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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Horror Scripts  ›  Crimson Scarab Moderators: bert
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  Author    Crimson Scarab  (currently 2090 views)
Posted: October 31st, 2010, 5:45pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Crimson Scarab by Darren J Seeley - Horror - A missing mummy provides the final piece of the puzzle over a robbery homicide at a local museum. But the truth turns deadly to those that discover it, and in three different points of view, worse than death. 93 pages - pdf, format

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Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  November 18th, 2010, 6:11pm
revised draft
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Posted: November 11th, 2010, 12:42pm Report to Moderator

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Hello, DarrenJamesSeeley. I just wanted to let you know I've downloaded your script and I should be able to post my feedback tomorrow.
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Posted: November 12th, 2010, 2:21pm Report to Moderator

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Hello, DarrenJamesSeeley, I've read your script and I'll post my thoughts. Overall, I found both your story and the non-linear narrative approach quite interesting although I do think a rewrite is necessary in order to fully make the most of your premise.

Most of the problems I had with the script were related in some way to the narrative structure as it seemed you had outsmarted yourself at times. Although I understood what you tried to do with the first three "chapters" -- show the narrative from a different point of view while adding another missing piece to the puzzle -- there were instances where withholding information led to moments of frustration.

For example, Jerry Rush may be the curator at the museum, but (other than a brief mention without much context) the first time we learn about him is when he performs a ritual with Ruthakamon. I didn't even know Rush worked at the museum until Steven entered his office.

Later, Bach tells Azure he will arrest Ray when he shows himself. At this point in the story, however, the audience has not been told who Ray is. In fact, this is the first time Ray's name is mentioned. When Bach and Ossian find Ray's body in the van a moment later, this shocking moment loses some of its impact. Instead of a key character being found dead, the audience is left wondering who this person is and why they should care -- especially since neither Bach nor Ossian identify the body. When we are finally introduced to Ray much later in the story, any suspense involving his character is mitigated by the knowledge he eventually ends up murdered.

I believe keeping the murders which kick off the story in earnest completely off-screen is a mistake in judgment. Film is a visual medium, after all, and seeing the incident -- even if it's an intentionally incomplete or misleading version -- with our own eyes is a more rewarding experience than simply learning about it second-hand through dialogue only. While you wouldn't want to explicitly show what happened so as not to give the game away, I think you could wring quite a bit of suspense by showing some version of what happened.

There are a few instances where Steven is verbally given an attribute which fails to translate into actions on the screen. For example, during his first encounter with Azure, Steven states he is a martial-arts expert. When Marie beats up Gary right in front of him and when Azure and his men attack, however, Steven fails to show any of these proclaimed martial arts skills (save for a defensive throw which could be done by a non-expert). In fact, I don't believe this attribute comes into play in any significant fashion -- not even during the final battle in the museum.

Likewise, we are told Steven has a criminal record due to a series of break-ins he committed during his teenage years. When he aims to use these skills to break into the museum, however, we jump from the parking lot outside to the hallways inside with no indication of how Steven disabled or circumvented the museum's security system. Later, Steven escapes from the sanitarium simply by walking out of his room, heading up a staircase, climbing down a tree, and scaling a fence.

Remember, film is a visual medium. Show, don't tell. If Steven really is a martial-arts expert, have him display those skills in the club and during the museum finale. If Steven really is skilled at break-ins, show him evade the security measures a real museum and sanitarium would use.

I would suggest providing a physical description of all the key characters in the story so as to give the reader the opportunity to picture the character in the mind's eye.  You don't have to describe each character in detail, mind you, just enough as to give a general idea of the person's appearance. For example, I had no idea Ian was a security guard until Steven mentioned it on Page 7. When you introduced him, you could have mentioned Ian was clad in a security guard's uniform.

