Orlova Rising: a movie pitch

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In which case, fiction must go to extra lengths to outdo it…

I’ve never written a movie pitch. In fact, I’ve never had the slightest desire to do so. But then suddenly, I did.

Title of proposed film: Orlova Rising

Horror, Sci-fi

Budget: $6.2 billion

Similar Films: Leviathan, Deep Rising, Ghost Ship

Plot Synopsis:

Set in 2016, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is enjoying the first year of his second majority government, made possible by Justin Trudeau’s surprise defection to the Conservatives just before the last election (which allowed the federal Conservatives to win a second majority under the campaign slogan “It’s the party of great hair” which seemed to resonate deeply with the voting public). Harper is generally happy with his life, but one problem keeps nagging at him: the Lyubov Orlova. Every time he goes to an international meeting, other world leaders make fun of him for being the one who lost the boat, which has been floating around the Atlantic as a shipping hazard ever since. He decides it’s finally time to get rid of the annoying derelict Russian cruise ship. Having shut down the Canadian Coast Guard, however, he has to turn to the private sector, and hires a team of Russian mobsters to find the Orlova and blow it up.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the country, Premier Kathy Dunderdale is preparing for a trade mission to Greece. She too is enjoying recent electoral success. Although opinion polls had all pointed to a landslide victory for the provincial NDP, under Bill 29 the results of the election were declared classified and cabinet announced it had been a landslide victory for the PCs. Opposition quickly fizzled after protestors were sentenced to 12-month terms in the gulag work camps of Muskrat Falls.

But all is not well in Kathy’s world. The approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline killed the market for energy from Newfoundland and Labrador, and after spending billions to develop the now useless Muskrat Falls energy project the province is bankrupt and facing imminent foreclosure from its creditors. Dunderdale has decided on a last-ditch effort to sell power to the Greeks, currently the only western power in a worse financial state than Newfoundland. To guarantee success, she’s bringing along her chief sidekick, Jerome Kennedy. With a reputation for being able to pick a fight with anybody, she’s hoping that in a worst-case scenario he’ll be able to provoke a war between Canada and Greece. War along the east coast could be Newfoundland’s last best hope to find a market for its unwanted energy.

Rather than flying, Kathy decides to take her just-finished personal premier’s yacht across the Atlantic. Considered the most advanced yacht in the world, its construction was made possible by savings achieved when the provincial government eliminated public service pensions and sold Fogo Island to the Chinese.

After two days at sea, however, the yacht has an encounter with a rogue seal and loses one of its motors. A fire breaks out, which threatens to engulf the entire vessel, but the boat’s chief carpenter miraculously manages to put out the fire and repair the damage to the engine using a bottle of Screech and a tub of Lucky Margarine. Kathy invites him to her throne room to give him a medal for saving the boat, and he turns out to be none other than Wayne Lucas, former president of CUPE. Jerome tries to pick a fight. They’re interrupted when the vessel starts listing to one side. Wayne explains the damage was serious and the ship is taking on water. They’ll need to radio for help.

Unfortunately, the Canadian government has outsourced Atlantic coast guard services to a private company located in Mozambique, and no one on the boat speaks Swahili. The situation is looking dire. But then they spot another ship on the horizon. They’re saved!

But not so quickly. The boat on the horizon is the Lyubov Orlova. Although abandoned, it still appears sea-worthy. Wayne suggests they board the lifeboats and sail over to the Orlova before the Royal Yacht sinks. Jerome tries to pick a fight, but Kathy reluctantly agrees. Kathy, Jerome, Wayne, and the ten other crew-members board the lifeboats and evacuate to the Orlova.

When they arrive, they find another boat tied on to the Orlova as well. It appears to be Russian, and the stash of guns and contraband cigarettes on board lead them to suspect it belongs to the mob. But…where are the mobsters?

Wayne suggests they search the Orlova, in the hopes of finding vodka the Russians. Jerome picks a fight. The two grab Russian battle-axes and an epic fight-scene ensues.

The fight is only interrupted when one of the other crew-members from the Royal Yacht calls them all over urgently. The crew-member has been reading through the Russians’ logs, and she says she’s found some interesting information. Kathy stops her at that point, demanding to know how she was able to read. Kathy reminds her that under the Public Service Cost Containment Act of 2015, the provincial government was not allowed to hire any employees with literacy skills, since it made them overqualified for minimum wage and meant they might be able to read government documents (most of which are classified anyway by now). Kathy demands that the overqualified public servant reveal her true identity. It turns out to be none other than Carol Furlong, former president of NAPE! She and Wayne hi-five. Jerome tears off his shirt and starts beating his chest.

