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  Author    The Door  (currently 4004 views)
Don
Posted: March 8th, 2010, 8:49pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Door by John Carlon (JCShadow) - Horror - A man recovering from a head injury struggles to get his life and memories back, but a murderous stranger and a door with a haunting secret threatens to tear his world apart. 117 pages - pdf, format


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JCShadow
Posted: March 8th, 2010, 11:37pm Report to Moderator
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This is my first venture into screenwriting and I am looking forward to the critiques. I definitely want to know what I am doing wrong or right, what is working, what isn't, etc.

Thanks in advance.

John





The Door (Horror/Thriller) - 116 Pages

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ReaperCreeper
Posted: March 14th, 2010, 6:28pm Report to Moderator
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Hello, JC. I just took a quick glance at this. Mind you, I've not read the whole screenplay.  Here are my thoughts:

You do have tremendous talent. From a technical standpoint, your writing is sharp and concise, and yet at the same time it reads like prose. It's very pleasant to read. Just remember not to get too excited with it. Remember -- keep desciptions short and to-the-point. A script isn't viable literature, but merely one of many tools to make a film out of. That's not to say, however, that you went overboard here. I thought you did a good job of keeping this short and sweet.

Now, this is a negative: your entire opening sequence failed to grab me. It is all one big cliche, and not one without its share of silly "mistakes" characters in Horror films tend to do, either -- a woman carrying a baby grabs a KNIFE and then RUNS with both in hand?

You never say what she does with this knife upon grabbing it, so as far as the reader is concerned, it's in her hand with her baby. By the way, is it EVEN a baby? We might as well think so if you don't specify the child's age. A child can be anything from 1-11 years old. Be specific since the character is first introduced to avoid confusions further on.

Regardless, even in panic, no mother would ever do that.  Ever. The risk of damaging the kid by accident is too great. If he were walking BESIDE her instead of being in her arms, it would make more sense.

Things get better once we're introduced to John, but to be honest, I would have not gotten that far if I were an executive producer. I suggest you re-write this and start things out with John -- his arc is suspenseful from the beginning.

--Julio
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JCShadow
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I see what you mean. I used "child" in the description because I wanted to avoid an age or even what the child really looked like, I didn't realize it came off as a baby. The child is actually around age 7 and I didn't want any correlations made early on. Once inside she was supposed to put the child down and after grabbing the knife she runs upstairs towing him by one arm. I didn't realize it hadn't made it fully to the page. Sometimes you can't see what is right in front of you without a little help. Thanks.

I wanted the opening to be a chaos of sound and images. Loud and abrasive then soft and gentle. A journey ending and a journey beginning with the rest of the script tying the two together.

Hopefully if you read the entire thing it might make more sense and I will definitely put some more attention into the first few pages.

So I have to ask, because the beginning is so crucial, is it the lack of those details that makes it not work for you or just the whole opening in general? I know what Faulkner would say but I'd like to try and hang on to it.

Thanks again.


The Door (Horror/Thriller) - 116 Pages

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KelterDai
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Hello there!

First of all let me say that I am incredibly happy that I gave this script a chance because I have to admit that the title, THE DOOR, didn’t really grab me the first couple of nights I came to this site searching for a good horror script, but last night I clicked on your thread, read your synopsis and decided to give the script a read, and, again, I am so glad that I did.

I found the script very enjoyable, well-written, and easy to read, so that takes care of the basics because there are several scripts that even the simple task of just reading from page to page becomes rather cumbersome. It wasn’t with the case with this script at all, and in fact that dialogue was quite beautiful even though the scenes themselves where sometimes very dark and chilling.

While I know that any writer would love for a reader/reviewer to go on and on about all the things that they loved (and in this script there were plenty), I feel that it’s a better use of my time and your time for me to focus on the (weak) parts of this script so that you can continue tweaking it and making it a better and stronger script.

This is the type of script that gets better as you continue reading and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, I feel that this combined with the fact that your introduction is rather ‘stereotypical’ that the average reader may enjoy your style of writing and may even find the opening scene interesting but may not find anything too unique about it to continue reading and if anyone gives up on this script they are making a big mistakes, because, as I have already stated, I really loved this story and it just got better and better.

So my first suggestion to you would be: Strengthen your opening sequence.

The scare factor in this script is rather ‘tame’ in comparison to the average horror movie that you see out right now, and that’s actually a good thing; however, there is one scene in your script that I feel would benefit from a bit more suspense and terror and that is your opening scene.

As it stands, it’s good and it matches the rest of the script and perhaps doing what I’m suggesting may create an imbalance, I’m not exactly sure, but the way I see it, now that I have read the script, I realize how important that first scene was and I wish that scene would have been more memorable.

If that first sequence is more dramatic, I think it would do a better job of setting the reader on edge as he/she continues on with the rest of the story.  At that same time, the opening sequence would continue being in the reader’s mind a bit more and I think given the fact that by the last few scenes you really do need to remember that scene to understand what is going on that this is something you need to do to better accommodate your readers and better enable them to grasp what is going on.

So make the opening scene more dramatic.  Add more suspension and just make it tenser.


The only other bit of criticism that I will offer is on your characters, John, Sally and Jason. Who exactly are they? Post-script, I think back to what unique qualities I remember about each one of them and I really can’t think of anything of substance. I wish you could give us more detail and insight into their characters.  

Taking the character of John, for instance, even though he is the main character we really don’t learn too much about who he is.  This script is more focused on the events that are going on and the puzzle that needs to be solved and the characters (aka characterization) fall a bit by the wayside.

Before this accident and before the events that we discover at the end happen, who exactly was John? What was his background story? He’s a husband. He’s a father. What else? More about John, I wish that we could see a special bond between John and his wife and John and his son.  There are many ways of doing this.  For the first, you can have John desperate to know something about his life before the accident and maybe Sally can tell him the story of how they met and it can be a beautiful romantic little story that would later be horrifically juxtaposed by the twist at the end and what we know ended up happening between John and Sally.  

The same with John and his son Jason.  There was a great opportunity to make this relationship more special. When John remembers the bear his son always carries. It would have been great if there was a background story to that bear. Maybe Jason was struggling with something and his father was there to save the day and this bear symbolized everything beautiful and wonderful about their father-son relationship. I mean, it’s simply nice that a father gives a son a teddy bear but if there is more to it, if there is a deeper meaning then seeing that bear alone in that bathroom scene, wet, abandoned and without that little boy attached to it would become more powerful because the reader would instantly remember what was lost.

Going to the wife and the son.  Sally is just such a background character. There is really nothing that stands out about her. Why is she so special, not necessarily to this story because we focus on John through it all, but why was she so special to John at one point or another in his life? Why does he marry her? Why does he want to have a life with her? Make this character special in some way. She can be a painter and the house can be full of her art. Or she can be a singer and we can see her singing to John or even to her son and that can be something that makes HER special and also something special between mother and son.  For little Jason, maybe he can have a challenge in life, a learning disability, an illness he is trying to overcome, something that makes him 1) more sympathetic, 2) more unique, and 3) more complex.  

If you add more complexity and dimension not just to the characters, you will add more complexity and more dimensions to the character relationships and in turn to the script itself.

Oh, and there is one last thing…

I guess I’ll add a SPOILER WARNING for those who like to scan the threads before reading the scripts.



