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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  February 2011 One Week Challenge  /  Scottish Lullaby - Feb 2011 OWC
Posted by: Don, February 25th, 2011, 6:18pm
Scottish Lullaby by Kevin Lenihan (leitskev) - Short - A peculiar boy becomes the focus of dark ambition and supernatural forces, as jealous gods reach from the past.

A February 2011 One Week Challenge script. - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: greg, February 26th, 2011, 2:06am; Reply: 1
This looks like it was written in Courier New?  Change it to Courier and it wouldn't have gone over the page limit.  

I thought this pretty good.  A little wordy at times and it had a lot going on for a short, but it met the criteria well and effectively had some creepy imagery as well as a good story to supplement it.  I'll be honest - the part with Dougal, the part in the bar, how everything came together -- it came off as a bit random for me because, I think, with such a short amount of space to tell a story there's only so much you can do.  But that said I thought this wasn't half bad at all.  Nice job.

Greg
Posted by: pwhitcroft, February 26th, 2011, 9:44am; Reply: 2
This has a good sense of place and an effective tone. I like the use of the mythology to tell a personal story. For me the writing style could be tightened up and it might be that the story could be more focused on the key characters, especially near the beginning.

These are notes I made as I read it:

Pg 1 – Being picky, your page number should be top right and starting with “FADE IN:” is usually a good move.

Good set up of location.

“DR ALASTAIR” – Introduced twice.

“Of course. Come in, please.” – Is this a little formal for a Glasgow factory worker?

“to the kitchen, where there's a small table.” – This is an example of overly describing the scene and it has the effect of slowing the read down.

Pg 3 – I can see some things being set up here, but you’ve also got some mundane things slowing the story.

“She speaks warmly of her son.” – This comes from her dialogue and doesn’t need to be told to us.

Pg 4 – First scene with Kyle works well.

Pg 6 – I like Dougal’s arrival.

Pg 8 – Moving along well.

Pg 11 – And the finale delivers a tense finish.


Philip
Posted by: keaton01, February 26th, 2011, 10:23am; Reply: 3
The title has me hoping for a true Celtic tale.

Why for the love of fudge is there a page number on the first page in the upper left hand corner?

Pg 2 - Is Kyle a kid or an old man?
       - Why just come out and say elf, gnomes, etc? Wouldn't they be ashamed to say    this and just let what strange things mean linger.
Pg 3 - Why is there a gap in the dialog? Was there a BEAT meant to be there.
Pg 6 - Add an extra space before your scene headings to improve the reading.
Pg 9 - Please my mother will kill me - great line.

Now where's the FADE OUT? Don't listen to some folk 'The End' is for novels, but a script needs at least a fade out.

I like this a lot. I was looking for a classic tale and you delivered. Some of the other scripts I read could be any horror, but you fit the theme.
Posted by: RayW, February 26th, 2011, 12:00pm; Reply: 4
Hi, Son

Gotta do the FADE IN: left justified & FADE OUT: right justified.
The world is over run with the idiots that need them, so just do it.

Page 3 - KYLE, 10.

Odd story.
Don't know how "Horror!" it is, but it's certainly creepy.

Congratulations.
Posted by: Dreamscale, February 26th, 2011, 12:29pm; Reply: 5
Well, I'm happy to report that this is easily the best of the bunch so far.

You've actually crafted a story and given your characters some life.  It's apparent that some thought went into this, and that's great to see.

Now, the not so great news...the actual writing isn't very good.  Very awkward for the most part.  Lots of passive phrases.  Missing punctuation (periods, mostly, which is rare).  You have a repeated Slug and several characters are intro'd more than once.

I'm not 100% sure exactly what's supposed to be going on, nor am I sure you need all these characters, but it's a good effort for a week's time.
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, February 26th, 2011, 12:51pm; Reply: 6
Congrats on completing the OWC.
I agree with the aforementioned format issues.
The read was chunky, but I did get through the pages okay.

There's a story here, but it's muddled with the doctor stuff.
I don't understand why we go through all that, there's no pay off for it.
The events seem a bit slapped together and a bit hard to follow.
Not much of a horror element, but has some creeps.

Overall it's decent and has some good imagery, and I like the lullaby.
Good effort.

E.D.
Posted by: wannabe (Guest), February 26th, 2011, 12:53pm; Reply: 7
This had some cool parts.  I think you strayed a bit from what was really interesting though.  The mother made a deal to have a beautiful singing voice.  Okay but she's singing in a nightclub?  And maybe that should have been introduced earlier.  Like if she was singing around the house.  And what was the point of Grand Da??  IMO that added nothing to your story and I kept waiting for him to show up.

So I like the concept but I think you could have executed it better.

Nitpicky stuff:

Your description of MR. CROCKET - "his first name on the chest"  I wasn't sure what that meant then I figured maybe it was his first name emoroidered on his shirt?  Then why not tell us his first name.  Seems like a wasted description since it didn't add anything.

