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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller  ›  Servants of Chaos Moderators: bert
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  Author    Servants of Chaos  (currently 1546 views)
SimplyScripts
Posted: August 16th, 2009, 9:47am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Servants of Chaos by Malcolm Bowman (scoob) - Thriller - A big city cop must confront their past when they discover the residents of a small town have inexplicably and mysteriously vanished. What follows is a battle for survival and revenge in a night where order is secondary, and chaos rules. 109 pages - pdf, format


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Scoob
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Thank you once again Don for posting one of my scripts. Always appreciated.

I'd like to point out a couple of things, one of them being that this is 113 pages long and not 133.    (bert's edit: fixed)

This is thriller/horror and it was difficult to choose which genre I should put this in as it's not really a killathon gore flick but hopefully a cat and mouse thriller with horror elements. It can be a thin line between thriller and horror at times. I think both go hand in hand but I can understand why that line is there.

I dont think my dialouge is great here yet, and I have small issues with the opening 20 pages and the final act. I'm happy with it, but I'm really keen to see others opinions.

I hope if you read it, you enjoy it and I will always be willing to read your script in exchange.

Thanks



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alffy
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Hey Malc

Here’s my feedback, hope it helps.  I warn you, I will write down any questions and queries I have, some of which will I’m sure will be answered later in the script.

Got to say I like this description; ‘large build with white hair and a face that looks like a gravel pit’.

Just a little question but at first you mention the car as a mk3 Cortina which made me think it was set in England but it turns out it’s set in America, that’ll teach me to jump to conclusions.

I like the scene with the stranger, very weird and then you jump straight into the warehouse chase, which felt a little long to read but on screen I think it would be fine.  The following conversation between Lisa and Karen read well too, and came across very natural.  You always need a shouty police Sergeant!

Rogers is already becoming an interesting character, he’s dark and mysterious and even a bit suspicious.

I’m going to go back and say maybe you aren’t sure where this story is set.  You have stated locations as Cafe/Diner and have Motorway/Highway, this rings bells in my head or is this just to help the readers from either sides of the pond?

I wonder where Charlie has gone because as the opening character I expected him to stick around but he disappeared quickly and so far, page 20, hasn’t re-appeared.

The car crash flashback is a nice touch, although Karen then cleans up the debris from the road.  I don’t think a Police officer would compromise the scene, especially if she had already realised that the occupants of the car were already dead.

I also like the way you placed Karen in the aftermath of the opening scene in the diner.

Who was cutting down the trees?  If it was the stranger then his actions were strange, he was cool and collective earlier but then runs away at the sight of Rogers.  Was it the stranger who smashed his car up?

I’m puzzled, Charlie says he dropped the stranger off at the diner and after a few minutes he heard gunshots.  What was Charlie doing outside the diner?  Why would he wait for the stranger?  And why didn’t he go straight home, seen as he lives so close?  Ah this is answered later on, and I thought I’d spotted a hole in your plot lol.

I love the word ‘twonk’, always makes me smile.  This however I think is a very British word, isn’t it?  Maybe someone could tell me if this is used in America.  Also, Charlie does sound like he’s a bit of a twonk lol.

A Land Rover?  Maybe a Pick-up truck would fit better.

After the crash, Charlie and Rogers emerge with fresh wounds but Charlie seems to have forgotten about his injured leg.  He does mention it later but surely it would give him grief as he scrambles from the wrecked Cortina?


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alffy
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The opening to the script is very serious, the conversations between the characters is thoughtful and deep, then Charlie re-appears and it drops into a lighter tone.  He makes amusing comments to Rogers, even when they are in immediate danger.  I don’t know if this was your intention?

How did Rogers know the stranger was going to the farm?  Is it because he knows the area?

What happened to Karen, she seemed a pivotal part of the story but disappeared on page 24 and doesn’t re-appear until page 77.

Around 100 bodies are piled up in the barn, the town has 300 residents, where are the others?  Ok this is answered later too.

One thing though, how did the Stranger know Rogers would hand Charlie the gun and that Charlie removed the bullets from the gun?  Did he see him do it outside the barn?

That’s weird, you have a reference to Dick Turpin.  I just posted a treatment for a script I was going to write about Turpin and wanted to know if America knew much about him.