S
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W
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G



Another bit of criticism I have for you is about the two sides of John. You’ve done such a good job at making the John we seen in our story so present and so who he is post-accident that it is really hard to reconcile that he could have ever been ‘The Stranger’ (aka the man who would butcher his wife and drown his son).  That’s, of course, good in a sense and needed so that the mystery of the story isn’t immediately obvious but I wish there were tiny hints along the way about John’s personality.  For example, you know how Sally is continually telling John to take her pills? And John says "no" and he says he wants to know what is going on, that would be a great opportunity to have some foreshadowing. Sally can say, “Well, I will say this, that accident may have erased your memories, but deep down in your core, you’re still the same John, the same paranoid John who doesn’t let things go, who insist on getting to the bottom of things, even things that are better left uncovered.” And John can be puzzled by this statement and ask Sally, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” and Sally can say, “Forget it.” or “It means you need to take your pills.”  So here we’d get a bit of foreshadowing that this is a character who does have a tendency to get suspicious and does have a tendency to investigate things that he finds to be bothersome.  

Also, to make the fact that John would be a character that would kill his family, it seems realistic to give the character some obvious signs of dysfunction. He can have an addiction or a history of an addiction. We can have a scene where John is drinking and Sally is horrified (maybe overly so) and the reader doesn’t understand why and John doesn’t understand why and we just get some ominous statement about, “You promised you’d stop drinking, promised that you’d never pick up a bottle because you saw how it was changing you, how it was poisoning your mind, making you see things that weren’t there.” So again, this is just poking holes into John’s character and giving the readers big red flags that John isn’t a perfect guy, that he has some problems, some demons, and that this family might possibly be hiding a history of abuse.

Speaking of abuse, that could be something else that can be added to the script, child abuse, and that would tie in perfectly well with several things.  You can have this truth, that sometime in the past John “accidentally” hurt his son somehow (maybe while drunk, or maybe sober and just simply during a jealous rage because he suspected that Sally was cheating), revealed sometime in the middle of the script.  This could be revealed around the time of the teddy bear conversation.  Maybe that’s what the teddy bear stood for, a new beginning. Maybe John gave his son that teddy bear as an apology for hurting him and as a promise to NEVER hurt him again, and then seeing that bear alone and abandoned would suddenly be incredibly powerful because not only would it stand for the murder of the son, but also a broken promise, and the potential of a happy bond between father and son lost forever.

So you add something like abuse and you murky up what happened so that the reader won’t immediately suspect that John is a bad guy and thus figure out the entire murder plot, but you do hint that something happened. “You know, daddy didn’t mean to hurt you. I was angry, I was drunk, and I didn’t realize that I had grabbed you so hard.” You do something like that where you almost make it to where the character truly believes what he’s saying and you so plant seeds of doubts. Is this dad really an abusive type or was it just an accident.


Well, I hope you will consider some of these suggestions.  The script is really great and I love the concept of the clock goingn back in reverse (really unique and just keeps you wondering throughout the entire script what that could possibly mean). I felt chills when it was stated in the script that it was a ‘countdown’ and that immediately gave me this terrible sense of foreboding so well done! I also loved the door itself, the whispers, the music, all of that just worked so well. These were my favorite elements of the script and I think what makes the actual story so unique.

Also, loved the sermon in the middle of the script:

You can not hide your sins from the
Lord, just as you can not hide
yourself from your sins.


And on the day of reckoning, be
certain that your sins will seek
you out...


For all eternity.


This basically tells you what the entire script is about and basically reveals the entire twist but it’s not too obvious, so I appreciate not having to continually guess about the entire mystery and have a rather good picture of what is going on at this point.  There is one thing that I have disliked about movies with a major twist at the end and that is that the suspense keeps building throughout the entire movie and you don’t get any relief until the final scenes. IN your script, you give your reader small glimpses of what is going on and you do give them some time to breath and go ‘oh, I think I’m getting what is going on’ and that’s really cool because as much as I love big twists, I really don’t like waiting the entire story to find out the mystery. I mean, sure, save the clear image and all the details about what really happened at the end, but there is nothing stopping any writer from adding various elements of foreshadowing and various ways to explain what is going on. You did that with this short sermon, with the clock, with the opening sequence, with the phone calls, ect. So you did that a lot and as I reader I really appreciated that.

I'm bookmarking this script and will definitely read it again.

Thank you for writing it and I hope this gets produced because it would make such an exciting and memorable film!

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I am not sure that it matters to anyone here, as so few have read the script so far, but the following discussion contains spoilers that may ruin the story.


Quoted from KelterDai
Hello there!

First of all let me say that I am incredibly happy that I gave this script a chance because I have to admit that the title, THE DOOR, didn’t really grab me the first couple of nights I came to this site searching for a good horror script, but last night I clicked on your thread, read your synopsis and decided to give the script a read, and, again, I am so glad that I did.

I will be the first to admit that the title is a bit weak but I went with it as The Door hinges the entire script, even when it doesn’t seem as though it does. Of course it isn’t until the end that we see the relevance and importance of the door. To hint at its importance I added the carved image of the Roman god Janus (the god of gates, doors, beginnings and endings). The Door focuses John’s “perception” of his reality and fate.


Quoted from KelterDai
So my first suggestion to you would be: Strengthen your opening sequence.

You are not the first to say this. The other reviewer said much the same thing and I will have to agree with the both of you. As soon as I finish the current script I’m working on I plan on doing another rewrite. Punch up or change the beginning entirely.

I just love the scene cuts from terror and chaos to peace and tranquility. Maybe it just plays better in my mind than it does on the page. I want that opening sequence to startle the audience, getting into the mood of each scene only to have it yanked away and drawn into a scene that plays completely opposite of the one prior. Notice how each scene ends on a noisily violent high and then smashed to something serene and quiet and then back to violence and choas.



Quoted from KelterDai
The scare factor in this script is rather ‘tame’ in comparison to the average horror movie that you see out right now, and that’s actually a good thing; however, there is one scene in your script that I feel would benefit from a bit more suspense and terror and that is your opening scene.

I battled with deciding the genre to list this under. There are some definite horrific scenes in this script but the overall tone is thriller, certainly a mix of the two.


Quoted from KelterDai
The only other bit of criticism that I will offer is on your characters, John, Sally and Jason. Who exactly are they? Post-script, I think back to what unique qualities I remember about each one of them and I really can’t think of anything of substance. I wish you could give us more detail and insight into their characters.

This is my first script but I instinctively knew that my characters were weak. I think I spent more time focusing on the flow of the story. At first I intentionally wanted the characters to be vague as we are experiencing them through John (Are they extensions of John? Are they his guilt personified?). But he still holds certain memories so I ended up realizing that wouldn’t work. I am definitely going to give these characters the attention they need in the rewrite regardless of WHAT they really are.


Quoted from KelterDai
Taking the character of John, for instance, even though he is the main character we really don’t learn too much about who he is.  This script is more focused on the events that are going on and the puzzle that needs to be solved and the characters (aka characterization) fall a bit by the wayside.

I still want to keep John a little vague but plan on revealing a little bit of his softer side to throw off the audience even more. Some of the things I was going for may not have translated very well. I list several instances in the remarks below.


