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Yeah, the backstory dragged the script a bit and extended the page count. Wanted to keep it at 30 pages or less for short story's sake. I'm [very, very slowly] working on a feature version of this script that will delve more into the backstory, along with Ben and Rachel's relationship.
Thanks for giving it another read! I really enjoyed writing this script and had a lot of fun with it. I don't do much 80s horror, but man is it a blast to write campy stuff.
So, what we have here is basically Scream with a Werewolf, set in the '80s. And I absolutely love it. It's got fun characters, some great suspense, and a ton of awesome Werewolf action. Oh yeah, there's some pretty cool gore here too.
Without getting into spoilers... I do think the big ending reveal could have been handled a bit better. You have a great opportunity for some misdirection with the big bad of the story, but instead, you play it straight.
The end you have works, and I love "Uptown Girl" playing over the visuals of all the carnage during the ending scene. Great stuff. Lol
Not gonna comment much on the actual writing. Just know that it's excellent all around and I never got hung up on anything. I saw everything you wanted me to see.
This is a great Werewolf slasher that feels ripped straight out of the '80s. It's a great start to this anthology series.
Sean Chipman, the wraparound story you've created is a bit vague, but I believe that's by design. I'm curious to see where the story is going, and also very curious to see which of these two characters is the "bad guy".
Love the rhythm you create with this segue in particular:
Her mutilated body is TOSSED through the air like a rag doll and SMASHES onto the windshield of her car, shattering it. CUT TO BLACK.
OVER BLACK: The spooky synthesizers of "Kids in America" by Kim Wilde.
It's actually great to read these scripts with the music tracks sprinkled throughout. As Spec writers we're not strictly supposed to but it adds so much and confirms again, (in my head at least), break those rules when you want to, especially if you thinks it enhances and adds another dimension to your story.
I could make suggestions re some of your descriptions but they're not in any way make or break, and I'm not sure you want that type of analysis anyway.
I will say here: -
Ian's body falls back into the car, DECAPITATED.
- I think you need to write 'head', not body. Or add, ' his decapitated head lands on the driver's seat' for example.
Whew! Watch out if you're one of the popular kids.
Sean C. Just one minor hiccup for me with the repeated 'just thens' as preface in your description lines. I read those two lines with and without them and I don't see the addition adds suspense. Minor quibble. Like I said on Michael's thread you have me well and truly hooked with the wraparound story.
Great work, guys. Would love to see this anthology produced.
It's as good if not better than some I've watched and the retro style is terrific. Looking forward to reading the rest of the Eps.
All right, sorry for the delay. Been desperately taking on as many paid writing gigs as I can so I can pay my rent and not starve to death. And I haven't been commenting as much due to a little burnout -- when you're sitting on a chair w/ no lumbar support, staring into a laptop for 12 straight hours every day, it's hard to find motivation to read and review. And, for about six months since the lockdown shit started, I've read and reviewed 57 feature length scripts (on here and another screenwriting website) while getting about 20 in return, so it gets a bit tiring.
Anyway, onward w/ the first installment of the anthology...
Nice work, overall, Sean. The writing made this a breeze to get through. It was a fun script with fun dialogue and used all the 80's horror tropes we expect in something like this -- teens drinking, making out in cars, all the character tropes we expect to see from high schoolers (jocks, nerds, etc), people not believing a character when they're telling the truth, etc.
This was easy to read, though for stretches, there was a lot of "he walks", "they walk", etc. No big deal, just a nitpick.
The kills were really cool and there as some really nice visuals here.
ISSUES WITH THE SCRIPT:
I think the easy access to the guns, albeit believable, was a little too convenient for Rachel and Denise. I know, they're still facing off against werewolves and they still struggle, people die, but I didn't really feel like they were in much danger. It actually made me kinda root for the werewolves.
So, the reveal that Ben and his buddies were werewolves was pretty predictable pretty much from the start. At least with Ben. The problem I had with this, though, was that Ben was the most likable character and drew the most sympathy from us (at least me). Rachel, on the other hand, who you make the hero of the story, is a pretty unlikable character throughout, as was Denise, although she has a few good one liners. I really didn't understand that. She abandoned her boyfriend because he was getting picked on and bullied. There was no character arc there or growth in her character. The bullies/the popular people win in the end. On top of that, these popular high schoolers (or kids trying to be popular) are the ones using guns. I know, they're facing off against werewolves, but the message I'm getting from this doesn't really seem to fit. It would've been nice to see Rachel grow a bit and have sympathy for the werewolves -- or maybe see Robert the bully get the upper hand on Ben (as he's a werewolf or transforms back to human after being wounded) and Rachel stop Robert from doing it. It just ended abruptly with no lesson learned or anything. It kinda just left a bad taste in my mouth.
