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Bastard Saint by Michael J Kospiah (spesh2k) writing as Father Christmas - Short, Horror - A mall Santa revisits his tragic past after a child makes a strange request: for Santa to murder his abusive father. 7 pages - pdf format
I get to page 4 and, well that escalated quickly! Wow!
The VO doesn't really add to this. At the moment it is there simply to explain things to the audience rather than enrich the story. I'd suggest having a think how you could visually get everything across or if you removed the VO is there enough for the audience to figure out the story themselves? If not, what could you add?
My suspension of disbelief just snapped on this one. I found it hard to believe someone who was institutionalised for 23 years for severing a boy's head could live a normal life, never mind get a job as a mall Santa. And why was dad imprisoned for 25 years? He was a dick for sure and deserved something for beating up his son, but he didn't kill anyone and he didn't tell his son to murder anyone, just to stand up to bullies.
I'm sure some will love this as in the end, it's just what each reader buys into. I couldn't quite buy into this but I certainly appreciate the effort and found it an entertaining read.
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Nitty issue = Malcam is thin and young – odd that he would be hired to play a Santa in the first place. No need to describe hm as thin.
Nitty issue # 2 =
MALCOLM (V.O.) They placed most of the blame on my father. He did 25 years hard time. As if he didn’t already resent me.
25 years for what he did – i.e., told boy to kick his ass – seems unlikely – I know that you need this for a plot point. Maybe there is a better way to get there.
Parameters met = yep - nailed it.
Writing = really solid craftsmanship. Read very smoothly.
MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD
Story: Okay, I loved the general premise. There were a couple of hiccups. Couldn't quite figure out how are hero would know where the boy's Dad would be.
And for me (note - this may JUST for me as others may love it) - I hated the severed head. Yes. I know that it is circular to the boy's origin story - but for Santa to add terror to the boy's life by plopping that head in a Xmas box was just a bridge too far to me. And again it might just be me as I am less enamored with this stuff then most - but it would have landed so much better for me if:
-If the boy asked where's Dad. Mom answers's he'll come home later - Boy opens box - see's the letter he wrote Santa with a handwritten note on it - I grant you your gift - or something like that - Boy says to Mom with a smile - Dad ain't coming home no more.
Then you can cut to the body in Santa's car and I don't care how the dude killed him. Because now the 10 year old boy doesn't see it.
Hope that makes sense. I'm still marking this high as I think the objection to the severed head is probably going to be just my personal taste - Good effort here.
Wow. I was taken aback by the ending, but you did set the stage for it. This is someone who takes things too far, and that ending is perfectly in character.
It's a great premise, one that could be made into a feature if he's smarter about it. The writing is quite good, with a few missteps along the way but nothing that tripped me up. The tone fits the material, and I like the stylistic choices.
Really great opening scene with that last line veering into much darker territory. Love the style. I'm fine with the decapitated head, but the backstory didn't quite make it as darkly satisfying as I hoped.
We go from dad being abusive - to kid's a murdering pyscho - tries to reform - then father gets revenge.
It's sad and strange, not in a bad way. But something about him decapitating a stranger over this convoluted past, I dunno, it just wasn't satisfying enough.
Very entertaining read. With some tweaks, this could be great.
A sad and convoluted tale told in an entertaining manner. The writing was good except for the VOs. They felt ineffective and just exposition. They could be replaced with visuals. Yes, there are moments of disbelief here but considering only 6 pages to land your story, it worked for me.
Ho Ho Holy shit that was dark. Quite the tale of woe that painted a never-ending cycle of psychosis. So, Malcom’s father does 25 years hard time and comes out with one intent from all his rehabilitation; murder my child’s family.
There’s an old saying: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” Buddha ...
25 years of tormenting yourself with revenge would drive a wooden stake through anyone’s heart, leaving a black hole that only revenge could fill, but it would appear Malcom’s father had no heart to begin with, so his eternal quest would be he needs to fill a void that’s always been there, and after he found it by killing that which Malcom created, he realized there’s nothing left to live for… his void collapsed and he’s an empty hollow enigma of his hatred.
Now, I guess Malcom is trying to atone for his family’s fate by vicariously severing his father’s head by severing Cory’s fathers head… okay then, I feel his pain, but not his rage.
Being a Mall Santa is probably not the best choice of part-time gigs for this guy, to the extent that the mall would have most likely caught wind of Malcom’s past via a reference check, but then there’s Bad Santa with Billy Bob who seemingly gets away with it every year, so… anything is possible in today’s day and age. Works well as an ‘After Ghoul Special’, a horrific tale of family reunification, but I assume that’s where you were going with it, so well done. Best of luck.
Well...i dug everything about this. Totally dark. Loved the characters. Definitely over the top but what psych/crime isn't? I don't feel this is a "horror". And I love severed heads! LOL. What's in the boooooox???
Great job here. Was an easy read and thoroughly entertaining!
Apart from a few personal critiques, this was a great script.
Omitting the foul language in Malcolm's dialogue early on would have made me more sympathetic to his situation, but the cussing put him in the "jerk" category instead of the "guy struggling to get through life" category.
I'm also not a fan of the unique font for "25 YEARS EARLIER". But that's just a personal preference.
As far as the rest goes: I could visualize everything perfectly without rereading anything. I could feel the plight of the characters. I wanted to know more the more I read.
What's a wife-beater? must be a slang term we don't use here (or I am slow) - in the U.K (Birmingham, at least) we refer to Stella Artois as a wife beaters drink. EDIT: I googled it, I am being slow lol
dark and menacing expression on his face...
I always find the "on his face" part in these sentences odd (I do it too), because where else do you show expression if not the face?
MALCOLM (V.O.) I was institutionalized up until I was around 23 years old.
And he was allowed to become a mall Santa? some recruiter dropped the ball there lol
Well, let me be the first to congratulate you on your round 3 victory lol That was bloody brilliant. Expertly written, completely satisfying plot, great use of the non-linear which actually benefited the story, great characters and dialogue. It all connected wonderfully.
Weirdly I wrote something very similar a few years ago for a producer, that unfortunately didn't get made ;-(*
So I already liked this from the off
It's well written, the setup works well...
Just a couple of things that didn't work for me... the Dad wouldn't get any jail time, he didn't do anything... and the end, Malcolm says he likes Christmas and certainly sees himself saving Cory... so doubt he'd traumatise him with the head.
BUT, they are just imho and I still really liked this script.
*I've never put mine up on here, might do after the challenge.