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#747 by S. Aleksov (curse) - Horror - A single mother, Zoe and her daughter move into a new house - only to discover that it is also home to another mysterious entity. Now Zoe must save her daughter from the supernatural occurences created by the ghost of #747. 89 pages - pdf, format
Well, I suppose it's only fitting that I give the first review. This is (generally) a copy of the e-mail that I sent to Curse the other day -- regarding his script -- and it contains:
My curiosity got the better of me tonight, and I took a break to read through 747. I dug it, and thought it was pretty good. I recognized a few things from other films, but you treated them in a unique way that I thought worked pretty well for the most part.
I liked the bit with the wrong ring tone for the cell phone, and thought maybe you should have used that a few more times. It could be pretty creepy.
Your format with phone calls was a bit strange. You should use (pause) instead of the name of the person she is talking to, as it gets confusing as to who is actually speaking.
Otherwise, your format was pretty darn good, except that page numbers should be in the same font as everything else.
It was a bit unrealistic that the acrhives of the hospital were online. The internet is not nearly that old. You should have her find some old records -- perhaps somewhere on her own property -- and she should get her information through old papers as opposed to the computer. It is really impossible that those kind of records would be found online.
I liked the use of water -- especially the tank -- and the bit with "We're not rats!" is really good. I would like some more specifics about the actual experiments that took place. It's an opportunity for some creepy stuff that you did not exploit as much as you could have, I think.
I also like the twist where (deleted -- too good of a spoiler -- but pertains to the wife and husband)!! Ha! That is really, really good -- I would never have seen that coming in a million years. How did you come up with something so whacky? You should hint at that earlier in the story -- but don't tip your hand too much -- save that surprise for late in the story like you have done. It's really a great twist. Honestly.
I got a copy of this one as well a few days ago, but since I was tied up in training at work, I haven't had a chance to ad it yet. I glanced over it and it's certainly what he officially let slip before. Once this silly training is over and I get back to normal, it'll be one of the first things I read. Congratulations, Curse, for finally finishing this thing and getting it up and welcome back.
I've read your screenplay and here's your second review after Bert..
Loved your story, I thought you'd sat down and really thought hard about your narrative and your characters and it shows..
* * S P O I L E R S **
I liked the mystery inherent within the story and how this surfaces later on.
I like the conflict you establish between the ex-wife character and the ex-husband this works really well.
I like the idea of moving in a house which appears at first to be haunted but this turns out to be something else which is unexpected.
Nice REVERSAL by the way..
You've done well with your dialogue for the most part, it's snappy and reads well.
I'm not sure if the past records would be available on the Internet and I'd change this aspect of your plot devices and alter it to old newspapers on microfiche in a college library or something. This would make your character’s research and discovery more credible.. Not many companies would want their disasters records stored on the internet for all to see..
I thought the child character was well written, albeit short on dialogue this does communicate small children and I thought you captured this very well..
Not sure about The main character's Mom and Pop's dialogue. I can see what you were after but didn't think this worked. I should re-write this and just give them normal dialogue like the rest of your characters - let the actors find the accents..
The Father of the girl was a good character and he had very good lines, blunt, direct and to the point, well written, good..
Some of your formatting could be improved and me thinks maybe Bert and myself could help you on this if you'd like - just ask and you got it..
I'd like you to learn about Power Verbs or Action Verbs and how you can use these to best effect in a screenplay. I'd like you to split your action descriptions in your scenes so these read as separate shots. I'd also like you to not write DAWN, AFTERNOON or EVENING in your sluglines, instead just use DAY or NIGHT. If it is dawn, morning, afternoon, evening, sunset or whatever write this as a line underneath the slugline.
You need a little coaching on your punctuation, this isn't a problem and can be fixed and you'll learn how to write improved dialogue for your future scripts because punctuation is as important as the words themselves.
I'd try not to use the term BEAT in your screenplay if you can. Instead use the three dot rule like so:
MAN What are you going to do?