Be careful of formatting errors like CAPPING characters when first intro'd.  That alerts us that we are "seeing" someone for the first time.  You capped Dr. Alistair twice which threw me off then you didn't cap Mrs. Crocket and I had to go back to see if we had actually seen her yet.  Thought I missed something.  This kind of thing takes attention away from your story.  And things like missing periods after Mrs. and Mr.  Just throws off the reader. Again, that takes away from your story.

This dialog doesn't make the doctor sound too credible.  -- DR ALASTAIR "Yes, I have. And on the whole, I find Kyle to be quite normal. Perhaps a bit different than the other children, but normal."  How can he be "quite" normal and "bit" different?  I'd reword this.  Maybe he's a bit different but nothing to worry about...
Posted by: jwent6688, February 26th, 2011, 1:17pm; Reply: 8
I would have liked first names on this instead of Mr and Mrs Crockett. Easier to discern whilst reading.

Overall, pretty good. I liked them forcing Mrs Crockett to sacrifice her own son. Though, I didn't get why she would. A bit selfish on her own part if it were just to gain the voice of a god. Maybe I missed something. Other than that, I found it well written. There were some typos and one block of dialogue had a space in it for no reason.

Good effort for a weeks time.

James
Posted by: khamanna, February 26th, 2011, 1:41pm; Reply: 9
I liked the mythology in this.

I don't know if you need Dr. Alastar at all - wondering if it could be just his parents talking to each other at first. Why would they go to Dr. Alastar if they are in it then? -this part is against my logic.

You said they didn't see Dougal and then they confess to the old woman that they talked to him.

So the ancestors did something and someone must sacrifice his self? For what I wonder, what would happen if they do not? -this needs to be answered I think and it was not. Or did I miss something?

The story progresses nicely I think but in the end I'm left with questions.
Posted by: dogglebe (Guest), February 26th, 2011, 2:05pm; Reply: 10
This had a creepy ending, but I wouldn't call this a horror story; more dramatic than anything else.  You need to show some threat to Kyle at some early point.  And include a little bit of the mythos earlier, too.  There was no building of suspense.  Picture this:

something happens.  something happens.  something happens.  something happens.  something happens.  something happens.  Bobby gets hit by a bus.

You have some shock value at the end, but that's it.

Now look at this:

something happens.  something happens.  the brake on the bus disengages.  something happens.  something happens.  Bobby crosses the street.  something happens.  something happens.  Bobby gets hit by a bus.

There's a little suspense in the second paragraph because the reader is aware of a threat.


Hope this helps.


Phil
Posted by: shane, February 26th, 2011, 2:06pm; Reply: 11
I liked this. It had some good visuals. You kept me reading and very curious to find out what happens. I thought the end was disturbing with Kyle staring at the mother while she sings and I could definitely see that on screen.

Just a couple notes I have:

- Dr. Alastair is introduced twice. Had to go back and reread to make sure I didn't miss something there.

- I thought Gran Da might add something to the story but then nothing happened. I'd get rid of that.

- If I'm not mistaken, Dougal is the same age as Kyle (10) and the mother offers him a cup of coffee. Not a big deal, but I actually laughed at that because I can't picture offering a 10 year old a cup of coffee.

- I was a little confused with the man who snatches up Kyle. At first I thought it would end up being Dougal but then Dougal was just sorta there in the tunnel. Was that just a random goon? I don't know.


Anyways, good job on this. And I hope Mrs. Crockett scores some kind of Celine Dion Vegas type gig for that deal she cut with the Gods.
Posted by: bert, February 26th, 2011, 2:36pm; Reply: 12
Right up front, I am not fond of the title.  Just saying.  I am reading for horror scripts, and this title was not speaking to me at all.

The odd breaks in long passages of dialogue tell me who this author is, I think.  I am not saying, but I am pretty sure.  And it is wrong to break up dialogue that way, btw.

I thought it was cool when Dougal arrived, but that scene ends too quickly.  A missed opportunity.  Same thing with Grand Da.  Why even put him in if you are not going to use him?

At the end, the song fits and the title fits, so I acknowledge that without backing away from my original beef with the title.
  
And the end is poignant and cinematic, even if I do not quite get it.  I think some of the dialogue is a bit too cryptic, speaking in riddles where something a bit more explicit might be demanded.

A nice piece, though, all in all.
Posted by: grademan, February 26th, 2011, 3:11pm; Reply: 13
Scottish Lullaby               
               
CRITERIA               
Horror > Ending
Low budget  ***
Powerful ***
Original ***
Celtic Myth > (?) doppleganger, knowledge  of the hidden, sacriifce demanded
Visually interesting > An industrial town built over bog
Memorable characters >     Dougal too small a part
Unique ending > The boy held under the water
Standout moments > Dougal says hello, boy held under
               
LIMITATIONS  > Actress  will need to sing.

