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I'll Burn Him and Bury Him in the Woods by Dale Saxton - Short, Horror - 1866. A husband and wife, still grieving from the death of their daughter, have a moral dilemma. What to do with the young man they have chained up in the barn… 12 pages - pdf, format
Not sure if I'd call the script's title mundane or profane…
But it's somewhere there with a strange characteristic, no doubt. I expect it to be a very dark plot which is equally direct articulated.
When the reveal starts, from page 8 on, it's pretty wordy, perhaps even too passive because of that. The dialogue then instead should be better, compressed to its very gems when using this specific kind of dialogue-driven plot structure in act 3, imo. In general it's nothing close to bad or boring but I still think this section needs to improve and be cut, to completely shine as a truly intense and great dialogue scene…
Okkaayy. I miss the last bit that'd make it valuable to watch, for me personally. It's good, well crafted but same time not more than a creepy mystery flick with a certain slasher attitude yet.
Have you got any additional ideas? As is, there's that reveal SPOILER that witchcraft in the end was/is real…well.... There could be a more definite view/perspective anywhere that could give some other kind of conclusion or insight of this world you deal with.
Still, good work. However, needs a further push to convince me entirely…
I've wrestled with that third act for a long time. I was hoping putting it on this site would have others hopefully point out a solution.
I also find it too wordy. I'm searching for a constant build up of tension using the flow of dialogue to drive it and it's just incredibly frustrating. I'm desperately trying to shoe horn information within that dialogue that I think is valuable to the backstory of the family.
I see. Well, I believe when dealing with the supernatural and horror it's quite hard to get in something we'd call overall meaning, final emotion, or make an intellectual impact on us etc... Albeit, this is a completely subjective preference of mine to have something like that in there. I for my part want it in every genre, even horror. But that's really when it comes to personal taste…
Good: The tone was throughout believable and I actually even liked the "calm" tavern scene and also the whole conversations between the couple which happened before. You create a unique atmosphere from rough old times.
Improve: To cut and compress is what I possibly advice 90% of the scripts I read here. It's either that sometimes I feel characters could be combined to one to be more effective within the picture, or most times it's that I feel many spoken sentences and their "thoughts" behind, (call it the mini-concepts of the dialogue you deliver) could also be combined, compressed as much as possible. With that you multiply each context and even build subtext. Then there are like 2,3,4 thoughts popping up in our heads same time. A lot of other good things would happen alongside, such as acceleration of story.
At the moment I have no true idea what to change plot-wise. Perhaps there's a possibility to cut the whole daughter part;; since she's not in the picture anyway, is she?;; and go some more absurd with the father wants to kill his son scenario. Like; a wild thought of mine; it's not the devil or demonic evil forces in the end, waking the boy from the dead, instead possibly a force wakes him that seeks for the son's rightfully justice, brutal but deserved, justified, because he turns out "not guilty" in case of father's accusations. In a sense a good demon takes over him.
But you're the writer, you should take those decisions yourself by 100%. Just play around with it. I actually find it interesting in the script that here a "male" is accused to be the witch.
However, this is mainly good, Dale.
First of all you need a second and third opinion before you begin to truly reconsider.
Some of my formatting suggestions. Just my opinions.
CUT TO's: I would be to eliminate your CUT TO's unless they are necessary. Which most if not all, are not.
Sluglines: Use the primary location first and the secondary second. Example: INT. DINING ROOM - HALTON HOUSE - DAY -should be, INT. HALTON HOUSE - DINING ROOM - DAY
Capitalization of words: I would watch your use of this. Sounds like a BUZZ and even objects like an AXE are fine if you choose but I would watch out for the use of accentuating a word like TREMBLE or UNSCREW. -That is more a style thing. I tend to do it a lot. But I've also been called out for it. So I figured I would pass the buck with that piece of advice. Your decision of course.
Quick action. Good dialogue. Engaging. Keep writing.
Best of luck to you with your current and future projects.
Enjoyed reading this... Shades of M Night Shyamalan...
SPOILER SPOILER, etc., etc. As with the comments above, I felt the daughter's role was underdeveloped, although it was presented as pivotal. So is the mother the real key to what's going on here? If so, perhaps a more clear indication of her attitude at the end would help.
