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La Hacienda

A married interracial Latino/White couple arrives in Mexico during the Day of the Dead, a holiday of remembrance for those who've died, to renovate a dream hacienda owned by her parents and they soon discover it's haunted, by not only the couple's own past but also the murderous pasts of its former owners, who have been forgotten for very good reason.

Katrina and Emmanuel Flores have just lost a baby three months earlier when her parents, very affluent world travelers, hire Emmanuel, an award-winner architect, to renovate a hacienda property they have just leased in Mexico. The couple reluctantly goes, unable to deal with the grief of their recent loss. When they arrive in Mexico, it's the Day of Dead, where locals have picnics in the graveyards to remember their loved ones who've passed on. The legend behind the holiday says that souls who are not remembered are "unrested." They see an old woman at the celebration who is supposedly the oldest woman in Mexico with some sort of past. The couple starts to experience strange occurrences on the property. The very first night, there's a mysterious light that won't go out in the old servants' quarters and a crate of old children's toys that unearths itself much Katrina's fright and dismay. There are four unremembered/unrested spirits on the property: the teenage girl Anna, her Father Hector who's a worker, the Master of the Hacienda and his wife, the Mistress. Katrina learns in town from a family friend living in Mexico with her husband that the Master raped and impregnated Anna, the Mistress kills Anna by cutting out the fetus, not out of jealousy but because she lost her own child by miscarriage. Her father, Hector, kills the Mistress because she killed his daughter and the Master kills Hector over the loss of his wife, the Mistress. She also finds out that her father's friend never got his voicemail about finding new workers. The next major thing that happens is a contractor who falls to his death from scaffolding on the property. The other worker on the scaffolding with him claims that someone pushed him and that the place is haunted. The unrested souls there will feed on the emotions of the hacienda's inhabitants. All the workers quit. Her parents think about leaving for a big city to find more workers but the countryside isn't safe for travelers at night because of drug-related violence. Instead, they try to leave a message with a friend nearby to place an ad but Katrina's father's cell phone dies and the power is out at the Hacienda. The next morning, a group of twenty workers shows up to help with the renovations. The workers are peculiarly dressed. Some of them look familiar, Katrina and Emmanuel saw them celebrating the Days of the Dead at a graveyard during their first night in town. There is the young daughter of one of the workers who is always trying to capture Emmanuel's attention. She is 17, the same age Katrina was when Emmanuel met her as an early university enrollee and he was a student-teacher. Katrina et al assume her father's message to his friend is the action that produced a new team. The new set of workers negotiate for meals and lodging at the hacienda as well as their cash wages so Katrina goes to town to buy both food and water since the water was connected to the electricity, which is still out and now the reserve water tanks are empty. Katrina and her mother, Martha fight about Katrina trying to get pregnant again and her marriage to Emmanuel. Emmanuel and his father-and-law argue about how young Katrina was when Emmanuel started to date her and he also accuses his son-in-law of lusting after the girl on the hacienda who is the same age as Katrina was... Both Emmanuel and Katrina experience vivid and unsettling dreams. Emmanuel keeps dreaming about the young girl Anna who flirts with him constantly. In the dreams he always ends up kissing her but her face morphs into Katrina's. Katrina dreams about a man working on the property who leers at her and tries repeatedly to corner her, grabbing and kissing her. Tension builds between Emmanuel and his Father-in-Law, Jake who has always thought his daughter made a mistake marrying him. After all, he isn't "white" and Emmanuel is seven years older. Anna's ghost possesses Katrina, Hector ghost possesses Jake, her father; the Mistress's ghost possesses Martha, her mother and the Master possess Emmanuel. There is a very violent and bloody scene at the hacienda, where the Mistress kills Anna, Hector kills the Mistress, and the Master kills Hector, all while the spirits who fought the Mexican Revolution find the Master to hang him. They act our the events of the brutal past. Susanna finds her way to the hacienda, she is the child of the Master and Anna. She makes offerings to the dead's unmarked graves with Emmanuel/Master's help. This releases the their bodies from the spirits. Emmanuel goes back into the house and he and Katrina have the emotional catharsis over the loss of their own child. His inlaws give away the property to an orphanage, they all leave, Emmanuel and Katrina are able to have another child, they name her Susanna and return to the hacienda on La Dia de Los Muertos to remember her.

Script Excerpt Interview
Written by:
Format:
Screenplay
Starring Roles For:
Benicio del Toro
Michelle Williams
In the Vein Of:
Skeleton Key

Posted:
02/01/2012
Updated:
02/01/2021
Author Bio:
-2020 My 4 Bodies Screencraft Semifinalist (play) -2020 Sandwich Generation Fimmatic Semifinalist (sitcom) -2020 Water (short, preproduction) -2020 Record Man: The Bob Koester Story (in production) -2018 100,000 Miles a Second Writer/Producer (short) -2018 Page Awards Semifinalist -2018 Knight Finalist -2017 Nicholl Quarterfinalist -2017 Page Awards Semifinalist -2017 Knight Finalist -2016 Knight Finalist -2016 True Story Semifinalist for When Doves Cry -2015 Screenwriters Workshop Winner -2012 Champion Screenwriting Competition Finalist for Anatomy of a Town 2012 Contest of Contests Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2011 Writers on the Storm Quarter-Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2011 Chicago Screenwriters Network Finalist for One More Day -2011 Bluecat Fellini Semifinalist for Anatomy of a Town -2010/11: KCBX-FM Radio Production of Anatomy of a Town to air during the 2011 San Luis Obispo Film Festival -2010 Champion Screenwriting Competition Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2010 Santa Fe Writer's Project Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2010 Austin Film Festival Second Round for Anatomy of a Town -2010 SWW-MN Leave 'Em Hooked Winner for Date of Death -2010 IFP-MN Screenplay Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2009 PAGE Awards Quarter Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2009 IFP-MN Screenplay Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2008 SWW-MN Leave 'Em Hooked Finalist for Anatomy of a Town -2006 Fringe Festival Production (Director/Co-Writer) -2004, IFP-MN Screenplay Finalist -Augsburg University Master of Fine Arts -NYC Midnight Screenplay Judge -University of MN graduate, BA in English Creative Writing.

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