*** average impact/no specific comments               
               
Posted by: screenrider (Guest), February 26th, 2011, 5:12pm; Reply: 14
I'm sorry, but this one didn't do much for me at all.   Can't even put my finger on it as to why.   I suppose the story just didn't move me.   I might have to reread it  later to see what I missed.   But congrats on completing the challenge.    Sorry to be so harsh.
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., February 26th, 2011, 6:05pm; Reply: 15

This is an excellent read and in my opinion will be tough to beat.

What I'd like to see is your logline nailed a tad more and also, I'm not sure if we couldn't do something with the title to make it more intriguing, although I know that could be worked out with images.

I'm very proud to have read this solid piece of work.

Sandra

Posted by: Sandra Elstree., February 26th, 2011, 6:07pm; Reply: 16

Quoted from Dreamscale
Well, I'm happy to report that this is easily the best of the bunch so far.

You've actually crafted a story and given your characters some life.  It's apparent that some thought went into this, and that's great to see.

Now, the not so great news...the actual writing isn't very good.  Very awkward for the most part.  Lots of passive phrases.  Missing punctuation (periods, mostly, which is rare).  You have a repeated Slug and several characters are intro'd more than once.

I'm not 100% sure exactly what's supposed to be going on, nor am I sure you need all these characters, but it's a good effort for a week's time.


Just going over some of the comments. I completely agree with you, Jeff. Anymore as good as this and it will be really hard for me to determine who I would choose.

Sandra
Posted by: Scar Tissue Films, February 26th, 2011, 6:11pm; Reply: 17
Pros

Poetic, intriguing, mysterious.

This has got the heart of something. It taps into that mythological vibe in some way...it's got that abstract quality where you're not quite sure what's really going on but you want to re-visit it to find out.

Nice juxtaposition of Industry and Historic. You've clearly got the mindset for this sort of thing.

Some potentially memorable characters with a little tweaking.

Strong visuals.

Cons

Opening scene with the Doctor seems unecessary. Think we can just see him talking with Dougal and make our own minds up. Then again...the concept adds something to the mix...

Didn't really get the singing/deal part. Felt slightly at odds with the sacrifical mythology thing going on....sometihng else that needs strengthening.

Slightly unfocussed through line, but nothing that can't be tidied up, I don't think.
Posted by: Ryan1, February 26th, 2011, 6:24pm; Reply: 18
This script was slow going, and I found my attention wandering at times.  It began to speed up after we learn of the deal between the mother and the old woman.  I wish we had more detail as to when and where Mrs. Crockett struck this bargain.  

If she had a voice that pristine, why are they all living in a tenement apartment?

I think you could have used Dougal more effectively.  He's a creepy presence, sort of reminded me of the well girl from The Ring.  But once he shows up, he doesn't do much.

I liked the ending, as nothing is more horrifying than a mother murdering her own kid.

So, I think this has some flaws that need fixing, but I enjoyed the menacing undertone of the script.
Posted by: wonkavite (Guest), February 26th, 2011, 6:38pm; Reply: 19
*Spoilers*

Until the end, this was one of my favorite scripts for the OWC.

Interesting characters, coupled with solid writing and format.  Was curious as to what Dougal actually was, and what was the mother's part in the mystery.

But the ending just left me confused, and unsure of what actually happened.  

More detail is definitely called for - What was the arrangement, why was the sacrifice necessary?  And what mythos did this script borrow from?  In order to give this promising script a satisfactory ending, these are things that we need to know...!
Posted by: c m hall, February 26th, 2011, 6:39pm; Reply: 20
SPOILERS

I love that you bring Charles Bonnet syndrome into this.
Also,  I love the things that don't make sense -- like Mr. Crockett's first name being visible but still we don't know what it is.
I think this script is cleverly written and needs to be filmed with emphasis on the oddness, the alternate reality aspect.
Posted by: BryMo, February 26th, 2011, 8:14pm; Reply: 21
I don't get a "horror" feel from this, but it's especially creepy. Its a mixed feel between the odd, the mysterious with an abstract approach to it.

In terms of story, think Dougal could be used more to complete the story and I wasn't exactly at peace with the ending. A few more small touches and this will be a perfect script.

Anyway, congratulations on a great story!
Posted by: DarrenJamesSeeley, February 27th, 2011, 12:22am; Reply: 22
For a OWC this isn't too bad. I agree with most of the above as far as format (missing puncuation, the line gap in dialog, page 1 on page 1, no FADE IN/OUT and  one instance where The Crocketts were the crocketts) I didn't love the piece, bu I didn't hate it. I liked some of the backstory woven in, that was a nice touch. I'm fine with the title, but ---there's a better one in the crux of the story. "The Hills Do Not Forget".

That's what I would have named it anyway.

By the way, there is something that other folks haven't addressed yet, but maybe they leftt something for me to say. Here goes...

Why is some bits of dialog in italics? Not just one word. Several. Some even with the same character's speech. The idea is to underscore for effect- but to do so sparingly.

=SPOILERS R US=

Some of the above don't think this is horror. I disagree. This is a bit more closer to psychological horror, and a mother killing her own child is a horror all by itself.


