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Farm, The by Robert Newcomer (Bert) - Horror, Supernatural Thriller - A troubled family must unite to save a young niece from the sinister forces that inhabit a snowbound northern farm. 107 pages, pdf, format
First off this is my kind of formatting except you didn't put the cut to space between the end of a scene and a new scene heading, it meshes together but with a space in there it would be the same way I do ha-ha.
Did you notice that there is 1 too many spaces between your ext and the headings? This happens on each scene heading. So, when Angel enters the farmhouse you should give a little description of the inside just because as a film you're expected to give us visuals. You did it beautifully in the first scene but than she enters the farmhouse but what does the inside look like before we get to her bedroom?
You've kinda written this as a shooting draft telling us about new angles and stuff on each character. Than going from a tight angle to a wide one, feels to much like a shooting draft at those times and takes the reader (Me) out of the experience. If a book writer tells us about angles it would take you out of the experience and if a film tells us when it's going to a new angle before it does we are taken out of the experience.
The way Greg talks with Ty is not fatherly, it's almost as if two buddies were together talking, you know?
The whole Greg and Mary losing a child earlier that year is a dead sub plot or whatever it's there for, take that out because it just brings down the overall quality of the screenplay by saying to us you watch to many horror films.
She plods over to the coffee maker, pours in the water, and flips it on. Then she flips the switch again. That's right. No power. Shit. The last few lines from that right to the end is not needed, it makes no sense to tell us the obvious.
This is Ben Yoder, but his few acquaintances simply call him YODER. We sense dementia in him -- an odd brew of creeping senility and deeper, more unsettling, deficits. This also tells too much in an action description and not through actions. You have to describe him, not tell us his tendencies, show them.
Yoder never took his skis when he left but had them outside, you left out a detail. And he isn't like you described, he seemed pretty normal to me.
You must really want to emphasize the stuff that's happening, just write it stop adding in this extra stuff that is really annoying like AT US! Or HOLY SH*T it's becoming annoying as I read on. The script is good enough without them, they hurt it.
You and your angles, if this is meant to be a directors cut and you want to direct it don't post it. Post the screenplay version not the directors shooting draft. I know I said this up further but it's really getting on my nerves.
I believe you should shorten this down, it is at times slow and boring and if it were cut to around 80 - 90 pages it would be a lot better. You have to stay on plot and when they stop to enjoy the fruits of their labor every so often it slows it down. I feel that at this length the script doesn't move, it stalls and that's not good.
It is a young girl's nightgown. But filthy. And there is something else. The back of the gown is stiff with dried blood and...are those holes? You're asking questions in your own script? We can't actually see it so if they are holes tell us and if they're not than they're not.
She slowly turns to face us, as if she had known we were there all along. - I believe that should be him meaning Ty not us because we're not in the room and neither is a camera... Yet.
When Yoder tells his story of the farm I think the word you're looking for is drought not draught. Draught means something totally different.
How can he bury someone in the winter, the ground would be so frozen it would be impossible. A demonic cat? I mean it was good until that; couldn't you have just used ghosts or something believable?
I think it's a very ambitious script that means well but with all the director and camera angles and it being to long it hurts itself. I really enjoyed the story but you need to shorten it considerably because for the genre it is in it has to be shorter to be really good.
The ending was a little too much, shorten it, make it a little bit clearer. All in all it was a very good script and the story is actually good compared to others in this genre. I hope you got that I really enjoyed it and if it was modified and shortened it would peak the interest of people who buy scripts.
I also try to avoid previous reviews before reading so I don't get spoiled either, so pardon again any repeats.
Overall, I found this to be a very good read. The plot was well thought out, and the twist on the true purpose of the spirits was nice. Not too many horror scripts end on a note of hope as this does. It's a refreshing change. I felt the anguish of Angel's loss, and smiled at the secret. That's a mark of some good character setup.
And now, the unpleasant part.
You went and pissed off the director. Two major problems at this point are too many camera directions and too many “we see’s”. Since we write spec scripts, this are incorrect to use since it takes the reader out of the story and just fills up space. I went through 3 pages pointing out this and that before noticing the whole script does this, so I just blanket comment from the beginning.
Also remember to show, not tell, things that characters do or think. When you read through your descriptions (which is good to do apart from the dialogue sometimes), try to picture them in your head. If you can’t picture it, don’t write it. This was done a lot with the character descriptions when they first appear. He goes by Ty and describing Yoder's personality. These are things that should just be shown as the story progresses.
You also have a tendency to tell what a character is thinking or feeling at a particular moment as well. These also need to be changed to show what a character DOES in reaction to how they feel.
Pg 7: Um, where did Angel get a canister of mace?
I don’t understand Mary El’s attitude with the nurses. They’ve been with her. They know what she’s capable of. Mary El has never met this child and just learned she stabbed the sheriff clean through with a pencil. There is a courseness to her character near the beginning that wears off as we go on, but the courseness never really makes sense to me. But maybe I misses it.