Why are the Stranger and Charlie moving the bodies back to the Town Hall?

Why does Rogers try to hot wire the van, if he wanted to leave town he could have just gone in the car?

I haven’t really been pointing out spelling and the like but you have a slug that read INT. TED’S BAR – DARK, then you immediately say it’s dark inside.  This is redundant really.

How did Rogers miss Charlie, when he fired the gun at him, wasn’t he a few feet away?  And yet he earlier shot two bullets into the Land Rover’s front seat from further and in the dark.

I do like how you have Rogers doing exactly what he told Karen not to.  He finds himself led into the garage, fuelled by vengeance and anger and not thinking like a Police Officer.  This is a nice touch.

The Stranger returns to the gas soaked corpses but it seems quite a while since he doused them.  The gas might have evaporated by now might it not?   I’m not sure how long it would take so I’m not saying this is flawed.

Karen saves Rogers in the nick of time again which is good because I really thought the Stranger was going to kill Rogers.  I wasn’t sure about her spinning and shooting the Stranger as they were leaving though.  Rather than it been instinct, I would have preferred her to maybe see him in the reflection in the glass door or something, just my preference.  Also Charlie’s Rasputin like death defying antics went just a touch too far for me, though I did like the way the tip of his head was blown off.

The end confused me slightly.  Was the Stranger trying to enrol Rogers as a disciple or were the disciples helping the Stranger with the chaos?


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alffy
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My final question is this, why is the Stranger doing this to the town?  Is it for Rogers benefit, if so why and how could he be sure he would go there?  I don’t think this is clear.  I understand the Stranger killed Rogers’ family in the crash but was this intentional too?  

I enjoyed the read and for 113 pages I got through it pretty quickly.  The characters were pretty well developed and the action and descriptions were all solid throughout.  I was confused at the start as Karen appeared to be the main protagonist but like I mentioned, she was absent for large chunk of act 2 and Rogers took up the reins.  I actually preferred this as he immediately had an interesting back story and a strange mystery about him.  I felt that you could probably knock the page limit down a bit, 113 is quite a lot for a story that basically is Rogers chasing the Stranger and Charlie around the town.  I do feel that on screen it wouldn’t run out at 113 minutes though, and like I said, it read pretty quick too.

My final thoughts are that it was enjoyable and fun to read and that I had no issues with the format, but I was still left wondering what the main objective of the antagonist was, whether to enlist Rogers or teach him a lesson?  Actually I’ll finish by saying that this review probably sounds like I didn’t like this script which is not the case, I wouldn’t have read it if I didn’t like it.  I simply jotted things down that entered my head as I went along, some of which are probably obvious and I just pick up on it lol.  Ok that’s it, I liked this and found it an enjoyable read Malc.

Oh I’d say it’s a thriller.


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Scoob
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Hi Alffy,

Many thanks for reading this and for taking the time to write such an extensive review. I really appreciate the feedback and I'll try my best to answer your questions.


Quoted from alffy
Just a little question but at first you mention the car as a mk3 Cortina which made me think it was set in England but it turns out it’s set in America, that’ll teach me to jump to conclusions.


If I'm honest with you, at the start I was unsure where this actually would be set. I was thinking of setting it in England but I didn't think it would work. I ended up even having to come up with a fictional city as I was not sure where in America this could possibly take place. So in the opening, I'm kind of inbetween.



Quoted from alffy
I like the scene with the stranger, very weird and then you jump straight into the warehouse chase, which felt a little long to read but on screen I think it would be fine.


I do tend to overwrite sometimes so I agree it could possibly be trimmed.


Quoted from alffy
The car crash flashback is a nice touch, although Karen then cleans up the debris from the road.  I don’t think a Police officer would compromise the scene, especially if she had already realised that the occupants of the car were already dead.


The only reason I thought she might do this is incase of oncoming traffic and she wanted to clear as much debris off the road that could possibly cause another accident.


Quoted from alffy
Who was cutting down the trees? Was it the stranger who smashed his car up?.


There are things in this story which I wanted to leave up to the imagination, but yeah, I had this part planned that Charlie was cutting down the trees whilst the Stranger smashed the car.


