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Tillinghaust 1944 by William Dyer - Short, Horror - Five lost soldiers curious about an abandoned tank, investigate the surrounding desolate, remote village which does not exist on any map. - pdf format
My first read of the challenge, you lucky devil. I've yet to be skewed by any other entries. Here we go:
Firstly, your page count says 14, including title page! It's a good thing a scrolled to the bottom to check since you have an extra blank page. Some peeps may not read this just because of the 12 page limit. You need to double check these things in the future.
I like the story as a whole though I think it's overwritten. You have a couple action blocks of five lines and one of six. Overall, I think you could have trimmed a page or so out of unnecessary fluff. Some lines are unfilmable descriptions of what the reader should be feeling.
Some interesting formatting too. CAPS and bold letters in odd places, and an interesting character intro. Some lines were more direction and camera angle that is unnecessary.
One weird note re: the first couple action sequence where you describe six figures and then only five because of the effect. It kinda threw me thinking that would have some bearing later on but it never amounted to anything.
Good story; it met all the requirements; it MAY be a bit too gory but it's all in how it would film.
A couple of random thoughts, sprinkle salt to taste.
I'm no historian but it seems authentic. The dialogue is paced well and as this time period was, all the characters talk alike.
I think you could have told this story with less.
The asides. That kind of stuff, IMO, is totally fine if you don't use it to death. It's all about context. When, where and how it's used. But it might annoy the heck outta some folks. No doubt you have a voice &style. -Andrea
I liked the logline, and enjoyed to writing, but not clear what the point was apart from the late reveal.
I think somebody should ask, "Where are the bodies?" The writing often speaks to the missing bodies, but a character should actually verbalize this sentiment to make it clear to the viewer. (I see that someone eventually says something like this, but it is too late IMO). The bell is a nice touch, but seems the reaction to this should be stronger -- pulling their guns and such -- as it makes clear that they are not alone. The clanging bell should "change things" for these guys more than it does.
Alan's interaction with the kid was a high point. Great dialogue there.
Strong entry, but would be nice if it were something more than just a series of events. Like, if the events in this town somehow tied into the larger war that surrounds these men.
I heard there were 3 WW2 scripts in this challenge? Noice as I am a real buff of that era. I googled Tillinghaust but came up with zero so I guess you made it up. Still need a SUPER saying its in Belgium or France or Germany ok? And also exactly what year and perhaps month it is. Then I see Tillgaust appears; maybe an error there?
Loved the setup, the concept and the mounting dread. Even the asides and stuff - Jeff will have a field day with this lol - added to the tension. When the creatures were revealed though it started fizzling a bit. Would've liked to see the baddies be unseen or ghostly but goblins wielding machine guns seemed a bit comical.
Writing was good and it may have been influenced by a novel by Graham Masterton called The Devils Of D-Day about a haunted tank. Anyway I still liked it as I love the war stories. Better go read the other 2 now lol.
The random words in caps is a bit distracting and the way you introduce all the characters is a bit jumbled.
As it is all these characters sound the same. I quickly lose track of who is who.
Scene headings Ė Avoid using SAME - same as what? If I were producing this and checking the locations and time of day for the shoot I would find this irritating.
For me the script is overwritten to the point it reads like a short story more than a screenplay. You have your voice for sure, just a trim here and there to refine it. Imagine reading 100 pages of that and youíd realise how long it would take compared to a leaner script which managed to get across the exact same story with far more white space and less caps.
Overall it was nicely done. A nice atmospheric build-up, suspenseful and seemed authentic enough to me so I believed it was set in WWII. Definitely horror, itís just with the gremlins going all Rambo at the end it seemed like is suddenly turned into a comedy horror, which is fine if that was the tone from the start but it started quite serious and went a bit silly at the end. If I were being picky Iíd say the gore was too much and the tank wasnít the predominant focus of the story to fit the parameters so I would deduct a point for that.
Good job though, a decent read.
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Why did they fall off the tank when they opened the hatch "jerry-rigged with a grenade" - did a grenade just go off when they opened it? wasn't clear to me.
The writing - I get the impression that this is from a seasoned writer who now has no qualms with breaking from some conventions and writing the way they want to. To be honest, my read is pretty damn quick and I get a good sense of whats happening - some things are irritating me, but could just be me.
