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The logline doesn’t give me a great first impression but let’s see…
“Pull down from another a long line of boxes.” Really awkward.
Well done on setting up Michael, I’ve got a good idea of this character pretty early and it’s been done visually.
Some missing words creeping in, making lines just a little awkward – easy fixes.
“Hears a rustling in the forest.” Watch out for this – repeating your slug is unnecessary, and in this instance it doesn’t help the scene. I take it the forest is big so the rustling could be anyway – how about “rustling in nearby bushes” or just “rustling in bushes”
Hope Michael expands his vocabulary as the story moves forward; he likes to say “shit” and “what the hell” a lot.
“He takes off for the side of the road.” I’m a little lost – where is he now? Is this a side alley or something?
“What looks to be an abandoned” It either is or isn’t – “looks” is not your friend here.
“maybe there was another explosion.” “another” explosion? Did I miss that?
“Also ancient, decrepit.” Just like the front of the store – who would have guessed that?
Do you need to cap “old woman”? It’s a new character right?
There’s a lot of random woman in this story so far. I think you needed to mix it up a bit with their descriptions. Woman is just so generic.
Finally meet the “horde” and it’s just normal people. Sigh.
I think you’re missing some slugs now.
“I need to lead you (to) the door.” There’s been a few things like this but that’s expected. Just worth keeping an eye out for in the future.
Ha! The beer bottles did come back into play, like his breadcrumbs – I like that.
Michael’s obviously been in the pits for a little while, eating crap food and drinking lots of beer. Yet, in his darkest hour, it’s a bottle of beer that helps him. I don’t know if that works but oh well. But I do like that he smiles after grabbing a beer at the end – kinda twisted.
This wasn’t bad – the dialogue needs lots of work, it’s unnatural at times while also being just a bit on the nose. Actually, it’s 100% on the nose. That’s not a big problem because a lot of the scripts will struggle with the same affliction just because of the challenge criteria.
I think you need to heighten Michael’s hatred or pure lack if enthusiasm for Halloween. I forgot all about this until the end with the bowl which is a nice touch btw. Why does he dislike Halloween? I think it’s because it’s when his wife Linda died, so maybe a quick opening of her dying would help set the mood, doesn’t need to be long, just to show us why he’s in such a bad way when we meet him.
That’s another issue for me, we didn’t find out about Linda and the baby until after halfway through, this needs to be established earlier, and can be achieved easily – photo, visiting grave etc.
I would also suggest making it more personal to Michael. Establish that he’s not a people person at the beginning, or willing to help his peers – maybe he does the old Peter Parker trick and doesn’t help at a robbery or something.
Then when he goes to the otherworld, his lack of compassion is tested when he’s the only one who can save the horde (that’s horrible way to describe them btw – change it.) But it’s his wife that helps him overcome this, possibly telling to live on or whatever nonsense – you get the point.
I do like the ending with the mother and son as it fits in perfectly – does the beer subplot work? I wasn’t keen but I didn’t mind it overall. It doesn’t look good that alcohol saves our hero, might work in the Hangover but not in something more serious like this.
The writing could do with a polish and needs to be tightened but maybe that’s preference on my part. Not a bad effort but needs some work for me – potential though.
This was confusing. I'm not sure what was going on. In the "Otherworld" you kept changing locations in the narrative. I know rules of earth don't apply in the otherworld, but rules of screenwriting do.
I never connected with Michael. His dialog was pretty lifeless. He says "What the hell" and "Oh shit" a bunch of times. Scroll down your whole story and only read his dialog. It's pretty bad. Then there is the exposition when he just blurts out what happened to his wife. The whole thing feels forced.
This needs a lot of work, IMO. more clarity, proper scene headings, character development and better dialog.
I'm thinking you have to make us care for Michael, let us know him, let us in- explain his problem or something.
And you didn't. That's why it was kind of hard to get into the story. Michael talks in short sentences. He's surprised at everything he sees - food in his fridge, woman, alien... He's all the time "oh shit...".
This had an eerie feel about it; the abandoned town, fog, and sh!t…there was fog… right?
I didn’t really connect to what was happening for the most part, the entrance into the other world, so to speak, was kind of random and abrupt, with no logic behind it.
