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Thanks for getting this up, Don. Much appreciated.
The majority of the shorts in this anthology are based on my past work. I'd actually really like to expand this farther with a "wrap around story" that bookends the script, kind of like Tales From the Crypt. Got a couple of different ideas on were I can go with this.
Hi Zack, going to try check these out one at a time.
NICK (O.S.) Matt? Are you awake? Beat. NICK (O.S.) (CONT) Matt? MATT (O.S.) Shut up.
Some would say that you shouldnít have a speaking character before theyíve been introduced, I think this reads perfectly fine. Some would also say that the (O.S.) is confusing and that you are trying to direct the camera too much, I think it's fine.
NICK (shakey) M-matt...
This is an instance where I think the wrylie isnít needed. We can tell the dialogue is 'shaky' or stuttered because of the way itís written. It would also be M-Matt.
Matt gets out of bad
He puts his arm around Nicks shoulder and leads him back to his bed.
The electric is out.
Slowly, pale fingers reach out from behind the frame and grasp around it, grip it tight.
This is a very overused horror trope, but we'll see if it brings anything new.
books it for his bed.
I'm not sure 'books it' is overly universal. I know what you mean, but it might be worth changing it to something that everyone would understand.
Just as he reaches it, a pale hand shoots out from under the bed, grabs his ankle, and pulls him underneath the bed.
Another overused horror trope.
Then, at the foot of the bed, something slowly rises.
The story, as it stands at the moment, isnít great. I definitely think it could be better if it had more purpose.
I read it a couple of times and I couldnít understand what the kids had done to kill their mother. "But it was our fault", so we assume itís something both the kids did, but did I miss something that alluded to what they actually did?
I think this could link back to the mother dying during child birth. Nick would still know what his mother looked like from photos, so he would recognise her. Then it gives the dad a legitimate (at least in his eyes) reason to kill his son. This gives the mother a reason to kill the son in the dream as well. I think you could incorporate this without making it too on the nose.
I think the only issue that leaves you with is why would he wait so long? You could probably show the house as being messy and unkempt, piles of laundry, that type of thing, to illustrate a downward spiral.
With a bit more purpose this could be a good little short, at the moment I'm left wondering why any of it happened.
Potentially a personal preference but for broken or interrupted speech I'd use an emdash (--), you tend to use a dash.
WINSTON Father? FATHER!?
This is definitely personal preference, but I donít think there is ever a good enough reason to cap dialogue.
Winston lies Linusís body down.
"Let It Snow"
I'm even less enthused by underlining in a script, again personal preference. There would also be copyright issues with the song, but in this instance having that particular song is a cool contrast to the mayhem thatís happening.
WINSTON Itís gonna be okay sweetie.
MARK Shut your cocksucker! This cunt is mine to do with as I please!
A bit too far for me. You can make it demonic and evil without this kind of stuff. Some will appreciate it.
MARK I SAID LIE TO HER YOU WORTHLESS FUCKING FAGOT!
Again just way too much. Also the capping, also: I said lie to her, you worthless fucking fagot.
This is an enjoyable read, despite the few things I pointed out. The story works for me. Quite a few named characters at the end that probably donít require names.
Quite a big budget, but it would make a fun little horror if filmed.
Thanks for checking out another one of these, Warren. Glad you liked this one.
I had a feeling I was probably going overboard with all the capped dialogue. Or is it dialog? So many small things still confuse me. Also, thanks for the tip on dashes and emdashes. Never knew that.
Naming all those late arriving characters was actually a last minute thing. Lol. Guess I had it right the first time.
I wrote this one a few years back and have always wanted to give it a proper rewrite. Yeah, I'm aware the budget is too high for a short, but this is one' I've always wanted to adapt into a feature one day. Thanks again for reading, Dude. Anything you want me to read in return?
MYSTERY P.O.V. Heavy, muffled BREATHING. We watch Lou from behind some bushes as he shakes his head, SNIGGERS. He turns and goes back inside, SLAMS the door behind him.