WOMAN I dunno’... Maybe I should tell Him? What do you think?
Man Well... I'm not sure? Maybe... Yeah... Do it...
The three dots or periods act as pauses and read better than having BEATS all over the place.
I'd also remove all your camera shots you don't need these in a SPEC SCRIPT which what your screenplay is. Instead, write the descriptions of what the camera sees;
Write like this:
A dead body lies motionless on the floor.
We can see the shot from the description.
There is a lot of stuff in your screenplay which can be improved. This is not a criticism of your story, characters, plot, reversal, theme, genre choice but simply formatting issues which can be learned and incorporated to improve your craft of writing screenplays.
Anyways, I don't want to write too much at this stage, I like your screenplay, you've done good, an excellent story with well defined characters, it reads well despite the formatting errors and this is a marvelous achievement. A big well done Curse. You’re a star!
Do get in touch if you’d like some help and or advice regarding improving your formatting..
Thanks for all your comments and views on the screenplay - they are appreciated greatly.
The first thing that bothers me about the screenplay is the online records. During the process of writing, I remember wondering if they had any kind of access to the internet during then - but alas, got distracted and forgot about it. Certainly this should be something to fix.
It seems that you all liked the dialouge. It was really hard to make people speak for their own personality and not mine.
The dreaded camera directions - the habit I'm trying to break. And also (beat). I've become so used to breaking sentences with (beat), this one and the camera directions are habits I am breaking - and hopefully succeeding!
Yes, I'm still learning about formatting. I recentely got a book on screenwriting (the one by Elliot Grove, I forget the name as it's long, but I recommend it), and I'm reading the formatting chapter. If I ever have some trouble with this, I'll be sure to contact you.
Personally, my favourite part was the twist between the ex-husband. Oh, and of course - the mirror scene. I felt like it just had to be there. Did anyone find that ultimately copying Ring or Grudge? I thought that if Sadako/Samara gets the TV, Kayako gets the stairs, then Sadie should get the mirror.
Rapture, I don't know what your going on about but thanks anyway =)
Everyone, thank-you so much for your comments. The first two reviews are great for me - thank-you very much. Now for the final words, which I absolutely have to put in this thread are: I told you it was real.
Did anyone find that ultimately copying Ring or Grudge?
There are just too many similarities. I like the lesbian twist, and it has quite a few original scenes, but just too many similiarities.
It's nearly exactly like Dark Water. I know these Asian films must have influenced you, (and let's face it, The Ring and The Grudge rip off each other anyway ) and influence is what gets most people writing.
But the way Zoe dies is like the Ring. The mother duighter relationship is Darkwater, smae with the villanous ex.
Other flaws (I'll get onto the good parts soon)
Zoe's reactions to the wierd things that happen - when the daughter starts tlaking with the demonic voice, Zoe screams etc but in the very next slugline, she's at the library, calm as ever. Would she ahve called and ambulance or something.
Also, some one your descriptions are hard to understand. Especially in the vision parts. Also, and this is just me, but I didn't find this very "scary". Even when I imgine it as a movie, it just doesn't come across as that creepy and/or scary. (Then again, neither was Dark Water) Maybe with a good director, though, it could be equal to The Ring or Grudge.
Zoe talks to herself too much.
Very in depth and thought out. You seemd to write this so no plot holes would emerge.
I'd read Bert's review and heard about the twist, which, like he said, I never saw coming.
Dialogue is above average. It worked, atleast.
Format was good, except some grammer mistakes.
Entertaining. I kept on reading to see the twist, and what exactly was gonig on about the hospital.
The format, for the most part was dead on. A few things seemed off, mainly the conversation between Zoë and Rachelle on the phone. Also one small thing, I noticed that you mentioned the "camera" (page 4), that shouldn’t really be there, other that that I had no problems with your format.
