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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Horror Scripts  ›  The Twelve Step Killers Moderators: bert
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  Author    The Twelve Step Killers  (currently 3428 views)
Don
Posted: June 7th, 2015, 10:46am Report to Moderator
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The Twelve Step Killers by Mark Renshaw - Horror - During a one-on-one meeting with his sponsor, a new Psychotics Anonymous member attempts to learn how to control his urge to kill. When the session is interrupted by a zombie outbreak, he finds himself hiding with two highly killable strangers. Will he be able to suppress his instincts, or will he succumb to a life as a ruthless killer?

Ultra-low budget Dark Comedy/Psychological Thriller with one main location. 83 pages - pdf, format


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PrussianMosby
Posted: June 10th, 2015, 2:41pm Report to Moderator
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Yo Mark.

I look forward to see your characterization of the psychos. Will turn my eyes on your script within the next days; I hope so.

The title reads great. Ultra-low-budget reads as if you want to serve an attractive script for the indie-markets.

I cut down the logline with regards to my understanding of what you have here and how to write it shorter:


When a Psychotics Anonymous session between a (adjective) sponsor and his needy visitor is interrupted by a zombie outbreak, two stranded, highly killable strangers unbalance everything with teaching them a crash course of suppressing the urge to kill.

When a zombie outbreak leaves two highly killable strangers stranded in a Psychotics Anonymous session between a sponsor and his new pupil, an easy lesson becomes a crash course of suppressing the urge to kill.


^^ Okay, this is my bad English , at least this gives you a structure/possibility of how to write it in one sentence and get rid of more than 20 words, if this helps.

Maybe it's wrong to only use one sentence though because the Zombie-part reads as if it doesn't belong to the story???


I'll come back with some notes soon...

Alex


No End of Wolves   (9p - psychological horror)

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DanC
Posted: June 11th, 2015, 12:48am Report to Moderator
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Hey Mark,
    I'm so happy you listed this.  Hey folks, read this story.  It's really good and a lot of fun.

True story, Mark and I were having heated debates about his characters weeks later, that was how good this story was!!


Please read my scripts:
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1427564706/

I'm interested in reading animation, horror, sci fy, suspense, fantasy, and anything that is good.  I enjoy writing the same.  Looking to team with anyone!

Thanks
Dan
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: June 11th, 2015, 9:52am Report to Moderator
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Hey Alex, thanks for the logline suggestions. The logline wasn’t mine, I had the script reviewed by an ‘industry professional’ over at The Black List and he came up with that logline so I decided to use his, as he must know best right? Lol, it’s interesting that the first comment is to make the logline read leaner….which I agree with btw!

Dan – Thanks for the words of encouragement but anyone reading his comments please don’t get your expectations up! This is my first proper attempt at a feature. Me being me I decided to challenge myself to a single room scenario to make it more attractive to indy filmmakers looking for a low budget script. The result was I made life very difficult for myself.

So I think there’s a great (and quite original) idea in there but it needs work. It is very much a vomit draft. There’s lots of dialogue (including a world record breaking monologue lol) which may put some people off and I’ve broken some rules but saying that, any feedback is welcome. Taking the jump from shorts to features has been a very scary experience!


-Mark


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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DS
Posted: June 11th, 2015, 11:35am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from DanC


True story, Mark and I were having heated debates about his characters weeks later, that was how good this story was!!


Sounds fun.

I agree with Prussian, the logline reads wonky to me too. Especially, the phrase "highly killable strangers".

My suggestion would be something in the lines of this: "A man with psychopathic tendencies battles with his urges to kill while forced into hiding with his Psychotics Anonymous sponsor and another stranger during a zombie outbreak."

I haven't read the script yet, but a few thoughts popped into my head about the zombie aspect here.

It's stated that this is a contained thriller and that the characters go into hiding. That leads me to believe that zombies won't get much screentime and the focus won't really be on them. I dunno, from the premise alone it sounds like you might not completely get the zombie film audience on board as it doesn't sound like zombies are a big part of the script. While on the other hand, zombies might put off the dark comedy/thriller audience for it.

In films with zombies, you never really get a lot of moral obstacles about killing them either. If the main character really has a huge urge to kill, isn't a zombie outbreak in itself too easy of a solution to his problem and maybe even a distraction from the tension you could have?

