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Bull Creek by Sean Elwood (thedeadwalk2nite) (OWC name - Menolly) - Short, Thriller - Four teenagers are stranded on an old houseboat while being hunted by one of the world's most dangerous underwater predators. August '07 One Week Challenge entrant. - pdf, format
This was a cool little short. Kinda like Jaws meets Friday the 13th, although not quite as good as the former and the characters were a notch above the ones in the latter, so all is good. The descriptions were short and to the point, and I liked the structure of this one a lot, the use of flashbacks and what not to tell the story. It's really a gimmick and it could've been done just as well if told in a linear timeline, but I did like it all the same.
Nice twist with what happened to the little girl as well. Didn't see that coming. All in all, a good, quick read. Nice work!
It's very reminiscient to Jaws as Chism mentioned and final destination in regards to the beginning sequence. The story was good; dialogue fair (this reminds me of Friday the 13); structure was on par. Good job.
Premise: I wasn't expecting to see Jaws pop up in these stories, so that was interesting. 6/10
Relation to Theme: Good use of boat and the story was thrilling even if I wouldn't call it a classic thriller. 7/10
Story: Notbad. Good action sequences. The part with the girl was good. I didn't really see the connection between the start and the main body of the piece. The beggining was a little too Final Destination for me.
All in all, it wears it's influences on it's arm a little too much, but it was a fair story. 6/10
Great job. You paint quite a picture. Had no problem visualizing what was going on. Brutally efficient action lines - what's not to like? Anything echoing my disdain for the looks of that boat, I can't help but enjoy. Clair's VOs provided some comic relief. Very nice. You brought that friggin' shark to life, simply put. Great dialogue, particularly Clair's comments at the end. My favorite so far.
In terms of criticism, I would do without the "CUT TOs." Always felt like a wasted line to me.
This was a fun, albiet unoriginal, read. There's not much here that hasn't been done, either by Jaws or countless slasher flicks, but I don't care. I love sharks and despite the overwhelming amount of bad shark movies, it's fun to read about them in scripts. The idea of a shark moving in and out of salt water is a new interesting angle as well. The bull shark is the most dangerous shark there is. It was a good choice for this story.
The opening was interesting and set up the death theme nicely. I had to laugh at the slim jim though. I know it's not what it sounds like but it'd probably read better if you had a different name for it. The idea of a piece of beef jerky impaling a man's head is hilarious.
The characters were a little bland, I'm afraid. Clair's V.O. switched between stylish and cheesy. It had it's good and bad points. The other characters were pretty interchangeable though. I really didn't see them as much else than shark bait, which was okay for a story like this. If that's what you were going for then cool.
The end of the script was a little repetitive. The flashback was neccesary but Clair's V.O. said a few things that were already quite apparent. I don't think Dillan's line needed to be repeated either. Yet more repetition during the police reports. The end suffered a lot because of it.
Nevertheless, this was a fun script. Sharks are always cool, the gore was decent, and the writing was relatively good. The death theme was also a refreshing twist on two pretty tired subgenres. A good effort and solid use of the boat. I was waiting for this kind of script to pop up here.
Can't say I felt the shark idea felt original, but it still worked.
I think your descriptions are fine, but to make more spec like for easy faster reading I think it could be tightened quite a bit with better choice of words and such.
The tire thing in the beginning I'm not so sure is necesarry for the rest of the story. As a scene in itself I thought it was good and I found it to be especially scary since a friend of mine had that happen to her. Her brother was in the passenger's seat and he died. My friend spend a year in the hospital learning how to walk again. Sorry, I'm rambling...
I enjoyed the FREEZE part. Caught me by surprise.
You can skip the CUT TO's.
One annoying thing was when they realized they can use their cellphones. I didn't find that to ring true at all. Especially not for young people who use them for hours and hours every day. Seems to me they would have had that idea as their very first one.
I think you should get fairly high points for the use of the boat and making this a thriller.
Not sure about the easy discussion between the survivors aftr seeing their friend ripped apart in front of them. Show a little emotion with the conversation. Be creative. Otherwise, the conversation feels out of place. The only action you have is ¨Dillon sighs¨.
Change one of the girl´s names. Clair and Cara are way too similar. Makes it difficult to follow.
I like the theme you started with but the story ended up being... predictable. Story of a shark going after people. Not very creative.
I think you've shown some creativity here by beginning with the commentary on death.
Yes, the Jaws story has been done, but you've tried to make it different in that respect by showing a type of danger where you least expect it.
So, that's the theme here: Unexpected Danger is all Around Us
You've got a shark where no one would expect it and it delivers on that theme which you put at the beginning and reiterate on again at the end; only now, from the perspective of considering how many times one may have cheated death and not even known it.
The weakness I found in this script had to do with plausibility in a few areas.
There was the part about the cell phones. They would have used them right away no doubt. Also, when the call was made, the operator for 911 would have definitely got a name.
Also, I don't know why they weren't able to start up the engine on the boat and just leave.
There is also the question of the shark being quite full and content after his first feed.
What came to my mind when I reached the part about the girl being discovered, was a different kind of story. One where the shark is being delivered there by divine providence and the apparent enemy becomes the thing which leads to there discovery of the girl.