Each character was well written. Each one was distinct and you’re excellent dialogue helped in that manner. In fact the dialogue is what really stood out for me, the dialogue often set the tone, well done.
Thanks for your review. I read yours (and everybody else's) comments through, and I've noticed some mistaked that I didn't even realise were there, even after I read it twice through!
I guess I've copied Ring, and Grudge, but I think it's better like this (even though I should go back and make it more my own) - as when I first planned this script, it was going to be a slasher flick! Thank god I changed my mind.
Anyway, thank-you for your review Nixon, again, it is appreicated greatly. And I hope my review of Stoned Patriots was useful to you!
Keep in mind that these similarities mentioned (yeah, I read the thread before the script, but I'm okay with that) between your script and these Japanese horror flicks seem to be in individual occurrences and not the plot as a whole. I identified your script with Dark Water from just the WIP threads from last year, but primarily in the mother-daughter relationship and some of the occurrences I caught form those threads.However, this correlation only comes up because Dark Water is a recent film. After a few years, no one will care. Same with the Ring and The Grudge. These are in our consciousness right now, but since you didn't blatantly copy the plot and scripts of those films, these bits that seems to mirror those films will be only very minor as time goes on. After all, you ever hear anyone complain that the whomping willow from Harry Potter is remarkably similar to the hungry tree in Poltergeist? Didn't think so. If you were to search through movie history, you'd find that some of these scenes from popular movies today were scenes from movies everyone has forgotten about. If #747 were released a few years down the road, all this banter about it "ripping off" other films would not even be an issue, especially since several films seem to be involved.
I'm going to read this one soon and give my take on the complaints too. I've seen all of the above films and a few more to boot, so we'll see...
Ok, I read the legend, and have some thoughts for you. These are more general that came to me as I was reading rather than giving page numbers.
First, you need to make up your mind as to where this is going or setup all the occurrences before they happen. While the Zoe/Rachelle thing was a bit of a twist, it needs a little more character development from everyone involved before it comes out. You can still be subtle, but not invisible with it. Show us a few things that should strike us as a little off and nonsensical until all the pieces fall into place. I think that dynamic would be very cool to watch play out through the script. One thing you do need is more screen time for Jack. We need to see him earlier and interacting with Zoe. You have a phone call, but that doesn't give us much. They should meet in town or something, so we can witness a slightly odd echange that reminds us of the typical bad couple divorce, but something not quite right about it. Zoe's (secret twist) should be hinted at as well throughout.
The exorcism thing should either be expounded upon or completely dropped. It doesn't really play into the plot at all, and seems thrown in because you thought the Exorcist or one of the more recent takes was cool. We don't know this Vicar character at all, and nothing about this exorcism thing is explained at any point during the script. He realyl doesn't contribute in the end either. If he made some change, it would help its involvement, but all he does is a rite and rescue Becca from a crashing house. That's not really enough to warrant keeping it. I say lose it in favor of increasing our involvement with the characters.
While some may have liked the dialogue, I found it remarkably weak and on the nose too much. Some scenes are very, very short and woudl have been more interesting if the characters weren't saying exactly what they needed to for the plot. Try extending every dialogue scene to at least 3 pages and then revise from there. Get some character banter going interspersed with the plot infomation. It will help a lot if the minor characters had some character to them which can come through in them talking about themselves a little, or for relationships, the characters talking about each other. Another helper to dialogue is to read it out loud and consider whether people would actually talk like that. Yours is wracked with dialogue no one would say.
Another comment with the dialogue is Zoe talking to herself. Try to keep this to a minimum and show what she is telling us.
The basic plot and twists are pretty good, and I'm glad you finally finished it. I like the storyline of the lab and numbers and relationships there in that plot. You've got some good creepy stuff throughout that seems similar to other things, but I wouldn't worry about people drawing the smiliarities out. As I said before, it's inevitable and no matter what you have, it will happen.