Thanks for the feedback Marty. I'll definitely save on the page count getting rid of the CUT TO:'s.
Was hoping you had anything to add to the conversation between me and Prussian above?
Thanks for chiming in AlwaysTheNewGuy. You're completely right, I think maybe I could put something more in there surrounding her. Maybe a piece of clothing or jewelry that Edwin might hold onto or fidget with at certain stress points, that very clearly belongs to a young girl.
You're reaction is exactly what I would hope for in the audiences. A bit of, "Wait, has the mother got something to do with this?!"
Found the pub scene to be out of place. I get where you are going with it but I feel like it lacked the same meaning as your first scene. Maybe because I didn't find anything with Thomas to be strong enough. I liked the drinking part and the emotion I felt Edwin was conveying but I felt nothing between him and Thomas that didn't seem forced. This is based off of the rest of the script. So if I were to pick the weakest scene it would be this one.
Maybe the lords prayer can be a voice over?
Edwin is a great character. With great dialogue.
Harriet somewhat lacks as a character for me. She's a push over. I know she's grieving the loss of her daughter and possibly her son but we are talking about a mother here, right? I mean I am a father and I know I would be fighting to my last breath to save one of my children. Even if I had a notion that he may be possessed. But it is probably correctly related to the time frame. So maybe others can give more insight to that notion. But in my opinion, adding a little more conflict with her could really help push the story along more.
Joseph is also an interesting character. The conflict between Joseph and Edwin shines. Good banter back and forth between the two.
A nice twist and a nice turn of events to have a male be thought of as a witch. Seldom the case. So that is a pleasant change up.
I would drop the illegal part from the revealing dialogue and the last line. Just my opinion.
JOSEPH (turns his back to Edwin) Do the other counties know of what took place... with Katherine? Her execution, through unfounded accusation?!
This was nice reading, though maybe a few aspects are a bit too opaque for its own good.
The title, however, is astoundingly on-the-nose, but then the title is why I looked in the first place, so you can untangle that bit of feedback on your own.
I appreciate you trying to layer in the exposition with subtlety, rather than overt regurgitation, but this takes a fine touch, and sometimes holes remain. We get what happened to the daughter (kind of) -- but never the "why" -- and this leaves us with the impression that dad is taking some pretty extreme measures on what appears to be awfully slim evidence.
Is dad coldly rational, or slightly unhinged? As written, the actor could play this either way, which is your clue that this character should be defined a bit better. The scene at the bar helps, but not enough. That his worst fears are confirmed at the grave-site is also a nice touch, but it still leaves those deeper questions about this character unaddressed.
The final scene with mom gives us nothing. I get that we are to ponder what this could possibly mean, but her presence has been so passive, there are really no puzzle pieces to fit together. Give her a bit more early on, perhaps a few actions that seem oddly motivated, and that final scene will carry more resonance.
I'm with Bert re: your title. It's kinda odd but why I chose to read this in the first place. It's so OTN it makes you want to see what the hell it's all about. The more I think about it, the more I think it should stay the way it is.
Marty was spot on in regards to the CUT TO's but it's also the score that you wrote in the action too.
CUT TO: Large, shrill blast of strings.
Totally derailed me when reading it.
The CAPS in your action sequences really need to be limited. Some are appropriate and others, again, derail my thought to wonder why/what is so important about that?
I love your dialog! I also love Edwin's conviction and commitment that his son is the devil or witch, or whatever has possessed him. I think I'd like to see a bit more 'battle' after the reveal. It seemed a little anti-climatic that it only took a second shot to put him down.
The final scene back at the dinner table... maybe a sinister grin? IDK.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this - thanks for posting. John
I'm with Bert re: your title. It's kinda odd but why I chose to read this in the first place. It's so OTN it makes you want to see what the hell it's all about. The more I think about it, the more I think it should stay the way it is. John
Yes, whatever route the script takes, the title is very strange in a positive way. I wouldn't even say it's completely otn as we screenwriters originally would define otn. To me it's more like the coldest articulated answer to the parents' debated question, what the father, before going to bed, says that he'll do to their demonic son the next day? I'll Burn Him and Bury Him in the Woods Period