Pg 12: Gaskins: “But for the time we them.” I think we’re missing something here.
Pg 20: Ty: “They will probably send me to see the guidance counselor” Kids don’t get sent to a guidance counselor for not turning in an essay. Maybe more info is needed here.
Pg 22: How does Angel “survey” this new addition? The word kind of indicates interest, or she could just look at it with disinterest. Need to show what Angel is doing.
Pg 46: She flips the switch on and off. I think we got the idea without “hearing” Mary El’s thoughts.
Pg 47: Ben Yoder is obviously a farmer. How can we see this? We also never see of hear of his few acquaintances, so he might want to communicate this piece of info of how his friends refer to him. Show, not tell.
Pg 52/3: Maybe raccoons aren't the best story for Greg to have told Yoder, but this is really too much info about raccoon hibernation habits.
Pg 58: Profanity in descriptions again. I can picture it, but not sure how it relates to the story. I mean did he land in consecrated excrement or what?
Pg 58: He never told her about the windmill on top of the car that pulled down the power lines that knocked out the power? You’ve got to be kidding. That discussion would HAVE to have come up at some point, if for no other reason than “what happened to the power?” No, you don’t have characters chat about stuff the audience knows unless there’s something to add, but I just assumed he told her right after he comes back in and says they’ll stick around and find it hard to believe he didn’t.
Pg 86: “They used to say Sarah’s eyes were dark as molasses” This is a nice bit of info, but Ty said at the beginning that you can’t see the portrait unless you are going downstairs, but Greg is leading Yoder upstairs.
Pg 107: Typo - As Angle watches…
After finishing it all and understanding the reason the spirits came back, I don't understand the teddy bear. The others behaved as they probably should given who their target really is. The teddy bear, though, had a contract out on Ty or something. It makes for some creepy stuff, admittedly, but when all is said and done, I don't understand why the bear is demon-possessed.
Now, I looked back over what Wesley said and...I think he has a point about the cat. I'll admit it does kind of fit because the girl was reanimated by the spirit of Sarah, but who reanimated the cat? The teddy bear?
And whatever this subplot was about losing a baby last year, it was apparently so essential, I missed it...
All said, I liked it, and it has a lot of great potential. You have a well thought out backstory, the characters tend to stay within their boundaries and do what they're supposed to do. It ends very nicely and makes a lot of sense.
I usually like to just take in comments without defending myself, but I have to ask about your "Page 20" comment. That's like, my favorite line! The point is that the CONTENT of the essay would be so disturbing.
Was it that unclear, or just not that funny?
I like that you skipped the previous post from Wes, because both of you tapped me about the lost baby sub-plot. That is supposed to why she is so drawn to Angel, despite all the weirdness. Between you and Wes, it is really obvious to me that particular point is just not getting through. That type of feedback is particularly valuable. Thanks for the read.
I haven't read any previous posts/reviews so if I repeat something just bare with me.
=SPOILERS THROUGHOUT - SPOILERS THROUGHOUT=
The opening; Angel finding Dan and Erica's bodies was a creepy opening but that didn't interest me. I started getting interested in the script when the family first noticed that Angel's eyes were cut out in photos, but thats my personal opinion.
I understand from the message you sent me is that you're planning on a rewrite and you want suggestions. I'll give you something at the end of this saying if I liked it or not, but for now here's some suggestions to help you out:
Characters; Greg, the one major thing that annoyed me in the beginning pages of him is that he's supposed to be the Dad, instead he acts like a child(sometimes younger than Ty). He should be more tougher and have better dialogue to work with. Mary El, I believe her occupation is a caterer? That doesn't work because she seems way to intelligent and smart, at least that's written through the dialogue. So, I suggest you turn her into a psychologist or even a teacher, because that would work well in her patience with Ty and Angel. Now, Ty...well, first thing you should do is change his age. I believe he's 12? That also doesn't work because he is way too sophisticated and edgy to even be considered 12. Make him about 16/17 years old? That would be more realistic.
Plot; Good and solid. I believe you should toy with the whole ghost children presence mainly in the beginning and have shadows, doors slamming, creaking noises, ghostly faces, scary nightmares, only to move the story faster, because it does take a while for anything to really become entertaining.
Pacing; you have a lot of description and mostly thats good...sometimes it's bad. I didn't find the descriptions annoying until the "windmill" scene located around p. 46-ish? I'm not quite sure but it's where Angel is climbing to the top. That was a perfect scene with suspense and action, but the descriptions and having to read everything sort of slowed the scene down, it should be quick to the point and fun. Also, same with the "hopper" scene, great scene and action, but the descriptions are a bit much. Once again, descriptions are good but don't over-do it.
p.77 where Ty see's Angel/Yoder in the field(premonition scene?) is great and creepy. I suggest you add just a little more tension between the two, like a door closing or something.
p.94 Great! The bear was back! I liked that, I understand it was one of the child's toys. Maybe you should add some bit of info explaining if the cat/bear were possessed by the children or something.