NOW... that being said, it was still an enjoyable read and delivered on the kills and the 80's horror tropes.
RE: The wraparound story. This was well done, definitely got me interested. And I loved how it transitioned to the werewolf story by bringing up werewolves. Felt smooth.
Other random notes:
DENISE Your boyfriend's freaky friend is hitting on me again.
RACHEL All he said was "hey".
DENISE I should file a restraining order for that.
Ha! I know this is 80's, but it sounds like something that would apply today.
PAGE 12: Awesome kill with Ian in the car, through the sun roof.
He has silver bullets that he collects for his guns. We need to get them to come to us.
Seems a bit convenient.
RACHEL What did you put in his Gatorade?
DENISE Just a Benadryl...
Geez, I wish one Benadryl worked that well for me.
Sean, I read this over the weekend after Pia alerted me to the anthology. Obviously, I started with the 1st episode, which just so happens to be yours.
I've debated since Saturday what to say and how to say, and I'm just going to be me and give it to you straight up, in complete honesty, based on my feelings for your story, writing, etc.
I didn't take any notes, so I'm not going to provide line by line mistakes and the like, but I will give you my thoughts on everything, and I highly doubt my comments will be organized, like they would if I did take page by page notes.
But, I did go back and write up some basic outline type info, so I knew what I was talking about - if I missed something, or the like, please let me know so I can address my mistakes.
I was intending on breezing through the 34 pages in 30 minutes or so, but sadly, I literally stopped reading every 5, 6, 7 pages, as it was a slog for me, and in certain places, a serious slog. If I forgot someone or something, I would go back and find it on earlier pages, when I started back up, 15 minutes later, so I was up to speed and with you.
So, let's jump in to Lunar Shift - Episode 1 of Horrific Tales of the Wickedly Macabre...no comments on the wraparound story until later, as I don't really know how it's supposed to be tied in.
I don't know anything about the concept of this anthology or what it's supposed to be other than an homage to 80's horror. Is is set in the 80's? Is it supposed to be? Is it supposed to be dumb and cheesy like most 80's horror flicks were/are? Or is it supposed to take 80's horror to a new level that it could have been or better yet, should have been? I don't know, so I have to base this script on just what it is.
So, obviously, we have a werewolf story here in which, as usual, we don't know who the werewolf is. You give us 11 total INTRODUCED characters (1 of which, the Reporter, who really doesn't come into play at all), mostly 16 and 17 years old, as well as 1 of the character's Dad, who is late 30's, and a cop, very conveniently.
You chose to tell this story in 3 parts, each an entire month apart, aligning with the Full Moon. By doing this, the only interaction we have with the characters is over 1 or 2 days each month. My point here is that so much goes on every day, especially in a situation like this, yet we don't get any of it - only when the next Full Moon (or day after) comes up, and it's as if nothing has happened in those other 27-30 days. What we do have is ALOT of dialogue, talking heads, and dialogue that gives us very little, really. Dialogue and actions/reactions of characters that is very unrealistic, based on the setup.
We have 7 kills that come in 3 stages, 1 at the beginning to set the stage, 2 more the following month, and then the finale, where 4 get killed. Over the pages/scenes/etc. that don't have a kill, we have very little...very little of interest, because you never really built any character into your characters.
The characters are all very dull. They're all very formulaic, cliches of characters we've seen and read about forever. They're also unrealistic, sorry to say. As I was reading, I had to continuously go back and see who was supposed to be who and what whoever said recently...or the month before, etc. This is really why I couldn't get through this in a single read. I was bored and had to keep going back.
Your settings are the High School, some "makeout point" nearby, Rachel's House, a lake, and Robert's House. Yeah, within each setting, you're inside and outside, in different rooms, but if you think about it, you have 5 settings in a 30 page script, which isn't alot, IMO.
Part of the problem with the settings, is the way you didn't set them up visually, as well as the very poor Slug writing. If you look at the LAKE TRAVIS scene, we're given absolutely nothing as to what this place looks like, and it runs about 4 pages, and as far as I can tell, not a single character moves (well, Ben does somehow swim over to Nate and Craig, but that doesn't make much sense, as they aren't in the water) - Rachel and Denise sit at the edge of the lake, while Ben somehow "floats before them", and the 3 chitchat for the entire scene. BORING! The way these 3 discuss what Rachel saw and what has been happening is almost like watching a Scooby Doo mystery cartoon. The dialogue is so unrealistic.
