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Wow! That was depressing lol, in the best way possible.
I loved this one, the writing is strong, to the point. The dialogue is great, the story itself is very interesting and I loved how you delivered it.
I love the structure to, it wasn´t too slow, but it also took enough of its time to build on the premise. I love character driven films, and in this short you managed to give us an entire character arc in just eight pages, impressive!
I love the idea of the dark lady, just a quick question, is she supposed to be the personified thoughts of the Martha? Or is she an actual paranormal entity? I have experimented with both myself and I think you handled it the best way possible.
I don´t think there´s anything you should fix, works for me.
Thank you all for the read, and your feedback. Appreciate it.
I never wanted to say for definite if The Dark Lady is an actual paranormal entity or a figure of Martha's depression. Let the people make their minds up themselves. Although, as the writer, I was definitely trying to show how her depressed state is taking its toll along with stress.
Thanks for catching the typo.
Happy to see this one being liked. The subject matter is odd, I know, but something that terrifies me personally.
The first slug-line isn't in bold-text, but the rest are. You don't really need to bold them in the first place, but you should probably be consistent.
This made me do a double take:
Sean finishes up a drawing of a drawing of stick figures labelled Mam, Dad and me.
When Martha reads about changelings, it might be good to encase the text she's reading better rather than just having it as plain action -- put it in quotes, maybe, or something. Seeing it in plain action formatting kind of looks... weird. I could be wrong there, but it's just something that jumped out at me.
Throughout most of the script, you use full slugs with CONTINUOUS where needed. Near the end, though, you use BATHROOM as a mini-slug. It's not wrong per se, but it seemed strange to me since every scene prior, including Martha running from the Dark Lady, uses full slugs.
I'd refrain from using LATER and definitely MOMENTS LATER in slugs. It's unnecessary and easily inferred. Not wrong as far as I know, but not necessary, either.
General writing tip: This is personal preference for me, but your writing could be parsed down without losing too much detail. Example:
Martha holds him across her two arms
...could easily be...
Martha carries him in her arms
Story and presentation notes:
Sean shrieks when he falls off the tree. I think a child would fall silently in fear (I know I did when I'd fall dangerous distances). Martha could hear a thud instead. Minor thing.
Doctor Spencer's dialogue doesn't sound very good to me. I cannot picture an actor delivering his lines in any natural-sounding way... but then again, I'm no actor. The rest of the dialogue is fine IMO.
This could be just me, but... if we can infer that the doctor knows Martha's being abusive to Sean, why on Earth would he see them at the same time in the same room as she's berating him? That shocked me. If a real Doctor did that, I think he'd get an earful.
General thing that irked me 1: at no point did I ever think that Martha was NOT going to give Sean to The Dark Lady. It may serve the story well if she were more sympathetic and less openly hostile to Sean at certain points in the story.
General thing that irked me 2: at no point did I think The Dark Lady was anything other than a monster who wanted Sean dead for some reason. She doesn't seem to tie very well into the Changeling myths, either. This kind of killed the suspense during the climax, even though I did feel bad for Sean.
Just thinking aloud: If you made The Dark Lady slightly less creepy or perhaps even have her in the guise of a common human pushing/encouraging Martha to kill Sean, I'd buy her descent into madness a little more. Also, if you had Sean actually exhibit more suspicious behavior (red herrings or not), Martha's ultimate choice would be more of a question mark as opposed to "she's bat shit with grief" or "the devil made her do it".
Despite all my notes, this was a pretty good script. I was involved all the way through, and I think it's an achievement in and of itself to create a story like that.
Engrossing and very creepy is my take on this. You set it up so I was settled in for the read and I wanted to know what was going on and what was going to happen. The opening is a little slow imh... I dunno, then the boy's accident is quite shocking. The problem for me is Mum seems to have antipathy for her son from the get go.
The strongest part of this for me is The Dark Lady, scary and suspenseful. The weakest part to be honest is the fable/changeling aspect and where the dead husband comes into the overall plot. There's a Babadook vibe to it in relation to single mum and child. It's all a little confusing to be honest but the creep factor means I don't think that really matters. I like horror/suspense where everything is a little unclear, even if to you everything's crystal. Make sense?
Great script, Glenn. Love it when the horror/thriller aspects have an emotional underpinning. I do think this has feature potential. As a short, it's very streamlined now and works well. So, I dunno if it needs much tweaking at all.
But, for me, the scale was tilted very much towards this all being in Martha's head. If you're trying to push this out to something further, I like ReaperCreepers suggestions about Sean's behavior. Having some odd actions or unexplained stuff from him that makes Martha (and the audience) begin to question whether he really is a changeling.
And, like Reaper said, maybe bringing the The Dark Lady down to a more human level. At least, not revealing the mystical stuff right away. For example, it could just be some old lady that approaches her when she leaves the Doctor. So she's babbling on about being able to help the kid and hands Martha the book. Rather than this dark, mystical force chasing her through the night right away.
I like this one. It plays out pretty well. Where I think you can make it better is with the son.
You might consider having him be almost the same as before the accident. It's the tiny things that make her think he's been changed--forgetting a date or name or favorite food. She notices although no one else does. Thus, when she complains, no one believes her, perhaps not even herself. If he suddenly chooses broccoli instead of pizza, she's surprised, more so since he says he's always loved broccoli. She starts to doubt herself?
The dark lady might appear earlier, at the hospital. And perhaps she needs a reason to go after the boy. Nothing like an avenging dark lady looking to rid the earth of an evil being.
I think you can play with her mind by having the child animated rather than a blob.
Good read. I agree with another viewer it was engrossing not sure if it was because of the narrative description which was good or the structure probably both. I like how for the most part at least there was an action/reaction (motive) for Martha. She had a reason for drinking and smoking, and the state of the house, they were details that built off each other and created an atmosphere as well.
I will say though I agree with RichardR that perhaps the lady (who I loved as is) should be introduced before the slap because that is huge escalation (where’s the reason, which the lady in dark could be). I feel she snapped with minor provocation not that the not eating dinner wasn’t fine but maybe not enough. Perhaps since call backs are always good tool you could use the picture he was drawing before (also at done at dinner time) be found destroyed. Martha after Sean refuses to eat she grabs his plate frustrated and scraps food in the trash when she finds the picture there torn or scribbled on. And then she slaps him. With that and the warning she things this isn’t my son. She visits the doctor and the lady visits again and reveals to hear in order to get your son back you must kill this way there are two revelations in two different scenes rather than two revelations in one scene. I don’t want it so sound I didn’t enjoy what you have I did trust me.
Also, I loved the ending I thought it was haunting to have her so depressed for her old life that she lays the close out on the bed and waits for the son’s return. I think the question of will he could have been driven home if in the description, the scene ends with the focus on the door just over their shoulders or something waiting for the return and maybe the door just long enough to make you wonder.
Commodus: But the Emperor Claudius knew that they were up to something. He knew they were busy little bees. And one night he sat down with one of them and he looked at her and he said, "Tell me what you have been doing, busy little bee..."