The Treatment - An overview of the Movie

Forever Seven Treatment by Michelle Gilstrap

Story by Ben Steen

Copyright Owner Ben Steen


Logline: Two families crash into each other’s lives thru one tragic event that entombs both in a 12 year mental and physical prison that comes to an emotional crisis of forgiveness.

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David Phillips is a young man who is athletic and very handsome.  He is 19 and beginning his first year in college at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond. David lives at home with his mom and dad, Rochelle and Jeff Phillips, both in their early 40s, and his younger brother Quinton, who is 12 and in the sixth grade. The Phillips live in N. W. Oklahoma City


David commutes to college in Edmond and works in an athletic shoe store in a strip-mall to help pay for his college and insurance on his pickup. He was a star athlete in track and field in high school and to try out for the college track team this spring at U.C.O.


The Gregory family, Mom, Joan and Dad, Don live in Edmond, a suburb just north of Oklahoma City, in an upper middle income neighborhood.  Joan and Don have two daughters, Jill 21, who is in her third year of child Psychology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, and Jenny Frances, (she) is 6 years old, and enjoys dancing, Brownies and playing with her friends in the neighborhood.


Jenny’s Grandpa, Samuel Grady now lives with the family after having a mild heart attack a few months ago. Sam is still in good shape but Joan wants to keep an eye on him. Joan is Sam’s daughter. The family welcomed Sam with open arms. He lost his wife ten years ago to cancer; it has been very hard for Sam, and over the years he has turned to alcohol to mask his hurt and loneliness without his life long companion, Maureen. Since moving in with Joan and Don, he focuses most of his daily activities around his grand-daughter, Jenny, but stills keeps a bottle hidden in the back of his bedroom closet where no one can find it.


Recently, David has pledged a fraternity at the college and he and his best friend from elementary school, Richard, commute every day to school from their Northwest Oklahoma City neighborhood.  Richard and David have both pledged the Fraternity and have been going to the pledge parties, which have consistently been filled with heavy drinking. David and Richard are not at all pleased with the drinking but David has heard that there are members of the fraternity that come from very affluent families and he wants to rub elbows with that kind of crowd in hopes he will get a break in the business world following graduation.

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Richard has been feeling less and less like continuing with the Fraternity due to the heavy drinking, because he lost his father a few years back to a drunk driver. Now, his mom must work two jobs to support his brother and two sisters. He just found out the membership fee is more than he can afford, so he decided not to attend the final Pledge Party.


David wants his fraternity brothers’ approval, and he plans to go to all of the parties that they have. David is dating, Patty, a sophomore, from one of his classes at college, she lives in Edmond with her family. He plans to go to the next pledge party over the objections of Patty. Richard is concerned for his friend and doesn’t want him to go either.


Jill Gregory is a senior at Oklahoma University who lives on Campus in one of the dormitories in Norman, Oklahoma.  She goes to campus parties, but always walks home, when she has had a few drinks.  She has gone to fraternity parties and knows what can happen. She avoids most parties, because “everyone gets too wasted.” She goes home when she can to see her little sister Jenny, whom she adores.


Rochelle and Jeff Phillips, David’s parents, have spent years developing their real estate company from scratch. They have poured time and effort into making it a success. Along with the success, come victory parties where Rochelle and Jeff celebrate with cocktails, or wine and cheese, and lately they find themselves drinking more and more.


David and his brother, Quinton, often fend for themselves when their parents stay too long at their parties while they celebrate their successes. David and his parents often quarrel when he has to take the role of parent by preparing Quinton’s dinner because they are still at the party when its time for the evening meal. David is tired of taking care of his little brother; he wants to have fun with kids his age and his fraternity brothers. He wants to live his life to the fullest and take advantage of everything he can.

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Grandpa Samuel misses his wife.  He didn’t know how he would make a single day without her, but at his son-in-law’s insistence, after a minor heart attack he moves in.

He loves to take Jenny to Brownies and helps the leaders out with games and activities.  Grandpa Sam is a loving, gentle man who has saved a little bit to buy Jenny a special birthday present


Jill checks out of the dorm to go home for her little sister’s 7th birthday party. Grandpa Sam has planned a special surprise for Jenny and he wants Jill to be there when he gives Jenny her special gift. 

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Grandpa Sam helps his daughter, Joan, by picking Jenny up at school. Joan has worked part-time at the Senior Center in town as activity coordinator for the past five years to help with Jill’s college and tries to save for Jenny’s education. Grandpa Sam helps financially as much as he can with his Social Security, but there are still things the family needs that keeps Joan working part-time. Joan misses her mom, Maureen very much.