The argument is broken up by a blood-curdling howl from deep within the bowels of the Orlova. Carol explains that according to the Russian logs, the mobsters had been contracted by the Canadian government to blow up the Orlova. However, when they arrived, they found something…else…on the ship. Or rather…something found them!

At that moment the ship lists heavily to one side. Jerome, Wayne, and most of the unnamed crew-members fall through a stairwell, landing on a lower deck. The hatch falls shut, trapping them there. Kathy and Carol slide the other way, almost going over the side of the boat, but the remaining unnamed crew member grabs each of them with one hand and pulls them back on-board. They catch their breath and stare at him, astonished.

“Who are you?” asks Carol. “That strong, manly grip…” muses Kathy. “That could only…be…”

“Allan Hawco!” they both yell, and sure enough, it is.

“What are you doing here?” they ask him.

“I go where I’m needed,” is his only reply.

Kathy, Carol, and Allan try to open the hatch separating them from the others, but even Hawco’s strength is no match for a derelict Russian cruiseship. They yell at the others below and tell them to stay put: they’ll find another way down.

The two groups split up, trying to find a way to reach each other. As they wander through the dark corridors, most of the crew members not already named get eaten by a strange invisible monster. Jerome and Wayne have another epic fight with battle-axes in the boiler-room. Jerome, fighting dirty, knocks Wayne out and prepares to throw him down the boiler shaft. But then all of the sudden Jerome is grabbed from behind by one of the unnamed crew members, who executes a series of ninja moves on him and tosses him over the boiler shaft instead. He catches the edge, barely holding on. “Who…are…you?” he demands, struggling to keep his grip. The mysterious ninja removes her bandanna, to reveal a perm nobody can mistake: Debbie Forward, former head of the Nurses’ Union!

“Save…me…” begs Jerome. “I used to be a union member!”

“Unionize this!” replies Debbie, and ninja-kicks his fingers.

But then a hand reaches out and grabs Jerome, saving him. It’s Wayne, who’s regained consciousness. Wayne pulls Jerome back out of the boiler shaft. “We need everybody working together if we’re going to get out of this alive,” he explains.

Jerome, however, disagrees and promptly picks a fight. They go back at it, to be interrupted only by the appearance of the monster: a giant mutated rat from George Street! It promptly eats the last of the unnamed crewmembers. The others run for it.

As Wayne, Debbie and Jerome race through the dark corridors trying to escape the giant mutant rat, Kathy, Carol and Allan find the radio room and call for help. Kathy and Carol still don’t know Swahili, but it turns out Allan Hawco speaks all three dialects of the Mombasa-Swahili sub-language, and he explains over the radio that they’re aboard a derelict Russian cruiseship being attacked by mutant rats from George Street. The Mozambicans respond with skepticism, until he promises to film an episode of RoD in their capital, Maputo. They tell him they’re on their way.

Wayne, Jerome and Debbie, meanwhile, have fought a running retreat and reunite with the others on the upper deck, where they huddle awaiting rescue. A helicopter appears on the horizon. Then, the mutant rat bursts up through the deck. “Quick, pick a fight!” yells Kathy, and shoves Jerome into the path of the mutant rat. It eats Jerome. As the helicopter draws closer, Carol and Wayne battle it with Lucky Margarine and the oars from a liferaft, while Debbie runs over and starts untying the Russians’ motorboat. Suddenly, the mutant rat starts to choke and stumble. Fatal indigestion! But as it keels over the side of the boat, its tails whips the gas tanks and fire erupts along the deck. The helicopter takes a low pass and the pilot leans out: it’s none other than Justin Trudeau! Kathy grabs his long, wavy locks, and uses them to climb on board. Then, with a maniacal laugh, the helicopter pulls away. With the Orlova almost entirely engulfed in flames, Wayne and Carol leap into the Russians’ motorboat, and Debbie finishes cutting the tether. They gun the engine, pulling away from the Orlova just before it explodes.

Prospective Actors:

Kathy Dunderdale: Kate Winslet
Jerome Kennedy: Eminem
Carol Furlong: Julianne Moore
Debbie Forward: Hilary Duff
Wayne Lucas: Bruce Willis
Allan Hawco: Allan Hawco
Justin Trudeau: Daniel Radcliffe
Stephen Harper: Macaulay Culkin

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