Still, I could see something come of this if reworked, simply because it had that ‘Silent Hill’ tone going for it. The concept of trapped souls in this underworld waiting for some lone savior to lead them out, then going back every Halloween to release more souls, hand out some ass kicking’s etc.
I liked the concept of the Wraith creature as well. Decent effort…
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I laughed at Michael hiding from trick or treaters in the basement and was intrigued by the explosion in the woods, but once he crossed over things began to feel too episodic for me. So far the aspects of his character don’t seem to be relevant to the situation he’s in. If you could replace those opening pages with almost anything else, maybe it’d be more succinct to just start this with a guy buying beer.
It seems like a missed opportunity to introduce the Attractive Woman only to reveal she doesn’t know anything. At this point I’m hoping for some new wrinkle or twist. Instead we’ve got baggage. Also, is Michael still holding the boy through all this talk?
I liked the moment with the crowd he saved coming back to save him, but I’m not sure it’s rooted in anything. Maybe the idea is he doesn’t like people in general. But all we’ve got to set that up is him avoiding trick or treaters. I’d do something stronger if that’s what you’re going for and play on it while he’s in the Otherworld. Maybe have him dependent on the boy to learn his lesson before he chooses to save everyone.
In the first couple of pages I didn't think I was going to like this, but you kept me intrigued enough to see what was going to happen to Michael in the forest and then the world he ended up in.
The middle bit was kind of weird, very weird, but kind of worked in a sense; we want to know more about this world, but we can't yet - he's going back there later - kind of like a ...to be continued.
Couple of things that bugged me were that I couldn't really get into the whole Linda thing in the otherworld - he sees her, then he doesn't, but gets to help other people. If this was to portray his life and why he is the way he is - I think this may need to be introduced closer to the start - as it is very on the nose, which was my next problem: on the nose dialogue, but this could be easily cleaned up in a rewrite.
I liked the ending and how he had finally found a purpose in life. I also liked how he was interacting with the 'group' and heading back to take on the Otherworld - nicely well round. Good effort.
Running upstairs right? You can do this different.
I enjoyed it, but I don't see it on film. It reads more as a piece from a literary short story collection. On the other hand I liked the sudden change of location which could be a great visual concept of a film of course.
Was the fridge scene necessary to get Michael to the store? I could buy he needs beer, no need to establish a motive. Thought the broken glass was a nice touch but it felt like you were aiming for some kind of poignancy by coming back to the beer at the end. Didn’t really work for me as it’s not tied to any deeper meaning (such as an item linked to the loss of his family would be) -- in this case it’s just beer.
Started to get lost with the characters:
SCANTILY CLAD WOMAN WOMAN, gaunt yet attractive pretty and honest WOMAN/LINDA OLD WOMAN gaunt yet ATTRACTIVE WOMAN (a relation of WOMAN gaunt yet attractive perhaps?) And finally YOUNG BOY’S MOTHER…
Be careful not to trip up the reader with multiple characters of similar description. Variety and clarity helps to understand the story.
Felt like a bigger idea than could work within the page count. Some questionable phrasing in the action but by no means a bad read. No real clue as to what this Otherside was or how all these people got there. Were they dead? Alive? In limbo? Felt little connection to Michael other than he ran out of beer. I’ve been there myself. Could have done with focusing the story more on his personal loss to strengthen his character.
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Some good character motivations. A lot of creatures. Exciting action.
I like that you spent a whole page developing the main character, Michael. We see his work life and his home life, and establish Halloween, before the story really kicks off and we get into horror territory. I like this genre stuff like the investigation of a strange sound. It allows for us (the audience) to yell at the scream and belittle their intelligence. It makes us feel better-suited for horror than the character on screen. The roller coaster ride begins. We’re going up that first inclination… before we spiral and loop-de-loop.
The seduction begins with the scantily clad woman leading him to his death(?). Works every time. I could use more embellishment with the portal. Mike seems to walk into the forest and just instantly appear in the Otherworld. I could use a more effective transition. This is a chance to get creative and dazzle us with something visually interesting.