That being said - re-writing could shorten this - you could deffinately have gotten rid of the annoyingly short 12th page - maybe you ran out of time, which is why you left a blank 13th page.
Some good suspense in here - I'm enjoying it.
Ok finished - You did not keep the gore to a minimum, so I am going to dock points in my scoring for that.
Overall, I enjoyed it - I think you have too many characters, I gave up following who was who, they seemed to be there just for a body count.
Some good suspense, good use of the vehicle.
Gremlins, thats what they were - the old legend of machinery sabotaging creatures.
Love the tank as the vehicle. One of my favorite things about the OWC is seeing how creative writers can get with the parameters.
I don't mind the occasional aside... but, for me, this was way over the top, to the point of severe distraction. And, I don't like when writers use asides as a cheat... almost like you can't figure out a way to get your point across in traditional ways... so, boom, let's use an aside. "It gives you a damned chill." Does it really? I can't tell, 'cause all I can see is a tall tower... that isn't something else.
Now, that's probably harsh, but that's kindof the feeling I had by the end. Irritation with the distractions.
In fact, I'm probably being more harsh because I was so pumped to get to read a tank-based horror story... and, I feel a bit let down.
Alright, enough about asides. You knew what you were gonna get when you wrote it, so, I don't need to pile on. And, since it's a creative choice... well, it's yours to make.
The suspense was up there, for me. I really wanted to know how this was going to play out. So, that's a real good sign. However, I didn't like how it played out.
I think I would have felt better about things if you told me it was gremlins when they first find the map. It would have given me a touch point for expectations of the last couple pages.
That is, I would have read them with a different tone in mind. And, I think I would have enjoyed it more. As it was, it felt unintentionally campy. Knowing it was gremlins would have clued me in on the slight comedic element.
All in all, well done. But, I would have preferred medium-well.
60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature The Hand of God - Low budget, semi-contained thriller/Feature Wait Till Next Year - Disney-style family sports comedy/Feature
Many shorts available for production: comedy, thriller, drama, light horror
Lucky last and it's another war script. Maybe this will be the one to outshine them all.
As they come more into focus, thereís five of them, not six as the hallucination first implied
But the hallucination didn't imply that, you just said patrol. I think if the number 6 is important, say it straight up, A patrol consisting of SIX GRIZZLED SOLDIERS.
LUTHER, all of them are average height. Lutherís 6í4. The others are EDGAR A.K.A. ďEDDIEĒ VINCENT CLYDE ALAN (wounded, slight limp)
This whole introduction could be written better. LUTHER (give him an age), a head taller than EDDIE (age and brief description), VINCENT etc. Writing someones exact height never looks good in a script.
Lots of really awkward writing.
That Citadel. Towers over everything. Makes you think youíre the one being watched. Itís a scary son of a bitch from this view. It isnít Draculaís castle, but it gives you a damned chill.
This is barely filmable and would probably be better in a novel.
Very same issue with the next block of action.
Should your "no body" be "nobody"? I'm not sure but it looks wrong for some reason. Libby??
By the bottom of page 8 the writing is getting really awkward.
The KID looks up. Itís not a kid. Itís HIDEOUS. Snotty green filth bleeds from a reptilian nose. Snake eyes. Crooked fanged teeth. Stands, as we already guessed two to three feet tall. Talon like fingers. Just like -
We're at the start of pg 10 and you give us this, I doubt there is going to be enough time to explain it in any way. We also didn't guess anything, you told us on pg 9 that it was no taller than three feet.
Well I said I'd seen it all as far as war horror goes, but you may have surprised me with monster goblins.
I'm so lost, this is descending into chaos.
I feel like a bashed in skull, tons of hacked-up bodies (including women), and a dagger to the neck might be exceeding the no gore criteria, or at least the minimal gore criteria.
Well that cleared that up.
Another script where stuff happens... because. So definitely not for me.
I don't think any of the war scripts really brought anything memorable to the table. But if I remember one thing it will be the monster goblins, so thanks for that.
Way too much gore for this particular challenge.
Feels like a new writer maybe? Read lots of scripts, and keep writing.
The conversational writing style might work for some, but it's not done well here and I found it just annoying. Mostly because a lot of the asides are feelings that aren't translating to the screen, and your "voice" has more character than any of the actual characters. Can we just have a complete sentence once in a while? It was way overdone.