If a character has both a first and last name, use the full name when he/she is introduced in the action paragraphs for clarity's sake. Likewise, I would suggest referring to characters in the action paragraphs with the same handle you use for their dialogue cues. The museum's curator, for example, uses the cue Rush but is sometimes referred to as Jared in the action. Using a consistent reference will help the reader avoid confusion.

There were a few instances of grammatical and formatting errors which could be fixed simply by performing a more thorough proofread. The first page of your script does not need a page number while the other pages should be numbered using Courier font.

Here are the things I noticed as I read through your script:

Page 1: The first action line reads rather awkwardly to me. You may want to break it up into two sentences or, better yet, rephrase it slightly such as "Lights kiss the coffin of a mummy on display for the general public."

Page 2: The line "Least that's the information says on the display" should be "Least thatís the information it says on the display."

Page 3: The line "I been real busy" should be "I've been really busy." There is an extra period at the end of Ian's second to last line.

Page 6: The phrase "Craig's list" should be "Craigslist." Steven's flippant reaction to the news about the murder/theft at the museum seems off, especially considering both the unique nature of the crime as well as the massive media attention Gary indicates it has obtained.

Page 7: Steven's "Her?" response to Gary's grave-robbing statements doesnít seem to make sense given the context. Did you mean for Steven to ask this question after Gary says "Least they say itís a her" on the previous page? Steven's last line would make more sense if it ended with an ellipsis (to indicate trailing off) or hyphen (to indicate being cut off mid-sentence).

Page 8: I donít think the last line of dialogue is necessary as Gary already knows why Steven is leaving.

Page 9: The phrase "Good guess.But I'm the guy ..." should be "Good guess, but I'm the guy Ö" For someone who wants to keep the details and circumstances of Ian's death a secret, Azure seems to go out of his way to ensure Steven is as suspicious as possible.

Page 11: The sentence "When Steven sees them are out of sight ..." should be "When Steven sees they are out of sight ..."

Page 12: Gary's second line, mainly the statement "They couldn't have been anything else," doesn't make sense in context. Who does Gary think they were? Why couldn't they be anything else? Was Gray's second sentence meant for Steven? Is there additional dialogue missing here?

Page 13: I would tweak Gary's second line of dialogue to remove the semicolon from the long sentence in the middle and instead divide it into two shorter sentences.

Page 14: The word "o' clock" in Gary's first line should be "o'clock." The second half of this line is written in Times New Roman instead of Courier.

Page 17: The phrase "seven inch knife" should be "seven-inch knife."

Page 18: The phrase "ice cold cola" should be "ice-cold cola." Given the context, Gary's last line on the page should end with a period or a plain ellipsis, not a question mark.

Page 19: The line "I don't know want anyone coming around" should be "I don't want anyone coming around." I'm not sure Steven would jokingly say Ann would kill him, especially not at the site where his half-brother died the night before.

Page 20: The phrase "Spic N Span" should be "spic-and-span."

Page 21: The phrase "red mummy case shaped candle" should be "red mummy case-shaped candle." The sixth action paragraph seems awkwardly phrased in my opinion. You may want to rewrite it such as, "The mystery woman faces away from Steven's direction as she sits on dusty mummified wrappings which nearly cover the floor." The phrase "middle eastern accent" should be "Middle Eastern accent."

Continued below.
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Page 22: You may want to rephrase the first action line to read "... a more direct, 'What in the hell?'" or "... a more direct what-in-the-hell." Ruthakamon's first line is formatted incorrectly.

Page 23: The first action line is partially written in Times New Roman instead of Courier. Gary's' first line has an extra period at the end.

Page 24: There is an extra period at the end of the second action paragraph.

Page 24-25: Steven's line cue and his dialogue are separated by a page break.

Page 25: Bach's first line cue should indicate he is off screen.

Page 26: Bach's first line cue should indicate he is still off screen. If Ann is only Steven's girlfriend, why do they share the same Granger surname? Did you mean to give Ann's last name as Perrish, as you do on Page 75?

Page 26-27: Gary's line cue and his dialogue are separated by a page break.

