140. The Diary

WARNING: THE FOLLOWING PLOT synopsis contains spoilers. Cynthia (played by Charlotte Herron) is a smart, beautiful, successful woman with a wild streak. She lives in Manhattan and has no shortage of suitors: Brian (John Whittaker), a banker who who would be perfect if not for his taste for powders; and Rory (Sam Nankervis), a man of mystery who tells her he is independently wealthy and who allows her to believe he is actually a spy. Cynthia herself is a travel writer, an occupation that suits her wanderer’s spirit. She has no siblings, and no parents. She grew up in Bullitt, Oklahoma, with her father Harry (a star turn by Angus McDonald). Harry was an eccentric but lovable widower-scientist experimenting with cloud seeding. He died in a plane accident twenty years ago, when she was eight. She still has his diary, leather-bound and locked, which she has never read. She has never even opened it – she doesn’t have the key for it, for one thing, and although she once tried to pick the lock it seems it has rusted shut. At any rate, she takes the diary with her wherever she goes as a memento of her loss. For her next assignment, Cynthia is told she must write a feature article for a major national magazine on storm chasers. While on assignment in Louisiana, she meets Dale (Brett Clifton), a Cajun man, an ex-Marine Iraqi veteran sixteen years older than she is. Though their first meeting isn’t auspicious, they keep bumping into one another. Dale has PTSD: he drinks too much, can’t sleep properly, walks with a limp, is missing a finger, and chases storms with a camera crew for a living. They sleep together soon after meeting and, in a hilarious scene, discover they have an unusual sexual chemistry based on a shared proclivity that will remain nameless. The following morning, while Cynthia is showering, Dale finds her father’s diary while rifling through her affairs. He opens the lock without too much trouble with a Swiss Army knife and begins reading it. As it’s full of scientific jargon, he realises it’s not her diary. Afterwards, he asks her about it. After a flare of anger that her personal belongings have been so unthinkingly violated, Cynthia reveals the true nature of the diary. Dale tells her that she can never be healed from the loss of her father unless she reads it. Over the following few days, as Cynthia and Dale fall ever deeper in love, she discovers, by way of a series of flashbacks, that her father was on the verge of a major breakthrough with cloud seeding that had the potential to end world hunger. As the diary goes on, however, he relates an approach from a multinational chemical company offering to buy his discovery, which he refuses, as he is suspicious of their motives. Afterwards, his diary entries become increasingly paranoid. He believes he is being watched, that his phone is being tapped, and that the diary he keeps is his only place of refuge. At the end of her assignment, Cynthia returns to Manhattan, but leaves the diary with Dale as a sign that she will return. Upon entering her apartment, Cynthia discovers that it has been broken into. Suspecting a connection between the diary and the break-in, she calls Brian, and immediately receives a call from Rory. They arrive at her apartment in quick succession. She immediately suspects, from the way they look at each other and the questions they ask her, that they are both after the diary. Realising she can trust neither of them, she drives back to the Bayou on back roads, trying not to be followed, leaving her phone behind her. Two days later, she arrives to find Dale drunk. They fight, he confesses his love for her, they make up and make love, once again indulging in their shared love for a certain sexual proclivity. While she is showering, Dale is attacked by an intruder. Realising she has been followed, she escapes through the bathroom window naked, carrying only the diary with her, certain that Dale is dead. She steals some clothes and a car from a nearby house but, uncertain about where to go, heads off for Bullitt, Oklahoma, determined to solve the mystery contained in the diary. As she drives, she hears a weatherman on the radio forecasting hurricanes. The rest of the film is fairly predictable: she arrives in Bullitt and goes to her family home, which is occupied by her only remaining relative, an Aunt Glenda (Margaret Freiberg). Cynthia tells her aunt about the diary and the danger she is in, and makes her aunt promise that if anything should happen to Cynthia she will take the diary to the authorities, for it holds the solution to her father's murder and the key to ending world hunger. As they talk, they notice a turn in the weather. A storm is set to pass directly over them. As Aunt Glenda prepares for the storm, Cynthia finds her father's old rifle. As the storm bears down on them, Cynthia sees three black SUVs screaming down the gravel road towards the house. Telling her aunt to hide in the cellar, Cynthia takes a position on the first floor with her rifle and the diary. As six men - including Brian and Rory - exit the cars, she takes the first shot, killing Brian. The other five men return fire with a volley of gunfire, injuring Cynthia. Then there is silence. Cynthia and the men simultaneously notice a hurricane bearing down on the house. With the wind picking up, the men hurriedly pour gasoline around the house in readiness to burn it and leave when, one by one, they are surreptitiously killed by an unknown agent, who benefits from the noise and tumult of the rising wind. This agent is revealed to be Dale. He kills off all remaining five men, but not before the last one sets fire to the house. Dale runs into and through the flames, which on account of the gasoline and the wind are already consuming the house, finds Cynthia and carries her to the cellar, but the diary is accidentally left behind in the commotion. In the cellar, Aunt Glenda attends to their wounds while the storm rages above. There is a lull and Dale goes up to find the diary. When the storm starts up again, Dale doesn't return, forcing Cynthia to leave the cellar and enter into the full wrath of the storm. There is a cut to the following morning, where we see the house completely destroyed by the combination of the fire and the storm. The cellar door opens and Aunt Glenda steps out into the scene of destruction and begins to look for Cynthia and Dale, finding them soon enough locked in an embrace, dead, with the diary, battered but intact, in Cynthia's grasp. Aunt Glenda takes the diary and then, with a look of steely determination on her face, begins walking along the gravel road as the camera pans back and up and credits roll.