Quoted from KelterDai
Before this accident and before the events that we discover at the end happen, who exactly was John? What was his background story? He’s a husband. He’s a father. What else? More about John, I wish that we could see a special bond between John and his wife and John and his son.  There are many ways of doing this.  For the first, you can have John desperate to know something about his life before the accident and maybe Sally can tell him the story of how they met and it can be a beautiful romantic little story that would later be horrifically juxtaposed by the twist at the end and what we know ended up happening between John and Sally.

I wanted the bond to be strained or withdrawn from his family. John isn’t sure why things seem off and neither should we, even though the end clearly shows us why it is. This is one reason why the son is always instinctually afraid of his father even though he couldn’t tell you why, just as we can’t. There are several scenes in which Jason comes closest to pinning the tail on the donkey. The major one is on page 48 when Jason strokes John’s head and says:

Jason
He lives here.

John
Who does sport?

Jason
The bad man.


He is actually being quite literal, inside John, though we think he is talking about The Stranger having once lived in the house. It all has to do with the mind of John and the internal struggle taking place. I wanted there to be a wall dividing the family, one that we couldn’t see or put our finger on till later in the script.


Quoted from KelterDai
Another bit of criticism I have for you is about the two sides of John. You’ve done such a good job at making the John we seen in our story so present and so who he is post-accident that it is really hard to reconcile that he could have ever been ‘The Stranger’ (aka the man who would butcher his wife and drown his son).  That’s, of course, good in a sense and needed so that the mystery of the story isn’t immediately obvious but I wish there were tiny hints along the way about John’s personality.

I think that is the most horrifying thing about his character. I don’t want people to reconcile or believe he is capable of it, just as John is horrified when faced with the truth of it all and why he does what he does to himself. That is why he is split into two. The two can’t even reconcile with nor recognize each other or themselves. Both appear as shadowy strangers to one another and when the two are finally “forced” to come together, reality breaks down and we see the real world John lives in. Look carefully at the time the clock favors, when time freezes. As mentioned earlier I might amp up his character to throw us off some more. Further into the script I do begin to reveal John might be capable of violence, some intentional and some not so intentional.

For the replies below I must correct the name of the wife. Her name is Sarah.  


Quoted from KelterDai
For example, you know how Sally is continually telling John to take her pills? And John says "no" and he says he wants to know what is going on, that would be a great opportunity to have some foreshadowing. Sally can say, “Well, I will say this, that accident may have erased your memories, but deep down in your core, you’re still the same John, the same paranoid John who doesn’t let things go, who insist on getting to the bottom of things, even things that are better left uncovered.” And John can be puzzled by this statement and ask Sally, “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” and Sally can say, “Forget it.” or “It means you need to take your pills.”  So here we’d get a bit of foreshadowing that this is a character who does have a tendency to get suspicious and does have a tendency to investigate things that he finds to be bothersome.

I hit on this on page 72 when she says that he is starting to act like he did before the accident. It might seem too redundant but I really wanted her always harping on him to take his medicine. Especially in light of what those pills and bottles ended up symbolizing. Although she wasn’t aware of what she meant, she unconsciously wanted justice or vengeance for what he had done to them or again is it Johns unconscious will to destroy himself through the demons he has created for himself in the form of his son and wife?


Quoted from KelterDai
Well, I hope you will consider some of these suggestions.  The script is really great and I love the concept of the clock goingn back in reverse (really unique and just keeps you wondering throughout the entire script what that could possibly mean).

I most definitely will, this critiques are what will make me a better writer. As for the clock, it definitely had a meaning. Watch the sequence of events when The Stranger (what is he doing, what has he done, and what he does next) is involved, the two are tied together.


Quoted from KelterDai
I felt chills when it was stated in the script that it was a ‘countdown’ and that immediately gave me this terrible sense of foreboding so well done! I also loved the door itself, the whispers, the music, all of that just worked so well. These were my favorite elements of the script and I think what makes the actual story so unique.

I am really glad that you enjoyed it and I am definitely taking your suggestions to heart. This is the sort of feedback I am looking for. I want to perfect my writing and this is definitely the best way. I am so glad I found this site. I wouldn’t mind talking to you further via email to ask you some more questions regarding this screenplay. Things I don’t want on here so as to spoil any more of the story for other readers. I want to see if any of my symbology or ambiguity was lost in translation from my mind to the page.


Quoted from KelterDai
Thank you for writing it and I hope this gets produced because it would make such an exciting and memorable film!

Thank you for the kind words, for reading it, and for providing me with a nice critique.

John



The Door (Horror/Thriller) - 116 Pages

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James McClung
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Hey JC. Checked this out as promised. Didn't care for it. I'm not one to shit on someone's work unless they really deserve it... you don't deserve it. So don't fret too much.

There were things I liked. Two of them were consistent motifs so you should be proud of yourself for making them effective. They are the clock and, of course, The Door. I liked the clock ticking backwards. It was a very sinister image, maybe even more sinister given how not confrontational it was. It gave a great sense of impending doom. The Door, of course, was very confrontational. I liked how unpredictable it was and that you didn't have to know what was inside to know something bad was about to happen. You only had to see it open. And yet, it never moved. It was simply either open or closed, which I thought was very effective. Very menacing.

The scenes with the stranger, the ghosts... the hallucinations... weren't bad. Some were pretty suspenseful. I think you need to work on your language a little bit. You're descriptions were repetitive and dull at times. Maybe you're trying too hard to stick to the cut-and-dry style. You gotta spice it up a little bit. You don't have to overwrite to do it. But like I said, the scenes weren't bad. But they got boring as they moved along and yet clearly, they were supposed to be more intense, more in-your-face. But John's reaction was pretty much the same every time and they all ended up as dreams or whatever. By the end, they were pretty by-the-numbers, regardless of their content.

Before I explain why, I will say that I loved the medicine bottles turning into shotgun shells at the end. Probably my favorite moment in the script.

Okay. So you loaded your script full of what I imagine you intended to be intense, suspenseful sequences and yet, in the end, they grew tiresome. For me, at least. So why didn't they work? Well, first off, the whole it-was-a-dream thing sucks. Of course, they weren't dreams per se. But if you follow scenes with a guy waking up as if from a bad dream, they always have the same effect. Either people feel cheated or simply annoyed by the amount of questions that spring up as a result. So for future reference, try to avoid it. Actually... no. Avoid it. Don't try. There's better ways to make transitions.

This wasn't your biggest problem though. Your biggest problem were the characters. Fix them and you'll be on your way to fixing the script. First off, John is about the worst kind of character you can have in a horror script. Worse than all the jocks, sluts and stoners you find in slashers. That is... the character who is always confused and basically expects the ride to stop and explain everything to them. The amnesia angle is perfectly fine. But these characters should learn things as they go along. John seems to learn things but he doesn't really. He just hallucinates the whole time and somehow figures things out... but not on his own accord. He doesn't actively seek out knowledge, at least, not as much as he should. Check out Dark City. That's a pretty solid amnesia thriller/sci-fi/whatever, at least as far as the protagonist is concerned.

And you can chuck a good handful of stupid lines like "I'm so confused. I hope things become clear soon" or "This is all a dream." Just repetitive and useless as far as I'm concerned. Also, shouldn't the guy at least TRY to take his medicine at some point? You'd think a guy tripping balls like this would stop and think "Hey. I KNOW I was in an accident. Maybe the doctor did indeed give me something to help." That way, you could cut down on the absolutely grueling, repetitive moments of Sarah imploring him to take his pills.