Page 27: I don't believe the quotes around "people" in Gary's second line are necessary. I don't think the third action paragraph needs to end with an ellipsis.

Page 28: Why does Bach refer to Ian as Steven's friend? Did you mean for Bach to say half-brother instead? The phrase "... is that don't care much for people ..."should read "... is that I don't care much for people ..." What does Gary mean when he says Steven was never busted for his home invasions? Gary himself had mentioned Steven had a criminal record and served a two-year sentence earlier in the story. Furthermore, why would a detective bring the crimes up unless Steven had been caught and punished?

Page 29-30: Gary's line cue and his dialogue are separated by a page break.

Page 31: The way Marlin says Gary is dead is awkwardly phrased. You may want to use a more organic way of relaying this information to the audience. I don't think the quotes around "Our" in Steven's last line are necessary.

Page 32: Steven's last line is formatted incorrectly.

Page 33: The FADE IN transition should be left justified. The phrase "moved to the states" should be "moved to the States."

Page 33-34: Ossian's line crosses a page break. The portion at the bottom of the first page should end with a (MORE) parenthetical while the next page should begin with an OSSIAN (CONT'D) cue.

Page 34: The phrase "half brother" should be "half-brother." Maybe Bach is supposed to have a world-weary attitude, but it seems rather flippant to make two "walking mummy" jokes at the scene of a homicide.

Page 35-36: Bach's line cue and his dialogue are separated by a page break.

Page 36: I believe Rush's first line should end with a question mark instead of a hyphen. I think the line "I don't like where you are getting at ..." should be "I don't like what you are getting at ..."

Page 37: The phrase "Penko museum" should be "Penko Museum." The phrase "two o' clock" should read "two o'clock."

Page 42: The phrase "chrome dome gorilla" should be "chrome-dome gorilla." I don't believe the all-caps and underline in Bach's second to last line are necessary.

Page 44: Bach's second to last line is formatted incorrectly.

Page 45: The phrase "mister Fight Club" should read "Mister Fight Club."

Page 48: I don't believe the quotes around "Aspergillus orchaceus" are necessary.

Page 49: The second to last action paragraph is awkwardly worded. You should make it clear Marie, Azure, and the others lie dead on the floor.

Page 50: Bach and Ossian's dialogue reads as though they are having two completely unrelated conversations. Ossian says they can't leave, Bach mentions the similarities to the museum murders, Ossian asks how, Bach says he'll call the CDC. It's almost as though there are chunks of the conversation missing. The phrase "high speed car chase" should read "high-speed car chase."

Page 53: The line "For I am a Queen" should be "For I am a queen."

Page 54: You may want to add an ellipsis to Rush's line just before he says "Life."

Page 55: The transition FADE TO BLACK should be on one line. You may want to consider using FADE OUT as you did at the end of the first chapter for consistency's sake. The FADE IN transition should be left justified.

Page 61: The phrase "stick like bird" should be "stick-like bird."

Page 62: The sentence "The body hand goes back ..." should read "The bony hand goes back ..." The phrase "linen wrapped left breast" should be "linen-wrapped left breast."

Page 68: The phrase "Ruthakamon walks, arms crossed" should end with a period. The phrase "odd shaped dagger" should be "odd-shaped dagger."

Page 69: The quotes around "Please stop" are not necessary.

Page 70: The phrase "blood soaked hand" should read "blood-soaked hand."

Page 73: The sentence "... pushes away a guy out of the way" should end "... pushes a guy out of the way."

Page 74: The phrase "trance- like" should be "trance-like." Both instances of the phrase "passenger side" should read "passenger-side." The line "The twenty first century" should be "The Twenty-first Century."

Page 75: I don't believe the all-caps in Ann's line are necessary. Did you mean for Ruthakamon's line to end unintelligently or was the word "NYARLATHOTHEp" written in error?

Page 76: The sentence "Rush rips off the duct tape off ..." should start "Rush rips the duct tape off ..."

