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For those of you who follow me or Dena on FB, you probably already know that we are planning to co-produce/co-direct a short film this year. We have as of this morning decided on a script. It's an old one of mine titled Daddy's Home. I wrote it many years ago so the writing style and and telling is quite different than how I would've written it today. We would of course want this script to be as good as it possibly can and what better place to turn for help than here at SS?
One reason we chose this script is because it requires only two actors and a house...and a mummy baby... Make no mistake however, this is by no means a talking head script. What appeals to us is the controlled environment. There should be no surprises or extra difficulties due to lighting or sound or location related stuff. If all goes well, we'd like to enter it to some festivals.
If anyone feels like giving it a read, it will be hugely appreciated!
Oh Pia...you are sick. This was a quick read and very easy to visualize. I think you two picked a really good one to film.
A few suggestions as I read...
Pg. 4 -- I don't think you need Jill to say "Oh where are you going?" -- David seeing her reaction would make him explain. -- And I think Jill's dialog, when she tells him about his accident, sounds a bit forced. Maybe after she says "not this again"...she can start calmly clearing the table as she explains what happened. Like she has to do this all the time and it's just part of a routine.
Pg. 5 - I don't think you need her to say, "you don't remember me...I'm your wife." -- I think it would have more impact to start when she looks at his finger and sees his ring is gone.
Also on pg. 5/6 -- I wondered after I read the whole thing, why it was so easy for him to leave out of the front door when she went through the trouble to put bars on the bedroom windows and lock the bedroom door. Maybe just have her clank him in the head as he tries to leave. Frying pans are good for that. LOL.
Pg. 7 -- David says "I'm going to get seriously pissed at you"...This came across odd. He already seems pretty pissed. Maybe think about having him say something else.
On page 7, I wondered what he actually remembered when he woke up that morning. When he saw the bra and all that...did he think it was someone he just picked up and had sex with? If so, maybe instead of him saying "I don't even know your name", give us something that helps us understand what he thinks is going on.
Also on pg 7 -- I like when David shifts and tells her he remembers...maybe slow that down a little because it happens pretty fast and I think we'd like to see him attempt to out smart her. Maybe make it look like its working a little...maybe she softens a bit.
I love the ending. Awesome.
I hope that helped a little. I can't wait to see the finished product!!
OK, Pia and Dena, I read it. I don't think I've read it before.
Writing-wise, it's littered with mistakes of all kinds, on every page, but since you're filming this yourself, I highly doubt you care, so I won't say a word. Written way back in 2008, huh? Damn, how things change...
Conceptually, I like it. But in terms of what's in the script itself, I think there's lots of room for improvement, especially in the dialogue.
Jill's dialogue for the most part is OK, as long as your actress plays her with some odd quirks.
David's dialogue can use some work. I don't think much of what he says really sounds believable.
I also don't think his actions are very believable.
Finally, like many movies in the horror/thriller genre, this relies on timing elements that are far from real - I'm talking about Jill's "sudden" arrival at key moments to surprise/capture David, as well as plot points that are tough to swallow - David having a safety pin in his pants and a scissors being available in the room he's supposedly locked in.
The story/plot is solid, although somewhat cliche, IMO. But that's fine, as it does work, and ends on a very creepy and sinister shot.
The ending is the strength here for sure. Once it's clear what's going on, it falls into cliche territory and nothing really stands out. My advice would be to keep us in the dark as long as possible before letting us in on Jill being a psycho, and then pad that final scene as long as possible before revealing the graves.
Hope this helps.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Rick, yes, it has been filmed twice before. It's been years though, so it's okay for us to give it another shot, I think. Need a better title though so the films don't get mixed up.
Marnie and Jeff, thanks for your input. I want to read all the comments here before I read the script. I haven't read it in years and I'll probably cringe when I do. My writing has changed a lot. The rewrite will also be more place specific once we find a suitable location. I appreciate your comment about the bars on the window, but somehow it's easy to get out the front door. It's quite common though for houses in less desirable neighborhoods to have burglar bars. Keep people out, but not in. Details like that are easy fixes.