The rest of the characters... eh. Aside from the latter moments of bad dialogue, in addition to cheesy, unrealistic and cliche nicknames like "kiddo," "squirt," and "bad man" and John calling Sarah "bitch" behind her back, the dialogue wasn't awful. Just repetitive. Partly because the characters aren't developed. They need to have personalities of their own. Hopes, dreams, likes, dislikes, quirks, habits. Sometimes, it feels like a lot but you need to disassociate your characters from their tired archetypes.

If I come off as harsh, I'm sorry but this script was kind of a struggle for me and I'd be doing you a disservice if I told you all you had to do was tighten things up. It's not shit, and by no means should you think it is, but I do think this script needs a lot of work. I hope you find some of my comments helpful.


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Quoted from James McClung
If I come off as harsh, I'm sorry but this script was kind of a struggle for me and I'd be doing you a disservice if I told you all you had to do was tighten things up. It's not shit, and by no means should you think it is, but I do think this script needs a lot of work. I hope you find some of my comments helpful.


Not at all... This is the type of criticism I am looking for. If I can't find out what isn't working I will never grow.

I guess this story is in far worse shape than I had thought because everyone who has read it hasn't understood it. This is my first full length feature and I must be failing to show things properly.

If none of the following came through in the script for you then I may just scrape this and try for a full re-write sometime down the line.

I don't know how this works or if anyone even cares but spoilers below this line...

- He isn't lucky enough to be dreaming. He is in hell. Check out the time the clock always stops at, 11:34.  

- Although we never saw his real suicide, it sets off a chain of events and shatters his reality/consciousness (door of perception) into two separate timelines and identities.

- All the events that lead up to his initial suicide are playing out in reverse for John in an infinite loop. Every time he sees the stranger it is a piece of the other timeline he is witnessing. They both see each other occasionally but we are with the John that can't remember or come to grips with what he has done or what is happening.

- This is why the clock is moving in reverse. While the script is focused on John, "time" is playing out for the stranger until John has been tortured enough and crosses over. When the clock starts moving forward he has become a "stranger" who has done things to himself and his family he could never imagine. After the two collide and time starts moving forward for John, he finally begins to find out who he is, what he has done, and what he must do. Again and again.

- The sideways elongated eight is the sign for infinity and we have two competing and eventually colliding looping timelines.

- Everything that happens in this script is caused by or a memory of or a representation of John, along with his "demons", torturing himself. Hence the scene of the fires of hell following the stranger at the end as John finds himself trapped in the room behind his "door" of perception. At this point he has realized the truth of everything but doesn't know what he needs to do.

- The pill bottles were always shotgun shells. They were John's cure for his dilemma when he was alive and in his hell they literally represent a cure in the form of pills in a pill bottle. The reason he never takes them, I think he did once but I need to take that out, is because he is a. unconsciously afraid of them because this is what sent him to this hell and b. the unconscious part of him that knows what he has done (the stranger) hasn't finished torturing John and if he were to take the medicine the way he does in the end he would never suffer.

- We never really ever hear the shotgun going off because John never could have. It would have happened so fast. What we do hear is the closing of his "door" to perception which he ultimately opens back up in the only dream sequence and sets off the events in the rest of the script.


Thanks for the read. I can accept I failed in my first outing. I just need to figure out why I am not getting the above out for people to see them. I think maybe I try to make it "not" obvious, I don't know.


The Door (Horror/Thriller) - 116 Pages

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_ghostwriters
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Quoted from JCShadow
So I have to ask, because the beginning is so crucial, is it the lack of those details that makes it not work for you or just the whole opening in general? I know what Faulkner would say but I'd like to try and hang on to it.  "Then please do.  This is your baby."


Hey JC, gave this a read last night.  I'm surprised this one hasn't garnered more reads, it's one of the better ones posted.  Especially, if this is your first feature you completed.

A person either has a talent in a particular field or they don't. Writing is no exception, but the good news is that in addition to being art, writing of any kind especially screenwriting is a craft, which means it can be learned.  After reading this it's clear you have a good grasp on the craft, and can tell a story.

The great challenge in writing a feature-length screenplay is sustaining audience involvement from page one until the very end.  Lots of suspense, tension throughout.  The pacing was done rather nicely I might add.  For this reason, it has some aspects of horror but to be honest this is more of a thriller then anything.

Your opening, I'm going to have to disagree with the two previous reviewers off the bat.  Both made some valid points and good suggestions,and its a good start in doing a re-write down the road.

The opening scene is fine.  It works as is and this clearly becomes more evident as to why when we get to the end of the script.  So I had no problem with it.  Could it be stronger of course, but it's not weak by any stretch of the imagination. There's enough suspense in that scene alone to get the audience attention.  This is the theory I describe too;  I want to grab the reader or audience attention right off the bat or soon as possible.

If you notice my sig line, I've studied time travel religiously before I started writing that feature, so when you had the two timelines, I was able to follow this rather easily.  Not that your script was about time travel, but you do understand what I'm saying.

"The hands of the clock, the pending doom,"  Kept creeping into my mind.  How you managed to tie the "clock" in with this throughout worked well IMO.  "The Door" without revealing too much.  Leaving a little mystery is always good.  The pill bottle left me scratching my head for the majority of the script until the very end though.  This was interesting to say the least.  I thought it ended up playing out well too.  More kudos.

Of course you know back stories are great but not essential in developing a stong script.  Is it helpful to have a back story for every character yes, but not necessary. This word was mentioned in a previous review;  (archetypes).  Star Wars for example, the characters of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and Darth Vader are all archetypes of classic characters, but it�s hard to deny that the man, "George Lucas" didn�t put his own stamp on them when he was writing that screenplay.

In this case;

Your characters, John, Sarah and Jason;  Everything is centerd or either focused around him, the puzzle he's trying to unravel, everything that's happening too him, so it's only natural when it comes to characterzation, you need to make sure you nail his on the money.  Just make sure you develope him a little more and I'm sure you will.  

As far as Jason, he serves his purpose, IMO.  I wouldn't try to change too much with respect to him.  However, I found Sarah, well interesting to some degree.  Sarah seemed to show much disdain and contempt for John throughout.  Almost a certain level of sinisterness about her.   Rightfully so, fair enough.

Page#75, bedroom scene.  Sarah... "Then take you medicine and it will all go away.  trust me."  The line was so simple but packed a powerful punch.

Having said this... yes Sarah, I would too.  You don't have to get too carried away with developing them more.  It could be just a simple tweak but make her stronger too.

I usually make sure my antagonist and protagonist have a good backstory.  For the rest of my charatcers, sure, I'll make one or two interesting in one way or another but I could careless about a backstory for them, because they're minor.

Some of the descriptions did get repetitive after page#50.  I believe the Director would get the mood you're trying to capture.  But for the most part your writing was crisp, concise.

JMO... a few thoughts for what its worth.  Overall, I enjoyed "The Door."  It was a solid story, well conceived and has its share of flaws but lots of potential. By know means give up on this one.

After a re-write, wouldn't hurt to enter this into a competition, one with hollywood insiders or ties to them to get some eyes on this, and give you that missing piece to get this marketable.  Heck, if Babz is around long enough, maybe she'll take a look at a future date.

Good Luck,

Ghostwriter


"When I dive... I go deep, only to surface the hub when necessary."


