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Vermin by Bo Ransdell (rerj73) - Horror - A horror/comedy with bite! A small-town sheriff, a beautiful twin, and the genetically-manipulated rats that threaten to come between them. 101 pages - pdf, format
The horror/comedy genre is nothing new, and itís actually hard to write because many writers canít find there focus. From Scream to Eight Legged Freaks, itís been done all sorts of ways, and Vermin is in that grand tradition where originality doesnít matter and tongue-in-cheek humor is in full blast. The reason I even read this script is because justice has not been brought to the ďkiller ratĒ movie, and I wanted to see what you could come up with.
Vermin is as close as Iím going to get to what I want to see on the big screen. This is one of the best horror scripts Iíve read on the site.
The characters are memorable and distinguished. The action is exceptionally well-written and feels like it could really happen. Everything works. The humor is subtle for the most part, but thatís why itís funny. I laughed for at least a minute when I read this:
ďThe rats are going somewhere cool and dark.Ē ďWhat about a movie theater?Ē
If this were filmed, I can picture everyone in the audience looking at each other right before checking between their feet. You nailed that cognizant fear in all of us, a tricky undertaking I must say. These types of scripts can seem really cheesy and completely ridiculous in the wrong hands, but you made it intense and exciting. The rats are a real threat throughout, and you keep them menacing even when theyíre not onscreen. I liked the outhouse scene the most simply because you donít see a rat until itís too late. You donít ďseeĒ any gore, either, but your mind can fill in the blanks, and that makes it more disturbing.
The third act is when all Hell breaks loose, and youíre able to manage the pacing while maintaining the tension. The cuts between the sewers, the police station, and the laboratory are all great because it shows how much territory these rats have covered. Itís a small town for the most part, but everything seems further away when the rats take over, showing how a limited setting can strike up more dread than anything else.
I didnít expect the fate of some characters (I had a bad feeling for Helen, but I didnít expect it to end like that). The bad guys get what they deserve for the most part, and the sudden deaths of those trying to help are effective and touching. I felt really bad for Jimís daughter at first, but when she let Helen die, I wanted to break into my monitor and kick her ass. I laughed like crazy, though, when Justine dialed 911 in the police station, only to hear the phone ringing in the other room.
The dialogue keeps your script funny, and the action keeps it suspenseful. It all comes together seamlessly. I had a great time reading it.
Hey, Sham, I really appreciate the comments. This was the one script that I was the most proud of, and the most nervous about posting because of the small genre it fits into. I, too, have always wanted to see a good killer rat movie, and never have, so this is my attempt to bring one into the world.
Without being too blatant, the whole time I wrote the main character, I just kept thinking Nathan Fillion... and this was begun before Slither, which is unfortunate. Anyway, thanks for the read and please feel free to shoot me a script of yours!
I'm a huge fan of this genre (Tremors has got to be one of the greatest films ever made) and wasn't disappointed by this - really nice work!
I agree for the most part with Sham's review, although I'm not sure I'd called the characters "distinguished". They seemed a little cliched to me but that didn't really detract from the script - they did the job and were funny as hell. If you can round them out a bit more then all the better.
The action was great, well written, well paced. You could probably shave a few pages off the first act - it doesn't drag but you could tighten it up.
And the humour... spot on. Good one liners but also great situational stuff - as Sham mentioned, the dialling 911 scene, the scene where Kyle and Oliver debate whether or not to follow Dusty etc.
The only real gripe I have is with "realism". Obviously this is tongue in cheek and not meant to be "real" but there were a couple of places where I felt "the logic" of the action didn't work;
p9 Wouldn't they have checked that the facility was using primates before breaking in? What's wrong with saving all the animals, anyway?
p37 Maybe a bit of a leap of logic for Bill to conclude that the rats have escaped rather than just been "terminated"
In the next scene, Bill seems a bit too relaxed considering he's just been told there are homicidal rodents on the loose
p43 Why on earth didn't Kyle just leave town?
p53 Again, why isn't Bill more worried about the rats attacking someone?
Why doesn't Bill draft in his deputies to help?
p87 Ha ha, not a very well thought out experiment given that the rats can crawl under the doors. But I suppose the villains didn't see that at the start...