Mikey meets another Siren From Beyond. I’d consider trimming his dialogue there. Too expository. Like Mike saying “I was doing this when this happened”. For me, this is unnecessary. The Wraith was pretty cool. A familiar image, but effective. Exposition continues with Mike talking about this must be a dream or a coma or something. I’d prefer if you let us think up these possible scenarios. For me, it’s enough for him to look confused. Or he could pinch himself. Maybe he could just say one of those ideas vs all of them, like “Where am I?”
Another woman from the Nether. I like how this suggests at a backstory or reason why everyone is female. I’d have the older siren speak in tongues or something vs mouthing words. I feel like the strange language would be creepier – and a better excuse the 1 speaker parameter. When he sees the next woman I’d cut all the dialogue and just have him fill with confusion, boil with tears, and simply say, “Linda?” I think most people would understand she is important to him from just her name being said aloud.
Sometimes it’s scary for the writer to trust that the audience will understand moments that aren’t explicitly told to them. But I’d say let us imagine what’s happening under the surface sometimes. Sure, you may alienate some of the audience, but those that participate and feel they guessed the mystery correctly usually feel greatly rewarded. It’s part of the fun of horror or mystery or whatever - deciphering the images and words, thus creating our own interpretation of the material. It’s kind of like a personalized movie for the individual. But I digress…
There’s a big chase that would be exciting to watch on screen. Then a boy pops out of nowhere to warn Mikey. Spooky. I wonder if his appearance would be more effective if the boy just pointed, then waved his finger “No.” For me, this works better than mouthing words – especially at effectively hiding the OWC parameters. The next mouthed “no” from the boy would be creepier as a simple head shaking too. Maybe Mike could reply, “then… I am alive?”
More horde chasing and wraith stuff. The woman tries to point Mike to a door, making him realize a way out, to help them all. I would like a moment where she draws a door in the air with a finger. Pantomiming. This still feels a bit obvious, but a more effective realization then Mike stammering to himself thinking aloud.
I like that Mike frees the trapped souls. My favourite part is when one by one, hands extend from the portal, to help (the drained) Mike back to reality. This is definitely a different spin on EXODUS.
One year later. Nice. He’s gonna tool up and kill those Wraith bastards. I liked that touch with the candy note left for trick r treaters. A nice little joke to throw in there that kind of demonstrates how Mike’s life outlook may have shifted to: do whatever gives you pleasure because life is short. The final moment is dedicated to grabbing beer. Is Mike a shy guy who needs some liquid courage to hit on that saved mother? Or is beer his favourite weapon? It worked earlier, right.
Some good chases. Light on true scares. A happy ending. Mike just explains too much. * * (of 5)
Not poorly written, just clunky. An exciting read here, with many images that are just larger than life. Michael's life is a wreck. No food, no woman, and only one beer left. It's cliche, but I thought the scene with the flash of light was cool. As he advances into the forest, it was a jarring transistion to the otherside. But this is fantasy.
In the end, I'm glad this change happens within Michael, so that was good. But it needs some sort of connection via the journey he just took, otherwise again - cliche. Overall, interesting and imaginative.
Maybe I missed something but I don't get why he didn't just take his beer and head home. Why does if even go into the forest? I suppose it's a bit like the ol' 'I'll be right back' in horror movies where they always go and investigate and they really shouldn't.
Some nice images and horror tropes (the old woman in the rocking chair) and a little bit of a TwilightZone feel to this, but overall a little discombobulated.
I did try reading this a couple of days ago. It is badly handled so I put it down. I read all the way through this morning and I still feel the same way. The writing is OK, the story doesn't do anything for me at all. The dialogue is really, really bad. Lot of work to do here, IMO.
Some of the action was hard to follow and a bit repetitive. In one page you use either 'startled' or 'confused' four times. You also use the same character description twice in a nine page script. 'WOMAN. Gaunt, yet attractive.'
The dialogue also needs work. He says 'What the hell' a lot and doesn't seem to react very well to what's going on around him. For example after 'a flash of light and a crack in the air. BOOM!' and 'He is no longer in the forest. He is now standing on a gloomy urban street lined with decrepit buildings. Overcast skies impose a tepid glow.' his reaction is 'Hello? Anyone? What’s going on? I heard a noise?'.
The writer's clearly got a good imagination. I enjoyed a lot of it. The bit when the 'trick or treater's' ring the doorbell and he turns the lights off and heads to the basement, stuck out. It says a lot about the character in three lines of action. But as a whole, I found it hard to get into the story because of the things mentioned above.
