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Stationary by Brian Lewis - Short, Horror - Jill's life is going nowhere fast. She's stuck in her dead-end job at a 24-hour gas station in the same town she has lived in her entire life. But all that is about to change as the town's residents begin to change into violent psychopaths in service to a mysterious being knows as the Alldark. 24 pages - pdf, format
For a short, this one is a bit long at 20+ pages. There are some English issues. If you're going to address someone directly, use a comma. 'Get your own car, Randall.'
We go through a series of characters who show the gradual escalation of the problem. I think you should examine each one and see if they are really necessary. One, maybe two, and you have to move on. Because if you do, then you have room to expand the ending. Will Jill get away? Riding the bike with a woods full of blue-powered beings doesn't look promising.
At the end, you might reconsider her hitting the toggle accidentally. It would be far better if she does it on purpose, planning to torch Randall. And since I thought all the power had been cut, I must have missed the backup generator.
Overall, this is a pretty well written version of a familiar story.
I like what youíve got here a lot. Reminds me in parts of the Crazies but with the skewed humour of Clerks offsetting the horror. I canít say Iíve got much by way of notes for you. The only drawback is the length. It feels like youíre testing the waters for a feature; if not, Iíd be left wondering what to make of it all?
So, assuming that you areÖ
Good story choices with enough background mystery that I want to know where this is heading and why. The gas station setting works to keep a disparate array of characters rolling through - at least before Jill burns it down.
Jillís likable - sassy and suitably rough around the edges. To me she fits the setting, small town, dead-end job. A nice girl at heart but pissed off at the hand sheís been dealt and not yet sure of her place in the world. Thereís a few moments where I got the sense sheís not selfish; that and her sense of humour (the bathroom graffiti is a nice touch) all work to get me on side. You got me invested in this character in a short page count so kudos on that.
So far so good. Iíd read on - assuming there is more.
Brian, First off, I seldom read "Horror" stuff but this was only 24 pgs. So I figured, I'd take the plunge. Maybe learn something new. Weigh my comments accordingly.
I laughed from the outset: I found your SP more amusing than horrific. Is that normal? Your characters' dialogue and actions were right on.
"Jill (24) attractive in a greasy, malnourished way" GREAT! Jill says, "And maybe your dick can start sucking itself." Cute reply. How could I not like this Gas N' Go employee?
Golly-gee Beaver , I Loved Brandon as well.
So the gore kicks in at Pg. 14 and quickly shifts into High Gear. All Visually, Entertaining.
Didn't bother me but as the action revved up, I thought it became a bit overwritten. Good for a book not so good for a screenplay. Being a bit nit picky here; still very colorful stuff.
Only real question for me is, All - Dark? Like I wrote, not a fan of horror and gore but I wanted more at pg 24. Please, take it to Feature length. There's way more ENTERTAINING that you can get away with.
This was excellent, love the writing! and Jills character is great. I saw this as more of a dark comedy, and the lead up to a feature . All the characters were colorful and I liked the use of the blue goop. So many zombie type films have blood, the blue gave it orginality. It would definately work as a feature, it is too long for a short and because your writing and excecution are pretty much spot on and entertaining it would make a great feature. Im ready to take that journey with Jill, shes a funny character...and thats what you want, the reader to look forward to tagging along as seeing whats going to happen next. I also agree that she should purposefully flick pump four on.... shows us she is a tough AND onto it.
Good luck with it...
"Turn that off, our friend has just been killed in a fatal sunlight accident!"....
First off, let me say thank you so much for taking the time to read my screenplay. If you have anything that you'd like for me to read, please send it my way and I will give you my thoughts on it. I'm definitely happy to pay it forward.
In regards to your notes, I agree with everything you guys are saying. A 24 page short is a bit of a red-headed step child. Originally I had outlined this story as a feature, but I was completely obsessed with the idea of keeping the entirety of the narrative from Jill's perspective and contained to the gas station. Because of that I kept using filler to add pages, but nothing seemed to add to the depth of the story. Eventually I just said screw it, write it as-is and let's just see how many pages you get out of it.
Now I've been tossing around the idea of creating an anthology and having this be the first story, but unlike traditional anthologies, each 20-30 minute short would expand a little more on the Alldark. It's kind of my Cthulhu character, I use him a lot as an indescribable horror in a few of my screenplays. Would you guys be interested in reading that or more interested in seeing Stationary expanded to 90 pages?
Also, I had originally written that Jill purposely turned on pump #4! In my rewrite I started to worry the audience wouldn't believe that as a viable plan so I made it happenstance. Now that you've all weighed in I will DEFINITELY be changing it back.
I currently have this screenplay in a competition for funding and your notes have made me feel pretty optimistic about my chances, so again, thank you so much! I have a few more shorts and a couple of features I'll be putting on the site soon so hopefully you'll enjoy my other work.
Iím drawn to your initial idea of this remaining at the gas station, thatís how I assumed this would be playing out in a full length version. Then again, Iím already partially invested in a sense so itís harder to lean towards an unknown. This had an element of fun to it - almost because the contained location forced a different approach. I guess the biggest issue is finding a plausible reason for Jill not to leave in spite of whatís going on.
Not sure about the anthology approach, depends how it all ties together. Would it be set around events in this one small town or a wider, more thematic series of shorts?
What I do know is Iíd probably read on either way. Best of luck with it.