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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Thriller Scripts  ›  The Devil Always Wins
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  Author    The Devil Always Wins  (currently 364 views)
SimplyScripts
Posted: April 1st, 2017, 8:09pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Devil Always Wins by Kirsten James - Short, Thriller - James, a gas station owner and father of 3, wakes up to find his wife dead in their bed. As the morning goes on he comes to realize that he and his family are the targets of a sadistic serial killer.  14 pages - pdf, format

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eldave1
Posted: April 2nd, 2017, 11:06am Report to Moderator
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Kirsten:

I thought the setting for this story was great - well done there.


Quoted Text
Eighties and nineties décor


Not sure what I am suppose to see here. Think you would be better with something like 30 year old decor.


Quoted Text
JAMES
What did you say son?


Needs to be a comma before "son". You have this issue throughout.


Quoted Text
A beat-up car pulls up beside the gas pump, a person
gets out wearing a tan cowboy hat and blue plaid shirt.
Heads towards the shop.


I would NAME and fully describe Bret before he gets into the station. There really is no need to split the description since we are seeing him all at once when he exits the car.


Quoted Text
Meters away a MAN, early 50’s, tall, tanned, wearing a
white shirt and cowboy hat, puffs on a cigarette and
watches.


I found this a bit too convenient. It might be better if he was in the scene when Bret first got out of the car. Kind of a real cowboy disgusted by the site of an obvious wanna be cowboy.

The first 2/3rds of the story had me. I was really confused by the last 1/3rd.

Hope these help - best of luck.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Kirsten
Posted: April 2nd, 2017, 4:05pm Report to Moderator
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Hi David, thanks heaps for the read and comments. I will take another look at Mr cowboy and the timing of his placement. I've obviously been to vague at the end. I'm glad you let me know.. I did kind of wonderful about that. I'll definately work on it.
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eldave1
Posted: April 2nd, 2017, 8:24pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Kirsten
Hi David, thanks heaps for the read and comments. I will take another look at Mr cowboy and the timing of his placement. I've obviously been to vague at the end. I'm glad you let me know.. I did kind of wonderful about that. I'll definately work on it.


Cool - best of luck with this


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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RichardR
Posted: April 3rd, 2017, 3:00pm Report to Moderator
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Some notes.

This one reads like the opening to a bigger story.  Mom does a suicide (I think), Dad wants to follow, but there are two kids left--until one is taken.  So, dad and son have to chase down the two killers who have conveniently showed Dad what they look like and in all probability got their faces all over video footage.  That's one reason why I don't quite buy them coming back.  If they've been at this for a while, they would be careful about such things.

I think the old lady gets too many lines for an appearance that won't pay off later--unless this is an opening, and the icing can be tested for the DNA Bret left behind (not to mention fingerprints).  

Overall, this has the right feel, the despair that comes with losing a young child to a murderer.  I like that.  I just have some issues with serial killers who are ridiculously careless.

Best
Richard
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Kirsten
Posted: April 4th, 2017, 5:19pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Richard,

Thanks for the read and feedback!

I'm glad you got the feel of it.... it's good to know I'm on the right track with that.

and yeah, you're right, I did wonder if the reader would think these guys are too sloppy - I know why, but the reader doesn't......and thats why making it longer would work for that revelation - they are on the run, feds already know who they are..... And Bret is so full of himself that he thinks he can outrun the law, no matter what evidence he leaves behind. And he loves to torment... so yeah.. too much story for a short...
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Disco Cactus
Posted: April 6th, 2017, 12:03pm Report to Moderator
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One Rule: KEEP WRITING

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Very interesting story. I liked it more than I disliked it. A couple of notes...

A couple of missing comma's. No big deal.

Some chunky action lines that hurt the read a little. Remember, each action line is a shot in the film. Don't be afraid to break them up a bit.

Lot's of typos through out. Don't forget to proof read. Rewrites are your best friend.

Ayden seems a little young to check himself out of school. Hailey too. And what was the deal with introducing Hailey only in the last pages? Show her in the family photo right at the start. There's no need to keep her hidden, at least no reason that I could see.

