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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  February 2011 One Week Challenge  /  Die Screaming - Feb 2011 OWC
Posted by: Don, February 26th, 2011, 12:02pm
Die Screaming by Alfred Allen - Short - On the orders of their gangster boss, four heavies head for a supposedly empty gypsy campsite with instructions to burn it to the ground.  However, the camp isn't as empty as they first thought, and one of the inhabitants is not what she seems.

A February 2011 One Week Challenge script. - pdf, format 8)
Posted by: Ryan1, February 28th, 2011, 12:35am; Reply: 1
Love the title.  The story sort of reminded me of Snatch, with the mobsters setting fire to the gypsy camp.  Format was pretty clean and the pages looked good.  I liked the tough guy dialogue on the drive over to the camp.  I'm guessing the author is probably Brit because he definitely nailed the lingo.

While I liked how the killing of the old man was handled, I think an opportunity was missed with the death of the old lady.  She was unconscious, so she didn't actually die screaming.  That would have made for a very potent image with the old gypsy witch on fire, screaming a curse as she burns.

The whole whispering in the woods has been done many times before, and the unseen thing moving through the ground also seemed very familiar.

I liked that final image of the crispy old hag getting her vengeance, but I suppose I was hoping for some kind of wild twist.  

So, a job well done, especially in one week.
Posted by: screenrider (Guest), February 28th, 2011, 12:45am; Reply: 2
It really bugs me when the writer can't even come up with an original title.   Robotard 8000 has a script called Die Screaming and it rocked.  This one did not, IMO.  I've seen this plot one too many times.   No twist whatsoever.    On a positive note, the formatt is flawless.    Sorry to be harsh.    

Congrats on completing the OWC.
Posted by: Eoin, February 28th, 2011, 5:25am; Reply: 3
I think you should have called it Die Roaring, as it's a Gaelic curse/saying. Anyhow, this was a cracking little read. Guy Richie vibe to it. Bits of the Brit criminal underworld from Snatch and Layer Cake interfused with a Gypsy witch. A little bit of confusion with the Pikey (Irish travellers) reference. There was alot going on with this. Strong theme of prejudice and discrimination. I love that the old woman met him face to face and whispered the threat to him. Very effective. Overall a good effort and well put together story. Good work on completing the OWC.
Posted by: Leon, February 28th, 2011, 6:16am; Reply: 4
Hi. Liked this a lot.  Liked the gangster and gypsy theme, had a good energy.  Towards the end though i thought it was gonna regress to a predictable feral monster chase, but the ending was strong.
Posted by: RayW, February 28th, 2011, 8:28am; Reply: 5
Hi, Alfred      ( - SPOILERS! - ) You bunch of daft goblins!

I almost beaned you on using "... a RANGE ROVER careers along road at speed."
Looked up "careen", just to make sure, and lo and behold - it said "career" as an alternative, goto "career" to reveal one definition is "to run or move rapidly along; go at full speed."
Good to know.

You have Tony in the passenger seat ask "What time you got, Carl?" the driver who "... checks the dashboard clock."
Umm... Couldn't Tony sitting right there do that just as easily?

Bear trap?
At the RRover?
Wasn't there before?

Well!
Other than that, that was a pretty good spook story.

Very well done!
Posted by: DarrenJamesSeeley, February 28th, 2011, 10:58am; Reply: 6
The page numbers seem to be un-courier, but that's not that too important. When a OWC script is well done and that's what I have to open my comment with, that's basically the only real negative here. I think dialog margins are a bit wide, but it is consistent, so format is good overall.

In another thread for a different script, I hammered the poor soul on a POV shot. There is a POV shot on p6---but it's done"Evil Dead" style and is one of those exceptions because you aren't telling a directoor where to put the camera, as opposed to an actual person's POV. It is handled correctly-- and kudos to you for getting away with it!

One of the best in the Feb OWC. It will be remembered.
-DJS
Posted by: khamanna, February 28th, 2011, 11:24am; Reply: 7
Very good premise, I think. Good characters and the dialog was very good too.

Easy to follow and understand. Everything payed off.

A bit predictable but that's okay.
Posted by: bert, February 28th, 2011, 12:06pm; Reply: 8
From the exploitation title to good dialogue from the wise-cracking thugs, this one had a lot going on that I enjoyed.

But, unfortunately, I also found it really predictable.  This story delivered exactly what I expected without bringing much to the table that was fresh.

As an exercise in the genre, you succeeded well, and I did enjoy the script, even though it was primarily a paint-by-numbers affair.
Posted by: leitskev, February 28th, 2011, 12:30pm; Reply: 9
I feel like I just read something that was taken from a larger script. I didn't see anything Celtic or British either.

I really didn't sense a story here as well. And there were no characters that you could have any concern for. There really weren't even characters you could hate.

