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Okay, wow. Great idea, Sean, and you evoke a very macabre horrific scenario with the dead children hidden from view beneath the snowmen.
Great atmosphere of dread. Love the thump on the roof and the ghoul (this is no Santa) going down the chimney to abduct the kids.
The only thing is I was left wanting more and I'm going to have to read it again because your denouement with Gracie didn't quite hit the spot. She's seventeen?
What I think might be even more scary and effective is to make Gracie a child too. She's smart as a whip and managing to escape the clutches of this evil. Or, maybe Gracie's evil, killing these kids herself?
Anyway, looking forward to some elaboration from you.
Thanks for reading, and glad the imagery hit ya in the right way.
So, this is just a short I wrote as an idea I've had, that I'm starting to lean toward turning into a feature. There's still a lot to develop, but it's left everyone wanting more and so I'm going to start brainstorming and seeing what I can do with it to make it longer with more closure.
The reason why I made Gracie 17 is because she's nearly an adult now so this Krampus or Ghoul or creature of the winter didn't come to her house, as she doesn't believe in "Santa". As in, this creature goes after children only, and ones who would be easy to snatch.
An idea I had for a feature is that I would make Gracie older, but she wouldn't be able to bear children. Which would motivate her to investigate the disappearances and deaths of the children. Maybe she adopted a child who escaped the clutches of this evil Santa creature this year, but the following year it comes back for him/her and Gracie must find a way to stop it. You're not the first to think that Gracie is the one who killed the kids herself either!
But, this short is just a taste for what's possibly to come, as I do love the idea, and I love the idea of stretching it into a feature as well.
This is a great little horror. Love the tone, and the idea... very chilling and original. Great job..
Just to clarify. Is the first scene her upset about the past situation and thats why she punches it, then freaks out thinking she may have knocked the head off a dead child? But then it just turns out to be a normal snow man in the neighborhood? And she now has a little bit of ptsd...?
Some little nitpicks....
"INT. GRACIE’S HOUSE - LATER Gracie looks out the living room window at a NEWS VAN near her house. A reporter, KATHY, talks to the camera."
Should this Slug be INT. GRACIE'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - LATER.
It stuck out for me that the snowmen weren't mentioned in the news cast. I know it's obvious to the reader but the news people are going to mention every weird thing they can, and the snowmen appearing is a weird mystery as well.
Also I know you've kept the slugs different for the present scenes i.e NEIGHBORHOOD... should it be consistent throughout since it's the same location. ie ROLLING OAKS NEIGHBORHOOD.
Anyways Sean, well done
"Turn that off, our friend has just been killed in a fatal sunlight accident!"....
Thanks for reading! Glad it gave ya chills, and not just because it's winter
You are correct, in the sense that she does have PTSD from the events that follow that scene. She freaks out because she believes that there is a child beneath the snow due to what she witnessed a couple of weeks before. Additionally, she's also angry at what had happened to the children, and she now sees snowmen as something awful rather than merry.
Thanks for catching that slug mishap being set in Gracie's Living Room. Fixed.
I wanted to make the snowmen seem rather unimportant at first just to help save for the ending, but I do like the idea of Kathy the news reporter to mention something about how snowmen appeared in the yards overnight. However, I feel it might make it seem a little too obvious if I did that. These parents are more concerned about their kids to brush off the fact that snowmen had appeared in most of the yards overnight. Nobody's connected the dots just yet, though Gracie is observant and notices that something is different (besides the fact that, ya know, kids are missing).
The NEIGHBORHOOD that Gracie is in at the beginning and the end is supposed to be a different neighborhood, actually. Which is why I specified ROLLING OAKS NEIGHBORHOOD, versus a standard neighborhood, as Gracie is supposed to be walking home from school at the beginning/end (hence the backpack). Though, now that you mention it, it would be a good idea methinks to have her in ROLLING OAKS NEIGHBORHOOD at the beginning and end, and the snowman she punches (as well as the other one she sees) could be built by prankster teenagers as a sick joke. I thought about including that when writing this script, and she sees some teenagers finishing up a snowman and then running away before they get caught. Maybe I will include that in the feature if I get around to it...
Thanks again for reading, and your comments. Very helpful, and got some gears turning!
Great concept, first the idea of the children disappearing follwed with the revelation of where they were iniside the snowmen. Nice. I will give myself a pat on the back for seeing it coming at this momement...
Water drips as snow MELTS.
And, still the imagenry of the child, the suspense of the reveal was enough to elicit panic. Great on the execution. I pulled the end of each to demonstrate how effective they are
She walks up to the snowman and PUNCHES the head off.
Gracie notices that almost each house has a snowman in the yard, made to perfection.
She covers her mouth.
Something rushes down the chimney toward the child, who opens their mouth to SCREAM--
A rock-eye of one snowman falls off, revealing the wide, fearful, dead eye of a child.