I haven't read it yet, maybe it all comes together in the script, but based on the presentation, I have a strange feeling that all of this just isn't adding up. The premise does sounds glorious without the zombies, though. Is it just me?
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Max
Posted: June 11th, 2015, 1:14pm Report to Moderator
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Sup Mark,

Thought I'd chime in and give you a 10 PAGE feedback.  Some of the stuff will be nitpicky but take it how you want to take it.

Okay, here we go!

1. BLACK SCREEN:

Personally I'd change that to OVER BLACK:, minor detail but I think it works better.

2. FIRST SLUG


Quoted Text
INT. LODGE HOUSE MEETING HALL - DAY


I would put a HYPHEN between LODGE HOUSE and MEETING HALL.  It's a good idea to separate the master location from the sub-location.

3. p1.


Quoted Text
A large, lavishly furnished room which oozes dollar signs. In the centre is a circular table surrounded by leather chairs.


You could eliminate the use of "is" here by using a comma. For Example:


Quoted Text
A large, lavishly furnished room which oozes dollar signs. In the centre, a circular table surrounded by leather chairs.


Use "is" sparingly as many people feel it slows down the read, I work to avoid this also.

4. p1


Quoted Text
Mr. Homn pours Larry a cup. The task finished, he bows and returns to the door to stand guard.


The bold is totally unnecessary and superfluous IMO, just write...


Quoted Text
Mr. Homn pours Larry a cup.

Mr. Homn bows, and stands guard at the door.


You don't need to say "returns to the door", we know he hasn't warped there to stand guard.

These are just ways to trim the fat.

5. p1.


Quoted Text
Sugar is added anyway.


If I recall I think Dreamscale told me about this one, who is the subject performing the action? Of course we can assume it's Noah from the dialogue, but if he did so, write it in the action line.

6. p2.


Quoted Text
The spoon stirs, the coffee swirls. Noah sits back, sips his brew with a sigh and a smirk of satisfaction.


The spoon stirs? I know you're trying to draw attention to the stirring with this line but it reads awkwardly, at least to me.

Is Larry stirring his coffee, or is Noah? They both have coffee.  It doesn't matter that you followed the sentence with "Noah sits back"... because he could've sat back after Larry stirred his coffee.

Things weren't crystal clear here.

7. p2.


Quoted Text
With a smirk Noah retrieves a piece of paper lay before Larry.


Again, doesn't read right.

Lay before Larry? Another thing to revise perhaps.

8. p2.


Quoted Text
With careful consideration, Larry places the pen back in it’s rightful place on the table. Satisfied he sits back down.


"its"... not "it's"

9. p2.


Quoted Text
A knife on the refreshment trolley glints in the reflection off the room’s spotlights. Noah retrieves it.


This is another awkward piece of writing IMO.  I notice you use "retrieves" a lot as well, try spicing it up with that, people aren't robots or computers.

10. p5.

THE FLASHBACK

I'd use BEGIN FLASHBACK, not FLASHBACK TO:


Quoted Text

INT. BATHROOM - DAY

Noah and Larry appear as passengers inside Noah’s memory. Noah is on his knees next to the bath holding his nine year old BROTHER down under the water as Larry calmly observes.


NINE YEAR OLD BROTHER (should be all CAPS)

This is a confusing passage.  From what I can gather, Noah and Larry are both in Noah's mind, watching Noah in the past as he kills his brother.

Is that right? Or is Larry watching Noah's past actions by himself? If that's the case, why is there no V.O? Or is the dialogue being spoken while he's murdering his brother? SUPER-CONFUSING, and I'm sure there's a better way to format this.

If Noah is watching a younger version of himself, the younger version should be CAPPED as a new character IMO.

11. p5.


Quoted Text
JERRY
Why did it take so long?


Jerry? Who is Jerry? Isn't that supposed to be "Larry"? Confused, again.

12. p5.

BACK TO SCENE


This MINI-SLUG is incorrect as you didn't establish that we were back in the meeting hall.  This MINI-SLUG occurs under the BATHROOM SCENE HEADER.

13. p8.

BACK TO SCENE

MINI-SLUG, same problem as before.

I'm not really feeling this Mark, sorry.  The potential is there for a great story but it's so bloody confusing, I didn't know where to start.


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Busy Little Bee
Posted: June 11th, 2015, 9:35pm Report to Moderator
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Hey, Mark, yeah that logline makes for an interesting read. I think the hook works well for the genre. You have some good support beams as far as story structure/character arc. A very flawed character, who some may argue has an unrealistic character arc, however, I'd say you'd just have a hell of challenge convincing us that this man, a potential serial killer would save lives for sake of saving lives.