Quoted from alffy
I love the word ‘twonk’, always makes me smile.  This however I think is a very British word, isn’t it?  Maybe someone could tell me if this is used in America.  Also, Charlie does sound like he’s a bit of a twonk lol



lol, yep Charlie is a complete charlie. And a twonk. I have not heard the word used in a while, it just sounded bizarre so I thought may as well have Charlie come out with it, kind of fits his character.


Quoted from alffy
A Land Rover?  Maybe a Pick-up truck would fit better.


Yep, good point. I think this would look a lot better.


Quoted from alffy
After the crash, Charlie and Rogers emerge with fresh wounds but Charlie seems to have forgotten about his injured leg.  He does mention it later but surely it would give him grief as he scrambles from the wrecked Cortina?


Charlie really is the Duracell Bunny in this thing! Or Energizer Bunny for the folks overseas. Seriously, I know it does expand suspension of belief and the ending - well, I'll get to that - but Charlie does have a large threshold for pain. It's kind of a running gag throughout which I didn't want to go too over the top with - and we will get to that later lol.

Continued:




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Scoob  -  September 8th, 2009, 10:43pm
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Quoted from alffy
The opening to the script is very serious, the conversations between the characters is thoughtful and deep, then Charlie re-appears and it drops into a lighter tone.  He makes amusing comments to Rogers, even when they are in immediate danger.  I don’t know if this was your intention?


Kind of yes and no really. Once Charlie was back on the scene, I wanted him to come across as a character you and Rogers wouldn't have much suspicion about. And if you did, it would have hopefully faded. He's playing a game with Rogers and pretending to be some lame brained dimwitted coward, so I  tried to push him in the fake role of "comic relief" character or hero's cowardly side kick.


Quoted from alffy
How did Rogers know the stranger was going to the farm?  Is it because he knows the area?


Yep, but there is a slight flaw just before this that I only noticed after you asked that. When they are in the preceding car chase, Rogers does ask "where does this road lead?" when I guess, he should know exactly where it's leading.
I will try and worm my way out of that one by saying from where he is, and the lack of any other building or site of stature, it was only obvious to Rogers where the road would have lead to.


Quoted from alffy
What happened to Karen, she seemed a pivotal part of the story but disappeared on page 24 and doesn’t re-appear until page 77.


She got shot at the Sheriff's. The shot was off screen, you just heard a gunshot outside the station after she found the Stranger. Was hoping you would think she was dead, and in all honesty, from that range...well, it's that suspension of belief thing again I guess. Or perhaps she was meant to live. Kind of ambiguous what the intention was of the Stranger and, please I hope you like that word because it will probably pop up again a few times later on!


Quoted from alffy
One thing though, how did the Stranger know Rogers would hand Charlie the gun and that Charlie removed the bullets from the gun?  Did he see him do it outside the barn?


Your explanation is more rational and logical and therefore it's probably a lot better than mine. But there's a couple of ways I looked at it. One is that the Stranger had fully expected Charlie to have somehow meddled with Roger's gun beforehand but what I went with was that the Stranger knew Rogers would not have shot to kill him. At the most, he would expected an unfatal shot. There are a lot of if's and but's - but that's kind of the world I was trying to make using the Stranger's ideals which I'll try and explain a bit later.


Quoted from alffy
That’s weird, you have a reference to Dick Turpin.  I just posted a treatment for a script I was going to write about Turpin and wanted to know if America knew much about him.


That would be interesting to check out, Alffy. I don't know much details other than myths and stories but I reckon you would be able to make a pretty great story with his character. I''ll have to check out your treatment.


Quoted from alffy
Why are the Stranger and Charlie moving the bodies back to the Town Hall?


There is a scene, probably this one,  I think where the Stranger gets all antsy and irritated by Charlie for asking him this and the answer is unheard. I did have a reason for this but I didn't use it because if I did, it might have thrown the attempted ambiguous nature of the story, or atleast the character arc of the Stranger, into oblivion.
But hey, the least I can do is try and explain some things. The bodies were all meant to be burnt inside the Town Hall as a sign of the town itself being destroyed, a place that was possibly a landmark for the town and probably special to the townsfolk would be their crematorium.


Quoted from alffy
Why does Rogers try to hot wire the van, if he wanted to leave town he could have just gone in the car?