The finale, for me, was kind of redonkulous, just not set up well. It's all focused on Robert, who we know almost nothing about, and has only had a single throwaway line, up to the 3rd section of the script, Page 20. Then, the real absurdity kicks in on Page 23, as Rachel somehow "walks back into the living room toting: Guns, guns, guns!
Pistols, shotguns, rifles, handguns, you name it."
Now, that I would pay to see, but I jest, and I don't mean to be cruel, but really? How is this 16 year old girl going to carry all these weapons? And then she lays them all down on a coffee table? Really? Some of these weapons are big, heavy, metal. It just comes off so comedic.
Then, she calls her cop Dad, and tells him he has to come home right now, doesn't explain a single thing, and ends it with this classic line, spoken nonchalantly,
"Hi Daddy, it's me. Look, I'm going to need you to come home. It's an emergency. I can explain later. Also, I'm gonna be using your guns, so...thanks! See you soon. Love you."
It just comes off as comedy, and for me, I am completely out of this being a horror story.
So, finally, our werewolves are revealed, and if you think about it, at this point, it's going to be either Robert, who is already tied up, 1 of the 3 "nerds" (and I hate that initial intro), Rachel's Dad, the Cop, Tom, or even Denise. The finale is not written all that well, and again, for me, at least, not very horrific, with a perfectly timed entrance of Tom, to save his daughter, and then finally, somehow, Denise limps out, alive.
Back to the writing on the finale - You're missing so many Slugs it's very difficult to visualize. I don't know what kind of house Rachel and Tom live in, but apparently the master bedroom and Rachel's bedroom are all attached to the living room, which doesn't make much sense. You do use new Slugs once the girls are in the 2 different bedrooms, but for me, you needed more as they leave the living room.
What follows in the living room just isn't written or conceived in a way that it would remotely work out on film. It's just too goofy and unbelievable.
So then we go to "EXT. RACHEL'S HOUSE", and somehow Rachel is in her car smashing a werewolf right into her house. Just doesn't work for me at all.
We go back inside to see Robert get killed, then back out again to the same Slug - EXT. RACHEL's HOUSE", and we stay there for the rest of the script, but we go from the front of the house, to the backyard, into the swimming pool, then back to the front again, all without any new Slugs, which is a terrible visual mistake. And then, somehow, Tom appears, "beyond his police car", which means he's in the driveway, most likely, but somehow shoots the werewolf, who has Rachel near the pool in the backyard. He then quickly gets back to the pool area, then back to the front of the house.
Seriously, doesn't work at all the way this is written, and it's a literal mess.
Finally, I forgot to mention the reason for the werewolves, which makes no sense, is just glossed over, and needs major attention/change. It just doesn't work the way it is.
So, I apologize for my rambling feedback, but hopefully some of what I said here makes sense and will help you get this in to shape.
Slugs need major attention. Visual setups need attention. Dialogue needs alot of tweaking and should be cut way back. I'd recommend changing the setup of basically 3 scenes, a month apart. It's tough to pull this off the way you set it up and IMO, you did not succeed.
I'd be happy to discuss any/all of the things I brought up and help any way I can to get this thing into shape.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Ooooh, werewolves! We don't get enough of those these days!
Overall, I liked it, but I think there are some areas where you can improve it as well.
At 35 pages, it would be fairly easy to drop that a couple of pages by just being more streamlined in your writing. We are already pushing it with the 30 or so pages. Most people don't like to read that many pages in a short. You have to make the read faster in order to counter that. I have the same issue. It's not just you.. Most of us.
For me, there were a few things that I was not that crazy about, but I'm nobody, so if everyone else likes it, just ignore it. I wasn't too crazy about the flashback, to be honest. I'm not deadset against them, I just didn't think what you did there was that effective.
The whole thing with the hooded figure and the Bull Skull character felt more like some kind of satanic or cult thing rather than a werewolf type story. IMHO, it would work better if the "losers" did something else in order to become werewolves. Maybe they tried something else. Tried to make themselves cooler or stronger or better somehow, but it totally misfires and they turn themselves into werewolves by accident.
I also wasn't 100% sure I liked that the dad came in and saved the day in the end. And, one final thing that didn't work for me was that the girls said if this doesn't make us cool, I don't know what would. It made them seem extremely shallow in the end. That was probably your intention, but I'm getting old, so I don't like not nice people.