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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  The Visitor Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: December 14th, 2014, 5:04pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Visitor by Kim Britt (screen dreamer) - Short, Contained Psychological Thriller - When an agoraphobic hold up in a secluded cabin receives an unexpected visitor, he finds himself questioning much more than just his sanity. 14 pages - pdf, format


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Dustin
Posted: December 15th, 2014, 4:09am Report to Moderator
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When an agoraphobic hold up in a secluded cabin receives an unexpected visitor, he finds himself questioning much more than just his sanity.



When an agoraphobic, holed up in a secluded cabin, receives an unexpected visitor, he finds himself questioning much more than just his sanity.

Code

it
looks to have been built by someone with absolutely no
architectural training.


Change built to designed... I've never seen an architect actually build anything. Builders do that.

Code

A massive pile of firewood stands stately off to one side,
easily more impressive in structure and size than the cabin
itself.



This reads awkwardly because you finished the description of the size of the pile and then moved back into it. A simple reword would also help rid the orphan:

A massive pile of firewood, easily more impressive in structure
and size than the cabin, stands stately off to one side.

Still a little wordy, but at least it doesn't jump from one to another.


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LC
Posted: December 15th, 2014, 6:06am Report to Moderator
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Good to see you posting something again, Kim.

You write really well, as usual. This one however was a little protracted for my liking and bogged down with too much repetitive description. You write prose really well and a lot of your descriptions are quite beautiful but imh your story is getting lost with too much description repetition. This would benefit greatly and be far more effective if you were to edit it quite a bit.

I'll be happy to give you examples if you happen to pop up on the boards again.

Libby


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screen_dreamer
Posted: December 15th, 2014, 6:07pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the feedback. I'm not overly concerned with the description bc I'm considering filming this with a film school friend. I'm more interested in knowing if the characters, storyline and dialog work.
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LC
Posted: December 16th, 2014, 11:57pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from screen_dreamer
... I'm not overly concerned with the description bc I'm considering filming this with a film school friend. I'm more interested in knowing if the characters, storyline and dialog work.


SPOILERS:


Regarding the story itself and whether it 'works' - my theory of what I think your tale is about is this:

A man crippled by agoraphobia ends up ironically dead (i.e., consumed by his own illogical fear). He fears the outside world, a blizzard comes and he's trapped in his own prison which leads to his death. An endless loop ensues of him reliving the last day/s of his life and a Groundhog Day type scenario ensues. The very thing he's afraid of leads to his own demise.

Notes as I read:

First off: If not for the 'agoraphobic' mention in the logline I wouldn't have guessed it. LEVI (LIVE anagram) appears to be just a man sheltering from a storm. He manages to stay outside long enough to be able to kill a hare. Agoraphobics typically wouldn't even get past the front door so that I'm skeptical of.

THADE (an anagram of DEATH) but ironically the character name of the person LEVI saves. Does he save her or is she an illusion or is he saving himself? I'm not sure.  

You say you're not too concerned about the protracted descriptions but my opinion is that it dilutes the continuity and efficacy of the story you're trying to tell.

As far as dialogue goes - most of it's repetitive - but for a reason. It could work if the voices are suitably creepy - It does match Levi's deteriorating mental state. The repetition three times might be just as effective at two lines - you want to keep the atmosphere but not make it tiring. That's for you to decide when filming and editing, I think.

'It's coming' repeated
'Don't open the door'  is repeated - Levi fears actually stepping outside and is warned not to and yet he does just that.

The small footprints indicated a child to me - if this is THADE (20s) I'd think about calling them 'smaller' footprints.

On page 4 Levi does exit the cabin after inspecting the surroundings and to get firewood - he does hurry but I'd doubt an agoraphobic would get past the front door - I get his survival depends on it but I think the key is in you showing him being unable to do this at all in the beginning and then working up to it. It's all a little distanced and not emotional enough for me at the moment - I'm not really sensing his fear at moving from inside to outside - just the fear of the voices.

Perhaps if you show more clearly him actually having to stop thinking only of himself to save someone else (which you've tried to do, right?) I would feel his pain but I feel once again distanced from it emotionally. In that regard Levi's reaction to the voices does not seem to progress much, imh. Perhaps a little more insight from Levi himself via his own voice?? apart from 'don't open the door' etc.

As I read on:

the scratching sound in the storage hatch
tree stump over the hatch

To lock himself in or out? (above)
I don't know it's a little confusing. I guess you're going for a non-linear narrative but it loses a bit of impact and urgency for me.