I'm sure the dialogue will make my face red of embarrassment when I reread this. Much appreciated to point those out.
Cliche's? Yes, Jeff. Lots of it, I'm sure. Hopefully we can take care of that. We both like the concept here, we just wanted to ask for help to make it the best we can.
Btw, I had forgot about this script, but someone alerted me about a feature titled Amnesiac yesterday starring Kate Boswick. Apparently it's VERY similar to this short. So, I wanted to make it before that film comes out so no one can accuse me of plagiarism.
I'd try to cut a couple pages, personally -- under twelve (or even ten) minutes is probably best for festivals, if you're going that route. The story is awesome but, as Jeff notes, once we understand that Jill's crazy, there's not a ton going on that we haven't seen before, and I would think everything after the reveal could be short(er) and sweet.
I hope you can find a super sexy guy for the lead. That'll help the story a lot in the opening minutes, especially with the first few visuals, and then the contrast with the plainer woman.
Also similar to Jeff, I found that a lot of the guy's dialogue doesn't much work for me -- mostly I think there's a lot of unnecessary stuff in the second half. "She's nuts," "You're insane," "There is no baby," etc. The less the dude speaks, the better, I think. The big moment is very strong and clear -- it doesn't need to be explained further.
On the page, I'm feeling like the possibility that Jill is telling the truth needs to be punched up a bit. We want to think she could definitely be the sane one, at least for a moment. Though a lot of that is in the performances, too, so I don't know what you two have planned.
In general, I really liked this, but that’s not why we’re here
I had a bit of a hard time connecting to David in the beginning just because I wasn’t sure what he was experiencing. I’m guessing he woke up thinking he’d had a wild one night stand, but for a few pages the idea that he knew Jill, maybe was even dating her but just not married to her, seemed plausible.
I noticed Chris mentioned trying to cut a few pages and when I thought about where you might do that I realized that David basically “escapes” twice and it seems a bit repetitious. It also potentially kills the momentum to have him knocked out and wake up again. Lastly, it more or less gives Jill away as a psycho. I can’t imagine any loving wife (besides my own) hitting her husband in the head with a shovel.
So I ended up with an alternate scenario floating around in my head. You can use as little or as much as you want (of course)...
David wakes up looking like he’s hungover. He’s already cuffed to the bed. It’s a mess. Bra and panties on the ceiling fan (“Looks like I had fun last night”). He sees the wedding ring (“Uh… too much fun”).
[I know some people have issues with characters talking to themselves. I think it works within reason. I see it in movies all the time and consider it the actor’s responsibility to sell. People do it all the time in real life as well. Talking to yourself isn’t crazy. Talking to yourself while other people are in the room… that’s crazy.]
Then Jill would come in and try to sell this story about David being drunk on their first date and getting hit by a car or something and having amnesia. Without any calendars around, it might seem plausible that what he remembers as last night’s drunken stupor was actually something that occurred many moons ago. It may also make more sense from her perspective. We have no idea how she “acquired” him, but she might want to be cautious with him in the beginning.
Now this scenario may be more ‘talking heads’ than you want. Alot of it depends on Jill convincing David that, ‘Yes this is really happening. Yes, we’re really married. Yes, we have a baby together.” Eventually she’d trust him enough to let him free, but tell him not to go into the baby’s room (she’s sleeping). And of course his curiosity would get the better of him…
It might also be a bit more ghoulish to have David buy into the lie completely (or near to it). Have him go in there excited to see his child for the first time, then BAM… here comes Mummy.
Anyway, that’s just where I went with it. I feel bad pointing out a ‘problem’ and not offering a potential solution. It’s definitely a strong concept. And that final image is killer.
