All screenplays on the simplyscripts.com and simplyscripts.net domain are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. This screenplaymay not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
I found in my Writerduet 10 pages of a draft I started over a year ago of a horror feature after I'd done a full outline. It's about ten pages deep and I'd like to continue it, but having plotted it out back then I realise now it's similiarties to Midsommar, which came out this year. I'd love to know if it has an interesting enough hook and is dissimilar enough to current horror stuff out to continue (I know horror is much more premise-reliant than I'm used to writing)
Logline: A anthropology PhD heads to a deceased peer's remote property to continue the research into the wreckage of a mysterious historic ship. When she is stranded by a monsoon flood, she is courted by locals who seem to have a centuries-old plan for her - and many dark secrets.
I’ve only a passing knowledge of Midsommer so I’ve no idea as to the similarities. The logline put me in mind of the Wickerman, and that ‘community with a dark secret’ vibe was enough to pull me in. Tricky to give notes without a better understanding of the whole story but I can at least give you an idea of whether I’d keep reading or not and why.
Notes as I go -
Do we need to see the dead infant? Could leave something to mystery here - keep the reader wondering.
The couple having sex - could you see that happening ‘miles and miles away’? Also, could you tell someone was staring back at you from that distance? Isn’t it practically first light?
‘…mounting and mounting, rising and falling.’ - I get what you’re going for but I’m not sure it works visually. I think this could be better described - or more simply. Not saying it’s a bad scene. It’s unexpected and adds a somewhat creepy undertone with their reaction. I just think the logic could do with re-working.
‘It’s not your fault I don’t drive’ — Assuming her not driving is linked to the opening accident, John’s chuckle seems a bit off.
Would the boarded up school speak for itself? This is where you could let the imagery and character reactions work for you and trim back the dialogue. There’s a line about the kids not being replaced which gave me a sense of where this might be headed. Though I could be wrong…. If it’s important - foreshadowing - I think you could blend that line with Jamie’s last line about the ‘ageing population…etc’ and trim Madison’s dialogue without losing anything from the story.
In all, I thought it was an okay opener. The flashback/dream intro feels a little too familiar - tragic car crash etc. but there may be a deeper logic to it that feeds back into the story at some point so we’ll see.
The writing when we get to the outback setting works well to place me in this remote location while there’s just enough mystery thrown in to keep me invested. I want to know how the wreck and Dr. Richards ties into the story and most of all what danger Madison is facing - that’s a good draw.
On the downside, I’m not entirely sure I understand the setup. Is Madison here to facilitate Helen’s podcast in a real time investigation?
I don’t know how the podcasting angle fits overall so it’s hard to judge. Granted, it’s unique and gives you a device through which to set up the backstory; but is having your main character deliver a history lesson - via phone - to an unseen and largely unknown character the most engaging way for the story to unfold? How would that look on screen? The last two scenes are essentially back to back exposition - one a summary of the Hardiman and one of Dr Richard's work. Is there a way to tease that information out - keep the reader guessing/wanting?
It's tricky as you've really only one character to work with and as a result there’s no real conflict - or the suggestion thereof - driving the story forward. There’s mystery - maybe that works alone?
Again, I don’t know how far into the idea you are or where you go from here. I thought this was nicely done in the lead up though the phone conversation feels less considered than the previous pages. I would read on, though I guess it depends on how the podcast angle plays out - whether it becomes integral to the story or more of an interruption.
Hope this helps,
My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:
Thanks so much you guys. I agree with pretty much all the feedback you've given - I had written an extensive outline so, in terms of Steven's questions about whether the car crash, and other aspects, tie together later - they certaiinly do.
Also, I have a very specific imagine in my head about what Madison "sees" in the distance that would logically work (although perhaps "miles and miles" is too far for it to work). The shrubbery in those parts of the world is very sparse, and with the high rising sun and the vantage point of being "above" the outback plain, you would be able to make out human figures in the distance. Here's a pic close to what I'd imagine of a scrub plain in the outback for reference, from a similar high=up vantage point the character would have: https://media.gettyimages.com/photos/outback-plain-near-winton-picture-id500627133. Maybe my job is to better describe it.
Re: the podcast - no, the intention is not that Madson is direclty linked to the podcaster's "investigation". They are simply interviewing her as she is continuing the defunct research by a deceased colleauge. In the script's universe, the shipwreck is a well-known local mystery and the character is an anthropology researcher well-known in her field. the podcast angle WOULD continue throughout but not as a direct plot device.
I really, really enjoyed reading this. Such a great hook. Now you've got me dying to know how the slave ship got up the river. Is this based on true events? There were a few problems with the script, mostly easily corrected. Near the end you say that the Doctor pretty much published everything written about the Hardiman, and then two or three sentences later you say he never published anything. I also agree about the miles and miles bit … I doubt anyone could see somebody having sex under a tree miles and miles away, or that the tree was rotting. Similarly, I doubt the couple having sex would suddenly look up and see her miles and miles away - too far and too busy doing other things. Is this important to the story? The couple having sex? If it isn't you could scrap it entirely. There are a few other minor problems you'll likely fix when you give your script a rewrite, but the mystery is super compelling. Great idea with production houses looking for scripts about supernatural, etc. Oh, the title "Occupation." It doesn't have a lot of "umph," unless of course the town is occupied by witches or something. Actually, even if the town is occupied by witches, I don't thenk the title does the story justice. I hope you'll write more cuz I am super curious to know what happened.
Hey, so gave this a read, and the real standout moment for me was the couple shagging who make eye contact with Madison. In that sort of environment it could be played as a pretty scary visual, but also it could be played with real humour. That was a nice touch, and I think directors would look at that and really enjoy shooting it.
The rest of the script is fine, but it doesn't really stand out. It feels like quite a long 10 pages. My feeling is the script needs to be sped up somewhat, and be given some more direction in that opening.
I thought I was detecting a pretty bleak sort of vibe, but as the pages went on, I lost that sense, and feel like it needed a firming grounding in terms of what you want that ambience to be.
Hi Ben, Went and took a look at your Getty Image. If you look about an inch to the left of the edge of the pic, and just south of the road, there is something there that could be a tree, a sign, maybe even a person. That "thing" is what? 500 feet away? 1000 feet away? It certainly isn't miles and miles away. And even from that short distance it is difficult to make out what it is. Even from a higher vantage point. If the scene is important, you're probably going to have to bring it in a lot closer. Anyway, enough said about that. I am still keen to learn more about your horror story. Diane