Some things to pick on plotwise though concern her search for information. Many of her adventures in this category just seemed weird. Steve's need to leave all of a sudden was laughable and unrealistic. Tom's secret noir-ish meeting with her was just weird. He then sends her to someone else for more info. She is continually easily helped and sent to various places to get help, and to be honest, it feels too easy. Also, Edison's password needs to be telegraphed, perhaps on his mailbox or something. It is unlikely she would come up with this on her own. I found the pages torn out of the books way too convenient, but possible, I guess. As for the argument over whether records would be stored online or in microfiche, it depends on the library system. In my hometown, all the records are online in the library's computer system. There isn't a microfiche machine left in the buildings anymore, so I find it believable. Then again, the library I use is part of a library system that covers a huge area of several cities where I live. Therefore they hae the resources to do this from a central point. A smalltown library might not have this, ut they might connect to a central system for this anyway.
I'll second the request to lose the amazing number of wrylies you have in here, especially in the phone conversations. Just let us hear the other side of the conversation. It would help to understand the characters better too. Most beats and such are moe or less the actors job ultimately, so it's best to leave these out too.
Overall, I think it's a good first draft, but it needs a lot of work. Fill out the characters and dump the extra stuff first. If you can change the hunt for info scenes to be more personal, that would also be swell. You've done good. Rewrite it and submit again, and I'll probably read it again. It was enjoyable. Well done.
- The spacing between action and sluglines is twice as wide as it should be. Use one space instead of two.
- The script itself is a little disorganized. For example, there is a slugline at the bottom of page 4 with the subsequent action line at the top of page 5. These should be together. This happens several times. Also, dialogue shouldn't just spill over from page to page. You should put the character's name over it if it is continued from a previous page. I suppose stuff like this isn't that big an issue but fixing it will certainly make your script look more presentable.
- A few people have already mentioned the formatting during phone conversations. This is a must-fix. It's quite bizzare.
- Lose the camera directions. There aren't many but the ones you do have don't need to be there.
- Lose the beats. I, myself, used to use them a lot but they're rather unneccesary. If you really feel obligated to place pauses in between dialogue, use ellipses (...) instead.
- When Tom is introduced, you need to capitalize his name. This happens a few other times as well.
- pg. 50 - O.S. should be V.O.
As for the story, I thought it was pretty solid. The characters could use a little more development but they're not bad as they are. There's also a good sense of mystery throughout and the Zoe/Rachelle twist was pretty wild. One issue I did have, however, was that Zoe talks to herself many, many, too many times. This is extremely irritating and unrealistic. Nothing she tells herself is anything particularly important. Fix this. Also, Zoe's reaction to her father's death is also completely unrealistic. I mean, she completely disregards this to see Steve. She has to react somehow. It's pretty big news. Finally, while your story wasn't entirely derivitive, there were a few instances that were too reminiscent from other films. In particular, the green water and the changing ringtone were too similar to Dark Water and One Missed Call. I wouldn't worry about the TV or the vicar. While The Ring and Poltergeist certainly come to mind, both of them have been done in other movies. Otherwise, try making more of this your own.
Other than that, congrats on finally getting this thing done. I think you did a good job.
My main opinion on what you should do is get rid of the Jack story line. You don't really need it, what we are all really interested in is the supernatural lab and 747 and Jack just distracts from that and adds scenes where it seems awkward because the emotion is to high to write.
I am amazed though. I would never even think about writing a script like this untill I was at least in College, because writing a movie with an adult protaganist is extremely hartd to do for someone who is a teenager, and you seemed to do it well, although their were some awkward bits, but seriously, kudos to you. I ama amazed that it wasn't super awkward, just a few bits, you pulled it off well.
One thing I didn't get, and am curious about, is why the lab blew up? Did you answer this and I just didn't catch it?
Good job, thrilling, and creepy. My main suggestion is to get rid of the Jack sub plot, because it is unneeded.