1. SOPHIE (17) is in her modest-looking bedroom with the door locked holding an old smartphone in front of her face. She is all made up and is recording a video to send it to a competition that could stand her the chance of meeting her idol, VORE (M, 30). After pledging her fandom to VORE, she starts singing the song “over the rainbow”. As she hums the melody at the start of the song, it is clear that she has a promising voice. When she opens her mouth to start singing- we cut to opening credits with what seems to be a loud pop song from VORE’s new album.
2. SOPHIE receives a phone call telling her she was shortlisted for the competition. SOPHIE screams with joy.
3. SOPHIE arrives at the address she is given. It is a downtown 3-star hotel. Hundreds of Vore superfans queue up. They have the same complexion and body type as SOPHIE. A lot of them are dressed in outfits as described in some of VORE’s song lyrics. SOPHIE is immediately given a sticker with a number on it, and told to sign an NDA. Not sure what an NDA is, SOPHIE goes ahead and signs it. She eventually hears her number being called out and enters.
4. Inside, the hotel lobby has been transformed into a trade-fair, with the same song from the opening credits now blaring on loop from speakers in every corner. There are plastic booths and assembly points everywhere, with many teenage girls gathered in groups and being guided by people in clipboards and megaphones. SOPHIE, alongside some other girls, is having her height measured and told to stick her tongue out for it to be inspected. SOPHIE does as she is told. She is asked to proceed to the next assembly point. SOPHIE asks ASSISTANT whether they will be asked to sing soon, so that she can do some vocal exercises beforehand. ASSISTANT smiles at SOPHIE but does not answer her. More strange tests follow, involving lifting weights, which SOPHIE is not too good at. An altercation ensues when a CROWD MARSHALL (M,37) puts his hands on SOPHIE’s waist to measure it with a measuring tape to which SOPHIE reacts badly, as CROWD MARSHALL hadn’t warned her he would do it. This makes CROWD MARSHALL question out loud her credibility for being a true fan of Vore. Despite this hiccup, a red-cheeked and humiliated SOPHIE is finally selected to meet VORE.
5. SOPHIE is taken alone to a SPA ROOM which has been transformed into an office overnight. There, AGATHA (F ,35-45) is waiting for her. They engage in polite smalltalk. AGATHA’s interest in SOPHIE’s upbringing quickly escalates into a gruelling personal interrogation, to which a stressed SOPHIE reacts by confessing that she is still a virgin. AGATHA then draws SOPHIE’s blood, in order to determine the perfect diet for SOPHIE according to her deficiencies. AGATHA takes out a brand new lab-coat from its plastic wrapping, puts it over her tailored suit and draws SOPHIE’s blood from the nearby massage chair.
6. SOPHIE leaves the spa room weary, holding a hotel key in her hand as she walks down the corridor. She finally finds the presidential suite that has the same number as on her hotel key. She expects VORE but is met by MOTHER (F,50) VORE’s mother who chaperones her inside. MOTHER tells SOPHIE that VORE is having a shower, and confesses that she snuck to the presidential suite to catch a glimpse of “VORE’s new singing partner”. MOTHER keeps calling SOPHIE “Sophia” and in their brief encounter recounts personal information that gives SOPHIE insight into the struggles, pain and isolation VORE had to undergo in order to be a superstar. When they hear the water from the shower turned off, MOTHER leaves a disturbed SOPHIE alone as she waits for the star to emerge from the bathroom.
7. VORE, (M,30) enters the room. He has perfectly styled blonde hair and wears baggy jeans and a silk flowy shirt. He flashes SOPHIE a smile that shows a row of pearly white, even teeth. VORE invites SOPHIE to sit at the dining table, and removes the silver cloche to reveal a tagliata steak. VORE offers SOPHIE pieces of the steak, and a starving SOPHIE, although having told MOTHER she is vegetarian just before, eats the meat. VORE serenades SOPHIE with one of his popular songs with his okay (but unremarkable) singing voice. VORE asks SOPHIE to sing for him. SOPHIE starts singing the next verse to the same song he was singing, but VORE stops her and tells her to sing the song she sang in the video she had submitted for the competition. SOPHIE sings. Her voice is rich and soulful, and VORE is moved to tears. SOPHIE too seems moved and impressed by her own abilities.
