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Crimes of Passion by Nathan Illsley - Thriller - Two hard-boiled detectives find themselves in a game of cat and mouse with a criminal who bases his murders on the most famous serial killers in US history. 105 pages
Read your script and it's really enjoyable. I think the idea of a copycat serial killer is great.
Some notes: I think Colligan and Clarke (you might want to change one of the names to something less similar. Helps the reader not get confused) seem like fairly knowledgeable officers, so it is surprising when they don't know about Ramiraz's murder scene and it's shocking when they don't know about Manson (more so since they were talking about the Beatles beforehand)
Also, Clarke and Colligan seem to live in a world where they only interact with each other and only do policework. Might be nice to open up their lives a bit more. Plus, though I love that you really embrace them being hardboiled cops, beating up suspects, drinking their problems away and getting suspended for "going too far", it would be nice to give them an individual quirk or two so they don't seem interchangeable (or potentially cliched).
Clarke's hatred for Dr Brighton seems bordering on insanity.
Colligan finds Norton's phone and cash a bit too easily. You should try and make something seem out of place in the room for Colligan to notice something's amiss.
I think one of the IA guys or even Dr Brighton should be a female. It's even possible to change Corrigan into a female character as well. It seems the only females in the script are hookers.
I like that you essentially show the killer as the loser with delusions of grandeur that he is, but I think he needs to be a bit more of a threat. It seems he talks a lot (which seems like a copy of speeches other bad guys give when caught, which being a copycat, makes complete sense). But I never felt any danger or even surprise at the end. Also, it is odd that he murdered everyone to set up Clark (and only Clark and Corrigan knew about Norton) so I would've thought he had more knowledge and a bigger plan.
I like that almost everyone in the script believes in Dirty Harry justice, but it gets repetitive by the end with everyone talking about how criminals should be beaten with a baseball bat or shown "real justice". It seems there is no variety to the characters, they all have the same beliefs and emotions.
Sorry if the feedback seemed only negative. I REALLY like the idea of bringing back an unapologetic gritty, hard-boiled cop film, but I think it needs "something" different to stand out from the pack of similar flicks.
This is HUGELY helpful feedback and makes a lot of sense. Some of the more basic points (more female characters, a little less "tough guy" talk, etc) are things I'd thought of as well but just hadn't had time to incorporate into a new draft, but now that I have the external validation it's something I'll definitely keep in mind the next go around.
This was actually the second iteration of the script in which I rewrote the whole third act, so there's definitely a few points that I need to revise in the first and second to better connect them to the new ending. In the original draft (spoiler alert... sort of), Dr. Brighton was the killer at the end, which is why I tried to build up more of the contention between him and Clarke, and also why framing Clarke is such a priority, so I agree 100% on dialing that back as it's a little over the top in this new version. It ended up not fitting and being too obvious so I removed it, but some of the previous scenes I didn't change up enough to reflect it.
Agree completely on the characterization of Clarke and Colligan as well. I toyed with having one of them romantically involved with one of the victims for some more depth, but it bordered a little on the "hooker with the heart of gold" cliche so I removed it. Finding another way to give them more a little more personalization is definitely something I'll think about in the next draft.
Also I see your point about a bigger plan for the killer at the end and making him a little more threatening. Off the top of my head I'm not sure how to resolve this, but again, something I;ll keep in mind for the next draft.
Thanks again to everyone who gave feedback on this script, both on the forum and via email. I've just completed a new draft of the film incorporating a lot of the suggestions I got and will be uploading it tonight. Be on the watch, as I'd love to hear some additional thoughts.
SPOILER ALERTS AHEAD
Some of the bigger changes to this version include: - Dialogue polish to make the lines less cliche and forced, cuts down on the "tough guy" talk - Dr. Brighton has been made a female - The detectives are more clued in to the famous serial killers - Clarke's hatred for Dr. Brighton has been significantly toned down and almost eliminated - There is a slight romantic subplot between Dr. Brighton and Colligan - The killer doesn't attempt to frame Clarke - The killer stalks and sends our detectives taunts and crime scene mementos throughout, toying with them - Captain Norton is the killer's father, having gotten one of his hookers pregnant years earlier - I've added a new scene to the end in which it is revealed that the killer had additional "proteges"
Finally, I had some time to take a look at your script. bear in mind these are my opinions.
Overall, I really liked the story/concept. Very intriguing. Some good twists. It kept me going to the end.
I was not a big fan of some of the dialogue between detectives Clarke and Colligan. Lots of verbiage and fluff and at times it felt not very mature.
I would've liked to meet Gary a little bit earlier. I liked Gary's dialogue. Maybe stream line/compress some of his dialogue. There were some big blocks toward the end of the script.
At times the story felt repetitive. Crime scene, police station. Crime scene, police station, etc.
Not too much/many character descriptions.
Some nit-picks: * FADE IN: missing. * I believe it works better if you describe a location before introducing a character, ex: p1. Describe the Diner before introducing KAYLA. This occurs a few times throughout the script. * Get rid of "is/are/has/have/does/doesn't" in action scenes. It tends to tell more than show. * Don't repeat in action what's already stated in a slug-line. Ex: p2. Diner and Apartment. A few more of these throughout the script. * P2, first paragraph, use "a street" instead of "the street". You've not defined the street yet. * P2, "She walks into the kitchen'. I would use a mini-slug, KITCHEN. * In action scenes, there are quite a few words ending in -ing and -ly. Get rid of these. Keep action in present tense. Instead of walking write walks, instead of walking angrily, write tramps (maybe not a good example, but hopefully you get my point). * CONT'D is not used that much anymore, remove it. * Don't always start a sentence with the name of the character or He/She, mix it up a little. * Some of your action is overwritten, ex: p2. When Kayla gets the milk and pours it, why not make it as simple as "Kayla pours a glass of milk", or if the scene is not important to the story, remove it. * In action, remove words like start/continuous/begin/beat. * P6, Kayla is 25. P1, she's 18-20? Why not introduce Kayla with a last name on P1? * P5: I would write, DISPATCHER (V.O.) instead of using parentheticals. * I would use/write Doctor instead of DR. * P10: Should be INT/EXT. not I/E. at top of the page. * It's always good to pick names that sounds different, easier to keep track and read (Clarke and Colligan are similar). * I'm not a grammer expert, but I noticed a few commas too many in your dialogues. * For dialogue interruptions, I would use "--" (double dash) instead of a parenthetical.
Some of these are nit-picks, take them for what they're worth. IMO. Story is the thing.
I would like to see the script go on a diet, cut some fat and show us more than tell us in action scenes. The story is really good, IMO.
A few questions: Q1: On p5, Colligan refers to a dead body. How did he know? I didn't get that. The Dispatcher didn't say anything. Q2: The cops refer to the killer as "he", how do they know the killer is a "he"? Q3: Why did the pentagram affect Norton that much? He's a Captain, most likely seen worse. Q4: Why did you include "Beatles" conversion between detective Clarke and Colligan? Q5: Did Norton have any suspicion about Gary doing the killings? Q6: the way this ended, you planning on a sequel? "Crimes of Passion 2" Q7: Why did you introduce the subplot, Doctor Brighton and Colligan?
Great work, Lots of potential. Best of luck with your script.