I'm about 25 pages... not too sure how I feel about Noah's technique about how he goes about his psycho AA meetings, but what do I know about it, haha. Uh, nugget to point out is the exposition with the two females, Aileen and Mary. The exposition is just that, exposition. Maybe try to disguise with a disagreement about what's happening and exposition comes out of it.

I'm interested to see what the next turn will be and how, this character, Larry.

BLB


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..."
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Max
Posted: June 12th, 2015, 3:46pm Report to Moderator
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Were my comments helpful to you Mark? It'd be nice to get some feedback from you.


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DanC
Posted: June 13th, 2015, 10:35pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Max
Were my comments helpful to you Mark? It'd be nice to get some feedback from you.


I'd say Mark must be tied up right now.  He's really good at getting back...

I'm shocked that u didn't like the story Max.  I thought it was awesome.

Dan


Please read my scripts:
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-series/m-1427564706/

I'm interested in reading animation, horror, sci fy, suspense, fantasy, and anything that is good.  I enjoy writing the same.  Looking to team with anyone!

Thanks
Dan
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: June 14th, 2015, 10:55am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from DS


Sounds fun.

I agree with Prussian, the logline reads wonky to me too. Especially, the phrase "highly killable strangers".

My suggestion would be something in the lines of this: "A man with psychopathic tendencies battles with his urges to kill while forced into hiding with his Psychotics Anonymous sponsor and another stranger during a zombie outbreak."

I haven't read the script yet, but a few thoughts popped into my head about the zombie aspect here.

It's stated that this is a contained thriller and that the characters go into hiding. That leads me to believe that zombies won't get much screentime and the focus won't really be on them. I dunno, from the premise alone it sounds like you might not completely get the zombie film audience on board as it doesn't sound like zombies are a big part of the script. While on the other hand, zombies might put off the dark comedy/thriller audience for it.

In films with zombies, you never really get a lot of moral obstacles about killing them either. If the main character really has a huge urge to kill, isn't a zombie outbreak in itself too easy of a solution to his problem and maybe even a distraction from the tension you could have?

I haven't read it yet, maybe it all comes together in the script, but based on the presentation, I have a strange feeling that all of this just isn't adding up. The premise does sounds glorious without the zombies, though. Is it just me?


Hey Marko – thanks for the logline analysis. Logline are very important so this is all good stuff. You are right, the zombie aspect is secondary to the story but their relevance does become important in the third act. If you do get round to reading the script you will realise nothing is quite what it seems.   


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MarkRenshaw
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Quoted from Max
Sup Mark,

Thought I'd chime in and give you a 10 PAGE feedback.  Some of the stuff will be nitpicky but take it how you want to take it.



Thanks for the feedback Max. I wrote this over 6 Saturday afternoons (as I have very little time to write I'm sorry to say) and never looked back just to get it on paper. It is very much a vomit draft so your comments are very useful as they will help me tidy it up for the first proper draft. So thank you! I will answer some specific points though.  


Quoted from Max

This is a confusing passage.  From what I can gather, Noah and Larry are both in Noah's mind, watching Noah in the past as he kills his brother.

Is that right? Or is Larry watching Noah's past actions by himself? If that's the case, why is there no V.O? Or is the dialogue being spoken while he's murdering his brother? SUPER-CONFUSING, and I'm sure there's a better way to format this.

If Noah is watching a younger version of himself, the younger version should be CAPPED as a new character IMO.

You ever seen a TV show or movie where a character is telling another character about something and we, the audience, see the memory as it happened? Of course you have, but sometimes both characters are visually represented, which I've always thought was cool. Rather than just have Larry and Noah's conversation as a VO, I have them visually present in the scene interacting with it. This is what I was attempting to do so anyway, if you know a way to make that clearer then let me know. I did try to find a script which had a similar scene in it but couldn't locate one.


Quoted from Max

I'm not really feeling this Mark, sorry.  The potential is there for a great story but it's so bloody confusing, I didn't know where to start.


No problem, different strokes for different folks as they say. It can be very hard to visualise something that isn't straightforward and is a bit different from the norm. I think maybe that's why a lot of movies in Hollywood are pretty much the same! I'm attempting to do something quite different and very cheap, which isn't easy, but hopefully a few more re-writes of the script may help.