8. VORE gives SOPHIE endless compliments on her singing, and then switches the subject to his steak knife. VORE claims it is a very rare knife, and demonstrates its sharpness by cutting a piece from the steak. VORE invites SOPHIE to cut a piece herself, to which SOPHIE politely obliges. VORE seems impressed even by SOPHIE’s demonstration. VORE leans in and kisses SOPHIE, who freezes. VORE continues to seduce SOPHIE, who is getting very nervous and agrees she’ll do anything he’ll ask her to, like she had stated in her video. VORE goes off on a rant about how the male angler fish practically disintegrates into the female fish in the mating act, then guides SOPHIE’s hands to open his shirt. SOPHIE’s hands are limp at this stage. The buttons are opened easily and SOPHIE screams.
9. SOPHIE screams at the sight of VORE’s chest which is covered in multiple scars from lacerations, a sore sight compared to his moisturised and fake tanned skin on the rest of his body. Realising she is still holding the knife, SOPHIE tries to let go but VORE forces SOPHIE to make fresh cuts on VORE’s chest, thus confirming a disturbing fetish VORE had cultivated in his years of working under pressure as a superstar. From then onwards VORE appears to be totally insane, flitting between cooing, gentle words of encouragement to rage and frustration when SOPHIE refuses to cut him. A terrified SOPHIE finally gives in and makes a slight incision on VORE’s chest, to which VORE welcomes with ecstatic moans. SOPHIE makes another, and another, until one of her tiny cuts is too near to his face, and VORE explodes with anger, telling SOPHIE that she ruined his looks and he cannot possibly perform with this disfigurement. VORE of course exaggerates, it is a tiny cut, but his livid state makes his bleeding worsen and his chest is soon covered in blood. SOPHIE offers to call the ambulance, to which VORE screams at her to get out as she is a danger to him. A freaked out SOPHIE slowly leaves. As she walks down the corridor, VORE can be heard screaming at SOPHIE to return the knife to him, making SOPHIE realise that she is still carrying the knife. Against his protests, SOPHIE does not return the knife and puts it in her handbag instead as she hurriedly walks down the hotel corridor.
‘Vore’ tells the story of a girl who’s obsessed with a pop idol and willing to do whatever it takes to meet him. Some time ago, I was told a similar story by a friend of mine who knew someone that was selected by an A-list Hollywood actor to go to his hotel room and perform weird, sexual acts. It struck me as a story, being both very eerie and extraordinary at the same time. It stayed with me and I had wanted to develop a script to shoot it for some time.
This story was told to me months before the Harvey Weinstein scandal unfolded. As I closely followed the testimonies given by his victims, I felt even more pushed to develop the project. Everyone has their own story of being subjugated by abuse - myself included. I feel I can communicate the lengths of abuse that are accepted in society effectively through filmmaking. It is the fact that I stood up for myself and pushed back the perpetrators, which liberated me. As a filmmaker I am interested in violent imagery- not for violence’s sake, but to take the audience beyond the journey of the narrative of the story and into a more primordial realm of being physically affected by an image. One can see an emerging tendency to my love for introducing gore onto film in my first short, “Ir-Raġel tal-Klieb.” I fell in love with filmmaking in the first place by watching David Cronenberg’s movies and being excited by the fantastic imagery in the practical effects- images that one does not see in their everyday life. In my mind these images are as beautiful as they are impactful, and in my directing work for Vore I want these images to pass on the important message that, as the audience participates in the empathy of Sophie, they can see that defeating “the man” can be possible.
Teenage girls have been targeted by music record companies for decades to sell their music and concert tickets. In return, the industry has reaped billions in revenue at their expense. They are constantly being portrayed as emotional and silly in media outlets just because their voice is high-pitched, because they giggle, because they are emotional (due to the hormonal changes in their body during this crucial time of their physical life) and because they have a tendency to not hold back from expressing excitement. They are constantly portrayed as weak and diminutive and their naivety is often mocked with the intention to entertain. The results are scary and heartbreaking as various statistics show that most teenage girls and women suffer from low self-confidence. Vore’s main character, Sophie, is a typical teenager coming from a modest background. Her naivety keeps her grounded and is, in the end, her saving grace. As the writer of this screenplay, I did not hold myself back from, to a certain extent, “exploiting” Sophie’s naivety myself, in order to emancipate her even more in the end. The showbiz industry vampirically feeds on young people’s innocence and excitement, and few of these young people make it out level-headed. These character traits are therefore rendered as revolutionary, and Sophie’s character triumphs in the end through a genre-style transgression that breaks the perpetuation of abuse.