Unless they're willing to cheat...
Migraine is a black comedy/horror screenplay written by Joe Blitz.
Kenneth Jason Muntz is a seemingly typical American young adult, fending off constant stress headaches and trying his hardest just to keep the lights on at his run-down apartment. Ken is a loner by choice, noted by his few acquaintances as an emotionally cold person, and while he projects an outwardly affable persona to his unwitting neighbors, he is hiding a dark, dark secret. And with the onslaught of winter approaching and his Cranky Landlord threatening eviction, Ken finds his Mask of Sanity slowly start to slip...
Conceived as a simple writing exercise, Migraine is the writer's attempt to show a day in the life of a cold-blooded sociopath, while providing only enough information for the reader to draw their own conclusions. It is also an examination of the lengths that the average person will go to to make money, and to show that no matter how sympathetic and understandable a Freudian Excuse may seem, once you leap down the rabbit hole, there's no turning back.
The screenplay was ranked as a finalist in 13Horror.com's 2019 short screenplay contest, and was published and available for purchase on Amazon as of June 19th, 2019. Joe Blitz, now going by Zander Del Noir, is currently preparing to film on No Budget.
Migraine provides examples of...
- Actually Pretty Funny: Ken's one moment of humanity in the script has him laughing along with Fred after the latter, in a pot-induced stupor, finds Ken's confession to serial murder hilarious.
- Asshole Victim: Averted with Ken's neighbor Fred. Ken finds Fred and his girlfriend deeply annoying, but they, especially Fred, are really nothing but nice and cordial to him. Makes it all seem insanely petty on Ken's part when he deliberately sabotages their relationship by playing on growing tensions for shits and giggles. And then murders Fred for no discernible reason at the finale.
- Ambition Is Evil: A core theme to the story is just this, as an ambition in a man like Ken who has no morals is extremely dangerous. Ken admits he only sees two types of players in "life's game"; losers, and those willing to cheat, making him an incredible threat to the safety of others.
- Ax-Crazy: Ken's brutal threat to Sanchez halfway through is just the tip of the iceberg of just how unstable he really is.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Ken Muntz, revealed to be a malicious, misogynistic Serial Killer, murders both his victim and his neighbor, gets enough income from his illicit dealings to move to a better apartment, and promises to continue his murderous ways until he's caught or killed.
- Berserk Button: Based on his strong reaction to Sanchez's threats, the prospect of being homeless is a big one for Ken. His whole murder spree is the result of him attempting to avoid this outcome, on top of his other major berserk button; women.
- Black Comedy:
- Ken threatens to cut open his landlord's throat and pull his spine and skull out through the gash. Then, for extra detail, he says he'll hang them on his Christmas tree. Sanchez finds this hilarious.
- Roy's attempt to make the infamously stoic Ken laugh involves a joke about a little boy being circumcised during an earthquake. Ken pretends to be offended.
- Cranky Landlord: Sanchez fits this trope to a T, to the point where he expresses visceral delight at the thought of Ken dying on the streets in the cold of winter.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Ken's MO is to use a poison to paralyze his victims, before bashing their heads in with a hammer, butchering their bodies and selling their meat on the black market.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Ken's raison d'etre. He destroys Fred and Kacey's relationship for simply annoying him; throwing salt-in-the-wound is the fact that the two are shown to be one of the only people in the story to be genuinely nice to him. Turns out this is, at least in part, the motive behind his killing spree; his girlfriend dumped him, so he's taken it upon himself to wage war on womankind, blaming them for his failings in love.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype:
- Of the Villain Protagonist. Kenneth Muntz has a sympathetic motive, just trying to make enough money to pay the rent, but his willingness to cross any moral line, his sick pleasure in carrying out his twisted crimes, and his sheer pettiness make him wholly unsympathetic. He also lacks any genuine charisma or charm, leaving nothing but an utterly contemptible Hate Sink for readers to despise.
- Of The Stoner as well. Fred seems like your typical comic relief character when he's first introduced, but it is revealed that his weed habit is so out of control that it has driven a wedge between him and his girlfriend, which allows Ken to effortlessly exploit that linchpin and destroy their relationship. Fred confesses that he knows his habit is destroying his life, but he can't stop because he feels it's all he knows. When Ken admits that he's a serial killer to a stoned Fred, the man simply thinks he's joking, leading to his doom.
- Downer Ending: Ken ruins Fred's love life, has killed at least seven young women, murders Fred for fun, and makes enough money from selling their meat to move to a new apartment, all with no one being the wiser that a monster is in their midst.