Cheers with a pint
-DjS
Posted by: LC, February 27th, 2011, 1:17am; Reply: 23
Oh, this is real horror imo. We're just too darn' used to having the blood thrown in our faces and limbs flying. Final scene is a corker. Not going to comment on format cause in a week tis all too easy to make mistakes. I too wonder about the need for the Doc. but maybe I'm missing something?

Few tweaks this will be great. Atmospheric and extremely well written. Well done writer!
Posted by: dn061903, February 27th, 2011, 9:59am; Reply: 24
I had difficulty deciphering some of the stuff going on here.  I think I got it, but it took a couple of reads.  

It was well written and interesting, but imo Mrs. Crockett's motivation needed to be explained a little more clearly.  
Posted by: shootingduck, March 2nd, 2011, 5:19pm; Reply: 25
Dr. Alastair turned out to be a useless character.  Which means that the first 3 pages of your script could have been put to better use, since all of the same info given in those pages can be surmised from later scenes.  I also found no significance in the fact that he was seeing creatures as well as the imaginary friend.  I also might have missed the significance of Dougal...  Unless he was supposed to be a spirit trying to warn Kyle that his mother was going to sacrifice him?  The nightclub scene came out of leftfield.  Up until that point, I was picturing Mrs. Crockett as a homebody, "clinging to her faded beauty" and hiding the bottle, then suddenly she's singing in a club.  It was a weird transition.

I definitely liked the ending.  You created tension and like how she sings to the boy a sweet lullaby while committing such a heinous act.  It made me wish that the set up had been as strong as the finish.  With some touch ups and rewrites this could be a pretty strong, thought provoking piece.
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., March 2nd, 2011, 9:58pm; Reply: 26

Quoted from shootingduck

I definitely liked the ending.  You created tension and like how she sings to the boy a sweet lullaby while committing such a heinous act.  It made me wish that the set up had been as strong as the finish.  With some touch ups and rewrites this could be a pretty strong, thought provoking piece.


It really was. This piece was so memorable for me as was Bean Sidhe.

There were a few of the other ones that were well written that felt like cheap rip-offs to me. These ones felt like hard work and creativity were the driving force that personally had been earned and felt by the authors. They may have had some flaws, but they made up for it in soul.

Sandra
Posted by: Blakkwolfe, March 2nd, 2011, 10:22pm; Reply: 27
From what I got, a boy has an appointment to be sacrificed to the bogs. Knowing this, his mother plans to sacrifice his imaginary friend instead, but the bog gods are not amused and requires his mother to drown him, still wearing his glasses.

Somewhat disturbing, as it echoes the case of Andrea Yates, the mother who drowned all her children in Texas some years back, also because God told her too.

Not really clear on what is going on other than this, however I thought it was quite creepy, more so for me because of the Andrea Yates connection.
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., March 2nd, 2011, 10:31pm; Reply: 28

Quoted from Blakkwolfe
From what I got, a boy has an appointment to be sacrificed to the bogs. Knowing this, his mother plans to sacrifice his imaginary friend instead, but the bog gods are not amused and requires his mother to drown him, still wearing his glasses.

Somewhat disturbing, as it echoes the case of Andrea Yates, the mother who drowned all her children in Texas some years back, also because God told her too.

Not really clear on what is going on other than this, however I thought it was quite creepy, more so for me because of the Andrea Yates connection.


I didn't know this, Blakkwolfe,

I wonder if the author does. How often have we heard this kind of thing though. This guy in Canada, (can't remember where) like he hacked a guy's head on a Greyhound bus-- because God told him to do so.

Why we writers spend so much time on this kind of thing I think proves how we have, as mankind, been placed in a very mind-smashing position between good and evil. And what becomes of it all? I do believe "something" does become of it all, but it sure as Hell doesn't make it any easier.

I'll have to google the story now.

Sandra
Posted by: reuel51, March 4th, 2011, 5:56pm; Reply: 29
Very poetic in your action and descriptions. It sort of fit, but a tad too much at times.

I was following the story, but I wasn't all that interested until the old lady made the boy sit in the river. Very good ending; creepy. Somehow if you could build the tension a little more leading up to your ending, this would be very strong. Nice effort.
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., March 4th, 2011, 6:24pm; Reply: 30

Quoted from reuel51
Very poetic in your action and descriptions. It sort of fit, but a tad too much at times.

I was following the story, but I wasn't all that interested until the old lady made the boy sit in the river. Very good ending; creepy. Somehow if you could build the tension a little more leading up to your ending, this would be very strong. Nice effort.


Good to see people still reading and critiquing. I want to come back and look at this one again. I completely agree that the ending was so very strong. It really is the defining moment in the piece.

I will be really interested in knowing if the author had the ending planned out from the beginning, or if this just came as a kind of inspiration, albeit a sickening one.

The remembrance of Scottish Lullaby stuck with me through all of the reads. It's in my top three.

Sandra
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 4th, 2011, 6:37pm; Reply: 31
Yeah, I'll add a few things...

