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I liked the concept of the script. A mother still wanting to haunt the son even after death. The son didn't care that she died, and the mother returns to haunt the son. Instead of making it somewhat comical, I would make the mother seem more threatening towards her son for feeling the way he does about her death. She may have been cruel during her time alive, but now after death, she should become more of a dark creature that haunts him and drives him into mental turmoil. The mother should drive him into insanity. Just a thought.
Still, interesting story. I am an adult who survived the life as an adopted child with a family who abused me for 42 years. My adopted mother was a cruel bitch towards me and mentally, physically made my life a living hell. I survived those years and I have moved on. Some of the stories I write deal with the cruelty of a mother's overbearing manners towards her children. That's why I like your story. Though the son in your story hated his mother, she has a way of reaching him and making him feel miserable. If I ever hear that my adopted mother passes away, there will be no feelings towards her passing. That's how this son in your story should feel. No regrets, no pain. And regardless of her attempts to reach out and make him miserable, he should stand against her and let her know his true feelings towards her.
First up, MikeCashman. I feel sorry for what you have gone through dude. I really do.
I think I have read or seen( a short film) on the same story as yours. And I suppose you haven't altered anything in the story.
But keeping that aside and taking a fresh take on the story it is pretty decent and condensed. But somehow the dialog seemed a bit unnatural to me, even though considering there is unhealthy mom-son relationship. I think the dialogs need polishing and emotion in them. Also the ending did not work for me,sorry. Plus you forgot to write OS in the phone conversation.
Interesting conceptually but not much else there in the execution. It doesn't really go anywhere.
The ending is sort of intriguing but what does it actually mean? He went sleepwalking? Did he actually do what the script depicts before being rendered unconscious and carried back up to the sofa? If so, why? Is his mother actually a benevolent spirit? The presence of the second phone (assuming its his mom's) suggests he went to the basement or someone brought it up from the basement to him. Again, why?
One would assume she meant ill will toward him when she turns up in the basement but then he's suddenly back on the sofa unharmed. I don't know. It doesn't make a whole lot to sense to me.
I was also curious about the backstory between son and daughter. Why the hate? However, in a 4 page short I'm not expecting a fully rounded story. What's more important in the context of this piece is what you were aiming for with that conclusion.
I liked this, the strength of it being the concept. But I didn't find it as scary as it should have been. I think there's just too much dialogue, specifically from the mother. You have the mother say - "You never called the police before", which further implies the type of abuse she put him through, but you already make that clear when he types that text (which he deletes shortly after). I think it would be much scarier if the phone calls were a little more ominous. The tension needs to be built a little more, in my opinion. Maybe start with just random phone calls from his mother's phone, MOM showing up on his caller ID. But just silence on the other end, nobody saying anything at first. Then keep building on that... maybe not have her answer his questions directly at first, either.
Also, don't you think Daniel would have just hung up on her at first? Could help build the tension more if he keeps getting calls and hanging up on her instead of just once.
Overall, this was written well enough in terms of formatting and description. But the dialogue I felt was a weak point, here. As I mentioned, the MOM character and the build towards that jump scare would be more frightening if she didn't speak as much. And Daniel's dialogue felt a little forced and unnatural, some of it long winded. For example:
DANIEL If you don't want me to call the police on you, hang up the phone right now and do not call me again. Bye.
It just doesn't read well. And it's a weird threat - what are the police going to do about a prank phone call? Maybe just have him say, "Don't call me again". Or, "Call me again and see what happens." Simple. Effective.
There's also forced exposition in the dialogue.
DANIEL My mother's phone is in a box in my basement. She's in the ground. You're not her. Like I said: not funny. Who the hell is this?
It's obvious you're setting up for the jump scare. So, when that jump scare comes, I was pretty much already expecting it.
Why not just have him call his mother's number back and he hears it ringing from the basement? Who keeps their dead mother's phone in a box in the basement, anyways? Kinda doesn't make sense.
And then the classic horror ending where the character wakes up - it was all dream... or was it? I mean, yeah, it's very cliche, but it can be effective. I do like how you have sort of an open ending. Not sure if it was intentional, but with the way you wrote - "Daniel stares at the door in terror. And stares. And stares. And stares", it kinda felt like you were manipulating the reader into picturing it as if the camera angles were closing up closer and closer to the open basement door as he was staring. If that wasn't intentional, you could probably just write, "Daniel stares at the open door in terror... waiting..."
And then end it. Would be just as effective but less repetitive.
I really wanted to like this more as the concept has potential. Just need to shore up the execution, build the tension better by perhaps being a little more subtle and less cartoonish.