This is a bit of a balls-up. I just re-read over this bit myself and can't really offer up any explanation other than I made a complete cock up.
Rogers might have become paranoid about them seeing his car up the road, which might explain why I had the voice overs because I can't even remember adding them in, and atleast might have wanted some escape vehicle at the ready in case. I'm offering up attempts at explanations here because I really think it was just a bit of bad writing. What I will do when I go over this again, is sort this out. Thanks for pointing this out.


Quoted from alffy
I haven’t really been pointing out spelling and the like but you have a slug that read INT. TED’S BAR – DARK, then you immediately say it’s dark inside.  This is redundant really.


Good call, thanks. And regarding, spelling - I also noticed I made some spelling mistakes with your and you're - AGAIN! Ffs. I am positive I get them right, and then use spell check and get the damn things all mixed up. Bloody Final Draft, spell check and drinking does not make a good combination!

Cont.




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Scoob  -  September 8th, 2009, 10:47pm
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Quoted from alffy
How did Rogers miss Charlie, when he fired the gun at him, wasn’t he a few feet away?  And yet he earlier shot two bullets into the Land Rover’s front seat from further and in the dark.


I was trying to show how things were - especially seeing Charlie again so soon - affecting Rogers in such a way even his aim was off.


Quoted from alffy
I do like how you have Rogers doing exactly what he told Karen not to.  He finds himself led into the garage, fuelled by vengeance and anger and not thinking like a Police Officer.  This is a nice touch.


Thanks. I'm pleased this came across and seems to have worked well.


Quoted from alffy
The Stranger returns to the gas soaked corpses but it seems quite a while since he doused them.  The gas might have evaporated by now might it not?   I’m not sure how long it would take so I’m not saying this is flawed.


It is a good point, and I'm not sure myself to be honest. I think petrol/gasoline remains flammable for some considerable time, especially if large ammounts are used in a contained space. With little air/oxygen - for the Aliens in space -  I think it would not have evaporated for a good few hours, maybe longer?



Quoted from alffy
Karen saves Rogers in the nick of time again which is good because I really thought the Stranger was going to kill Rogers.  I wasn’t sure about her spinning and shooting the Stranger as they were leaving though.  Rather than it been instinct, I would have preferred her to maybe see him in the reflection in the glass door or something, just my preference.  


Yeah, that does sound like a better idea. Bit more realistic too. I was going on some idea that you learn something from death, or near death,  and in Karen it would have been instinct and awareness.



Quoted from alffy
Also Charlie’s Rasputin like death defying antics went just a touch too far for me, though I did like the way the tip of his head was blown off.


lol, yes, I did say I would get to this and I admit that I went WAY overboard with this guy at the end. In truth, it was a slightly comical scene that I thought, "ahh, what the hell. It's a horror film ( sort of) so I've got to have some indestructible killer running out at the end." I will cut that completly in the next write but I wanted to put it in just for giggles. Plus, it did give me the chance to write atleast some gore


Quoted from alffy
The end confused me slightly.  Was the Stranger trying to enrol Rogers as a disciple or were the disciples helping the Stranger with the chaos?


This is the part where ambiguity comes into play




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Scoob  -  September 8th, 2009, 10:50pm
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Quoted from alffy
My final question is this, why is the Stranger doing this to the town?  Is it for Rogers benefit, if so why and how could he be sure he would go there?  I don�t think this is clear.  I understand the Stranger killed Rogers� family in the crash but was this intentional too?

I was working more on what happened  and what his actions would cause more than the actual character of the Stranger's motives, because I was trying to keep them as ambiguous as possible to disprove there is a logical reason behind why every mass murder or disastrous event must need logical reason.

To keep things in this type of feel, I added Rogers inclusion. He has his motives and like many, just place mass murderers, and freak occurencies or whatnot in a box and refuses to open them. They put them in one categorie and that's that. Done and dusted.

Perhaps, there is something or someone that does not just operate the way we expect and that is why we sometimes always get a surprise, often fatal?

I guess it seems like one hell of a coincidence, and it seems like it was planned especially for Rogers, but it could have been any other police officer and they might have had the same or similar ordeal dealt to them.