This one had a nice feel to it...although the flow was slow, it still had a nice buildup.

The mother singing in the bar was an interesting revelation, although not quite handled as well as it should have or could have been.

The ending is also a highlight.  Strong, gritty, played for reals.  Again, it didn't quite hit the way I think it should have and alot was left up to our imagination, but that's not a bad thing.

A strong, solid effort.
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., March 4th, 2011, 6:59pm; Reply: 32

Quoted from Dreamscale
Yeah, I'll add a few things...

This one had a nice feel to it...although the flow was slow, it still had a nice buildup.

The mother singing in the bar was an interesting revelation, although not quite handled as well as it should have or could have been.

The ending is also a highlight.  Strong, gritty, played for reals.  Again, it didn't quite hit the way I think it should have and alot was left up to our imagination, but that's not a bad thing.

A strong, solid effort.


And you heard it, Author! This means a lot!!!

Sandra
Posted by: reuel51, March 4th, 2011, 8:01pm; Reply: 33

Quoted from Sandra Elstree.


Good to see people still reading and critiquing.


It's been a crazy busy week for me. I'm just finishing the first batch... how pitiful is that?! Anyway. I will read all of them, it just looks like it might take a little bit of time.
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 4th, 2011, 8:09pm; Reply: 34
Skip forward to batch 3 and 4...

;D ;D ;D ;D
Posted by: leitskev, March 5th, 2011, 11:28pm; Reply: 35
For people that took the time to give feedback, thanks!

This was my first short. It was designed to be cryptic. As Pia pointed out to me, a cryptic story not only has to have enough clues, you have to make people WANT to figure things out. I probably need to work on both of those things. Let me try to explain the story in case anyone is interested.

Mrs Crockett, as a younger women, had a dream to become a professional singer. She didn’t have the talent. Meanwhile, the Celtic gods of her ancestors are jealous and neglected in today’s world. Through the old woman, a kind of druid witch, they make a deal with young Mrs Crockett. For some small act of evil in their name, she is given a singing voice.

Great acts of evil begin in this way. The gods know this. She is on the path to destruction of her own soul. That’s why SHE is the sacrifice.

The family moves to the city. Her dream remains unsatisfied by working a seedy nightclub. She wants more. Having begun the process of the destruction of her soul, she is lost. The gods had anticipated this all along. A new deal is made.

In the killing of her beloved son, her destruction is complete. Kyle only dies, but she is destroyed, her soul lost. There is only a very small part of her left to suffer when Kyle dies. She is not the same woman.

A sub theme is that we cannot escape our past, as individuals or as a people. Gran Da, Dougal, and the train are connections to that past.

Dougal is the ghost of a past sacrifice, when the Celts would drown their victims in bogs. The sewer replaces the bogs here, its urban equivalent. Kyle’s Otherworldly vision allows him to see him. Dougal is kind of  an ambassador to Kyle to usher him to the Otherworld. In the kitchen scene, the parents are able to perceive Dougal, but as the witch said, it is with our minds that we see.

Gran Da is a prop just to add clues and a little spookiness. I’ve given him a couple new lines in the rewrite.

Dr Alastair: everyone is bothered by the poor doctor. Look, the doctor’s role is very basic, just like Cab Driver, or Busboy, or Bar Tender, or Thug. I could call him Doctor from the School. Why does he have a name? Because he introduces himself to the father, so it would be confusing if he did not. He is used to introduce that there is a unique boy, Kyle, who has visions of what the Celts called the Otherworld. The doctor attributes this to imagination, but we come to know otherwise.

Is the doctor needed? Couldn’t the parents just discuss this? If we need to save on paying that actor, yes. But having a doctor adds to the level of concern the parents have for the son. I really don’t get what the big issue is with having him in the script.

The second scene, Kyle walking, shows him talking to invisible Dougal. In the rewrite, I have added a page here and tensioned it up. As it stands here, it might not be grabbing people’s interest, but it is not useless as it is introducing needed information for the overall plot.

Final note: the Scottish lullaby is a real Gaelic song I found online. No idea what it sounds like, but should be familiar in UK.

Anyone who tried to grapple with this cryptic attempt, thank you! Rick teased me by bringing it to second on his list! But seriously, I anticipated Captive would win, and has all the elements needed for success. Congrats, I had fun playing!
Posted by: keaton01, March 5th, 2011, 11:32pm; Reply: 36
Mystery is good. No one wants everything explained to them in a movie, it's just boring. It is however a fine wire to walk. Put some grease into it and I'm sure you make it sing. I'd be happy to check out your rewrite.
Posted by: Mr. Blonde, March 7th, 2011, 1:34pm; Reply: 37
Hey Leitskev,

Well, as messy as this script actually looks, looks can be deceiving. There's a good story here.

Granted, it's not horror for even a second but it's still a good story. For some reason, both of my favorite parts are when Kyle is walking under the el. The imagery in those two scene is good stuff and this one is the best STORY so far.