Revision History (6 edits; 1 reasons shown)
_ghostwriters  -  June 18th, 2010, 1:59pm
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Dreamscale
Posted: June 18th, 2010, 1:20pm Report to Moderator
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Hey John, thought I'd give this a read, but I've stopped on page 10.

Here's the deal...

Your intro is really dull, sorry to say.  It's also a bit odd with the back and forth scenes playing against each other.  I don't like how nothing is finalized in the intro, either, but I imagine your aim was to reel your readers in and hope they wanted to stick around to find out what's it's all about.  Maybe I'll pick this up again later, but I don't know.

Several problems going on, IMO.  First off is the fact that none of your characters have any description whatsoever.  Not even an age, which makes it just impossible to get a visual of what they look like and what they may be like.  You've go to give us at least a character's age. I prefer some sort of physical characteristic as well.

You're missing alot of commas in your prose, and it hurts the read.

You have a number of awkwardly phrased passages, which again makes it difficult to stay in the read.

On page 10, there is a passage that says something about John looking at a photo album.  I went back a few pages and didn't see any sort of intro for this photo album.  Am I missing something here, or is it a mistake?

Finally, your prose is extremely flowery, or novelistic.  Others noted this as well, and it borders on overboard.  I actually prefer reading well written scripts that have a nice flow, in terms of the actual writing, but I think this needs to be toned down a bit.

Again, sorry for not getting completely through this.  Based on some posts, it appears that things pick up, but IMO, you really need to nail the intro and have it come across in a way that won't allow your readers to stop.

Hope this helps.


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JCShadow
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Ghostwriter22, thanks for giving this a read. I am not sure why I am getting very few reads on this. Bad title? Uninteresting logline? I've been participating here, reading others scripts, so I really couldn't tell you. I am glad you enjoyed it and I am getting pretty good feedback overall to those who have read it, including one analysis. As soon as I finish "The Devils Brigade" I am giving this script a tune up. It definitely needs it for all the reasons mentioned here and the ones I am now seeing for the first time myself.



Quoted from Dreamscale
Your intro is really dull, sorry to say.  It's also a bit odd with the back and forth scenes playing against each other. I don't like how nothing is finalized in the intro...

Yes. That is why it is written that way. These scenes, as explained elsewhere in this thread, is about playing the calm against the storm. All unanswered questions found in those scenes are addressed later in the script and the "gaps" filled in. I do plan on reigning them in and tightening them up but the sequence will remain.


Quoted from Dreamscale
Several problems going on, IMO.  First off is the fact that none of your characters have any description whatsoever.  Not even an age, which makes it just impossible to get a visual of what they look like and what they may be like.  You've go to give us at least a character's age. I prefer some sort of physical characteristic as well.

I agree and to be honest I didn't develop my characters AT ALL for this script and it definitely shows. I focused too much on the complex story and symbology of the environment. I spent weeks on the characters in the script I am working on now and it shows. I am definitely going back to breathe some life into them in the rewrite.


Quoted from Dreamscale
You're missing alot of commas in your prose, and it hurts the read.

You have a number of awkwardly phrased passages, which again makes it difficult to stay in the read.


I reread the first 10 pages and found very little of this. Maybe you could elucidate these for me. It is sometimes hard to see when you are reviewing your own work till it is pointed out. I don't know how many times I have reread this script and I STILL find misspelled words or other grammatical errors.


Quoted from Dreamscale
On page 10, there is a passage that says something about John looking at a photo album.  I went back a few pages and didn't see any sort of intro for this photo album.  Am I missing something here, or is it a mistake?

If you go back to page 8, where the scene starts, it is in the very first line:
John sits next to Sarah on the porch. An opened photo album
in his lap.



Quoted from Dreamscale
Finally, your prose is extremely flowery, or novelistic.  Others noted this as well, and it borders on overboard.  I actually prefer reading well written scripts that have a nice flow, in terms of the actual writing, but I think this needs to be toned down a bit.

Actually there is very little of this in my script. I also don't do "mechanical" writing that is lifeless and doesn't reflect at least minimally of the writers own unique style. However, there are more in the first ten pages as I am setting mood. This might be why it seems that way. Personally I would rather be a little overly creative in my descriptions than writing them lackluster.

I find things like:
"Lightning tears through the night sky as barren trees whisper and dance in the wind."

or

"A soft, white noise hum blankets the house. Furniture hides under moth eaten sheets like dirty ghosts frozen in time." (Which becomes clear later in the script that this is an allegorical statement on John as well as a literal description of what is happening or has happened in the story.)

more effective than:
"Lightning in the sky. Trees rustle as the wind blows"

or

"A hum fills the house. Furniture hides under dirty sheets."

Thanks for the read, especially from older and more established members of the board. I will keep all these thoughts in mind as I do the rewrite. Let me know if either of you want a return read.

Thanks again,
John


The Door (Horror/Thriller) - 116 Pages

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Dreamscale
Posted: June 20th, 2010, 6:17pm Report to Moderator
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Hey John, I will go over the first 10 pages again and point out the grammatical errors (comma omissions, etc.) for you.  I'll also try and finish the script, as I feel bad when I don't get all the way through a script, especially one that has been getting good feedback.


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OK, John, as promised, here’s your edit of the first 10 pages.  I took very detailed notes and tried to bring up everything that I felt needed some attention.  Hope this helps.

Page 1 – Opening line is very flowery.  It reads well, but most are going to be turned off by this right out of the gate, IMO.

“A WOMAN runs past reaching branches, a CHILD in her arms.” – Awkwardly phrased.  Also, as I mentioned earlier, ZERO description of the woman and the child.  Is this child a baby?  A toddler?  A 10 year old?  Without giving us ages and/or a physical description, we, the reader, have no clue whatsoever.  Also, if this “woman” and “child” actually have a role (and a name) in the script, this is cheating right off the bat, if you know what I mean.  Intro your characters properly and immediately.

“She jerks a glance over one shoulder.” – Awkward again.  Why use “one shoulder”, as opposed to “her shoulder”?

“pleas” is an “orphan” that could easily be done away with.

Your new SLUG “INT. HOUSE”, should actually be “INT. HOUSE – KITCHEN”, IMO.

I personally hate when writers call characters “Woman” or “Man”, when they have a bunch of screen time.  IMO, it’s lazy writing.

You’re still in the kitchen here, but you’re showing your action through the window, in the “Woman’s POV”.  I would write it as such, so it makes sense…as it now reads, it really doesn’t make technical sense, IMO.

“hands” is another orphan.

Page 2 – Missing a comma between “top” and “she”.  This sentence is also poorly and awkwardly written, IMO for several reasons…first of all, you’ve got the old “she hears” – no reason for this, IMO, unless you are going for some kind of reaction from her, but if that’s the case, you need to write that.  Secondly, you’re telling us that the Man kicks in the kitchen door”.  We wouldn’t know this, or see it, and neither would the woman.

Your new scene starts off very oddly, with the phrase, “Still far below,…” – far below what?  We’re supposedly on a highway.

“Dismal and gray, the weather hasn’t improved.” – Very awkward and confusing.  Hasn’t improved from what?  Since you never described “the car” we don’t know that this is even the same car.  The line just doesn’t work at all, IMO.