The day of Jenny’s birthday, the family celebrates with a picnic in the park.  After the party, they go home and Jenny is surprised to find that Grandpa Sam has given her a brand new bicycle. That night instead of reading a book to Jenny, Grandpa Sam gives her some pointers about bicycle safety so they can start her first lesson on riding it tomorrow. Jenny is extremely excited.


Meanwhile David is attending the final Frat Party for the Pledge class.  He and Patty argue that night over the phone about him going.  Richard decides to stay home.  David feels like this is the start of a new era in his life just by going, and he doesn’t care if all of his friends don’t want him to go, even his little brother, Quinton urges him to stay home and play games with him.

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David goes to the party and spends most of the night drinking beer and doing whiskey shots to a game that one of the brothers makes all of the pledges do. He passes out during the game, and wakes up on Saturday morning.  David makes his way out of the Frat house and drives home.


When he gets home, he takes a shower and feels better.  One of his friends calls and invites him over to Joe Harper’s Garage to help them fix one of their cars.  David goes to Harper’s Garage and sees several of his friends from high school.  They all start working on the car’s engine and before David realizes it he is handed a beer by one of his buddies.  He drinks one with his friends and he has another one and before long, they have drunk a case of beer over the course of a few hours.


Feeling guilty about what he said to Patty the day before, David decides to drive to her house to apologize.  He calls her and tells her that he is on his way and that nothing happened last night at the Frat Party. David is coming up to show her that she was wrong and that he is okay. Patty asks him if he has been drinking, and David lies and says no.  He gets into his truck and begins the drive to Patty’s.

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While David is driving up to Patty’s Neighborhood, Jenny has talked her Father into letting her and Sarah, her best friend, go to the park by themselves on their bicycles.

On their way home from the park, Jenny and Sarah see a friend with a new puppy across the street, she asked them to cross the street to see and pet it, Sarah refuses but Jenny wants to pet the puppy and starts across the street, when she is about half way, her doll falls out of the basket. Jenny lays her bike down to pickup her doll.


David is turning onto the street, his head is hurting and things are beginning to spin. He squints from the sunlight.  David’s truck weaves on the street, he is unaware that he is drunk, something is in the street, but he can’t stop! 


Jenny is hit by David’s truck.  Her body is sent several feet into the air, and when she lands, she has severe head, and internal injuries.


David stops the truck, he can barely see. Several neighbors have run out of their homes and are telling him to just sit still in his truck, help is on the way: They don’t want him to leave his truck.  David hears sirens, they are coming closer and closer; they get louder and louder until his head feels like it is about to burst.

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Grandpa Samuel hears the sirens and runs out of the house towards them.  He sees all of the neighbors standing around, as he gets closer, he sees Jenny’ bicycle in a heap behind the truck.  His legs begin to slow, he nears the edge of the circle of neighbors, and someone grabs his shoulders and tries to stop him. 


The paramedics are putting Jenny into the Ambulance.  Grandpa Samuel yells out, several neighbors help him sit down on the curb.  He can only feel tears falling through his hands.


A policeman opens David’s truck door and asks him if he has had anything to drink.  The Policeman smells beer and asks him to perform field sobriety tests. David hears he is being arrested and is lead to the police car in handcuffs.


Riding in the back of the police car, David can not imagine what he has done.  He knows he hit something, but he didn’t see what it was.  His head was pounding, and the sun was so bright, it bore thru to his skull.  The handcuffs on his wrists hurt, and he can only think of what he will do when the car stops.  He feels his stomach in his throat and can’t stop himself; he throws up in the back of the police cruiser.  Tears roll down his face as he begins to realize where he is.

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Moving to the hospital, Jenny is in the emergency room, the doctors and nurses are working on her almost in a panic.  Jill, her mother, Grandpa Samuel and Don are in the waiting room outside the E.R.  One of the doctors tells them, “She suffered extensive trauma to her brain, and we have extreme swelling.”  What does all of that mean?  Jill is wondering.  “We have placed a shunt inside her brain to alleviate the pressure, but it is too early to tell”, the doctor continues, but Jill shuts out all of his words as she thinks about her little sister who was so happy earlier that morning.


In the Phillips home, Rochelle and Greg are in the kitchen wondering what has happened to David.  “He went over to Harper’s garage to help some of his friends from school fix one of their cars,” Greg reminds her

“You know I don’t like Joe Harper, he’s a bad influence on those boys.  He always wants them to do his work for free.  I don’t like him using them that way.  He pays them with beer not money,” Rochelle says.