-Mark


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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MarkRenshaw
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Quoted from Busy Little Bee
Hey, Mark, yeah that logline makes for an interesting read. I think the hook works well for the genre. You have some good support beams as far as story structure/character arc. A very flawed character, who some may argue has an unrealistic character arc, however, I'd say you'd just have a hell of challenge convincing us that this man, a potential serial killer would save lives for sake of saving lives.

I'm about 25 pages... not too sure how I feel about Noah's technique about how he goes about his psycho AA meetings, but what do I know about it, haha. Uh, nugget to point out is the exposition with the two females, Aileen and Mary. The exposition is just that, exposition. Maybe try to disguise with a disagreement about what's happening and exposition comes out of it.

I'm interested to see what the next turn will be and how, this character, Larry.

BLB


Hello there Busy Little Bee.

Thanks for the feedback so far. Noah's technique and the unique 12 Step program for serial killers is indeed extreme and unusual. If you managed to read the rest you'll see just how much! Just as a little taster, the founding father of Psychotics Anonymous is Jack The Ripper.

As for how realistic this is, I doubt such an organisation could exist but who knows, only Psychopaths would truly understand how Psychopaths think but I did base it off some latest research, which suggest Psychotics have the ability to turn their empathy on and off at will. This is where the Killswitch idea came from.

-Mark


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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Max
Posted: June 14th, 2015, 11:26am Report to Moderator
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So basically, they're talking between themselves while watching this memory?


Quoted Text
INT. BATHROOM - DAY [FLASHBACK]

YOUNGER NOAH kneels beside the bathtub, holding his NINE YEAR OLD BROTHER beneath the surface of the water.

Noah and Larry stand a few feet away.  They calmly observe as the horror unfolds before their eyes.


Quick re-write there.

We have CAPPED the younger version of Noah, because it's a new character.

Noah (present day) and Larry are in the scene.

The dialogue is more than enough to explain that he's watching a younger version of himself, so nobody is going to think the memory happened as it is... with FOUR PEOPLE in the room.

I'd set the scene up, as if they were standing behind the glass of an interrogation room, and through the glass, YOUNGER NOAH drowning his brother.

That way you can take them out of the scene, but still have them there... and the device would be effective IMO.







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Max  -  June 14th, 2015, 12:26pm
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MarkRenshaw
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Quoted from Max
So basically, they're talking between themselves while watching this memory?



Quick re-write there.

We have CAPPED the younger version of Noah, because it's a new character.

Noah (present day) and Larry are in the scene.

The dialogue is more than enough to explain that he's watching a younger version of himself, so nobody is going to think the memory happened as it is... with FOUR PEOPLE in the room.

I'd set the scene up, as if they were standing behind the glass of an interrogation room, and through the glass, YOUNGER NOAH drowning his brother.

That way you can take them out of the scene, but still have them there... and the device would be effective IMO.



Yes! Well, almost. It's not a younger version of Noah we are seeing at this point. We see Noah as he is now. He's reliving the memory as he tells the story to Larry. Larry is there as well just so he's not talking to thin air. I think it would be confusing to have a younger version of Noah. This is why I have Noah specifically say what he says in this scene.

I do this again a bit later on with Larry and again we see Larry as he is now but reliving a memory as he describes it to Noah. Visually I think this would really work. But of course, that's ultimately up to the reader to decide.  




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Max
Posted: June 14th, 2015, 2:44pm Report to Moderator
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It's incredibly tricky to write and that's the problem.  You might have to break a few of the considered rules here and there.

I would transition into the FLASHBACK with Noah closing his eyes, so...


Quoted Text


Noah closes his eyes --

INT. BATHROOM - DAY [FLASHBACK]

Noah stands alongside Larry.  Both of them have their eyes closed.

They open their eyes together, as if both of them are synchronized.

A memory becomes reality as Noah's mind conjures up a past event --

ect.


That's a good way of doing it, IMO.

If he's watching a past event, words like "conjure" and "project" ect. would help describe the nature of said visual and event.

Alternatively just write...


Quoted Text
Noah and Larry observe a PAST VERSION OF NOAH as he kneels beside the bathtub, holding a NINE YEAR OLD BOY beneath the water.


I'm sure somebody will come in here and bullshit the advice I'm giving anyway.

That's clear, and if the other version of Noah did decide to speak in the scene, PAST NOAH can be the character title.

Scenes like these ain't built in a day so perhaps the VOMIT method wasn't a good choice here.  This is the type of stuff that needs to be re-written over, and over again.



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Max  -  June 14th, 2015, 3:14pm
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