“The wind still whips past. Calm and soothing.” – This is the 2nd or 3rd example of this kind of phrasing now (I didn’t bring them up before).  Firstly, this should really be 1 sentence with a comma (I know it doesn’t HAVE TO, but it should).  It just doesn’t make a lot of sense though, nor does it add anything at all, other than confusion, which I doubt is the intent here.  “whips past” what?  What is calm and soothing about it?   The prior line said it was “dismal and grey”, and that “the weather hasn’t improved”.  This doesn’t sound calm or soothing at all.

“The child nods his head as she kisses him. Hugs him.” – Another example of what I call poor phrasing.  Again, this could/should be 1 sentence.  Easiest fix, “The child nods his head as she kisses and hugs him.”  Doesn’t that read much better?

“She tip toes down the hall, screams” – No reason to do this sort of thing, IMO.  If you want to show that she is screaming, use a wrylie in the dialogue box.  It looks and reads poorly the way you have it.

Missing a comma between “hides” and “she”

“she hears” again.  Don’t like it at all.

Page 3 – New scene – “appears closer” – closer than what?  Closer than it appeared 2 scenes ago?  No reason for these lines.

“The occupants still remain hidden beneath the faded roof.” – Again, absolutely no reason for this line.

“A black mouth in the side of a small mountain.” – A total aside here that does nothing for the script, except waste an extra line, IMO.

“Crashes come from other rooms in the hall. Footsteps move back and forth.” – OK, since we’re in the bathroom, all this “stuff” is taking place OS.  The other rooms aren’t “in the hall”, they’re off the hall.  The 2nd line is kind of weakly written, as the sound is most likely footsteps coming closer, not moving back and forth.  Why would the Man be moving back and forth?  Doesn’t make sense.

“Shoes pop into view and the child scurries to the far side of the bathroom. Cringes behind the tub.” – Again, problems here, IMO.  I highly doubt that the child or the camera will be able to see “shoes popping into view”.  But, even if the child and/or the camera could see them, you need to state that they’re being seen underneath the door.  Also, connecting “the child scurries to the far side of the bathroom” with “and”, isn’t correct.  This is 2 complete separate shots and thoughts.  There is also an extra space between “of” and “the”.  Finally, the last “sentence” should really be connected with the 2nd part of the first sentence with a comma or an ellipsis, and “behind” doesn’t make sense either…probably “inside”, right?

“He sees the shadow of the Man standing outside the door.” – OK, bud, again, this makes no sense as written.  How could anyone see a shadow through a closed door?  Also, the child is cringing inside a bath tub.  Finally, why use “he sees”?  IMO, these type of things infer that you are showing reaction shot of whoever is seeing or hearing, and when you don’t tell us what that reaction is, it’s a complete waste, and IMO, a mistake in basic screenwriting.  NOTE:  many writers do this, including Pros, but that doesn’t make it right or acceptable.

“Without warning…” – First of all, you’re missing a comma after “warning, and before “the”.  But, more importantly, there’s been lots of warning that the door is going to open…”shoes popping into view”,” the shadow of the man”, and most recently, “the handle turns slowly”.  Meaning, you are routinely using extra words that not only take up extra space for no reason, but also aren’t really even correctly being used.

“The car sits at a crossroads. Turns left.” – Hmmm…”at a crossroads”? Maybe more like an “intersection”?  Or how about just, “The car makes a left at an intersection.”, but then again, what’s the point of these 2 sentences anyways?  They’re meaningless, really.

“It begins to rain…” – Not well worded at all.  Also, stay away from using phrases like “begins to”.

“inside” and “over” are 2 more orphans, that are so easily done away with by being less wordy.

Missing a comma between “Somewhere” and “a”

Page 4 – “He turns to the table and grabs up the long black object laying there.” – So awkwardly phrased.  Why conceal what the object is, when you reveal it 1 line later?  Just a complete waste of 3 lines by doing it this way.

“The Man moves towards the door. His body fills the frame until all is black.  When he emerges on the other side, walking away, he is in” – These passages are really awkwardly written again.  It seems like you are trying to do way too much in terms of your actual writing.  This stuff doesn’t work at all here.

Missing a comma between “roar” and “he”.

Another lonely orphan in the form of “rage”.

OK, you’ve got a totally new scene here, simply labeled “HOUSE”.  Since we’ve already seen the same SLUG, we have to assume this is the same house, right?  Problem is that you haven’t given us any description of this house yet, much like the lack of descriptions for all the characters.

Again, you make it clear that it’s raining still, yet you say it’s calm and quiet, which don’t go hand in hand with rain storms, IMO.

“The song plays its last, replaced by the -- schick schick -- schick schick -- of the records end.” – Very awkward again.  “records” – “record’s”

Page 5 – Missing a comma between “seat” and “he”

Missing a comma between “mirror” and “he”

Missing a comma between “hands” and “he” – All 3 of these follow the same rule, which you may want to look up.

A sad little orphan sitting by himself in “time”.

Missing a comma between “frown” and “he”

Your new SLUG states “FRON T OF HOUSE” – Up till now, you’ve been using just “HOUSE”. Why the change now?  I do appreciate that you’ve finally decided to give us a description of it!

You’ll want to use quotations around the actual words on the photos.

Page 6 – Mounts what stairs?  If there are stairs leading up to the porch that come into play, you need to let us in on this fact before they’re being used.

“peers in through the front door” – is the door open”  If not, you need to be much more clear about what your passages mean. If he’s looking through glass panes in the door, you need to once again set this up much better.

“Tries the handle.” – You are repeatedly using these fragments without subjects for some reason.  They are not saving you space and at times, are making the passages confusing.  Be careful of this.

Missing a comma between “budge” and “so”, but the sentence itself is rather awkward as written.

“ A soft, white noise hum blankets the house. Furniture hides under moth eaten sheets like dirty ghosts frozen in time.”  -OK, John, let’s get this out of the way.  The first sentence here is awkward, confusing, and really doesn’t tell me anything at all.  The 2nd one is just flat out overwritten, and doesn’t belong in a script, IMO.  You’ve used 2 lines when you could easily have gotten away with 1 here.

“lifeless” is another orphan, all by herself.

“The room falls into gloom as the sun goes back into hiding.” – Tricky shot without showing an EXT shot of the sun actually going into hiding.

Page 7 – “Muted whispers are coming from behind this large door.” – Passive verbiage that doesn’t sound good at all.

“WOMAN’S VOICE (O.S.)” – This should simply read “SARAH (O.S.)”  Intro your characters immediately.

Same deal with the following passage.  Why are you saying things about a “woman” and a “young boy”?  Just get it out and intro them as “SARAH” and “JASON”.

And here’s that crazy invisible front door again.  What’s this thing made of that people can look through it when it’s closed?  Is it all glass or something? If so, you need to tell us, otherwise, you’re going to have assholes like me questioning it.

Page 8 – “John sits next to Sarah on the porch. An opened photo album in his lap.” – This should definitely be 1 sentence, connected with a comma.

Page 9 – Another poor, lonely orphan in “something”

“reads” – “read”

“Trying not to feel humiliated, he changes the subject.” – IMO, this is a completely unnecessary aside that does absolutely nothing but take up an extra line.

Page 10 – “Jason moves across the lawn to get a new perspective on the house as John changes the subject again.” – Awkwardly phrased and again, a waste, IMO.  Absolutely no reason to use lines like “so and so changes the subject”.  Just go right into the dialogue.