I give the writer credit for creativity... but this one didn't quite work for me. The writing was simple and straightforward (with the dialogue perhaps a bit too simple). But it felt like the story just started to wander. And bringing in Linda so late in the story was jarring for me. If she'd been set up from the beginning, that'd be different. Mike *could* end up being an interesting, sympathetic character... there's a kernel there. But it needs to be developed.
11 more to go, still..I thought I was much closer to the finish line.
So, as I go-type notes...
Opening passage is poorly and awkwardly written. But, more importantly, it's written totally and unnecessarily as direction on exactly how the scene should be filmed. This is 99% of the time a big mistake, and definitely a mistake here.
We're in an INT CAR scene, yet the 2nd passage is all about things that are EXT, outside the car. Can it be filmed this way? Of course, but again, why do you feel the need to try and direct the shots?
Writing is not good, sorry to say. It's not terrible, but the complete lack of anything intersting happening and sterile writing is making this a tough go.
Ah, the old "forest" right behind the corner store, huh? I see...
Page 2 - Michael's dialogue at the top of the page is reason enough to exit immedtiately, but I'll try and stick around.
Oh boy, this next line may be about it..."He enters the forest, six pack in hand."
OK, so the 6 pack drops from his hand and "shatters", huh? Like all 6 beers?
Well, I'm sorry, but that's about it, as these scantily clad and gaunt women are appearing and old Michael's talking like a cartoon character in a Scobby Doo video.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Describe the car and its year if it's an older model as you say. Going into these specifics isn't as bad as people think.
"Hello? Hello? Anyone there?" Dialogue like this -- avoid it. I know I've been guilty of it a few times before, but it becomes repetitive. One hello should suffice. The screw it is even worse, show us visually. "He waves it off, looks unsure" Just an example I made up on the spot, so don't take it too literally.
Again, that dialogue, it's just no good, he seems like a lost puppy barking for help. 95% of the stuff coming out of his mouth feels as if it's taken out of some cheesy B-movie slasher. It doesn't work for me unfortunately.
Is it on purpose? It seems to be getting more and more absurd the further I read.
Well, the first thing I would suggest is to cut out all of the dialogue and see if the story flows without it. You'll hopefully see that it does. Besides that, the story feels a little thin at the moment, there's not much other than what's shown on the surface, except maybe the ending (I'm a fan of setups and payoffs) but I don't think that's enough to redeem it. It would work had the story been half its size, but something as simple as this doesn't really need to be extended this long without good reason. A lot of running back and forth, a lot of strange dialogue, but it could work if you get out the chainsaw and start cutting.
36. Trapped by Bud Wiser - A man trying to avoid Halloween has to help a horde escape their entrapment.
Alright, I’m not “really” reading your screenplay, I’m going to “watch” this short horror-fantasy film and just make comments as I “watch.”
With a title like ‘Trapped’ I’m expecting something pretty much just like that, maybe something a little humorous or ironic about it. Mundane beginning. Maybe I’m trapped?! AHHHHH!!!! Just joking. Got interesting real fast. Darn set ups. Cool wraith. Poor ol’ Mike’s been drinking that new PCP beer! Warning: Entering abandoned store’s back room = entering horror cliche. At the old woman “MIKE BE TRIPPIN’ BALLZ!” LOL! And the hits just keep rollin’ in! Nice. Random, but nice.
The woman nods, motions to the horde, makes the walking
motion with her fingers, points to Michael, mimes the door.
I need to lead you the door. You
need me to open it.
You’re trapped here. Oh my God. And
I’m going to be trapped-- unless I
find that door. We have to find
that door! We--
Ho-lee sheet. Is little Johnny trapped in the well, too, Lassie?! Just playin’, writer. I don’t mean disrespect.
Alright! That was (sincerely) a nice ending. Glad Mike turned his miserable life around. Good story. Thank you.
Not for me. As another writer said, the story seemed created on the fly. The writing isn't bad, but the dialogue was. There's no subtext or meaning behind a lot of what comes out of Michael's mouth. It got a bit confusing for me with the different women popping up. So in the end, Michael gets a second chance? The dude gets the treat instead of the trick? OK, not a bad ending. The story still needs work.