That's how you keep someone reading, haha. Good job.
Commodus: But the Emperor Claudius knew that they were up to something. He knew they were busy little bees. And one night he sat down with one of them and he looked at her and he said, "Tell me what you have been doing, busy little bee..."
Disclaimer: These are my opinions, obviously, and not to be miscontrued as know-it-all advice or expertise.
Um, it's been said, the originality ship sailed many years ago. The aim these days is to spin, refresh or revive familiar stories and surprise audiences with a new take. But WE'RE from the school of thought, there's definitely original material out there, and this just feels fresh... the imagery worked and the core essence of your concept is fantastic...in that I actually like to see you turn this into a feature (that's if your execution can deliver).
So hell yeah***I'm in Libby's camp, wanting more.
Whatever quibbles I might have were defeated by the strength of the piece overall.
Anyway, that's just my two cents... Or pounds. The best of Irish luck with it.-Andrea
Ha, ha...... it gave me those warm horror chills, not those nasty winter ones with no pay off except feeling miserable and trying to get warm... )
Naughty me missed reading the Flashback at the end of the slug... lol.... must read everything!!! I know its not written in stone but this is a suggestion to help the reader, when I do flash backs I write FLASHBACK on it's own at the top before the slug so the reader knows straight away we are in a new time.
Okay so now I have my head around it better, I think the beginning and ending work well being in the different neighborhood. You were right not do the scene without the kids... I think it would take away from the overall flow of the piece. Maybe for clarity you could name the other neighborhood.... or maybe I need to wakeup!!
As for the newsreader the snowmen had a lot of impact on me and I was thinking, why aren't they mentioning that? Where's the reaction from the news anchor? but I get why you didn't mention them.
It would definitely make a good feature, so I hope you pursue that. We need more good christmas horrors. My wife and I would buy that in an instant! So get to it..... if you want....of course....
"Turn that off, our friend has just been killed in a fatal sunlight accident!"....
Hmm, I didn’t quite get why they were disappearing. But I read the conversation here and thinking you might explain it in the feature? Maybe it’s the naughty kids that are not doing well - Santa gone roque or something.
Right now it doesn’t hold my attention as is. If it’s your first five I think we better hear Gracie talk or do something to understand that she’s your main gal in the story I think.
Anyway, I’m not good with horror, nor am I the a proper judge of horror as it is not my genre at all. I like explanations and imagery does very little for me in general. That’s why I should have skipped this. So pay no attention to me and I mean it. But I still wanted to get the idea of Santa getting sick of naughty kids out there for you and this the review
Nicely understated horror—effective without the need for violence or gore. Not sure the twist would be as telegraphed on screen as in the script, so that’s a bonus.
Could there be more suggestion as to the ‘why’? On first read I figured perhaps Gracie was on the ‘good’ list. But that’s only because I missed her age and read this thinking she was a child. It makes sense (in your story’s world) - only those of a certain age are targeted - those who still believe.
I appreciate this is testing the waters for a feature but short wise, it felt like there’s potential to use Gracie to more effect. I’d echo Libby here on making her younger. Part of the horror, for me, on that first read, was the thought of what lies ahead for Gracie: Xmas to come/what those other kids did that she didn’t. When I realised she was a teenager it sidelined her somewhat from potential danger. The horror of the snowmen is still effective, but it’s somewhat less anchored to her character - if that makes sense?
Anyways, it’s a solid read. I could see this getting picked up. Good luck with the feature version.
My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:
I love holding suspense and I am glad that it kept you reading. I try my best to keep the reader as uninformed as possible until the very last minute, and this one, I believe, is a better example of doing that in my opinion. I had fun writing it and having that bit of a cliffhanger at the end of each scene was fun to experiment with. Happy to hear you enjoyed it.
Thanks for reading! Lots of girl power here for sure, which I love. And, all aboard the "wanting more" train. Even I'm sitting here with thoughts of how I can expand it. It'll take a while, but it's in the works (slowly, but surely). That deliverance will need to pack an even more extra punch than this script did. I'm happy to hear that you believe there's much fresh originality here (as well from others), so I hope I can use that to my advantage with any feature I can come up with for this story. Gotta avoid those cliches...BUT, I digress. Thanks for your two pounds, and I'm rather curious about any quibbles you might've had regarding this script
Since you're not the only person who thinks that Gracie could've been the killer, I could definitely play on that idea, especially if she were older. I just gotta think of a great motive for her to do so. Which takes me back to my comment about how she's unable to bear a child. Maybe she's jealous of all of the other families and this Christmas broke the camel's back and she just...SNAPPED. However, while I'm not a fan of slashers (or killers), I'm leaning more toward a supernatural idea, but all of these ideas will not be turned away. I want to experiment with each one and see which one I can turn into a story the best. I'd love to stretch this into a feature, and I want the execution to pack as much of a punch as this script did.