Dialog was pretty good for the most part. Although I really disliked the final line. Not that it was a bad line or anything, just a really awkward way one to end the story on. Leaves you unfulfilled.

Good effort though, Kirsten. With a couple of rewrites this could be really good. Keep writing!

~Zack~


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Kirsten
Posted: April 6th, 2017, 2:06pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Zack

Thanks heaps for the read and feed back. I think I'm going to turn this into a feature. A practice one...
I'm glad you mentioned Haileys sudden  intro, I was trying too hard for the twist and it was confusing. I'll definately keep working at it...
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Disco Cactus
Posted: April 6th, 2017, 2:11pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Kirsten

I'm glad you mentioned Haileys sudden  intro, I was trying too hard for the twist and it was confusing. I'll definately keep working at it...


For the twist to work, you need to really set it up well. As it is now, Hailey is just a random character thrown in at the end.

Good luck with the rewrite.

~Zack~


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JakeJon
Posted: April 9th, 2017, 11:51am Report to Moderator
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K,

Great, Great, Great tension build up!  I was squirming in my seat when Bret was doing his thing in the shop.  AND I wanted to help James kill him!   Kudos!

I was a little confused with the story "roll out" and development.

So Joy kills herself because they finally found Hannah dead and now James considers doing the same? He's grieving but he seems like a decent parent who wouldn't just check out on the other two kids.
Your wife has killed herself and you just leave her  body in bed and go to work sad?  Maybe I guess.

Question about Mavis being necessary, other than, "You haven't heard news have you?"

Also, Bret pg 11.  "you wanna know ya little girl died?  I think James knows, or did you leave out "how"?  Or am I missing something?

Maybe a little too late with the Hailey intro on Pg 13.  While it gave your ending a jolt and added to the the killers "rotten-ness", it perhaps came off a bit manufactured, you know for reader effect.

I really thought this was a great write and read.  Maybe needs a little cleaning up.  But if a story moves a reader in any way or stirs some emotion; anger, fear or what have you,  you've got something.

So I say go with it.

JJ



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Kirsten
Posted: April 9th, 2017, 5:21pm Report to Moderator
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Hi JJ,

Thankyou heaps for the read and feed back. You nailed it. Yes the wife can't handle the news of her daughter finally being found dead, 2 months of waiting can screw a person up. I tried very hard to make his reaction as believable as possible. I knew that some people go into auto pilot and carry on their day in denial...that's what my approach was. And of course there is that moment of just ending y he pain., hence the nearly suicide moment...plus knowing there is a dead body in the house while all this other crap is going on adds to the suspense for the viewer.
I definately wanted the reader to get wound up by Bret. So I'm very happy to hear it worked for You! Jackpot!
And yes Mavis did go on a bit too much and you are right she was there for that very line...

Hailey was a desperate twist... and I was too vague at the end.
I'm actually going to turn this into a feature, I've packed alot in there for a short. I want to work on a full length movie and I feel good about this one..

Thanks again JJ, much appreciated...
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Kirsten
Posted: April 9th, 2017, 5:23pm Report to Moderator
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JJ and yes I left out the word 'how', in that sentence which really is important lol....bad typo....
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MarkItZero
Posted: April 12th, 2017, 10:30am Report to Moderator
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Hey Kirsten, nicely done for the most part. Your description writing is improving insanely fast. Everything seems to be working here except for clarity issues which hold it back, IMO. I get the sense you were purposely withholding some information and doling it out in little bits. But the end result left me re-reading several times before everything fell into place. Just to make sure I have it right...

SPOILERS

James' daughter was kidnapped and her body recently discovered by police. Upon receiving this news, the wife commits suicide. So the script is opening the morning of her suicide, with James in a complete denial state going about his day with his dead wife lying in bed. Then things only get worse for him, with the kidnappers returning for some perverse game of terrorizing the father who's daughter they killed. Ending with them kidnapping another one of his daughters.


I don't see the harm in letting us know right off the bat his daughter was kidnapped (and now deceased). Mavis seems to be there for exposition but she mostly talks about James' wife without knowing his wife is actually lying dead in the next room. All I got from her is: something bad's happened, James is waiting on some kind of news, and Mavis doesn't know his wife is dead.