The biggest problem is it felt like I was being told a story rather than reading a story. I was left detached from the action, like someone else experienced these things and was relating them to me after the fact. That robbed all the tension from it.
You can call out the fact that there are no bodies all you want, but that's a detail that will certainly be missed visually at the start of any story. We have no idea what world you're introducing us to, so the absence of something isn't going to be noticed. For all we know, this is a month after hostilities have ended and the bodies have all been cleared. It isn't strange unless someone calls out how strange it is, and a vague "None of this is normal" doesn't cut it.
The action itself is okay. I feel this is another entry that was hindered by the no gore restriction, as many of the deaths were off screen. There was also nothing special about the reveal where the bodies were, you set it up like it was really strange but everyone just holed up in one place. Or were you trying to imply three-foot gremlins moved all those bodies? How strong are they?
Was there supposed to be a gremlin under the chalice? Are any of them that small? Or is that the mogwai? Gremlins. I rolled my eyes. I would have said this was a pisser if it didn't take itself so seriously.
It's clear you have writing chops. Just remember you aren't J.J. Abrams so tone it down and make the picture clearer.
I enjoyed this for the most part. Was kinda let down by the "gremlins".
The script felt very dense and I understand the need for more characters in a war story, but perhaps in a short I would've kept it to a minimum.
As others have mentioned about the stylistic writing and/or use of asides. My take is if you use them make sure they flow with the rest of the descriptions. And they do for the most part but then moments like this take me out of it.
That Citadel. Towers over everything. Makes you think youíre the one being watched. Itís a scary son of a bitch from this view. It isnít Draculaís castle, but it gives you a damned chill.
But I enjoyed it, I like the setting and I can see you put a lot more effort into it than others here.
A patrol of GRIZZLED SOLDIERS ramble forward among
hazes of smoke and heat. To an average person watching them
from this distance, they appear ALMOST LIKE MIRAGES.
As they come more into focus, thereís five of them, not six as
the hallucination first implied.[code]
What hallucination? There hasn't been one in your story. Why is ALMOST LIKE MIRAGES in uppercase? Also 'GRIZZLED' doesn't need to be in uppercase either. UPPERCASE should be used only when necessary and only in very rare moments when it isn't. The amount of times you have used it actually has the opposite effect - makes your writing worse.
[code]One of them has a LEG INJURY, bandaged up. His limp
isnít holding anyone back.
I don't understand the last sentence. Does this mean that his limp is holding him back but none of the others? They're not waiting for him? This visual needs to be clearer. Also, what type of LEG INJURY does he have? Bandaged where? His knee? Calf? Thigh? The writing is also more passive than it needs to be.
wounded, slight limp
Now you tell me! Now I have to re-imagine the start. I don't like these character intro's. It's like you just couldn't be arsed. You describe them as GRIZZLED yet they are aged between 19 and 25? Surely they should be in their 40s at least?
The menís faces become more visually distressed upon what they see ahead. ONE AMERICAN TANK. A SHERMAN. Fire damage decorates all sides. ABANDONED.
Lazy, passive writing. I didn't even have the men's faces as being visually distressed in the first place. You never described that.
Why would I be expecting there to be bodies on the ground? I wasn't expecting that, yet you state it as though it is obvious.
I wasn't expecting body parts or burning flesh either. What has happened that I should be expecting to see that?
Vincent gets back up there. Checks the wire. Looks inside.
No body in here.
Poor guyís in parts.
Thereís no body. Somebody jerry - rigged this up,
grenade must have went off.
So it was a grenade and not a smoke bomb? If the grenade was a dud then why would Eddie assume the poor guy's in parts? You didn't describe an explosion, merely a billow of smoke.
...no matter how small.
This aside makes no sense. Right away I imagined them waving their guns at birds, then a rat scampers almost drawing actual gunfire, then a wasp. Then I started to consider smaller life forms like bacteria - maybe one of them was carrying a microscope? It's open-ended. No matter how small? Really? I couldn't help but play that out in my mind and it quickly descended into the absurd. Try to limit your use of asides, particularly if they're just going to make the reader wonder WTF?
I'm not convinced the whole tank missing body element is needed. You're spending time with the discovery of the tank and then several pages talking about what could've happened.