The writing is fine, and if there is a larger story around this, it might be part of something good. No idea. I don't know much about what the ideal short is, and I am extremely new to it, but I can imagine that it can be very effective to write a story that is just a piece to the puzzle which is the overall story, which remains hidden to us. A snapshot moment if you will. But we have to be able to at least sense some part of the form of this story which surrounds the short.

I'm not sure if I can understand exactly what I just said! I can't put my finger on it, struggling to describe it. Let me try.

Let's say there is a short about a story that takes place after a civilization ending calamity. We don't need all of the details of the surrounding story to feel its general contours. We know that survival issues will be paramount; food, shelter, defense. We don't need to necessarily know how exactly the world ended, but little clues to it intrigue us. And we have a ripe setting for dramatic choices and decisions. For example, with civilization gone, ethical dilemmas take on a new light. Stealing and murder have to be considered in a different context.

But none of this has to be said in the short. It's part of an understood setting, where once you describe a scene which establishes that civilization has just ended, the audience can infer the rest.

Dilemmas, choices, character development, twists, moral to the stories, emotional bonding with a character...all things I personally think should be in a story. I didn't find any of them here.

The skeleton of the story is a good place to build. Mafia guys are hired to destroy a gypsy camp. Things turn against them when they stumble on a powerful gypsy witch. And the bad guys are bad, but with a hint of a conscience. But more of a story should be built around that.

Let me suggest something, and bear in mind it seems to be the opposite of what everyone is doing in these challenge stories. Build a story, THEN add the action, the gore. Very few people are trying to do that in this challenge, so you are not alone. I am probably way wrong, what you are doing with this seems to be what others are doing and what is liked. And you are a good writer. I would just rather see you apply the skill to developing a story with depth. And keep in mind that while everyone else seems to like this formula, that means everyone's using it too. Something different could set your work apart. Just an idea from a new guy, take it for what it's worth.
Posted by: dogglebe (Guest), February 28th, 2011, 1:26pm; Reply: 10
There was nothing really new to this story.  It's a staple story from the old House of Mystery days.  While the writing could be a little tighter, it was well written and well formatted.  If you got rid of two of the thugs, you could expand on the other two, flesh them out more so, when they get what's coming to them, it has more impact.


Phil
Posted by: greg, February 28th, 2011, 1:40pm; Reply: 11
Pretty good, though predictable and routine.  I mean once the woman said Tony was dead then you pretty much know what's going to happen.  Nothing really too shocking there and the story didn't bring anything new to the table.  

But it read fast enough and for what it was I enjoyed it.  One of the better once I've read so far.

Good job.

Greg
Posted by: Sandra Elstree., February 28th, 2011, 2:10pm; Reply: 12

The use of the title is really good in this. Die Screaming has that revenge aspect hanging at the end, echoing in our ears even after the story's over.

You really did a fine job.

Here:

Page 3

ELDERLY GYPSY MAN
My wife, she's to ill to leave her bed and I won't leave her here on her own.

TONY
Well she's gonna be leaving it tonight.
Get her up.

ELDERLY GYPSY MAN
She can't move. She's too ill.

*Careful you don't repeat dialogue unnecessarily. It's easy to do.

Page 5

The gypsy woman begins CHANTING in Romani. She reaches out an arm in Tony's direction, makes a fist with her hand, then dramatically flicks her fingers out at him. She repeats this action over and over.

Here:

MARCUS
What the fuck is she doing?

Tony LAUGHS.

I think you have an opportunity to show something here that scares Tony. Despite his laughter. Then carry on with his dialogue like you have it here:

TONY
What's this? Are you supposed to be some
kind of witch or something? Are you trying to put a curse on me?

*But then after:

They all join in with the LAUGHTER. ***Make it except Tony.

By isolating him, it will enhance this part of the story.

I'm thinking that here:

>The gypsy woman spits at Tony.

You might do something a bit different. Like she makes herself into a kind of mirror, reflecting a dead Tony back at him.

Change Tony's tune-- where he doesn't want to go along with the others in their evil doings. However, they force him to comply and his cowardice shows.

Perhaps though the witch is killed she has a soft spot in her heart for Tony and kills they others, sparing Tony? I think something like that would add a great deal to the flavor of the story. Especially if Tony reminded the witch of her son somehow. But then, you'd need to cut some off the beginning dialogue of the heavies.

Good job.

Sandra
Posted by: grademan, February 28th, 2011, 2:27pm; Reply: 13
Die Screaming * I liked it * predictable but well done - you can check horror off your genre checklist * the unknown POV threw me out of the read for a moment or three * other than body count the four bad guys seemed a bit much and too much alike * a two man job would allow a little more character to shine through * I thought gypsies were nomads and used to getting shoveled off * elderly gypsy woman should have a name
Posted by: jwent6688, February 28th, 2011, 3:53pm; Reply: 14
I thought this was good. I wish you could have came up with a creepy little chant for the elderly woman to say.