I'd consider having a TV tuned to the news with a little snippet of his situation. Maybe it's playing on a TV over the countertop right before Mavis walks in and James quickly turns it off. Or, there's a TV on in the bedroom scene with his wife.  

And, as some have mentioned, the final reveal of a third child threw me for a loop. I think you're trying for too many big surprises here. You've got a good, dark story with this grieving father being terrorized and broken by these horrible people. I'd suggest just having Ayden walk in the door right when Brett and Roy are finishing off James. He can look up in horror seeing his daughter has arrived back home, just as he's knocked unconscious... then when he wakes up it's Ayden that's been kidnapped.


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Kirsten
Posted: April 13th, 2017, 5:49am Report to Moderator
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Hi James,

Thanks heaps for the read and comments. And thanks for the compliment about the description writing. I've been working on it Yes you got it right with the story, and you were spot on with me letting out info bit by bit. I've got to learn to give it the right balance, not too vague and not too much given away...
I really like your suggestions, I'm definitely going to re work the ending make it a satisfactory less difficult read, then try mold it into a feature... Bret Must die!
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stevemiles
Posted: April 14th, 2017, 2:08pm Report to Moderator
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Kirsten,

Torn on this one.  I’ll take subtlety over being led by the nose anytime, but I had to dig deep to really get the story straight.  You had me hooked through the gas station scene, right to the moment Bert and Roy entered the house.  At this point I think there’s a few areas that could be tightened for a smoother read.    

If I’ve got this right then youngest daughter, Hannah, was taken by Bret and Roy, and murdered.  Wife, Joy, has taken her life as a result.  Bret and Roy then come back to target older daughter, Hailey; but not before tormenting her father, James.  Is that it?  It’s a short, so I’m not overly drawn into the bigger picture detail.  I can buy that a grieving James would go into autopilot, not wanting to deal with his wife’s death.  I can buy that the killers come back - sadists…  But revealing themselves to James after getting away with the initial crime seems a stretch.  Again, it’s a short, they’re sadists, it’s not a deal breaker.

You managed to impart a real sense of menace with the gas station scene.  You set up James as mentally unhinged and then bring in Bret to agitate - it’s nicely paced.  I was just waiting to see at what point James would snap - or if he would at all.

I’ll just throw out a couple of places where you lost me:

‘He smiles back, memories of his time with her written on his face.’  As a reader trying to figure out who’s who (at a pivotal moment) this line (the way it’s written) puts a kind of gloss on what is actually a pretty sick moment for the reader to take in.  Perhaps that makes it even worse..?  But, I read this as Bret was somehow emotionally attached to Hannah - it left me thinking he’s somehow the good guy here which left me a bit confused.  Maybe just me...

BRET (CONT’D)
You wanna know ya little girl died?

Is this line missing a ‘how’?  To me I wasn’t sure if James even knew she was dead at this point which threw me.

JAMES
Where is he?

I’m not exactly sure ‘who’ we’re talking about here or why James would think (at this point) to ask.  There’s nothing to suggest there’s a ‘he’ that’s been taken or is in danger.

IMO - Hailey’s brought into this too late - or at least knowledge of her existence.  James raises concern for Ayden yet not Hailey purely for misdirection.  It feels like a bit of a cheat to throw her into the mix at the last moment.  I think that’s my strongest issue with this.

On the whole, this is one twisted short.  Downright mean spirited to have the bad guys win, not once but twice over poor James and family.  Though, that is the point of the idea - The Devil Always Wins.   It’s enough to bother me - that I want to see James fight back - so it’s an effective story in that respect.  On the downside it’s hard to see whose story it really is. James is the focus, but remains fairly passive to events beyond his control.  I think this informs part of the frustration - it feels like set-up without the satisfaction of a payoff.  Though I see you’re thinking of expanding so...  

Interested to see where you take it.  Hope this helps.

Steve


My short scripts can be found here:


http://www.sjmilesscripts.webs.com
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