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This was well-written, as your stuff usually is. And this would be super easy to film. But I'm not sure if the reveal is strong enough. I used a similar tactic in that "Tooth for a Tooth" short I had filmed. And it's a fairly effective set-up and payoff. I can't name which films, but I'm almost certain it's been done numerous times (the misdirection). I just don't think it's strong enough to punctuate a whole piece, albeit a 2-minute one. Having the thunder in the background does help to provide somewhat of an eerie tone, but that reveal is the dominant factor to your short. Short horror pieces like "Lights Out" (which inspire the feature film) and that selfie one had really strong, hooky concepts... they were about 2 minutes as well and didnt have much story, but they provided good scares and presented a creepy concept (to the point of going viral and providing a building block for a feature). Nevertheless, I still liked it. And I'm 99.9 % sure that someone will scoop this up and film it.
God, that ghoul is scary! One of my favourite horror shorts. Truly gets under your skin.
Anyway, I'm just jealous I didn't think to do what you've done here myself.
They'll be lining around the block for this one, I reckon.
Only one thing to critique and that is when the 'shape' makes it's appearance you should describe a little bit for the filmmaker and your audience what it looks like i. e., its hideous face etc. No matter how fast that glimpse of ghoul you need to describe it imh.
Drew Daywalt who wrote and directed that short has gone on to write two NYT best seller children's books and has either a deal with Disney or Pixar, can't remember right now. He's also directed a feature for SyFy, that had Billy Zane and William Devane in it.
Funny how someone who tried so hard for years to break into the movie industry didn't hit the big time until he switched gears from horror films and wrote children's books instead.
Good short Steven! If I had plans to make more shorts, I'd ask you for permission.
To add to my previous comment, I think a good opportunity for a jump scare would to have the boy jump out and try to scare his mom as she is about to pull off the covers. Also, under the bedsheets on his bed would've been a very lame hiding spot. Maybe behind a curtain or something?
Ah, I actually disagree with you Michael. Little kids often hide completely out in the open in lame places. Would six years old be better? Maybe...They're still of that age/mindset that sheets over your head equates to safety and unable to be seen. Anyway it's the ghoul who chose that hiding spot.
Forgot to add I agree the lightning is a nice touch for added atmosphere. Add that ghoul's face as the lightning flashes.
Re Lights Out, I realised while watching it the origin was the short. It was too by the numbers and not scary enough for me. Worked well as a creepy short better imh.
The short, to me, was more of a proof of concept video more than anything. I actually thought the film exceeded expectations by providing decent characters. Overall, not very scary. Though clever in parts when toying with the concept.
And, in regards to the bedsheet thing, it just felt too obvious regardless of a how smart a 6 year old child is and regardless of the fact that ghoul chose that spot. Just in cinematic terms.
I recall a similar misdirection scare tactic in Insidious (which was very effective with its scares). Also The Conjuring (the clap) and a less fantastic version in Saw. I think drawing it out just an action paragraph or two longer would've made it just a tad more effective.
James Wan and Leigh Whannell continue to go from strength to strength - go Aussies in Hollywood! Teresa Palmer did a pretty good job too. Maybe I expected too much of LO. I do expect a lot of horror films these days... Seen too many of them.
Anyway, re Ready Or Not, maybe you're right Michael. Worked for me first read... Will be interested in Steven's take on the feedback.
If I didn't know this was a horror, maybe it would have worked. But, as a horror buff who's seen a million horror shorts, the moment we see someone under the covers, I immediately knew it wasn't the boy. A better scare (if Steven sticks to the ghoul under the covers) would be to have the boy be under the bed and grab his mother's ankle - would be easier more immediate, closer in proximity to her and more jolting.
Now, if she walked in seeing the lump under the cover, I'd have her humor him by checking the bedroom closet, behind a curtain, pretending she doesn't know that you he's under the covers. Thus provides build-up of suspense as we think something is about to jump out... but it doesn't. Then she inches towards the covers, perhaps hesitant... maybe there's a strange noise from under the covers or something, I dunno.
Finally, she pulls the cover... and it IS the boy. Ah, what a relief!
Until she pulls the cover all the way, revealing the ghoul there with the boy under the covers.
Awesome stuff, Steven. Very slick writing. I don't really have anything to add. I liked it as is. Easy to make, effective, and great writing. It's making me wonder why I'm wasting my time writing a twenty page action short based on a children's story. I'm gonna go rethink my life now...
Thanks for the nice reviews! It's great to see. Alas, I cannot take full credit here, and although I got his permission to post this, the story belongs to someone else who was making a 15 sec film for a comp. He needed a writer - me. Needless to say, it never got made, so here it is. If it does get picked up I'll be sure to demand they include a "story by" credit if he's interested.
Will respond to some of the feedback - and it's good stuff so far! - when I get a bit more time. Thanks again, guys - and gals.
Thanks for the useful suggestions! I would love to revisit this one and add some of your ideas. I do agree with Michael that it can be scarier at the end, so I might draw it out just a little bit. There is room for another scare in there. I just kinda wrote from the basic gist of what the director told , so there is room for improvement.
Thanks for reading. Would definitely work as is, and glad you liked it!
Oh and Pia,
Thanks for reading and the offer (should it ever come to pass). Your comment about changing genres is not lost on me. Even though I'm currently working on that family feature, I do have another horror short close to being finished that is worth the effort, IMO. Hopefully I'll get around to finishing that soon.
Thanks as always for the read. I hear what you're saying. Honestly, I didn't put a hell of a lot of thought into this one and it would have benefitted from it. I wanted to keep it pretty simple, and as most have said, it works for what it is, but yeah, I can see your point. We'll see going forward with this. And as the review on the homepage goes, it's pretty open-ended and can kinda go where the director wants to take it. And that's not a bad thing really.