I donít really have an issue with the POV shot, but I do think it could be set up better. We go straight into a POV but itís unclear where itís coming from, then we learn itís from some bushes, where are the bushes? I guess at the end of the day it will be up to the director, but in terms of the read it got me thinking and therefore pulled me out of the story. I just think it could be handled better.
There are similar things in each script that Iíve touched on, I'm not going to mention them again, the personal preference type stuff.
The door ringing gag is another heavily used horror trope. I donít have a problem with that, we all do the same thing, steal bits and pieces from other films, but you really need something to make it your own, letís see how we go.
He stares down at Lou, casually tilts his head to the side.
Again, how often do we see this? Itís such a small thing I know, but I think you should be focusing on trying to create your own thing as much as possible. You seem to rely heavily on used up ideas.
And I'm done, itís Funny Games and The Strangers with nothing new to add. This story is barely your own. In my opinion this one is the weakest of the batch so far. Iím not saying itís not a creepy horror concept. It definitely is, thatís why itís been done to death. Iím just saying your short adds nothing new and that is a problem.
You are a good writer, as in, you have a solid grasp of how to write a screenplay. You just need to work on your creativity, try not to rely so heavily on others work.
I did point out something similar in one of the other scripts. It seems like you forgot a word, now I'm seeing it again I'm thinking you might be doing it to write lean. If you did just forget a word then disregard this, if not:
A pick-up truck speeds down road.
Itís undeniable that ďA pick-up truck speeds down the road, or a roadĒ, reads better. I agree that screenplays need to be lean but not at the expense of the read.
Blond and blonde are both acceptable, but I believe that blonde would be more appropriate. Small nit.
-Jessica pops out of the stalks, SCREAMS at David, who jumps back in fear. She LAUGHS while he clutches chest, tries to catch his breath.
No originality is definitely a reoccurring theme.
DAVID (CONT) Scarecrows keep him away.
I'm making notes as I read, so I donít know how this turns out, but at the moment I'm seeing some logic issues. How does he know about 'him' and she doesnít if itís such a big deal and she lives in the area. Also if this thing is such a big deal and the guy knows it, why would he go into the cornfield?
BARNY Edgar!? I know itís you!
Barny knows as well, so how the hell doesnít Jessica?
Circling back now:
DAVID Edgar Flynn.
Who is Edgar Flynn? Does it matter? I think so, if youíre going to give this killer, who is held at bay by scarecrows, a name, I want to know what the back story is. I also want to know why scarecrows keep him away.
Again, running around a cornfield at night and getting scared and butchered is a creepy concept, but itís nothing new.
I suppose this is another recurrent theme, things happen in your stories just because. You might be happy with that as a story teller but as a reader itís very unsatisfying not to have a purpose.
Going back to the movie The Strangers, where a group terrorises a couple (and also do the door knocking thing) their reason when asked why are you doing it, the answer was "because you were home". There isnít much to that, but itís sinister as f#@k and ultimately satisfies the audience. In your stories, stuff happens, people die, and then it ends with no rhyme or reason.
In the first short I suggested a tie in to try give the story more purpose, you were happy to leave that open ended, but when none of your stories really have a purpose that comes at the expense of the audienceís satisfaction, which is the entire purpose.
Doug smiles. He puts his hand down his pants, starts to rub back and forth. Cherryís CRIES grow louder. Doug licks his lips as he pulls his hand out, spits in it. He shoves it back into pants and continues rubbing himself. Faster and faster. He lets out a soft MOAN as he jumps to his feet, puts his genitals up next to the edge of the well. Grinning from ear to ear, he squeezes his eyes shut as he climaxes into the darkness below.
Well thatís disturbing. I think youíll struggle to sell this idea.
numerous CORPSES OF SMALL CHILDREN, each in various stages of decay.
As in really going to struggle. So we have a well filled with childrenís dead bodies and semen.
CHERRY (demonic voice) Now there really is a monster in the well.
Clever turnaround, but I will probably come back to it.
This is a pretty good concept taken a little too far for my taste. I personally think you could allude to the fact that they are assaulted in some way and get rid of the masturbation scene.