- Establishing Character Moment: In his second scene, Ken gives the first (of very few) genuine smiles, right after pickpocketing Fred's credit card and phone, showing right away he's not a very nice person. As the story progresses, this is revealed to be a massive understatement.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Played for laughs, and subverted. Ken calls Roy's joke "sick", which is extremely hypocritical considering he is a violent sociopath who has seen his share of violence himself. This reaction is really just a part of his facade, his "veil of normalcy".
- Evil Chef: Ken is revealed to be a rather skilled butcher. And people are on the menu.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: A dark example. Ken routinely plays a game with gas station attendant Roy where Roy attempts to make Ken laugh with dark jokes, to no avail. One of the only times Ken genuinely laughs in the whole story is after deliberately destroying his neighbors' relationship, laughing his ass off as Fred and Kacey have an altercation outside his door.
- Faux Affably Evil: His interactions with nearly every character in the story shows that Ken has at least a surface-level understanding of human interaction, but he can turn the charm on and off like a faucet. This is a crucial instrument in his ability to lure victims to their doom.
- Ken's apartment is described as littered with air fresheners. Gives you a slight clue what exactly he's up to...
- After seeing the homeless man at the gas station, Ken simply smiles grimly, then drives off without a thought. This is the first glimpse into his "survival of the fittest" mentality, as he sees the homeless man as just another "loser" of "life's game".
- During his speech to Penelope, Ken references the Greek mythological figure Tantulus. Anyone who knows what Tantulus was involved in can get an idea what Ken has in store for his victims.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Kenneth Muntz.
- For the Evulz: Kenneth ruins a couple's relationship out of simple schadenfreude.
- Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Ken admits to himself that no matter what he tells himself, what he does to innocent people is pure evil, but he chooses to do it anyway.
- Gunman with Three Names: In his closing monologue, Ken refers to himself by his full name of "Kenneth Jason Muntz".
- Hypocritical Humor: Ken calls Roy out for making a joke about a baby being accidentally castrated. Ken is revealed to have no room to judge...
- I'm a Humanitarian: Subverted. Ken is not a cannibal himself, he's a self-proclaimed "businessman" who sells freshly-butchered human meat to cannibals on the dark web.
- It Amused Me: Ken derails his neighbors' relationship for, in his own words, "stress relief".
- Jerkass: Besides Kenneth, there's Sanchez, his abrasive, perpetually smug landlord.
- Karma Houdini: Muntz gets away with everything, and makes it clear that he's no where near finished. Ken even lampshades how annoying this trope must be to the audience.
- Kick the Dog: The entirety of Ken's interactions with Fred, up to and including strangling him to death.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Ken's threat to Sanchez, after the landlord manages to genuinely scare Ken with the prospect of being cast out on the streets. Sanchez finds it hilarious, and admires Ken's "balls".
- Manipulative Bastard: Ken knows exactly what buttons to press and lies to tell, be it while dealing with his landlord, destroying his neighbors' relationship, guilt-tripping his ex, or luring girls off the internet to ruthlessly butcher.
- Motive Rant: The entire climax is just one big motive rant from Ken to Penelope.
- murder.com: Revealed to be Ken's source of income. In Ken's own words, "the more illegal something is to produce, the more people are willing to pay outlandish amounts of money for it".
- Not So Stoic: Ken shows no human emotion for most of the script, until he screams in his car after seeing his ex-girlfriend, who has recently remarried. He starts to slowly become more and more unhinged by this, eventually culminating in his psychotic meltdown while with his next murder victim.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Ken Muntz is a virulent misogynist, blaming all women for his falling-out with Brenda, and openly referring to them as "useless bitches" and a "supply of fresh meat just waiting to be slaughtered".
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: "Your pain is my profit".
- Sadist: Ken clearly relishes inflicting pain on others, be it his unhinged laughter after destroying Fred's relationship or his glee at revealing his true intentions to the helpless Penelope.
- Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: Of the time variant. In the published script's opening montage, a woman is stated to have gone missing. Yet, she was last seen boarding a bus at eight at night, and her disappearance is reported in the next morning's news. It is never explained why her friends and family are so gung-ho in reporting this adult woman's disappearance. It could be they're concerned about the potential serial killer on the loose, or it could just be lazy writing. Joe Blitz plans on heavily revamping this section for the film version.
- The Sociopath: A textbook case with Ken, who admits nonchalantly that it's not in him to care about life. He is also remarkable good at maintaining his facade, to the point that Fred at first doesn't believe his confession.
- Serial Killer: Ken murders women on a regular basis and sells their meat for profit.
- Villain Protagonist: Kenneth Muntz is a psychopathic main character who indulges in immoral activities such as murder, inspired by characters like Patrick Bateman and Louis Bloom.