Now I know that makes it a different story altogether. Not a drop of blood shed on account of the fact this is a "good shark"... What if these were some researchers?
What I'd like to see is something that peaks my interest more.
It should be characters and plot; but if it's not characters, then we need plot as a mechanism to sustain interest.
In this case, we've got Claire, Mason, Dylan, Ryan and Cara. So we've got five bodies trapped on the boat, but really they're just names on the page.
It's really important to try and read dialogue aloud because you'll catch things you didn't know were there.
On page 5, part of Mason's dialogue is:
>"Please hurry there is a shark after us!"
Now unless you're an ESL student, you'd be sure to put: "there's a shark..." so be careful. We use contractions so much we don't even realize it and it's probably just a typo, but it's a good example of why we need to read things out loud even if it does look good on the page.
Now besides plausibility, there's the question about making the dialogue count for something, every drop.... When Dillan asks Mason, "How far away is the police station?" Dillan replies: "I don't know it's going to take them some time."
Is Dillan not familiar with the area? If he really doesn't know, then why would he think it's going to be quite the wait.
Could he perhaps say something like: "They're always around when you're going over the limit. Or maybe, "We should have brought more liquor... then they'd be around us like that shark." What I'm saying is use everything you've got, don't spare any bit of creativity, even with what might be a casual line.
I have a couple of final questions: Whose boat was this? How did they get trapped in the middle of wherever if it's running?
This was a good try I thought. It lacks originality, but it's a clean looking script without a lot of typos and I think that counts for a lot.
I'm heavy on the proofreading and I've got some doozies on mine which God only knows how they slid past. I cheer for your work on those details.
This is well written and I started off loving it. It got a little too close to Jaws there in the middle. I don’t mind similarities but it was very difficult not to imagine the style of Jaws during some portions. I’m not sure what you can do to further distance yourself from that.
As well, the shark threat portions also seemed inconsistent with the voice overs earlier on. It was almost like it turned into another movie. You’ve got to somehow get that middle to fit more with the beginning and end. I wish I could give you more insights into how to do that but I’m at a loss.
I wasn’t sure about some of the methods of death in the beginning. Can the exploding tire of a tractor-trailer really shoot through a windshield and hit someone in the head hard enough to spray their brains all over a car?
Or can a side airbag knock a pry bar through a person’s skull? I don’t know. It seemed implausible to me. I could be wrong.
The description was excellent. The first paragraph of description of the interior of the boat was brilliant. The second paragraph was good but began to push the limit of being too much.
The later exterior description was also excellent. But you didn’t make clear whether the boat was in the middle of the water or docked.
You don’t need to CUT TOs.
Mason says they’re at Harrison Creek. Later, Cara says they’re at a lake. Creeks run to rivers and oceans and lakes are surrounded by land.
People standing over the rail of a boat that a shark has already previously jumped up at and grabbed someone off of doesn’t sound very smart. I suppose it’s possible but it reminds me of the “thinning the heard” expression.
I can’t believe Mason couldn’t get on that tiny boat without a ladder.
At the earlier mention of Madison, I think it would help if one of the characters mentions her age or at least says “little” girl. When she popped up, I had no idea who she could be. I had assumed when Madison was mentioned earlier that she was the same general age as the rest of the characters.
I can’t believe Clair could hold onto Madison as a shark pulls on her. I mean, I know adrenaline can make people stronger in extreme situations but I couldn’t believe she could match strength with a shark. Also, how can the shark tear a grown man’s head off with one bite and yet can’t thrash the leg off a 7 year old child?
I liked the story. I also thought it was well told. It had what I think are some implausible situations but it also had some fresh and creative ideas and some good writing.
The piece is very well written in that the story moves relentlessly, and something that gets mentioned, like a girl disappearing a couple of days previous, the smell, etc. came back and fit everything well. I also like how the idea that shark was possibly attracted to the group by the thrashing. This kept us going until we got the true reason the shark showed up. Although it's almost formula, that the person who froze makes the bravest effort to save everyone in the end is also a nice touch.
The cell phone line made me laugh. Not in the good way. In this day and age, a teenager goes to the cell phone first, if they don't already have ablackberry, etc. Only old fogies like me don't think about cell phones. And I get made fun of. I didn't entirely buy the relentlessness of the shark's attack in such a small period. I realize that's caused more by the limitations placed by the rules, but the shark would have finished off Ryan if it was so hungry. I know the early scenes tied into the theme, but I thought we would be better off getting into the piece faster, rather than dealing with thematic elements and then a flash-forward to make up for the thematic elements in the beginning.
Had nice imagery and you tied in a neat backstory to it. I think what makes this story more-or-less frightening is that it doesn't bend reality at all. A creek is unsuspecting, but the thought of having one of these predators down there really alters that perception.
While it was a good story, I also felt like I've seen this before. Nothing really jumped off the page and the action was just fair. I think it would have added more substance(maybe even style, too) to include how this creature got into this creek. Where did it come from? How old is it? Those are questions that could add a lot to the story.
So, it was a good read. Would have liked a really big OMGERZ! but eh. You win some you lose some. You're a very gifted writer, dude. A lot of care goes into your writing. Way to go!