The phone rings and Greg takes the call.  As he places the phone down, he takes Rochelle’s hand and says, “We have to go to the police station, David’s been arrested”

“What for?” Rochelle asks.

“David just said to come and bail him out.  He said he needed an attorney too.”

“Oh my God,” Rochelle explains, and they leave to go to the police station.

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In the police station, Rochelle and Greg are waiting to see David.  They sit outside of the Sergeant’s office. Rochelle dabs her eyes as tears continue to fall.  “What happened? Why has our son been arrested?”  She hears Greg ask the Sergeant.  Greg shakes his head and sits back down next to her.  He places his arm around her shoulders, “David is here because he was driving drunk when he hit a little girl, they don’t know if she will make it or not.” Rochelle cannot hear the words as more tears fall down her face.


Greg calls a bondsman to arrange the bail of $25,000, because David is charged with a misdemeanor DUI. David begs his Dad to get him out of jail, because he saw someone get beat up in one of the cells next to his.  Greg doesn’t think David belongs in Jail, because he couldn’t have been drunk. “It was only a few beers,” he tells the attorney on the phone.


Later when the attorney arrives, Greg insists that David has been charged unjustly.  The attorney shakes his head and shows Greg the blood alcohol test and it indicates that David was over the legal limit.  “This is not going to be an easy case to win, because he was legally drunk,” the attorney tells him.


Three days of agony pass with the Gregory family by Jenny bedside. After several valiant attempts to save her life by the doctors, Jenny dies. 


David is now charged with vehicular homicide by the District Attorney and a new bond is set at the preliminary hearing. His parents take a loan out on the business to hire the attorney to defend David.  Greg and Rochelle sell one of their cars and a rental house to pay the additional bond.  David’s actions are tearing the family apart financially.

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Grandpa Samuel blames himself for buying the bicycle that Jenny used to ride to the park that morning with Sarah. Don blames himself for telling Jenny she could go riding with Sarah, and Joan feels guilty, because she went to the store, instead of staying home; she would not have let Jenny go to the park on her bike.


Patty, David’s girlfriend, was one of the neighbors that saw David hit Jenny that afternoon.  She told the policemen, she saw the truck hit Jenny.  Patty didn’t know it was David driving the truck, until she saw him stagger out to see what was happening.   


Patty used to baby sit for Jenny when her parents needed her, before Grandpa Sam moved in.  She loved Jenny like a little sister.  Patty and Jill had gone to high school together, although Jill was a grade ahead of her.  Patty grew up with the Gregory family living right down the block from her.


Patty blames herself for not convincing David not to go to the Frat party the night before because they were bad influences on him.  She feels guilty for not stopping him from driving when he sounded like he had been drinking with his friends at the Garage that afternoon.

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As David goes through the court system, Grandpa Sam and his son-in-law each feel guilty for what they feel is their part in Jenny’s death.  Again Grandpa Sam turns to the bottle to ease his guilt feelings, because he feels it was the bicycle that caused her death.  He has lost the two people he cares the most about.  Jill and Don argue over him allowing her to go to the Park.


“You shouldn’t have let her go! She would still be alive if you had waited for me to come home. I could have watched her.” Joan yells at Don.  “How was I to know she would cross the street?” Don yells back.


The pressure and stress of losing Jenny becomes too great; Grandpa Sam has a heart attack and dies.  Now The Gregory family faces two loses as a result of David’s decision to drink and drive.


While the case is pending, David’s brother, Quinton, gets into several fights at school as the kids tease him about his brother going to jail for killing a little girl.  Quinton is called into the principal’s office once too many times, Rochelle is called to the school, she must face the truth about David from the school principal.  “Quinton is just trying to protect his brother’s name.”  The principal tells Rochelle she must help Quinton understand that “David could go to prison if he is found guilty of driving drunk and killing the little girl.”

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David’s family, Jenny’s family, his girlfriend, Patty and his best friend, Richard, all must come to grips with the reality of Jenny’s death and David’s actions.  Each person must sort out what it means not to have someone they loved and cared about.


Patty and Richard know what David did was wrong, but he is still their friend. Patty tries to be with David but so many things have changed, David has changed. He is moody and depressed all the time. It gets so bad that neither one wants to see David when he is free on bond and back home. David must face his own nightmares about the accident without the support of Richard or Patty and his Frat brothers de-pledge him after learning he was at fault for the accident. David can’t believe he is all alone is this ordeal.  His parents are yelling at him for destroying their lives. Quinton is hurting for his brother so bad that all he can do is cry.  David has isolated himself in his own home.


