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------------- You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take. - Wayne Gretzky
Posted: September 11th, 2016, 12:51pm
Your title and logline grabbed me. I think I just have a thing for creepy gas station attendants in horror films.
The payoff is interesting but I don't think it's really enough to justify the length. 70% of your script is just setting stuff up.
This feels like it wants to be a longer project, to me. I think some of the ideas here -- the gas station attendant telling them to stay in the car, the writing on the bathroom walls -- could be interesting if you expanded on them, maybe even gave a go at making it a horror feature. Get some good monsters.
This reminded me of the Evil Dead remake for its tone and foreshadowing, but that might be because I recently re-watched it. Could be why I was left wanting a bigger payoff.
If you keep it a short, though, I think it should definitely be shorter.
Raza, Although you're treading on some familiar ground, the writing was good enough for me to continue. Your use of suspense and pacing was serviceable, I just wish the story had taken me somewhere new.
Appreciate the feedback guys. It's hard to please everyone in the genre of horror but I do understand how you wouldn't like the direction of the story. The underlying message is that fear can sometimes be just as deadly as any monster.
The build up was good but I felt let down by the ending. I think because even though you had this as a thriller it felt like a horror that deserved a good horror payoff, I was actually feeling a bit of a ‘The Hallows’ vibe going on. The ending was just okay.
This didn't meet the horror expectations built up in the gas station. The characters, despite having loads of camping gear and apparently well versed in camping, can't identify skunk odor? Once you experience that it's not something you easily forget. Same with the owl. Experienced campers wouldn't panic at some familiar forest sounds. So, I think you need to go back to the drawing board. If you make them city folk who know nothing about the woods, then they can panic.
The gas station is creepy, and that's good. Give us a good pay off.
I really enjoy the pace and the story in general. The gas station attender is kinda a cliche character, the same with the boyfriend. Maybe if the attender was trying to warning but they lost in translation (or the attender say something to the girl, which makes the boyfriends don't trust him anymore). The scene when the two brothers fall in the cliff (not the pay of, the moment when they disappear) is kinda hurry to me. I believe in the characters dialogue and reaction to that moment, but it's a minor thing.
Good work!, one of the best script I've read so far in this page.
As it is, this is a pretty solid story, but it's so-so in terms of originality. I think you can expand your characters some without adding pages. In fact, you might be able to shave off a page or two.
In a film festival, there are more than a few movies like this. Sometimes just having a logical, coherent story isn't enough to make an impact or stand out (unless it's so short that they need it to fill time). In the horror genre, I feel like once people know your ending, the cat's out of the bag. However, if you create a mood piece and you give your characters some depth and it's just an excellent work, people will look past the instant gratification of the ending and appreciate for what your story does before that.
One of the best horror shorts I've seen was a zombie apocalypse movie that had almost no dialogue. It was just a girl wandering around in the snow (they shot it in Michigan during the winter). She was trying to figure out what happened to her dad. It was about 10 minutes long, but it was crafted perfectly and it told a great story. (The music helped a lot too. Too bad screenplays don't have scores before they're shot.)
If you were to flesh out your characters and then dial that back almost completely, giving us just the smallest glimpse into their lives, what brings them on this journey, and why this fatal fear comes from their own personalities, then you'll have an amazing story.
Right now, you just have these random people getting killed by a generic flaw/weakness. What if their fear was actually insightful and gives your audience a bigger look at who they are? What if they're running from something and the farther down the road they get, the more they admit it to themselves? At first, they think they're camping to have fun. But really, they're trying to escape something. We don't know what. We don't have to. We can guess. Maybe the gas station reminds them of their fear and what they're running from? Then they get going again, start to get confident again, but then the skunk brings the fear back and they become totally unhinged and the fear takes hold. The key to this would be dialogue that sounds like nothing, but it's actually giving the audience vital information about them.
You've got room to make it pretty deep and make it a great character study in addition to a solid story.
"I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called 'Max'."
This was a curious one with mixed results, in my opinion.
JASPER What’s your problem man?
- No, what’s your problem? Isn’t the Attendant just offering some advice? Yes, the place is unsettling but this aggressive response seems uncalled for from Jasper.
JASPER What the hell was that Steph? That dude was creepy.
STEPHANIE And you think that antagonizing him was the best call?
- Again, I get that the feel of the whole area is creepy and they’re a bit freaked out but their rudeness and lack of even a response to the attendant is odd. I don’t know who is more to blame as Jasper is overtly belligerent while Stephanie just chooses to ignore him.
ALLY (shaking) There’s... there’s something really messed up here. You should have read some of the stuff in the bathroom. I don’t... I can’t...
STEPHANIE Alright, Drama Queen, let’s go.
- This is really feeding into the stereotype of characters in these scenarios being incredible stupid or just flippant. After what the attendant said, shouldn’t they be at least more alert thus curious as to what Ally read in the bathroom?
EXT. STEPHANIE’S CAR - NIGHT - LATER
The car moves cautiously down the highway, which now runs through the heavily forested mountains.”
- Using a CUT TO: in tandem with a slug line is redundant. The slugline will suffice on its own in this instance.
“The stress mounts. Ally struggles in her seat. She frantically reaches for the door handle.”
- Um, open a window maybe? You know, the car is moving.
“Ally stumbles and falls to the floor.”
- Since it’s outside, it should be “ground” instead of “floor”.
“She retreats from the car”
- Why? Go toward the car, woman!
Should we see the dead bodies of Ally and Jasper after the news report as presumably they would’ve been extracted from the mountain side post discovery by authorities? Perhaps swap those scenes around.
The dead skunk reveal gave me a snigger I must admit. So is there a ghostly malevolent presence in the forest or just a criminally non signposted cliff? If so, what’s with all the cackling and general hubbub coming from said forest? If it’s just the cliff that poses a danger why didn’t the Attendant just tell him that instead of being weird and spooky in his cautioning? Finally what was written on the bathroom walls? I’m dying to know!
All in all, while I was intrigued to see what would happen as I read (which is the best compliment you can give a script so kudos for that) when it did (sort of, see questions above) reveal itself, it didn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before. Pretty by-the-numbers stuff, cut from your standard horror cloth with all the common tropes i.e. somewhat annoying characters making dumb decisions, strange locals issuing ominous warnings, scary forests that may or may not contain unseen forces.
Technically, for the most part, your writing is ok and didn’t hinder the reading experience.
Look to giving this a twist or a fresh angle that will separate it from the most generic of horror fare that's out there in which, unfortunately, this currently resides.