Having Angel hold the shotgun at the end was good, but don't you think it was on-screen it would be a little awkward and unbelievable watching a young girl control a gun?
I liked the flashback scene, it was well-needed. I'm glad you didn't use it as a dream sequence or having a ghost share to a character what happened.
Hope these suggestions help you. I liked this script, it had a good blend of suspense and action. Just mainly work on your characters, then it would be perfect. I really hope you rewrite this, it's good. You have good material especially explaining why the farm is haunted and you answered questions in the end that I was wondering for a long time. Great stuff, one of the better supernatural thrillers on this website, it was a fun read. Good luck with any future writings.
Um, the cat was "okay"...if you never had the cat appear again in the script it would be fine. But, if you want to keep it in I suggest you give MORE detail. I just really didn't get a sense what this freaky cat-thing looked like. Ask more people before you decide to take it out, I personally don't mind the cat though, but obviously...others do.
The only issue I have with the cat is why was it reanimated. I follow everything else (although the bear is weird), but the cat really wasn't part of the dead kids. It was the cat of the family who was killed. I think it's a potential plot hole that needs to be cleaned up to work. If you can give it a solid, plot-building explanation, cool. If not, why is it there?
Sometimes it's too tempting (and you see it all the time) to take liberties with the fact that you are writing a ghost story. Who needs an explanation? It's ghosts! If it's creepy, toss it in and logic be dam*ed.
In fact, I DO know why the cat is there, but clearing it up only makes things looonger...not shorter.
Would a short scene of the cat being buried in the graveyard be enough to fill this hole?
As I told you in my e-mail, Bert, you are incorrectly describing people and actions. You describe Ty, Mary El and Greg in ways that can't be recorded by the camera. How can we see that Ty inherited his grin from his father? Or how Mary El can see through these grins?
How does Ty get frustrated with the game (page 3)? Does he curse at it? Throw it to the floor? Punch the back of his mother's seat?
How do we recognize the farmhouse? It's the first time you mention it?
You do this through out the script.
I found Mary El's immediate defense of Angel to be very forced and phony. She's willing to jeopardize her catering business (and her marriage) to take care of her. The kid needs help and not the kind that an aunt can give. I'm surprised that the state didn't take her away, no matter how much of a fight she'd put up. They wouldn't send two nurses over.
You kind of forget that it's wintertime and freezing out a couple of times. The first was with the spider. They hibernate in the winter. The second time is when Ty finds the dead animals in the shed. You wouldn't smell them in freezing weather. Frozen things don't give off an odor.
While I haven't read the entire script, I would recommend you change the scenario so Mom, Dad and Ty are encouraged to stay at the farm permanently. Perhaps they live in a trailer, or a small apartment in the bad part of some town or city. Make the farm a nice place to live (at first).
You did write one or two things that I liked. The opening sequence told a lot. The part where Angel poked her hanging father. The twirling part was a nice simple touch that showed good imagery.
Bert: I finished your script, and truly enjoyed it. Our scripts shared similarities in tone and imagery,--winter, snow globes, gnarled trees, fire, other-worldly children, etc. Your scene with the combine was fascinating. Your setting is great. You might want to call it "Ereckson Farm" to sound less generic. You don't want it lost under so many farm titles out there in Scriptland. Speaking of names, is there a special reason for using Mary El? It reads a bit clumsy. Consider something more vivid to the character.
I liked the possessed bear and cat. Tying them in more specifically with the children would be even better. You did the ghost children exceptionally well. I liked Greg and Ty. Angel and the weird farmer were quite scary.
Your dialogue rings true, and the story's far superior to most horror films. Good work!
Hey Bert, Pretty cool script. I do have some suggestions though. The mace part. Why not use hairspray? It would still burn, and be something that she could have gotten ahold of easily. The cat is cool in the script, but if you want to get this produced, a performing cat could cost quite a bit of money and time to use. So you might want to think that part out. The first time we go into the farm house we see a photo. If we see the photo, you should describe what Dan and Erica look like.
Most of what I have to offer here is with your camera angles. I'll give you a few examples.
I don't like to use P.O.V Here's some examples:
In the car, after Greg wipes the windshield. I'd just write is as:
Greg wipes a spot on the windshield.
A windmill is up ahead. Or something similar to that.
I have a few more, too. It's taken me some time to get this. I have a few more examples. Write what you see.
This is how I would alter the wording in this one scene.
Angel stands in the doorway - half-in, half-out.
On the bed, a lump, the size of a body. It's covered with a bedspread.
Angel approaches the bed, pulls back the bedspread.
It's Erica, the woman in the photograph. Dead.
Angel registers no emotion at all as she re-covers Erica's face.
BATHROOM Angel finds Dan hanging by a noose.
Another one when Mary El steps on the Christmas bulb...
A red Christmas ornament, squashed and shattered beneath her foot.
That gives the camera direction without taking away the director's job. I hope it helps.
I liked the story. There were some spooky moments.
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