Patty still cares about David, and yet she can’t get the picture of seeing little Jenny being hit by the truck out of her mind.  She goes to a psychiatrist to help her cope with her own nightmares about the accident. 


Patty tries to call David several times, but she hangs up each time he answers the phone.  David calls Patty, but her parents tell him she won’t take his call.  She doesn’t know what to say to him.

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While the District Attorney is preparing the case, Patty goes to see Jill and tell her how sorry she is about Jenny and her Grandpa Samuel.   Patty tries to defend David by telling Jill, “David didn’t mean to do it! He’s really a nice person, who cares for his little brother.”  Jill tells Patty, “It doesn’t matter how nice he is, it’s what he did.  It’s not going to bring my sister back.”  Jill and Patty each acknowledge that what David did was wrong.  Both girls comfort each other.


David’s parents continue to argue about whose fault it is that David was drinking the day of accident.  Greg refuses to accept that it was David’s fault. Rochelle blames herself.

Quinton is fighting himself.  He confronts his parents and interrupts their fight when he says “ It was the little girl’s fault that she was in the street,” both Rochelle and Greg realize what Quinton means, Rochelle goes to him, puts her arms around him, Quinton is crying.  He says, “He didn’t mean to do it.” Rochelle says “I know son”.


As the Judge hands down the sentence, David faces Jenny’s family in the courtroom.  They testify in the sentencing phase of the trial. They describe how David was directly and indirectly responsible for the death of two people.  David’s family hears the agony their son has put the Gregory family through.  Rochelle and Greg know they may have had something to do with David’s behavior, but neither one is ready to accept any responsibility.

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After the sentence of 12 years is handed down, the Judge orders David to attend Victim Impact Panels while he is in prison.  The Judge asks both families to join organizations that will help them understand how David’s actions brought this nightmare to both families.


As David is taken to prison, The Gregory family, Don, Joan and Jill hold each other’s arms in the courtroom as the spectators leave.  There is no victory only loss for the Gregory family. 


There is only agony for the Phillips family as Quinton realizes he has lost his only brother for twelve years. David is taken from the courtroom in shackles to a waiting prison van to be taken to prison. Both Greg and Rochelle must face their own drinking problems. 


Richard goes to see David in prison. He tells him, “I couldn’t come to see you when you were home, because you were in the car hitting my father.  I hated the man who killed my father.  It took me a long time, but I realized that you weren’t him.  I never compared you to that drunk driver.  You were a real person to me, my friend and someone who could make a mistake.  What you did wasn’t right, but I can forgive you”.    We see David and Richard renew their friendship and they pass many years of visits while David serves his time


Rochelle and Greg separate for a time, but eventually reconcile after Rochelle and Greg are sober for a year.  Quinton goes to Al Anon meetings and learns that his brother was at fault that day because he was drunk.  He also learns his parents have a drinking problem and both Greg and Rochelle go to AA meetings. 


Twelve years takes its toll, as we see the Gregory family divorce and Jill starts her life alone.  Jill tries to bring her parents together but the hurt is too deep.                       

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David goes to many Victim Impact Panels in prison and hears from families who have lost their loved ones to drunk drivers.  He goes to AA in prison, and after a few years of seeing the heartache of drinking thru Victim Impact Panels David asks the prison Chaplain if he could ask the Gregory family to meet with him, so he can tell them how sorry he is ask for their forgiveness. “I can’t live like this any longer,” David tells the Chaplain.


We see an Al Anon meeting in a community center in Oklahoma City.  The room is filled with families. At one end of the room, we see Quinton. He has just finished sharing his experience as the brother of a drunk driver that took a life while driving drunk and is sitting down.  Jill is in the back of the room and realizes who the young man is.  Jill has been going to Al Anon meeting to understand more about how drinking affects families so she can help some of her clients. As the meeting come to a close, Jill walks up to Quinton.  He turns and meets her eyes, and realizes who she is.  As Jill meets his gaze, she tells Quinton, “We both lost someone we care about and it not our fault.” Quinton’s eyes fill with tears as do Jill’s eyes.


Jill and Quinton embrace in a hug. They both look at each other and say at the same time

“Keep coming back, it works”. (The Al Anon slogan) They walk out of the room with the other families.



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There isn't a family that has not been touched by alcohol abuse in some way or another.                                        


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