“For the first time, John finally looks at the photo album.” – Worded oddly…why would you start this off with, “For the first time”?  No reason for that.


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Dreamscale
Posted: June 23rd, 2010, 6:57pm Report to Moderator
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Hey John, after our PM conversations, I decided to give your script a read…all the way to the end.  I’m glad I did.

I did something I rarely do these days…simply read it through quickly, without pausing at mistakes, and without taking any notes.  So, everything I say here won’t be backed up with exact examples, but I’m sure you’re cool with that and get where I’m coming from.

There are lots of positives on display here.  There are also some not so positives. Most of the positives contain  what I call “double edged sword” aspects…meaning, although they are indeed positive, there are some downsides, or negatives attached to them as well.

Let’s get into it…

SPOILERS     SPOILERS     SPOILERS     SPOILERS     SPOILERS     SPOILERS

I think you are a good writer, right off the bat, and if this is indeed your first attempt at a feature length screenplay, you’re on your way, bud.  As noted in my first 10 page detailed notes, there are numerous issues going on that are prevalent throughout the entire script (as I assumed).  Nothing you can’t easily fix and nothing that won’t become second nature to you, as you gain experience.  But, this script does need a good edit and rewrite, and I’d suggest trying to cut it back to no more than 100 pages or so, which I think you could easily do.

OK, where to begin?  Hmmm…let’ start at the very beginning.  As I mentioned earlier, your intro did not grab me at all.  I obviously do see now how it all comes into play, but it still does not work for me the way it is, and I think it’s very important to nail the intro and make it so your readers feel like they have to continue.

You’ve set up a mystery type scenario here that plays out throughout the entire script, which is one of those double edged sword things.  When done effectively, this setup and payoff can be great.  It’s both a page turner and the type of movie that keeps audiences on their toes in anticipation of how it’s going to play out.  But, when not done effectively, or when the mystery is too simple, to easy to figure out, or the payoff isn’t strong enough, it leaves you with a feeling of being letdown, or even ripped off, when it’s really poorly done.  This isn’t poorly done, but I figured it out pretty early on, and I didn’t like the taste I had in my mouth when I finished.  Now, please note (as I’ll go into later), I didn’t figure out exactly what you intended, based on one of your posts here, but I definitely had the general idea sniffed out very early on.

Probably a few reasons why.  First of all, I’ve seen so many horror/thriller/mystery movies that very few actually surprise me anymore.  More importantly though, is the fact that you’ve got a total of 3 named characters here.  By not adding anyone to the mix as things go along, it becomes quite obvious what’s really happening here, or what’s going to happen.  Just no way around that, IMO.
The general storyline is one I’ve seen many times.  It has that been there, seen that feel to it…which isn’t a terrible thing, cause you did give this some originality, but I was hoping for things to get changed up along the way…for some new characters to enter…some new settings…other possibilities…something.

Once again, we have a double edged sword situation.  With basically 1 setting and 3 characters, you have a script that can easily and rather cheaply be put together.  That’s the plus side. The downside is as I said above, with only 3 characters and 1 setting, the mystery doesn’t have anywhere to go, or any other way to play out, and it gets very repetitive along the way, both in terms of visuals, action, and even dialogue.

You’ve got some good scenes in here…creepy, scary, weird, confusing…and…repetitive.  It has a J-Horror feel to it, with the dead people (ghosts) dripping water, being all wet, with matted hair, etc.  You’ve got good atmosphere with the weird stuff going on…the clock, the music, the constant rain, the bridge being blown out, etc.  But again, it’s all very repetitive, and after seeing (or reading) it a few times, it loses its power and affect.  Again, with only 3 characters, I knew that things were going to play along like this until the end, because if they didn’t, the script would be over way before the 117th page.

My 2 biggest issues here with the story are your characters and your action.  The problem is not nearly enough of either.

As for the characters, I mean 2 things here.  You need more characters and you need to make them much stronger, much more unique, much more personality, much more likability.  Obviously, this is a non standard structure and story, which again, is a double edged sword (I personally love non standard stories/plots/structure, etc.).  Who is your protag?  Who is your antag?  Who are we rooting for?  Who do we fear for?  Why should we even care?  Well, we should care, first of all, because we want to solve this mystery and figure out WTF is going on and why, but if we do that early on, what’s left for us to keep our interest?  For me, none of the characters had any life (funny, huh, cause in reality, none of them were even alive!), or characteristics that I could relate to, root for, or fear for.  This has a lot to do with the fact that you didn’t give us any description whatsoever of any of them, but more importantly, it’s due to you not allowing any of them to show their personality.

This ties into my 2nd issue with the characters…there aren’t enough!   With only 3 characters, you have the ability to spend a lot of time letting us get to know them.  You really have to when you have so few characters, and this has the feel of a character study type script, as opposed to any other sub genre of horror.  You didn’t, and it shows so much more because of it.  It makes it so much more apparent that this script needs another character or 2, at the least.  Who?  I don’t know.  Maybe even some Flashbacks of these 3 at a happier time would help, but for the sake of the mystery working and remaining a mystery, we need some other options and possibilities to keep us guessing.

Another issue with the characters and the actual writing is the fact that you purposely chose to conceal the names of the 2 dead people and the “stranger”.   Is it your intention for us not to know that the 2 dead people are actually Sarah and Jason?  Wouldn’t it be painfully obvious on film that these are the same people?  Even in death, the physical characteristics would be the same.  Same deal with the stranger…wouldn’t it be really tough to conceal that he looks exactly like John, even in terms of physical build, etc?  All 3 of these dead people have lots of screen time.

As a seasoned “script reader”, once I see that a writer is intentionally not naming a character, I have to assume there’s a reason for it.  And again, with only 3 characters in the entire script, it just gives away everything you’re trying so hard to conceal.

AS for the action being an issue, I mean that there just wasn’t nearly enough, and what action there was, seemed to be very repetitive, with the same thing happening again and again.  Maybe Flashbacks could help here as well, but as it sits now, I just don’t see enough action to keep me engaged…in the read or more importantly in a filmed version.

OK, now onto some things that you brought up in a few of your posts.  You said that this takes place in Hell, and gave reasoning for what takes place.  After hearing you say that, I can understand where you’re coming from, but in no way does that come across in the script. What is the relevance of the time 11:34?  I don’t get it.  What is the relevance of the old 50’s music playing?   I see these as head scratchers in a filmed version.

A few people mentioned how much they liked the pill bottles becoming shot gun shells.  Here’s a big problem though if this were filmed as is.  You didn’t “show” them turning from pill bottles to shells. You merely told us that when he took them out of his pocket, they were now shot gun shells.  In a filmed version, all we’d see was him pulling out 2 shells from his pocket.  For this to work, you’d have to show them morphing from bottles to shells.  Know what I mean?  And this ties into the constant, recurring theme of Sarah telling him to take his pills.  For me, it didn’t work at all. It was very repetitive, almost irritating, and with no real payoff in the end.  What you were going for did not translate successfully onto the page, and definitely wouldn’t transfer to film.

Finally, as James mentioned, the payoff itself is the kind that most get upset with.  The “it was all a dream” kind of thing.  Although this was not a dream, it has the same effect and feel when it’s all said and done.  Nothing transpired here.  Nothing changed.  No one succeeded in what they were after.  It literally plays out again and again, like that broken record motif you used a few times, which was good, but as I’m saying here, turns into almost a negative, based on how it ends up…because it doesn’t end.  There isn’t an ending, and actually, there isn’t a beginning (oh, but that’s another topic completely!).

