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We Shall Not Go Hungry

In Viking Age Iceland, Sigrun and her two brothers are reunited with their estranged father, only to fall prey to a horrific curse. After their father goes missing, Sigrun must protect her brothers by any means necessary, but uncovering her family’s history of dark magic may lead her to become the very thing she’s fighting. (harryaspinwall.com/wsngh)

In the 10th century, Sigrun, a young Norse woman, comes with her two little brothers Sveinn and Gudmundr and their family’s two thralls to Iceland, to be reunited with their estranged father following their mother’s death. Sigrun is frustrated that conservative Icelandic society doesn’t allow her to hunt or practice swordfighting, but she enjoys the hotsprings and talking with the local chieftain's nephew, Yngvar. She is troubled, however, by dim memories and dreams of her mother and grandfather, which her father urges her to keep secret.

The situation grows more tense as their food suddenly spoils and mysterious runes appear carved into the door, and one night Sigrun overhears her father burying something. When their thralls vanish and the horse turns up dead, its head mounted on a pole in an ancient curse ritual, their father finally turns to the local community for help. Refusing to give his land to the chieftain, however, he inadvertently causes a rift with their only allies, dooming them to a winter of starvation.

Cautioning Sigrun to leave the dead alone, he wanders out into the storm, only to return later, a strange, violent husk of his former self. After he attacks his children they hide in the farmhouse. As they prepare to flee the valley, Sveinn reveals that their father buried their family's ancient magical chest, and Sveinn dug it up again. Sigrun is furious, believing this taboo artifact to be the cause of their suffering. When they go to rebury it, their father attacks them, and Sigrun is only able to defeat him with help from the magic of the chest.

Gudmundr is badly injured in the fight, making escape to the chieftain's farm impossible. After Sigrun and Sveinn realise that the scrap of fabric Gudmundr found in the woods is an apron belonging to one of the thralls, Sigrun sets out to look for them. Instead, she finds their bodies hanging from a tree, with the remnants of a curse spell to make them talk. Suddenly her consciousness is taken to an ice cave where a mysterious old man vows that she and her brothers will die.

Urging Sveinn to look after his little brother, Sigrun runs to the chieftain's farm by herself. Upon her arrival, the chieftain's servants lock her up, wasting precious time. Finally freed upon the chieftain's return, Sigrun urges the chieftain to send help to their farm, agreeing to give up her father’s land. She returns to her father’s farm with Yngvar, only to discover that her brothers are missing. Instead of helping her, Yngvar insists on digging up the chest, which he believes is full of silver. When he discovers the magical artifacts inside, he is convinced that the community’s worst suspicions are right: Sigrun is a witch.

They fight, and Sigrun has the upper hand, but she is distracted by the sound of her brothers calling her. Yngvar stabs her in the side and flees. Sigrun staggers towards her brothers, huddled by the wall, but instead sees that they’re both dead, throats cut, and the Old Man has been making their bodies talk.

Sigrun is unable to carry her brothers back into the farmhouse, so at last she makes her way to the hot spring, where, at the very limit of her endurance, she has a near death vision culminating in her grandfather giving her her forgotten nickname, the key to her forbidden magical power. She takes up his magical artifacts and heads to the woods, where she learns from the bodies of the thralls that they have been to the lair of the Old Man, and can point out the way if they can see it. Sigrun cuts down one of the thralls and takes her head.

Spotting the Old Man near the woods, she follows him into the highlands, only to lose him when he leaps from a cliff and turns into an eagle. The head leads her the rest of the way until the eagle returns and pecks out its eyes. At the last moment Sigrun grazes it with an arrow and follows the blood trail to an ice cave.

Within the cave she finally confronts the Old Man, who paralyses her with a spell and tells her the real backstory: He and her grandfather were warriors and witches of Odin, as well as lovers. When the Old Man finally had a son, he sent the boy to live with Sigrun’s grandfather and her parents, but her father got into an argument with the boy and killed him. The Old Man has finally tracked down their entire family together to destroy them.

As he’s about to kill her, Sigrun reveals that she’s not alone: She has raised her brothers as draugar, the undead thing that the Old Man turned her father into, and they have followed her to the ice cave. The Old Man becomes an eagle and flees into the valley, but Sigrun turns into a wolf and finishes him off.

Some time later, the community is wondering what evil happened in their valley. The farmhouses are ruined, and there are signs of a struggle in the highlands. The chieftain's son rises and walks outside, and there in the farmyard is the severed head of their horse, mounted on a pole, a new curse by a new witch. High up in a rocky cave, Sigrun and the draugar feast on the body of the Old Man.

Script Excerpt
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Budget:
Low
Starring Roles For:
17 year old Scandinavian girl
Mads Mikkelsen
Peter Stormare
In the Vein Of:
Hereditary
The Witch
Let The Right One In
Posted:
04/14/2020
Updated:
01/05/2021
Author Bio:
Harry Aspinwall is a Scottish-American queer and neurodivergent filmmaker. He got his BA (Hons) in screenwriting and playwriting at Brown University in 2011, and since then he's been working in film in the US and the UK, specialising particularly in historical and speculative fiction and their intersection with queerness and privilege. His work has created cult followings, and has been featured in Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, the Nerdist, Tor.com, Hypable, and Geek and Sundry (and got tweeted out by RL Stine once).

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Contest Results:
Sundance (Finalist, Sundance Screenwriters Lab) [2020]
ScreenCraft Film Fund (Semifinalist) [2019]
ScreenCraft Horror (Quarterfinalist) [2020]
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