This whole burning down the pikeys trailers did remind me of Snatch as someone else mentioned.

The last line was the highlight for me. Overall, pretty good story.

Good job writing a script in a week.

James
Posted by: stevie, February 28th, 2011, 4:50pm; Reply: 15
Yeah, agree with most of the other reviews - nothing new, plot wise, but it was well written, and I really liked the gamg dialogue.

Would be some nice visuals here in a filmed version.

One query? I assume this is set in England somehwere? So...a bear trap? I guess you mean just one of those nasty traps that pin legs.
Posted by: Electric Dreamer, February 28th, 2011, 5:32pm; Reply: 16
Effective execution dulled by an overwhelmingly average premise.
Any step to make the story more personal would have worked wonders.
Old woman holds her dying husband at Tony's feet, parting words, etc.
She rises and verbally berates the cocky Tony.
Maybe Tony had a gypsy deadbeat dad and she strikes a chord, something, anything!
Tony becomes enraged and lights her up, curse spit at him before she dies.
Any tweaks like that would have really up the interest for me.
Still, playing it as it lays, this one has a lot more yardage than most.

E.D.
Posted by: jnave, March 2nd, 2011, 8:22pm; Reply: 17
I can't add much to what's been said, but I did like it.
Liked the unknown POV. A tad predictable.  
I don't know enough about folklore to know if this fit the challenge.
Nicely done for a one week exercise, and can easily be expanded upon.

Jason
Posted by: keaton01, March 2nd, 2011, 11:04pm; Reply: 18
The title has a grindhouse feel.

Why number the first page. I know that's stupid, but the norm.

Pretend you have to pay a dime for every word you use and you are poor. Does it matter what he used to light his cigarette? Is it essential for the plot.

Your dialog doesn't look like it's formatted right.

Sounds like you are just squeezing in slang to sound native.

It's drag me to hell and snatch, Snatch Me To Hell. Just playing. This is a nice short and too ridiculously expensive for a short. Fire? I know what you are thinking, why not just show the aftermath. It's hard to make look real and it would be during the day. Fire = Ridiculously Expensive.
Posted by: c m hall, March 3rd, 2011, 9:14am; Reply: 19
Certainly atmospheric, lively writing -- could be, visually, a very dramatic film -- nor much of a story, though, more of a cautionary tale.  

SPOILERS
Don't mess with sick, old people.
Posted by: wonkavite (Guest), March 3rd, 2011, 10:10pm; Reply: 20
Solid writing on this one - but there wasn't anything striking about the script either.  

The story was a standard horror tale -  with nothing that really stood out, or had particular character or charm.

Good pacing, competent writing - but it just didn't "do anything" for me.  But 2 out of 3 isn't bad...!

Cheers,

--WV
Posted by: Scar Tissue Films, March 5th, 2011, 6:51am; Reply: 21
Pros

Bold and fun. Well written, fast paced and entertaining.

Thugs dialogue was good.

Cons

Forced to agree with others that this felt slightly old hat. It's like a cross between Snatch and Drag Me to Hell. It needs to find an identity of its own somehow. Be well worth trying to take it from a good story, to an excellent one.

For the sake of the challenge, changing the Gypsies to Irish, rather than Romany, travellers would make more sense.
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 7th, 2011, 5:08pm; Reply: 22
Hey Steve, sorry for not getting to this until now...but here I am.

I guess compared to the majority of poorly written scripts, this is pretty decent, but it didn't do anything for me, as I've seen and read this story many, many times, and you didn't add anything remotely original to make it feel fresh.

I know you're a UK guy, so maybe that's why alot of the prose seems off or awkward.  Some of the word choice also feels odd to me, but hey, no biggie.

Many have complimented your dialogue, but it didn't work for me.  Maybe that's cause none of the characters had any life...I don't know, it all just seemed very generic and unrealistic to me.

Definitely not bad for an OWC though.
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 7th, 2011, 5:48pm; Reply: 23
One more thing I wanted to add...

Love the old burned up Gypsy's last line...

"Scream for me." - Reminds me of Bruce Dickinson on Maiden's classic "Live After Death".  Nice way to finish...
Posted by: shootingduck, March 9th, 2011, 2:31pm; Reply: 24
Fire is the hardest thing to make look good on screen with a small budget.  I find it's best to avoid it like the plague.

I liked the payoff more than the entirety of the script leading up to it.  There was little distinction (other than screentime) between the 4 thugs.  The only reason we know Tony is the "leader" is because you tell us, but they really all sound pretty much like the same guy.  There's no one to root for in the script, and I don't think you make us hate Tony and the gang enough.  The beginning dialogue seemed to drag a bit for me.  It wasn't bad, but it really didn't offer up much as far as characterization, just some standard exposition.  

Overall this could have been far worse, but I also feel that it could have been far better.  It kind of settled somewhere in the middle.
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