Still lots of questions. So Doug completely makes up a demon thing that live in a well, tells the kids about it, and then the demon thing magically actually becomes the thing that does Doug in? Why did it wait until there were a whole lot of bodies, why not manifest after the first killing? But more importantly, how and why does it even come about? Why is Cherry even there, she seems relatively calm considering the situation.
No question you are quite a talented writer, I think it's your story telling that needs the most work. Give them purpose, make sure things happen for a reason. You donít need to explain every little thing, but I think there should be more substance at the core of your stories.
I thought I'd add one last thing, obviously this is all my own opinion, in saying that I definitely believe there is an audience for this type of stuff-just-happens horror. I think Terrifier is one of the worst horrors to happen in years but in horror circles itís quite highly praised. I think that it's a perfect example of a stuff-just-happens horror.
I guess what I'm saying is that you should definitely not take my opinion to the bank. This may very much be a preference I have for the horror I enjoy.
Really appreciate you taking time out of your day and reading through these. Sorry none of them really seemed to strike a cord with you.
Originality isn't my strength. If I could get away with it, I'd exclusively write Friday the 13th fan-fiction. Not that I don't try to be original. I always try to put my own little spin on things.
I think my biggest issue is that I'm always far too vague when it comes to motivations and exposition. This flaw really shows with STALKED. Just couldn't a good way to explain what was happening without it seeming forced/cheesy. Really trying to improve in this area.
I thought I did a fairly decent job of giving DING DONG DITCH some originality by incorporating the original poem into the story. It actually creeped me out big time when I read it back, but then again maybe I'm just smelling my own farts.
Yeah, I'm fully away that THE WELL has no chance of ever being picked up for production. Still think it's a creepy story worth checking out. Despite it's disturbing material, I actually had a blast writing that script, particularly the very end.
As for stuff-just-happens horror, I myself am a fan. Terrifier, while far from perfect, was a nasty little flick that put a big smile on my face. That said, I don't really think any of these shorts, other than maybe DING DONG DITCH, fall under that category. They simply need more explanation. I've got detailed backstories written out for STALKED and CHRISTMAS EXORCISM, both of which I think may work better as features.
Thanks again for reading through these, dude. Lots of good advice you threw my way.
In the first short I suggested a tie in to try give the story more purpose, you were happy to leave that open ended, but when none of your stories really have a purpose that comes at the expense of the audienceÔŅĹs satisfaction, which is the entire purpose.
I originally intended on having all the shorts take place in the same town, to give them a sense of connection. It would just be little things, like Lou from DING DONG DITCH calling Dan from SCARED YET?, sure it's Dan's two boys who are pranking him. Stuff like that. May go back are try to tie them all together in the rewrite.
As I stated in my first post, I also want to add a wrap around narrative that bookends the script. Sort of like the Crypt Keeper from TALES FROM THE CRYPT. Have a couple of different ideas for how how I'm gonna do this. Gotta think more on it. If you have any suggestions, I'm all ears.
Thanks for reading and feeding back on my recent script ('Mallory Goode'), in return I just read yours.
Very well done in pulling all these stories together - an enjoyable read, and I like your writing style. I think I'd read a couple of the stories before?
I wanted to give you some feedback if that's OK - (although please take with pinch of salt, I'm very much just a hobbyist).
2 minor points / 2 bigger suggestions:
STALKED // JESSICA: I think your changing the subject. Why donít you like this road?
SCARED YET? // MATT: Youíre mind is playing tricks on you. Come on.
This line from MATT (12) seems a little too old for him? You nailed the rest of the kids dialogue so this one just stood out for me as odd.
I really think you should (indeed) find a way to make these stories flow together as one, eg. some of the characters / story lines crossing over - that would be cool.
Cooler still, if you could find a way to subvert the fact that some of these the stories seem very familiar? You[d have to do a bit of shifting around to get there, but for example (and very off the top of my head), Edgar is Jessica's Dad? Buddy is the killer? Jessica is in Cahoots? That sort of thing?
Anyway, I did enjoy this very much. I think The Well, if fleshed out, has legs... And, regarding how dark you're going, if you're going to go there, don't go 1/2 way mad, go all the way mad!