The significance of the hand in the fire at first I thought was for punishment, or to prove to himself that he does still exist/is still alive? But it's apparently to drown out the tormenting voice - correct?

As noted before - Levi steps outside long enough to kill a hare, so technically he overcame his fear - but yet still he ends up dead.

The blizzard coming and going - there's a lot of this.

radio broadcast advising to bunker down

leather pouch with the alphabetic cubes spell out DEATH

A PAIR OF BARE FEET STICKING OUT OF THE SNOW

THADE -  so presumably Levi has let in the very thing he is not supposed to??

So, am I to believe that all this has happened before and that his fear has made him a prisoner and when the blizzard came he was trapped in the hatch and died? And he relives it over and over?

'It will destroy you' is really his own fear?

At the very least you will have striking visuals and atmosphere but the story is a little vague and obscure and detached (the latter as far as feeling for the character) - films like this imh end up being not entirely satisfying as a narrative.

As a film project however it might be exactly what you're aiming for - the landscape/snow/blizzard - blood on the snow etc. could be the ideal showcase for a capable filmmaker but as far as story goes - it has the potential to be more exciting and edge of the seat imh. At the moment it's intriguing, and a little confusing but hey, that's nothing new as far as film goes.  

So, now that I'm done speculating I'm very interested to hear your take on the story and if I'm anywhere near close...

P.S.

'When an agoraphobic hold (holed) up in a secluded cabin receives an unexpected visitor, he finds himself questioning much more than just his sanity.' 14 pages - pdf, format

Just an added note on your logline (above) I think this is effective just as: 'questioning his sanity' because really what is the 'much more' - it sounds like that's just tacked on cause it's enigmatic or there's a certain rhythm to it.

I didn't end up seeing what the 'much more' really was (unless it's his death). Your logline with that bit attached resembles that well worn clichéd logline 'ends up getting much more than he bargained for' imh - a tagline for lot of scripts. I'd stick to what you had initially without that extra. Just a thought.





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Hugh Hoyland
Posted: December 17th, 2014, 1:13am Report to Moderator
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Hi Kim!

I read this script and my first impressions are that it a ghost story. I like those. Now when I "review" a script I don't really go into grammar, spelling or typos as much as I try to visualize what this material would look like on screen. And I think you have some really good visuals here.

The cold, the cabin, levis disheveled appearance, Thades mysterious nature all add to what could be a creepy atmosphere visually.

Due to it being late I'll get into what I feel about the plot and dialoged asap. But so far so good.

HH


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MarkRenshaw
Posted: December 17th, 2014, 5:49am Report to Moderator
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Hi Kim,

You want to know if the story, characters and dialogue work in this script as you are planning on maybe filming it yourself. That's fair enough and I will get onto that soon. I'll just say the large action blocks, while very descriptive and fill my mind with clear crisp images of the scenes, are more like something cut and pasted from a short story.  It can also be too precise; from the exact dimensions of the hole in the wall to the order in which the alphabetical blocks will appear.

I mention this because if you do want to write screenplays that you intend to submit to studios, festivals etc. many in the industry will see this writing as the sign of an amateur when clearly you are actually a good writer.

Right, onto the characters and story. The logline suggest we are going to see a tale about a guy questioning his own sanity. We don't, we see a guy who seems completely nuts from the very start. There's no journey, no deterioration, no questioning. He is an agoraphobic who seems OK to go outside when the script says so but you haven't done enough for me to make me believe he is desperate enough to overcome his fear to go outside.

The repetition of the same  lines over and over gets irritating but maybe that is the point, for the audience to share in the madness.

I have no idea what the ending implies. At a guess these two died here many years ago but if so, who were they, why did they end up here and why/how did they die? And how is he still alive reliving this death? Are they both ghosts? I found it very confusing and if you confuse the audience you lose the audience.

Visually this has the potential to look stunning. Character wise it's a good character study of insanity and I'm sure actors would love to have a go playing Levi. As a story, it doesn't work for me on that level though. This would be great to film as a learning experience and would probably be a hit at the more arty festivals.

Best of luck with it.

-Mark


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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Colkurtz8
Posted: January 21st, 2015, 9:31am Report to Moderator
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Kimberly

Some will take issue with the wordy, description heavy first page but I thought you set the scene rather well and showed you are able to write, at least in terms of screenplay writing; punchy and visual.

“ Levi cautiously peels the quilt away. He is dressed in
well-worn wool coat and corduroy jeans, several sizes too
small. Frayed work gloves cover his hands.
His eyes dart from one end of the cabin to the other as he
mechanically slides on a pair of hiking boots.
He sticks his hand under the rolled up sleeping bag he uses
as a pillow. When it emerges, a rusted pocket knife is
clenched tightly in his fist.”