Walker's plan to lure the rats back so he can keep the initial batch doesn't really make sense. How does he intend to control them / contain them once they return?
Maybe it's just me but these things kind of stuck out when I was reading it and pulled me out of the story. I think you can fix them easily enough without really changing the plot.
Only other thing I'd say is with regards to the romance - isn't it industry standard to leave "the kiss" until the climax? Think it came a bit early on p62. How about moving it to right before Bill punches her out?! I think that would be a nice juxtaposition.
Overall, I really enjoyed this - thanks for posting it!
Bored of shorts? Try a full length feature;
Red Balloons and Rollercoasters (Comedy / Romantic Dramedy)
This hasn't been commented on in awhile, but I gave it a read and really enjoyed it, so felt I should give my 2 cents...
!! SPOILERS !!
This was a really good script. I thought, you balanced comedy and horror well and this made for a very entertaining read. I can definately see this on the screen.
The only real thing I have to say about it, is that I was expecting more with the character of Kyle. At the start he seems like a smart ass and cocky kind of guy, and I was expecting alot of comic interplay between him and the sheriff when they eventually meet; the two of them playing off each other alot as they both seemed similar in some ways, but strong headed too, meaning they wouldn't get along.
However that never really happened. When Kyle does return to the story, he's pretty much overshadowed by the sheriff. Then of course he succumbs to his fate and I felt a little cheated, like he should have been a stronger character.
Other than that though it was realy good. Dialogue was good, and the characters were well defined in my opinion.
It's funny what you said about Nathan Fillion playing the sheriff, because I pictured him in the role too, and this was before I read any comments. I definately felt the lines were written with him in mind.
A few typos I noticed -
She screams against the class, (half way down pg76)
The tower of rats grows higher, knee-level with the pair as they swing back, sending rats flying as the kick through the top of the pyramid. (bottom pg81)
They swarm over the injured rat, devouring it. Like sharks in a feeding frenzy, the crawl and nip at one another, turning on each other to feed. (pg86 last block of text)
Fro the lab to their left, the guards can see a body, almost picked clean, as well as the rats still gnawing at the cadaver. (bottom pg89)
She kneels by the shape of Helen, closing her eyes with two trembling fingers. She rises, the pauses, (pg100)
Thanks for the feedback. Later versions have cleaned up the spelling errors, which are always embarrassing. Thanks to some great feedback here, this is actually being pursued by a couple of prodcos, so thanks to all!
I've actually read this script twice. I have to agree that original story lines and plots are hard to come by and the best that we can do is just write our take on specific genres, such as this one. What I liked most about the script was the witty dialogue! Dialogue to me is what makes a great movie or television show. A couple of good examples would be Buffy and Firefly and Serenity. Don't get me wrong, story is important, but if the dialogue is good, then it captures me. All in all, if I had to grade your script between a 1 and a 10, I'd give it a seven! It was enjoyable.
If you can't beat 'em, then get yourself a bigger stick! John Mavity
Much appreciated, too! I hope you'll give Beasts of the Earth a shot as well. I am a big believer in the Joss Whedon school of writing, in that even a tired genre can be very entertaining and fun with good dialogue and characters. Also, I just began a blog for my scripts, etc., at http://www.frightflicks.blogspot.com. Thanks, again, Jerry, for dropping a comment. I really appreciate it!
Hey, gang, just wanted to say thanks for all those who read and contacted me concerning this script. Just got word that this is now a finalist in the Terror Film Festival in Philadelphia, PA. Again, all your help is much appreciated!
hey bo, great script, very well done. and congrats on the place at the festival. have you read the rats trilogy by james herbert? the third one, domain is one of my fav books. the story and action move at such a pace, i don't know why it hasn't been filmed. anyway good stuff man!
Thanks, Stevie! I have actually talked with a few producers about this, but it's obviously an effects-heavy proposition, which requires some more budget than most want to invest in a new writer. I would love to see it on film, for obvious reasons, but I always thought this would be a fun flick to see as a fan of the old monster films of the late-70s, early 80s. Thanks again for the feedback!