• Fearsome Critters

Orphea — A. J. Bermudez



[B&W. Simple, elegant, never entirely static shots, like moving photographs in succession. Messy, exquisite sound.]


Dressed in a dark, epicene suit, ORPHEA (30)—a heroine of ambiguous ethnicity—stands at the counter of a nondescript liquor store.

She pays for four cases of CHAMPAGNE.


CLOSE ON the cases of champagne, rattling in the bed of a moving TRUCK.


Orphea diligently hauls all four cases of champagne up a narrow, geometrically implausible stairwell.


CLOSE ON a RECORD PLAYER. The needle descends and something elegiac, in the vein of Billie Holiday’s “SOLITUDE,” begins to play.

Flanked by sculpture-like pyramids of unopened WEDDING GIFTS, Orphea sits on the sole item of furniture (a LOVE SEAT) and begins to consume the champagne like she’s trying to break a record.

Against one bare white wall, projected footage—a WEDDING VIDEO—plays on loop. Orphea dances with EURYDICE (25), a visually stunning bride, the image of youth and hopefulness.

This is love.


Spectacularly drunk, Orphea staggers into the master bath, braces herself against a clawfoot BATHTUB.

She twists the faucet. Water sputters and rushes out.

Orphea sits on the edge of the tub and continues to drink as the water overflows, drizzling over the edges of the tub onto the tile floor.

Still fully clothed, Orphea grips the edges of the tub and lowers herself into the water.

She lies back, fully submerged, not breathing.


[Full, LSD-grade color. Lengthy, dynamic shots. Pure silence.]


In stark contrast to her aurally lush but visually monochromatic apartment, Orphea awakes to a riot of hyper-saturated color—and absolute silence—in an inflated KIDDIE POOL.

She is surrounded by a vivid, sweeping desert, bizarrely strewn with miscellaneous BEACH PARTY ACCOUTREMENTS.

A jet black BEACH BALL bounces across the sand like an omen.

Orphea stands, dripping with water. She steps out of the pool and makes her way toward the only other landmark: a trio of cathode-ray TELEVISION SETS.

Alongside this TV sculpture, looking like the curator of a rejected Nam June Paik exhibit, stands HADES (35). He is lavishly dressed, at once playful and serious, with the mien of a wry, Afro-Caribbean god.

He places a finger to his lips, signifying the realm’s only rule: absolute silence.

Hades tilts his head. Orphea follows as he guides her past a dystopian MILE-MARKER reading “Styx and Stones,” toward a haze of color and light on the horizon.

There, like a post-apocalyptic fever dream partway between hell and Coachella: an extravagant PARTY.

Amid a wasteland of sand, a sea of PEOPLE dance with abandon, each unsettlingly with their EARS TAPED SHUT. From beneath the bandages, rivulets of DRIED BLOOD crease the lobes and jawlines of the dancers.

Orphea’s gaze drifts toward the far end of the proceedings, where EURYDICE (25), still clad in an airy wedding gown, sits listlessly kicking her feet atop an enormous, unused SPEAKER.

Leaving Hades—whose expression registers something between amusement and grief—Orphea presses through the crowd, toward her wife . . .

En route, she observes a series of TATTOOS—one on the back of each dancer’s neck—signifying the manner of each individual’s death: a gun, fire, pills, a clock, et al.

In a shift of perspective, we FOCUS ON the tattoo on Eurydice’s neck: a winding SERPENT.

Having clawed her way through the crowd, Orphea finally reaches Eurydice. She greets her beloved with an impassioned kiss, but Eurydice pulls away and puts a finger to her lips, mirroring Hades’s earlier gesture.

Orphea grips her wife’s hand and, with an air of near- immortal resolve, the couple begins to wend their way back through the madness.

As they move through the thick crowd, Orphea fends off dancers like underbrush. The chaotic swarm begins to close in . . .

Maddened by the silence, Orphea’s panic and fury escalate. Eurydice attempts to calm her, but it’s too late . . .

Orphea unleashes a violent, deafening ROAR.

In the still, silent wake of this forbidden sound, Orphea opens her eyes.

She is alone. Eurydice—along with all the other figments of hell—have vanished.

Stricken with horror and renewed grief, Orphea collapses in the sand.


[B&W. The same audio/visual aesthetics as Part One.]


Immersed in complete darkness, Orphea hears the phantom of a voice . . .

She springs up from the tub, splashing water over the side.

. . . But the voice isn’t Eurydice’s. It’s simply the record, which has begun to skip, butchering the original song.

Orphea lies back against the edge of the tub. With her toe, she shuts off the faucet, which has been running continuously. The floor of the bathroom is a slick, undulating sheen of water.


There’s water in the kitchen—

Orphea jolts upright in the clawfoot tub.

Eurydice emerges into focus, propped in the doorway, wearing a robe and a smirk.


What are you doing?

(chiding, adoring)

The champagne was meant to be shared.


You’re alive . . .

Eurydice moves to the bathtub.

She kneels, cradles Orphea’s face with concerned adoration.


You were dreaming in Latin.


You poet.

She curls her fingers in Orphea’s hair, trails her fingers down the curve of her neck to the collarbone...


Come back to bed.

(in Latin, playfully)

Amor vincit omnia.

Eurydice places a soft kiss on her wife’s lips, then turns and stands. She traipses through the doorway with exaggerated, honeymoon mirth.

Alone, Orphea stares at the empty doorway. She clumsily grips the sides of the tub, then pushes herself upward.


(dark, emotionally drained)

Amor vincit omnia.

As Orphea rises from the tub, we focus on the back of her neck. There, a new TATTOO has emerged: a single WATER DROPLET.

From the other room, the sound of Eurydice resetting the needle on the record player.

The original song reprises, at full volume.