I was trying to suggest the Stranger and Charlie had done this before and gotten away with it and that Roger's impending involvement wasn't exactly deliberate but was kind of expected at the same time.

The shot at the end of the disciples could mean many things as I did try to keep it as open as possible, but one of them is that these disciples have been assembled through such previous events? Again, and I hate using this as it's sounding like an excuse, but I did want it to be ambiguous and just leave you with something to think about perhaps.

But, I have to say thank you for reading my script, I really appreciate it and look forward to "Pub Lunch".
I do get carried away on trying to explain things, but if you are going to take the time to read and ask, the least I can do is try and respond.

Thanks again Alffy,




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Hey Malc

I just read over my review and I have to appologise for all the 'why does this happen' and 'why does that happen' lol, it comes across very negative I think.  

You seem to have answered all my questions and a lot of them, I kinda knew the answer anyway but wanted clarification.

Also, I don't have an issues with you saying you wanted the ending to be ambiguous, it adds something to the end and I like it when you finish and think 'oh does that mean...'.  Sometimes leaving the ending like that works.


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Okay. First batch of notes for you. I suppose I am halfway through the script at this point. Sorry for being a slow reader...

pg. 4 - “Am” seems to be the wrong word to emphasize in the Stranger’s dialogue. Just sounds weird.

- Why not just call the city Atlantica? Atlantica City sounds strange if only for the sake that it’s too similar to Atlantic City.

- Why are they still calling this guy the Midnight Slasher? He’s dead. Wouldn’t they know his real identity by now?

- This scene with Karen and Rogers is sorta strange. Rogers wants to have a word with Karen and yet he waits until she comes to him. Like I said. Strange. Maybe it fits his character or something but I think this could be reworked something. Perhaps Karen should be the one to ask questions first. I do like her going to him to say thanks.

pg. 21 – I think Karen’s line (“They were already dead?”) should come before the flashback. That way she’d be deducing the fact, not recalling it. Nobody’s gonna remember anything this detailed right before a head-on collision. The panic would kick in instantly.

- Don’t think you need the lines that follow at all. They’re pretty inconsequential really. Besides, things are starting to get weird at the moment. I think some silence would do well for the mood.

pg. 24 – “...it is the dressed in all black, face scarf wearing Stranger.” Not sure how this is supposed to read but it needs fixing.

pg. 27 – I think spotting someone running through a dark cornfield at night without a flashlight when they’re already “vastly ahead if” you is a very hard thing to do. I think it’d be more realistic as well as mysterious and suspenseful if Roger followed the sound of the figure instead.

- Also, it should be “tires” at the bottom of the page. This happens later as well. Is this is British spelling or something? If that’s the case, you can simply disregard this note.

pg. 37 - I’m confused. Charlie drops off the Stranger. Then what? Why doesn’t he just drive off? Did the guy tell him it was a pit stop? Why does he run when the shooting starts? He’s got a car? A few issues that need addressing.

- Also, wouldn’t the Stranger think to look in the closet? There’s always better hiding spots, I think.

pg. 45 – Shotguns use shells, not bullets.

pg. 47 – “Their faces blur into each other...”

- Okay. The first and hopefully the last “big” problem... How does the fire start? A single match isn’t gonna set off a huge pile of broken wood, especially when it’s tossed so casually. Maybe the pews have gotten a recent varnish touch up or something? One of the characters could mention the smell when they enter the church. I don’t know. Something else has to start the fire in addition to the match.

pg. 54 – “...burned alive.”


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Quoted from alffy
Hey Malc

I just read over my review and I have to appologise for all the 'why does this happen' and 'why does that happen' lol, it comes across very negative I think.  

You seem to have answered all my questions and a lot of them, I kinda knew the answer anyway but wanted clarification.

Also, I don't have an issues with you saying you wanted the ending to be ambiguous, it adds something to the end and I like it when you finish and think 'oh does that mean...'.  Sometimes leaving the ending like that works.


No way Alffy, not at all!
I found it to be a very positive review and I wanted to thank you for it. You took a lot of time to read and write about this and I am really pleased about what you asked. I wanted to reply in so much detail because you spent so much time reviewing it. Hopefully, I can try and make such an indepth review when I read Pub Lunch, which I want to wait to read when I'm sober!