Page 77: Ruthakamon's first line is formatted incorrectly. The phrase "rear view mirror" should be "rear-view mirror."

Page 78-79: Ruthakamon's line cue and her dialogue are separated by a page break.

Page 79: The phrase "death like appearance" should be "death-like appearance." The phrase "Your New Queen" should read "your new queen."

Page 81: The transition FADE TO BLACK should be on one line. The FADE IN transition should be left justified.

Page 82: Turner's third line is formatted incorrectly.

Page 86: The phrase "police officers to identify themselves" should read "police officers identify themselves." Wouldn't there be a silent and/or audible alarm when Steven smashes through the museum's front doors?

Page 87: I don't believe the phrase "my god Thoth" needs to be capitalized.

Page 88: The word "Ankh" should be "ankh." The line "She picks him up with one arm off the ground" reads rather awkwardly. I would suggest rewording this sentence.

Page 89: The sentence "Back smacks her again ..." should start "Bach smacks her again ..."

I apologize if my feedback comes across as too negative, as I do think you have a compelling story which could be enhanced with a rewrite. I hope this response helps, DarrenJamesSeeley, and good luck with your script.
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Posted: November 12th, 2010, 4:22pm Report to Moderator
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I've reworked and rewritten this like crazy over the last number of years. Some of your suggestions have been considered.

Thanks for the read.

"I know you want to work for Mo Fuzz. And Mo Fuzz wants you to. But first, I'm going to need to you do something for me... on spec." - Mo Fuzz, Tapeheads, 1988
my scripts on ss :
The Art!
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Posted: November 15th, 2010, 12:49pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Taking a long vacation from the holidays.

Los Angeles
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Hey DJ,

I've really enjoyed many of your shorts here, so I gave this a read.
I like the atmosphere you're going for, but the story does not work for me.
I imagine its very tough to write a non linear story.
This was a slow read for me. Is this an earlier work of yours?
I'm sorry to ask but this does feel like  step back from your other stories.
Your shorts read much better for me than this did.
I do have some page specific notes:

p. 1 Sam Quint? Is that a reference to the main character in Black Moon Rising?
p. 1 Sarcophagus would work much better than coffin, more Egyptian IMHO.
p. 2 Seems odd to be Ian does not wear a work blazer, something to I.D. him.
p. 3 The mention of the half brother at the end feels awkward, maybe sooner?
p. 6 I was annoyed at the time you didn't show the robbery, see why now.
p. 7 Steve & Gary, dialog feels way too on the nose and can be shortened up.
p. 9 Steven doesn't seem upset at all about his brother's death, I'm confused.
p. 11 Azure/Steve exchange has no emotion, Steve doesn't even take a phone pic.
p. 13 B&E thing. Why does Gary know about Steve's past if they aren't good friends?  
p. 15 Gary is a douche at the club. Intentional? Is Ashram an Egyptian name?
p. 18 If the B&E was teen years. Record would be expunged and sealed as adult.
p. 23 There are font change errors all over the first act, three on this page alone.
p. 26 Ann is Steven's girlfriend but they have the same last name?
p. 31 The doctor sounds more like a cop during an interrogation here.
Only if you control your
outbursts. You have been
improving in that area, so I
wouldn't worry about it.

I think you mean "can't control" here?
p. 40
Ossian s a small book of matches on the floor. The legend
on it says YELLOW CANARY. She shows Bach.

I think you mean "Ossian sees a small book..." here?

p. 46 I didn't see why Bach went all postal on Azure here, did I miss something?
p. 59 Seems weird they take Iris since she saw the cops, could be followed.

I'm sorry DJ, but I stopped reading shortly thereafter.
The story didn't keep my attention. I feel bad, Id o like your work.
I like the Egyptian flavor, but the characters did not hold my interest.
Thanks for posting and I look forward to more of your work.



CineVita Films
is producing a short based on my new feature!

A list of my scripts can be found here.
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