I've seen people put FLASHBACK at the beginning of the slug, and honestly I don't know which one is the correct format. I've always put FLASHBACK at the end of the slug, but honestly I guess it's personal preference. I could name the other neighborhood for sure, just to make it easier on the reader. And if I were to stretch this into a feature, I might add the prankster teens building snowmen because I could totally see that happening. Like ROLLING OAKS is now the CURSED neighborhood where urban legends start, and teens go there for shits and giggles. Let me play with the newscaster's monologue and see if I can squeeze in a mention of the snowmen, but like I said, I want the snowmen to be an undertone subject until the final reveal. I don't want to make it too obvious but I'll bet at least SOMEONE will mention that snowmen appeared in their yards overnight and how strange it is. I've never written a Christmas/winter horror before so that would be a fun and great experiment for sure! If I get started on it now, I bet I could make it ready by next December... Hmm.....
You rock for giving this a read, even if horror ain't your thing. I like the idea of these kids being on the naughty list. SOMEONE'S naughty list, at least... I definitely want to expand on Gracie, and even make her a badass female lead who fights to the death. That's how I'll make her if and when I stretch this into a feature, and you will for sure get an explanation once this story is developed. I'm an imagery kind of guy so this was, obviously, an experiment of visuals rather than dialogue (which, I'm not the greatest at, so another reason why there's more action than dialogue). Plus, I had a friend tack on the idea to write a short story with little to no dialogue, so that's what I tried to do, and is why Gracie doesn't have any lines. But, I like the idea of Santa going rogue, and finally dealing with those little shithead kids... Thanks for planting that seed
That's sort of what I was going for, that Gracie is too old to 'believe' and thus she was skipped. But there is still that missing WHY. Explained in any development for sure, but right now the mystery shall persist. I like to think it was a Krampus or Slenderman type of creature that steals away children, possibly for a life force, or maybe it's a bad Santa, and these kids souls are forced to build toys at the North Pole forever and ever and ever and ever (i.e. elves). I know as a writer I SHOULD know, but I wrote this to be as short as possible with as much mystery as possible while still packing that punch. I definitely like the idea that Gracie is either older who can't bear children, or younger and she knows something that these kids did that she didn't do (or must investigate). It could be very well that these kids are bad kids and are being punished, but I'm sure they have to do something BAD in order to end up like...well, this. It would definitely be a story where Gracie gets involved and then the same bad things begin to happen to her as she gets sucked into the investigation. But, glad you enjoyed the read, and happy to hear you can see it getting picked up. Fingers crossed~
Thanks everyone, for the ideas and suggestions. The gears have been turning ever since the first review by Libby and everyone here is just tacking on more and more motivation to stretch this into a feature.
Hello Sean, this one was lean and mean, I liked it.
As others have already said, the reveal towards the end is effective, and just an overall creepy idea.
Tufts of hair poke from one snowman.
I can imagine things like this working great on screen. The same goes for the creature in the chimney - all good stuff.
When Gracie first punches the snowman in anger, but then stares at it almost in shock, her reaction kinda confused me... To me it reads like a big reveal, or like she almost expected a child inside of it, but you probably only wanted to show that the past events are still getting to her. Maybe that confusion is just me, though
I also wanted to join in and further encourage the feature idea - I like your idea of Gracie not being able to have children herself. I could also picture her being a big sister or a babysitter for a lot of the neighborhood's kids, who needs to solve the mystery...
I really liked this story, but when I read that Gracie notices a perfectly constructed snowman on nearly every lawn I suspected right away that the missing children were buried within.This might have only been a good guess on my part. But it might also have telegraphed the horrifying reveal.
This one is nice, kind of telegraphs where it is heading, but fun to watch it play out.
You have everyone panicked at the outset on Christmas morning, and it might be better to let that build slowly. Instead of every parent emerging as a hysterical mess, a slow, dawning of dread might be better, as they come to realize that it is all the children missing, not just their own.
The news reporter should be in front of Gracie's house. Then, Gracie can turn from the window and see herself in the window on TV! Maybe she can then turn back and flip him off. Or not. But Gracie seems like the kind of girl who would.
With the kid and the fireplace, might be fun to have something like a candy cane dangling from the flume as bait. I would also prefer to have the kid sucked up into the chimney as opposed to something rushing down at him. That one might be just me, tho, and it is a more difficult shot, so maybe ignore that comment.
The eye falling off the snowman to reveal a frozen eye beneath is pretty good.
The book-ending with Gracie is OK, but it falls flat as an ending. I mean, punching its head off is good, but if you lead with that, you save nothing for the end. It is just Gracie kind of standing there. Maybe save the head-punching for the end, or have her remove the head more delicately, to ensure there is nothing concealed beneath it.