It isn't the best script, though, and that's because the thing is a technical mess. I'm not a nit picker like some people but when you have your character dialogue cues and your character's name is misspelled every time, then we have a problem. I'm speaking of Mrs. Crockett.

I won't go into them all because A) you've already been told them, probably and B) you have the good story thing down. All you need now is to fixing the look of the script and that is the easy part.

Good job. =)
Posted by: leitskev, March 7th, 2011, 1:57pm; Reply: 38
Yes, thanks Mr B, I've been properly chastened. This was my first short, and only second script posted, so I am early on the learning curve. I fixed the things brought to my attention in my rewrite.

Your review is positive on the whole, I thank you.

I am curious as to the defintion of horror. Others have mentioned it, and I discussed in a post in here somewhere. It seems to me a wide range of things fall under horror. I would like to hear your thoughts on that.

In the case of this story, we have the supernatural on two fronts. One, Dougal is a ghostly apparition from what the Celts call the Otherworld. He was a former bog sacrifice.

And two, the gods have given their supernatural help to Mrs Crockett, giving her singing a boost, in exchange ultimately for her soul.

We also have the "spooky" aspect in the scenes under the bridge, in the apartment when Dougal visits, and in the sewer. And of course the druidess witch.

Finally you have a horrific murder of s boy by his mother, in the presence of the witch and the ghosts.

While there is no blood and gore, or crazy special effects, is it fair to say this is "not horror for even a second"?

To me, horror should scare you or spook you. For example the Sixth Sense; more spook than scare. I would love to hear more from you. Thanks!
Posted by: Mr. Blonde, March 7th, 2011, 2:04pm; Reply: 39
Sure, no problem.

I didn't flinch. At anything. I didn't feel anything when Kyle was being drowned. I took it in stride when Mrs. Crockett saw Dougal in the doorway.

You know, this is me. I saw no horror in this, at all, but that doesn't mean nobody else did. Admittedly, I'm not a big fan of horror anyway. Not even the old-style horror.

So, don't take the fact that I said it's not horror for even a second with anything more than a grain of salt. I'm difficult to please. I just took yours as a cute little story which I enjoyed. =)

-Sean
Posted by: leitskev, March 7th, 2011, 2:17pm; Reply: 40
Thanks Mr B for the reply.

As I said in previous post, there is scary horror, and spooky horror. My intent was for this to be spooky and hopefully stir some thought. I probably did not succeed in the latter. The former, it worked for some. But it was never intended to make anyone flinch.

The definition of horror has been kind of an ongoing debate I have been trying to encourage. Thanks for your input, it is welcome and appreciated.
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 7th, 2011, 2:19pm; Reply: 41
You know I said the same thing, Kev...I didn't see this as horror at all, but I won't go quite as far as Mr. B in saying there is no horror for even a second.

IMO, horror is rather tough to clarify when it comes right down to it.  To me, it's the feel, or tone of the product, as well as the feeling it gives off.

There are lots of examples of non horror movies that have a horror feel to them.  Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal are great examples.  Many classify these as horror movies, but IMO, they're really not...but they work like horror movies do, so...

You have horror elements in your script as well as a horrific ending image, but for me, at least, I never felt real horror, maybe becuase I really didn't know what was going on throughout much of the script, and the tone and imagery up till the end, was very non horrific for me.

Does that make sense?  
Posted by: leitskev, March 7th, 2011, 2:57pm; Reply: 42
Absolutely Jeff. And it depends on how the director shoots and produces it. Music, lighting, sound effects; these all have a big impact on whether something is horror.

I would consider Silence and Hannibal horror myself. It's kind of a psychological horror, with some gruesome stuff to boot. There is drama in every movie, but I wouldn't call these dramas. Same with Sixth Sense. It's not a scare the crap out of you movie at all. They try to do that with a few scenes, like when the kids lock him in the tower, but those aren't the scenes you remember the most. Sixth is a complicated movie, but to me it qualifies as horror.

When I was a kid, there was a show on Sat afternoons called Chillerama. It played old "horror" movies, many black and white. To me, that is one thing horror can do to you; "chill" you.

You could almost say 'slash em' movies are more suspense than horror. Why? Because you don't really relate to them. Does one really expect to ever encounter a zombie?

Don't get me wrong. I consider these horror too. Just a different kind.

I think my script, as Phil pointed out, lacked enough tension building. I hopefully addressed that in the rewrite. But in the end, the effect I was looking for was more spooky and cryptic. I figured on a limited budget, try to let imagination carry a heavier load.

It's interesting too. Rick perceived the mood of what I was trying to capture, but missed a large part of what was happening, as did most. It may even be that Rick saw something in it that I did not consciously intend. And like art, that's how it works. Which is kind of cool.  Even though the writer invents the story, in the end, it really is the director that is the creator. It will be his vision. As I said, I find that really interesting and cool.
Posted by: leitskev, March 7th, 2011, 8:54pm; Reply: 43
Rewrite posted, thank you Don. In case anyone checks out, and before they say anything, there's nothing I can do about the Fade In location, or the stupid looking number 1. It's the software, which seems to be very stubborn. The only alternative seems to be to skip Fade and not number pages. If I put the Fade In without a colon, that works, but that will bother some people too.

