk to you personally.

Caleb Conrad?

Yes. That's right.

For me?

Uh huh.


Oh my, God. It's him.



Yeah, I've been better.

It's complicated.

Look, I just want to say that I'm really sorry.

I... I didn't know.


Okay, I promise.

Mr. Conrad, can I ask you a question?

What was the name of the actor that you hired to play you?

Yeah, his name, what was his name?

What's your name?

Peter, help me!

She's got me chained up! Peter!

Just as I predicted.

Avery, no, no, no, no!

Mr. Croft, I told you he'd see you when you take a seat.

Mr. Lavigne?

Shred these.

Is it about Caleb?

Not now.

C'mon, pickup the phone you fucking hack.

Please leave a message after the tone.

Hey baby.

Peter here, just calling to check-in on ya.

Look, uh, a little creeped out by your call.

Gotta call me back.

Don't make me drive all that way just to mess with me.

Okay? Call me.

Hey Charlie.

Mommy misses you so much.

I've been working, really hard on my book.

I'm going to be back soon, okay?

So I just want you to be a really good boy while I'm gone.

Mommy loves you very much.

Bye baby.

I want you to know, I'm finishing the book.

My version.

I'll have to make a few revisions, but make no mistake, I'm the hero of this story and you are my muse.

You're safe, Avery.

Everyone who knows what happened here is dead.

Not everyone.

This is not your fault.

None of it is.

I think you should say something.

Something worthy of an ending.

A Caleb Conrad ending.

Well, go on, say something.

You want an epiphany?

An arc for my character?

How somehow this all changed me?

Opened my eyes?

I was a bad husband.

An unkind brother.

An ungrateful son.

And I would have been a terrible father too had fate allowed it.

No, no that's not good enough.

My life has never meant as much to me as my work.

You had a life.

You let it die, nameless.

Well that really doesn't matter much now does it?

I was hoping you'd give me something better to work with.

Use your fucking imagination!

This doesn't have to end like this.

Wait, wait, wait!

You don't have to write the ending of the story I already wrote it.

It's an old writers trick.

You create the ending you want to see and you write towards it.

The pages are in my desk.

Second shelf.

I'll still be here when you're done.

Just, tell me what you think of the ending.


Don't move.

You still couldn't cut through those cuffs.

As predicted.



Did I do good, Caleb?

Stop it.

I'm sorry. Stop it.


Stop it!


She took the keys.

Even as he read these words his instincts fought valiantly.


For God's sake,


It was good.

The ending, it was real good.

Especially the part where you kill me and dedicate the book in my memory.

It's just a novel, Avery. I swear.

Then you go on TV You show your face to the world and you're famous again?

I can't breathe.

I like that part.

The world deserves to see your face.

Except you're missing something.

You don't want fame, you want her.

You want your wife.

That's why you can't write anymore.

But I'm here now.

I'm your muse, and I'll make you write.

Now this...

this is an ending.

You may not have seen our next guest's face before but you've certainly read their words.

Please welcome, best-selling author, Avery Malone!

Hey, Avery. Hi. Thank you so much.

You're very welcome. Take a seat.

Your book, True Fiction, it's awful.

No, the book.

You know what I mean.

It's awful, what happened to you is awful because the story, it's not entirely fictional is it?

No, none of it is.

The chance of a lifetime the opportunity for you to assist your hero the Caleb Conrad.

And the unimaginable happens.

Did you write what really happened up there?

For those of you not familiar, three victims, one survivor.

The killer, Caleb's brother...

Colton. Colton. Thank you.

Was, uh, a little off.

Dependant on Caleb.

He started off being sweet, and then her just...

As a writer, what was the most difficult part of writing this horrific ordeal?

The rewrites.