- This should be broken up into two or three blocks and by the look of the formatting I’m thinking you meant to.
“He stealthily descends the ladder, carefully navigating past the broken rung.”

- Nice visual nods to suggest he has been in this cabin for awhile now.

The troubled V.O. adds an interesting tension and urgency to the otherwise tranquil, if eerie surroundings.

“can good.”

- Should it be “canned”?

“Levi pulls his arm from the fire and gingerly cradles it to
his chest, like a dog with a wounded paw.”

- Sh?t, I thought he had thrust the glove into the fire...until this line.

“onyx-colored eyes.”

- I just learned a new colour! Sounds like the name of a Pokemon.

“Outside, the wind HOWLS against the ramshackle structure.
The DOOR BLOWS OPEN, nearly ripping off its worn hinges.”

LEVI (V.O.)
It’s coming. It’s coming. It’s coming.

- Just a suggestion but I wonder would this dialogue be more effective coming before the door is blown open?

“THADE”

- Like the cubed letters he left behind earlier, this is an anagram of “death” right? Is she a physical representation of Levi’s impending demise? Reading on...

The writing is rather bulky and cumbersome at the bottom of page 8. It could be tightened up a lot without losing any of the information. Stick to terse sentencing, focus on the essentials.

“There is a huge pile of snow in front of the door.”

- How can we see this if we are inside the cabin? Through that 3 inch gap?

“He looks down at Thade, silently beckoning for answers.”

- Looking down? Is this the young Thade from the flashback? If so, why isn’t it the young Levi too? As if by going into this room that have somehow gone back in time...or has she just mysteriously shrunk!

“Much to his surprise, he finds HIMSELF lying there”.

- You know, something told me this would happen, like his fractured consciousness has come full circle akin to “The Machinist”. The room, Thade, the cabin, all symbolizing an inner fear of some past trauma or loss. I’m also thinking that perhaps Thade was the cause of this or Levi hurt her in some way in the past.

That’s my half baked reading of it anyway. I get that a lot of it is open to interpretation. I did like the motif of the snow and Levi locking himself into this metaphorical cabin, the voices in his head, his encounters (real or imaginary) all give the aura that we’re in the harrowed psyche of a sick man.

To your credit, I thought you did a great job there in setting that mood and tone.

However, while I enjoyed those elements and was invested in the world you created and Levi’s psychological torment I was left at a bit of a loose end when we got to FADE IN. A little let down, a “Is that it” feeling. As its appears, he seems to enter the underground pantry, than into this room, meets himself and finds peace with Thade but I’m not really sure why.

Why does getting to this room alleviate his pain? What was the significance of meeting himself under the quilt? Is Thade actually with him now? Are they still alive or have they died together? Is this room the afterlife, a purgatory of sorts?

Was the annihilation of the cabin really the crumbling of illusion he had wrapped around himself? If so, what was he hiding from? We never find out and that mystery is both fascinating and frustrating/unsatisfying.

I thought the warning voices in his head were telling him not to open the door in the first place to let Thade in. Because when he did, the snow entered, the cabin weakened and started to collapse, trapping him. As if his curiously and desire to help Thade and bring her into his world (i.e. cabin) brought about his death..but luckily there was that underground door, eh

Perhaps the meaning here is something much more simpler than all my wayward speculating and I’m over thinking it. Of course, on the contrary it could be the opposite and I’m dumbing it down. I would like to hear your explanations if you chose to divulge.

Col.


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screen_dreamer
Posted: January 22nd, 2015, 6:03pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the feedback, all. I got wrapped up in the holidays and completely forgot to check back. This is my first attempt at writing a short, and I just went into it trying to see if I could do it. I tend to end up with 140 page scripts and have trouble paring it down to 120 or less. Much to my surprise, I was able to tell a complete story (or at least I thought it was complete before the comments) in 13 pages.

I really wasn't going for a definitive ending. I've enjoyed reading what all of you induced the ending to be. My favorite movies are the ones that make you think and leave you questioning and filling in the blanks with your own thoughts/ideas at the end.

Initially I intended for it to be a sort of "stuck in purgatory" story about a man that has to face his demons before he can find peace and move on. I think I want to explore more possibilities and deeper symbolism in future drafts.
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PabloM
Posted: October 25th, 2019, 3:05pm Report to Moderator
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Thade annagram from Death. And Thade becoming on any way or other. its psychological, non really surprised the last shot but we can't feel upset at the whole context of the script.

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