The software is Movie Outline 3. I don't recommend it at all. Full of bugs.

For those that liked this story, and that's probably just Rick and Sandra, I added a page, mostly to the second scene where Kyle walks with Dougal. The goal was to add some suspense. What I did might seem a little cheap, but it actually fit right into the plot and helped me highlight what the crux of the story is.

Gran Da got a couple new lines too. The old geezer was bugging me for more to do! The story is meant to be cryptic, but it's a little too much so, so I used Gran Da to drop some more clues.

Other than the second scene, the story is essentially unchanged. With the Challenge over, it's time for this story, like Kyle, to move on to the Otherworld.
Posted by: Hugh Hoyland, March 9th, 2011, 7:43pm; Reply: 44
Ok I read it. I have to say good job! Reads pretty fast which from my understanding is good. To me it has a little six sense vib to it in parts. But it stands on its own. The sacrifice was a nice touch at the end. To me it had the intended effect without being overly cliche.

You also might be able to expand it into a feature IMO, I could easily see that as a possibility. I will give it another read later to see if theres anything else I can dig up. But I can see why this got pretty good feedback. Well done!
Posted by: rc1107, March 29th, 2011, 10:10am; Reply: 45
Hey again, leitskev,

Right away I'm going to come out and say that I have no idea why people (the large majority at that), are even arguing that this isn't a horror.  There's stuff from other worlds, tense scenes of strange things happening, a druid witch, a kid talking to himself, a mother drowning her son as a sacrifice.

So, because there aren't any gorgeous annoying ass teenagers staying at a cabin on spring break listening to shitty ass 'emo music' getting disemboweled, this all of a sudden isn't a horror?

Don't listen to that.  This has all the classic horror elements.  Yeah, this was a toned down story with a more dramatic approach (which I applaud), but all the elements were there to make this a horror.

All in all, I thought this was a pretty decent story, especially knowing that it was part of an OWC, so I know time was constrained for you.  (I'm not going to lie, though.  Because it was rushed, there are certain parts of the story that could be greatly improved to make the story come across a lot clearer.)  But that aside, the script had its good parts and its bad parts.

I liked bringing in the doctor to talk with the parents.  It was a good, strange little introduction to Kyle that gives us the creeps as we meet him walking by himself.  I didn't like how polite everybody was in that first scene, though.  Especially Mr. Crocket.  This comes off as a low-class family in Factoryville, but all of a sudden he uses proper upper Englishman manners.  "Of course.  Come in, please."

I really liked the tone throughout the whole story.  Creepy and depressing.  Doesn't get much better in my opinion.

Then, actually bringing Dougal into the dinner was a very good eerie moment.  Made me intrigued what was going to happen next.

When did Grand Da all of a sudden come into the room, though.  He's been (O.S.) the entire story, then, without saying he walks in, the (O.S.)'s are all of a sudden gone.

On Pg. 8, there's a slug that isn't capitalized.

Well, the end was a little confusing.  I had to go back and read it twice to really get the drift of what was going on.  I think just because it was a little rushed, there were some more things you wanted to put into it to clarify things a little more.  I got a good sense of what was going on, but not a great sense.

But anyway, like I said, for being written in less than seven days, this was pretty good.  I think one reason I liked it so much was because of the atmosphere and the setting.  Very good incorporating that feeling into the reader's mind.

Good job in general on this.

- Mark
Posted by: leitskev, March 29th, 2011, 10:56am; Reply: 46
Thanks Mark.

Gran Da did not come into the room, I must have neglected to add the VO. Oops!

You bring up some points that are interesting to me as general topics, not just as they pertain to this story. First, is the dialogue of the parents being too polite. One reason I did that was that they are meeting an educated person from the school.

But there is another reason, one that I have discussed generally with others, and that is that I did not feel comfortable trying to create a working class Scottish voice. Having never been to the UK let alone Glasgow, I figured if I tried it would sound really bogus. The strategy I adopted was to keep the language as simple as possible, and allow that if anyone filmed this, the actors would perhaps authenticate the dialogue a little. Does that make sense as a general strategy with foreign voices?

Not too long ago someone sent me a script they were working on with a scene in London. The British accents were either too authentic or too fake. All I knew was that I barely understood what they were saying.

The other general issue you raised is that most people reading this story, even the ones that really liked it, had trouble figuring out what was going on. And that's ok, because I wanted it to be cryptic. While I have specific reasons for the things that are happening in the story, I think its possible with scripts that others can have different interpretations of what is going on. Who knows, maybe there is something subconscious in a story that connects.

But that said, I think I should shy away from making stories this cryptic. The stories I am currently working on have a level of being cryptic, where if one goes back and rereads they will find new things, but where the main plot will be clear enough by the end that rereading...or rewatching...will not be necessary.