I had a idea for an alternate ending Pia? After the shot of the graves, perhaps have a closeup of David waking up suddenly in fright. Then Jill sits up next to him asking if everyone is alright. Or maybe even another woman -possibly his real wife, who knows - is there! Then we see his hand still cuffed to the bed. Did he dream some of it? What is real and what is isn't?
That's not a bad idea of Stevie's... the endless loop kinda thing and it might work in with a couple of my suggestions. Obviously just ignore if they're not at all where you're going with this...
What I'd like to see more of is horror and shocks. The mummified baby reveal is a little too sedate considering the great setup - David turns the recorder off, reaches over, pulls the blanket away... I mean you can hear the music and feel the tension here but then it's diluted.
This reads to me as Misery meets Eraserhead meets Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.
It may not be the way you want to go but when David pulls back the blanket this should be the first pivotal horror moment.
I want to see something horrible - or at least it be alluded to more graphically - mummified suggests it's been there quite some time and it's impact in terms of gore/shock will be lessened - the graves in the woods suggest this has happened many times over...
So make it a 'fresh kill' - if you still want the swathe of bandages give me some visible blood/gore and perhaps some flies buzzing around - or when David enters the room a sound he can't at first identify - the sound of flies, and as he gets closer they all rise into the air and swarm around.
Combine the 'mess with David's head' component with the graphic. Perhaps Jill doesn't serve him bacon and eggs at all - or perhaps for a moment he at least sees the food as something else - he has been hit in the head presumably at a previous time - so play with your audience. Is what he's seeing real or not. Perhaps after the ghastly vision he has of what she's done - he looks again and there's nothing in the crib. Is he around the bend or is she? At the very least don't reveal her as being whacky quite so soon.
I am thinking it will film faster than the page count....I really like the twist at the end. When Pia told me about this one...I was definitely like ...hell yeah let's do this one...Love a twisted person and psychological type stories. And this one is nice and dark. It is a lot like Misery but it's different enough IMO and I really think we can do this!!
Excited about seeing this come together. Can't wait to find the right cast for this... I have a guy in mind Pia! I'll send you his bio/resume tomorrow or show you when we skype over the weekend.
Very excited to be a part of actual production too...really gives a writer a different outlook on actually writing IMO.
It's funny but I've been rewriting scripts for producers recently and its quite a different mind set. Forget the nice words, forget the orphans, transitions, slugs etc etc just get the effing story down and CLEAR.
Now lets have a look...
nigh stand ??
as a matter of interest how many people can break open cuffs with a safety pin??
the dead baby is in keeping with the tone but i felt i could see that coming - may be one to add an age to?
overall i think you have a good tone, and the story is in keeping. I would just suggest you challenge yourselves to use the 'same but different' mantra to avoid being too predictable
a few random suggestions
- make us more confused about him, who is the right one?
- could it be the baby birthday, so to speak - not sure where that goes but it could confuse and lead to other reactions and emotions
- could it be that she presents him as auditioning to be the new daddy, rather than being told he is. bit of a reversal, but just an idea. this could then lead him from desperate to get away to desperate to play along (until he can escape) e.g. baby birthday party - creepy and intense
The Elevator Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards. Third - Honolulu Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
Lol, Pia - it was quite funny at the end. I laughed quite a bit.
P3 "I know, eggs and bacon is your favorite" - sounds a bit forced to my ear. Also, it seems strange that she left the door open from the very beginning. I'd thin he needs to be cuffed from the get go or something. Or maybe the door to his bedroom is locked. Or maybe she should be around somewhere.
When he opened the cuff with a safety pin - I don't know. Must be a huge and sturdy safety pin then. But looks like he works in jail or something if he can do that. Maybe he does...
That's a great ending. Overall this kept me on my toes.
Khamanna ...could be that he worked at the jail or even as a policeman..would be interesting to see someone like 'this' that normally catches the 'bad guys' ..being caught in his own spider's web....good suggestion...and could be shown with hardly any dialogue or backstory...simply a badge by the nightstand..him looking for his piece or whatever.
Great suggestions to all of you ....Bill you too. Thank you.