So, I think you’re off to a good start here and show signs of being a talented writer with a real story to tell in your head, full of great visuals and real meaning.  It just didn’t quite make it to paper, like you’re seeing it in your head.  Could this turn into a film?  Sure it could.  Probably as good as or better than most of the DTV’s we’re constantly bombarded with.  But, with some work, it can be so much more.  The writing can be much, much stronger.  The story can be bigger and better.  And for sure, the characters can be fleshed out so much more.

I think you’ve got something here that has potential, John.  Now run with it and turn it into something big.  You can do it!

Hope this helps and makes sense.  Take care.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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JCShadow
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Thanks for the full read and critique. I am glad I found this site. I agree with a lot of what you are saying here and once that little corner of the veil was lifted from my eyes I began seeing more and more things I needed to do differently. The character thing goes without saying, I knew those were lacking.

Yes, this is indeed my first feature length screenplay. It does run long and I had trouble filling those pages. I was under the assumption, I now know differently, that I needed to hit at least 120 pages.

As for the mystery part, I didn't want to be TOO revealing but I also didn't want to make it hard to understand. There are alot of deeper levels I am sure most people won't get or understand because they require too much thought or maybe I just didn't write it in a way that they could be understood.

I had thought about adding some extra characters to fill out some action and add a little more mystery. I ultimately decided not to because no one else figured into the "event" nor were a part of his guilt. At one time I had a blind old man that lived in the woods near there and who may or may not have abnormal senses. When John showed up once, the man told him, "You ain't supposed to be here. Don't you know that?" Anyways, I might get back to that and add a character I might be able to use for some misdirection.

I purposely chose minimal characters and minimal settings to insure a smaller budget in hopes of attracting some independent attention or even self-producing.

I agree that I was being too repetitive, but I was trying to hit those 120 pages. Obviously a big mistake and it shows.

I really like the flashback idea of a happier time. There are flashbacks in here, but they are not happy ones and he isn't even aware of them until he gets drawn into them and they are gone. Whatever I do, I know I for sure need to have a larger arc from him acknowledging his good life to the hell he is living.


Quoted from Dreamscale
Another issue with the characters and the actual writing is the fact that you purposely chose to conceal the names of the 2 dead people and the “stranger”.   Is it your intention for us not to know that the 2 dead people are actually Sarah and Jason?  Wouldn’t it be painfully obvious on film that these are the same people?  Even in death, the physical characteristics would be the same.  Same deal with the stranger…wouldn’t it be really tough to conceal that he looks exactly like John, even in terms of physical build, etc?  All 3 of these dead people have lots of screen time.

As a seasoned “script reader”, once I see that a writer is intentionally not naming a character, I have to assume there’s a reason for it.  And again, with only 3 characters in the entire script, it just gives away everything you’re trying so hard to conceal.

This is an issue I had to wrestle with. I did try to describe them in ways that would make them unrecognizable and was not sure what character cues to give them. For example:
Regarding the Dead Woman,
"Its face hidden behind a mass of long black hair. Ghostly pale skin,
broken and torn. Dried blood covers the dirty night gown hanging from
its bony shoulders."
"A HEAD begins to emerge from the roiling waters. The face
hidden behind a mass of mangled black hair
."
(I should have continued to refer to her as the Dead Woman as well instead of Head. It is bizarre I didn't catch that sooner.)

Regarding the Dead Boy,
"The Dead Boy stands in the same place. His face is crusted
with black. Dead white eyes bulge in a bloated face
. Water
pours from his mouth and nose."
(I see now I should have added this description the first time we see him.)

Another thing that may not come off right is the fact that John has suffered some major head trauma. What we don't find out till the end. The trauma not only took his life, but the damage to his consciousness was carried over to the other side. The damage manifested itself in the form of certain types of amnesia one might expect if someone DID survive what John had done. In the script he can no longer recognize faces, not even his own. I also pass these conditions on to the reader/viewer.


Quoted from Dreamscale
What is the relevance of the time 11:34?  I don’t get it.  What is the relevance of the old 50’s music playing?   I see these as head scratchers in a filmed version.

Actually, I thought everyone would get this right off the bat. hE:ll.
And the song, if you have ever heard the original version by Robert and Johnny is a very haunting melody and the words fit. He has killed his family so they will be together forever.
Lyrics:
"You're Mine...
And we belong together...
Yes, we belong together...
Ahhhh, For all eternity..."

Here is a link to a sample of the original song.
http://s0.ilike.com/play#Rober.....4c1ebc038118856b11c6




Quoted from Dreamscale
A few people mentioned how much they liked the pill bottles becoming shot gun shells.  Here’s a big problem though if this were filmed as is.  You didn’t “show” them turning from pill bottles to shells. You merely told us that when he took them out of his pocket, they were now shot gun shells.  In a filmed version, all we’d see was him pulling out 2 shells from his pocket.  For this to work, you’d have to show them morphing from bottles to shells.  Know what I mean?

That was why I kept reinforcing throughout the script (6 times) that he always kept or found his pill bottles in his shirt pocket. I figured the intuitive leap would be made by the reader/viewer.


Quoted from Dreamscale
And this ties into the constant, recurring theme of Sarah telling him to take his pills.  For me, it didn’t work at all. It was very repetitive, almost irritating, and with no real payoff in the end.  What you were going for did not translate successfully onto the page, and definitely wouldn’t transfer to film.

She did so, even if unaware she was (or is Sarah just another facet of John's guilt and not really the ghost of his dead wife?), because she wanted him to do it. She wanted him to pay for what he did.


Quoted from Dreamscale
Finally, as James mentioned, the payoff itself is the kind that most get upset with.  The “it was all a dream” kind of thing.  Although this was not a dream, it has the same effect and feel when it’s all said and done.  Nothing transpired here.  Nothing changed.  No one succeeded in what they were after.  It literally plays out again and again, like that broken record motif you used a few times, which was good, but as I’m saying here, turns into almost a negative, based on how it ends up…because it doesn’t end.  There isn’t an ending, and actually, there isn’t a beginning (oh, but that’s another topic completely!).

I like it that way. I see things darkly and Johns arc over the script is reversed because he IS moving in reverse as opposed to The Strangers journey. That is why for most of the script he occupies a world where the clock(time) is moving backwards. Once he understands what is happening and becomesThe Stranger, it is too late for him to do anything other than what he did. He had a few chances in the beginning to change his path. Remember those scenes where the sun breaks through the storm and shines on the ground? He could go into the light and move on if he could just remember what is happening or maybe even forgive himself on some basic level.

It may seem like a cheat, but as I said, I see thinks darkly. I will steal the words from Philip Dick. "I see only murk. Murk outside; murk inside. I hope, for everyone's sake, the scanners do better. Because, he thought, if the scanner sees only darkly, the way I myself do, then we are cursed, cursed again and like we have been continually, and we'll wind up dead this way, knowing very little and getting that little fragment wrong too."


Quoted from Dreamscale
I think you’ve got something here that has potential, John.  Now run with it and turn it into something big.  You can do it!


Thanks for the words of encouragement and helping me see my script through another set of eyes. I truly appreciate it.

John



The Door (Horror/Thriller) - 116 Pages

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