Thanks man!
Posted by: LC, April 1st, 2011, 7:15pm; Reply: 47

Quoted from rc1107
Hey again, leitskev,

Right away I'm going to come out and say that I have no idea why people (the large majority at that), are even arguing that this isn't a horror.  There's stuff from other worlds, tense scenes of strange things happening, a druid witch, a kid talking to himself, a mother drowning her son as a sacrifice.

- Mark


Yep, I'm with Mark on this. I said it before and I'll say it again, this is horror (imh)... and Rick saw fit to grade it No 2 and a finalist, didn't he? So, just because no-one's jumping out of the window with their intestines wrapped around their waist or hanging upside down in a shower stall with blood draining from their body, don't mean it ain't horror.

Some people confusing 'horror genre' with being 'horrified' methinks. Each to their own.

I say again, well done Leitskev... This one's got class.





Posted by: James McClung, April 25th, 2011, 12:52am; Reply: 48
Hi Kevin. I said I'd read this so here's my thoughts. I've opted not to read through four pages of reviews so my apologies if I come off as redundant.

Anyway... eh. I didn't care for it.

Part of that is a matter of personal taste. I don't like "creepy" kids, especially ones with imaginary friends. More often than not, they're corny as cliche to boot. I can't say yours was particularly annoying but he's pivotal to the story yet really didn't do anything for me.

You did actually show the imaginary friend. This was something of a nice touch. I don't see it done often so I'll throw you a bone for that.

Personal taste aside, I thought you really over-foreshadowed here. "Sacrifice at the bogs." One time and you pretty much give your ending away. Perhaps not the exact circumstances but your ending. Enough to expunge some tension. The fact that the "bogs" and "sacrifice" are harped on so extensively does away with tension even further and leaves a redundancy to the story. The opening dialogue with the doctor felt overly expository in a similar fashion.

Now establishing exposition and foreshadowing is hard to do without being too obvious or contrary-wise, too subtle. I wouldn't say you've done a poor job with your script but I'm of the opinion writers need to step things up, have high standards and spend time fine tuning. Again. It gets harder when you raise the bar but you still got to shoot as high as you can. It's not good enough just to write for the sake of a simple-minded audience. Not to me, anyway.

The end had a darkness and a subtlety to it which I quite liked but I don't think there was enough of a build to really make it work. The lack of overtly supernatural presence to drive it home was partly to blame, I'd say. This is one of the few scripts where I couldn't weed out which myth you went with.

Anyway, there it is. Not a bad effort, I suppose, and perhaps a little unfair of me to come down so hard on a week's worth of effort. Just the same, I felt this could've been better.
Posted by: leitskev, April 25th, 2011, 5:21am; Reply: 49
Hey James. Thanks for the read and the review. An interesting point you bring up is the level of foreshadowing, and it's an issue I am still trying to resolve generally when it comes to writing. This script went through two rewrites. In each one I felt compelled, based on feedback, to add foreshadowing. The problem was this was just to cryptic.

I just completed  feature where I have a little of the same problem. When I gave it to a couple of people to read, they struggled with the ending, so now I've just added more clues. But hard to tell if hitting too hard on the head now.

As for anticipating the end here, I would ask you this: did you really anticipate his mother would sacrifice him? The idea that the boy is intended for sacrifice meant to be obvious, that's where the tension is supposed to come from. But the possibility that the mother will save him, that she might substitute herself, is what is held out there, and then the fact she kills him herself is the twist.

But also keep in mind, it's not really meant as a twisty story. The idea is that the real sacrifice is in fact the mother, so it's more thematic. The mother made a deal with the old gods to further her own ambition. Some small moral sacrifice was demanded, but, compromised, she was on the path to the ultimate destruction of her soul, which happens when she kills her beloved son. The boy dies; but she is destroyed.

Thanks for the read James, sorry it didn't work for you. This was actually my first short, so hopefully later efforts will work better!
Posted by: James McClung, April 25th, 2011, 12:19pm; Reply: 50
I did not anticipate that the mother would sacrifice him. Like I said, there was a darkness to that which stood out. I think I would've responded better to it had I been more invested in the story.

For a first short, it's not a bad effort. I'll take a look at your companion piece for this as well.
Posted by: Nomad, July 9th, 2011, 1:20pm; Reply: 51
Decent read.  There were some formatting errors and the dialogue seemed unnatural at times.
I'm not sure what Dougal was all about.  I didn't feel for Kyle at all.  
This could have been a lot better with a couple tweaks here and there.
Posted by: leitskev, July 9th, 2011, 2:17pm; Reply: 52
Hey, Nomad, thanks for digging this out of the dustbin. I see it's your first post, hopefully you stick around. I'll be sure to look at your work if you post anything.

This was my first short, and the feedback began a big learning process for me. I've had a lot to learn on format, screen writing, and dialogue, and SS is the place to do it, especially if you read and contribute.

This story was too cryptic, and I've been learning to avoid doing that as well. It worked for some people very well, others not at all. The learning process continues, but in many ways for me, it started with this story.
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