Why not just have it be a tank squadron that rolls up into this eerily deserted town. Maybe they find a dismembered corpse, or remark on the fact that there are no corpses. You still get the creep factor and save like two pages.
Along these lines, an objective of greater significance than simple investigation might make for a more compelling story. Maybe they're looking for something of extreme importance in the town? Secret plans, gold, etc? That way, there'd be some larger consequence involved. I dunno, just spit-balling.
Good effort for a week though. Dialogue was solid. The scene with the tapping around the tank combined with the lack of vision made for some good suspense.
My last read of this OWC, so you know what that means, right? DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS...assuming I can get through the entire script. And I will sure try.
A quick Google search reveals nothing on what/where Tillinghaust is, so assuming this is made up.
You lazily forgot to delete page 13, which makes this look like you went over the page count.
"PLAINS" - I don't know what I'm supposed to be visualizing here.
"To an average person watching them from this distance, they appear ALMOST LIKE MIRAGES." - Not sure what this line is supposed to mean. Why would you talk about some average person viewing them? Why do they appear almost like mirages?
"As they come more into focus, thereís five of them, not six as the hallucination first implied." - WTF? What in the world is this line doing here? Who said anything about being 6 of them? What is this hallucination thing all about? It's these kinds of lines that make peeps stop reading instantly, because it's so completely out of left field, means absolutely nothing, and is just a big head scratcher.
Writing is very odd, to say the least. Your intros of the soldiers is very poorly done.
The strange and random CAPPING of words is also very odd and poorly done.
Hmmm, so based on the action/description lines, we're in a small village now, but based on your Slug, we're still in a field. Not good.
Last passage on page 1 is not good. You want to break up your passages, based on shots, action, descriptions. Every time you have a new shot, you need a new passage. Look how many different things are going on in this passage.
"No body" - You mean "nobody"? Based on what follows, I have no clue what you mean.
Now we're in an EXT TANK scene? Huh? That's not the right Slug for what follows.
"Like what they seen before, there is no evidence of anyone, living or dead." - This is a poorly written line. It starts out with slang. Then you tell us what we don't see. Not good.
Page 4 - "From a distance, he can see the tank. Vincent isnít fixing the engine anymore. Alan Ďs not there either. Well, Vincent does show up, having been on the other side of the tank. Clyde breathes a sigh of relief.That Citadel. Towers over everything. Makes you think youíre the one being watched. Itís a scary son of a bitch from this view. It isnít Draculaís castle, but it gives you a damned chill." - This is so oddly written, I don't even know what to say. Strange aside, strange talking to us. Whatever it is supposed to be, it's not a good way to write a screenplay.
WTF? And we end the page with a 5 line little ditty, the likes of which I have never seen. "And we are watching him alright. From high in a room overlooking the street below, Clyde looks mouse size, a pest about to be stepped on and squeal. Heís looking right at whatever or whoever is looking at him. As of right now, itís nobody or nothing we can see or comprehend." - Seriously? I don't know...is there anyone out there who will appreciate BS like this? It's just plain odd and nothing that should ever be in a screenplay.
If this wasn't my last script, I would have stopped by now, as this is getting more and more irritating as I go on.
Page 5 and you just keep spoon feeding us information. It's almost like a good writer is trying something really fucked up, but can't stop the experiment. It's too bad, as there seems to be a good story here, some serious research, and talent.
Another 5 line passage? Really? Oh man, you're fucking killing me here!
The tone here is just downright weird! Never seen anything like this and I hope I never do again!
"No body" again. WTF? Why would there be a body there? Do you mean "nobody"? Do you not know the difference?
Page 6 - "He looks up at the blasphemy of the mess on the cross, disturbed by the sight of it. As Eddie looks away, focusing on some of the loose paper littered around, they donít notice the slight MOVEMENT of THE CHALICE. Subtle. Just a fraction of an inch to the left.Thatís right.Something must be under it, otherwise it would have moved by itself." - Here's a fucking doozy...a 6 line passage, including a 2 line aside. Thanks for telling me this info. Really? TERRIBLE!!! ARGH!!! FUCK!!!
I can't do it. No fucking way can I read another 6 pages. I'm sorry, but this has got to be the single most offensive scripts I've ever seen, in terms of the writing. The 6 pages I read feel like 10 or more. No character has any character. So little has happened.
I'm out, and I'm sorry for that.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.