“Water Cage” Short film Treatment.
On a summer’s day two boys decide to play a dangerous game of dare in the back garden swimming pool; a game with unexpected consequences.
The theme of the story is the perception of childhood among boys. The film takes a vision of the world in which little value is attributed to things beyond action men, football, adventures and school.
Sean and Robbie have a closeness based on a mutual need for identification and fantasy outside the rules they normally adhere to. Robbie’s parents, Mike and Jane, seem like a happy affluent couple who are both enjoying their weekend. They have a house in a quiet cul-de-sac with a large garage, swimming pool, big kitchen, family dog and designer interiors. Robbie is an only child and even though his parents have the money to give their son every opportunity he often misbehaves at school. Sean is younger, shy and from a large family, though he is well behaved and happy his parents sometimes struggle to make ends meet.
The boys have had a sleepover. In the morning the pair eat their breakfast while Jane gets ready to go on a shopping trip and Mike baby-sits and spends his afternoon fixing his motorcycle. The boys can’t resist getting into mischief and spend the day having water fights, doing karate, football, playing with a penknife, throwing toys in the pool and stealing a whiskey miniature from the kitchen.
They become bored and begin bickering until Robbie has the idea of building an underwater obstacle course using ropes, weight lifts and a large dog cage. The aim of this challenge is to see who can hold their breath the longest and retrieve the most weights from the bottom. Each person must swim with a rope tied to their waist through the cage and back. Robbie designed the test so Sean must go first.
Sean swims through the cage and ties a weight to a string hanging down. When he tries to swim to the surface he feels the rope pulling him back through the cage. Bubbles scream from his mouth when he can’t untie the knot. He pulls the noose over his knees dragging his shorts off simultaneously. Sean hits his head and blood streams through the water. He gets to the surface gasping for air.
Sean is hurt and demands to know why Robbie pulled on the rope. Robbie blames the dog for biting the rope and then notices his friend is not wearing his shorts. Robbie lifts the trunks out and teases Sean who starts shouting. Sean climbs out and chases Robbie around the garden but refuses to give back the shorts unless he begs. Sean picks up a toy bat and the two boys fight. Sean hits Robbie on the elbow and he falls over backwards. Sean then runs inside the house to the bathroom and takes a minute to dry off and check his cut in the mirror.
When Sean walks back to the garden, Jane is kneeling over Robbie who is unconscious and giving him mouth to mouth. Jane calls for help and carries Robbie indoors. Mike walks out and asks Sean what happened but the boy can’t speak. Mike walks over to the pool and looks at the ropes and he asks again what they were doing but Sean’s face is on the brink of tears. Mike stands up and looks around the garden feeling lost.