But, no, no way, please dont feel the need to apologize and even for leaving any negative remarks, part and parcel of me posting my stuff is so that it get's slammed so I know where Im going wrong.

I just wanted to explain my thoughts as I wrote it in responce to your questions, which were great and also exposed some probs within the script. I'm sure there is a few more!

I really appreciated the review Alffy, and I promise you I will have my review of Pub Lunch up within the week.

Malc,



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James,
Thanks for trying to read this thing, you've made some good points - especially about the match and the church - if you want to give up on it,  it's all good in the hood.  Dont blame you!

Hopefully, you might enjoy some of it. I wont hold my breath.

Until you finish your review, I wont respond to the earlier questions because unless you read it all, I cant really comment.








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Hi Mal, here's the review i promised you. I've read the other comments so will refer to them when applicable.
This is an interesting script. You have sort of weaved(I presume) some of your favorite movie bits into it? There's elements of Batman/ The Joker when the Stranger tells Rogers he made him. Also a bit of Terminator in there, on the general relentless of the action and carnage - Charlie just keeps on turning up despite having a big ol' knife in his scone.
the Dick Turpin ref puzzled me too - you're English but this script is set in America - isn't there a Westbury near Boston?- so Amercan kids wouldn't really know of Turpin.

overall your writing is good. some of the desciptins were too long. As alffy pointed out. you could knock a few pages off this. It would make it tighter and easier to read; though i read it quickly anyway.
I was a little disappointed in the stranger. The start is well done and sets him as this mysterious creepy person, who might even be a demon or something. But he is just a 'normal' evil guy, albeit one who controls his actions for maximum effect in killing people.
The images of the corpes were a little disturbing and your ref to the Holocaust was spot on. But then it is a horror story.

with a careful re-write Mal, this would become a very good horror script. A few commas need to be put in, to break up long sentences. But your actual formatting was goo so all the best with it.

stevie


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James McClung
Posted: September 15th, 2009, 12:11pm Report to Moderator
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I only trust the dead...

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Okay. Done. Sorry it's taken so long.

pg. 55 – Not sure “laminate” is the right word.

pg. 64 – Why would Charlie tell the Stranger he wasn’t thorough?

pg. 67 – “He’s not dead.” This is kind of a suspense killer right here. I think it’s a lot scarier if you don’t know what the bad guys are thinking.

pg. 71-72 – The V.O. doesn’t seem to work here. It comes out of nowhere and the information isn’t particularly relevant. I think you can lose it. At the very least, it’s more interesting to watch what Rogers does without knowing what’s to come.

pg. 74 – Lose the second “Rogers” in Charlie’s dialogue. It doesn’t read right for some reason.

pg. 75 – TOILETS seems like a very strange slug. I can’t say exactly what’s wrong with it, if anything, but it’s definitely off somehow.

pg. 88 – This exchange of dialogue between Rogers and the Stranger lasts way too long. I see what you’re getting at with it all and you really don’t need so many lines to sum it up. I’d suggest breaking it down a page or two. As of now, it drags quite a bit.

pg. 98 – Again. A little too heavy on the dialogue. Cut it back some.

pg. 101 – Again. The dialogue... Although the info about Rogers’ family and the chaos theme in general is crucial.

- How does Charlie come back three times?

Anyway, I really enjoyed the story and the way it unfolds. The first act especially is very taught with suspense. It really starts to grate on the reader after a while which is what good suspense does. The twist with Charlie was also a genuine curveball. The third act was a little more dialogue-heavy than necessary but still as action-packed as it should be. I can't find many gripes with this kind of simplicity. The plot unfolds in a very patient and meticulous way but is never boring or sidetracked. The flashbacks could be a little more revealing. As of now, they're just chitchat. Not boring but you do kinda forget there's any connection between them and the main plot. I think a little more needs to happen in them.

Anyway, sorry my review's so brief. Honestly, I really found it hard to find issues with the central plot as it's very basic and to the point. I think this is what everyone's aiming for (or is supposed to be aiming for) in scripts in general. Overall, I really enjoyed the script overall. Extremely suspenseful (the kind I'm aiming to write myself), a decent amount of gore (the pyramid was sick!) and generally strong, well-developed characters. Hope these notes come in handy. Good job!


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