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Posted by: Don, February 15th, 2018, 10:35am
Where the Bad Kids Go by Sean Elwood - Horror, Thriller, Drama - It’s been sixteen years since Jesse was taken away from his abusive, alcoholic mother after she had tried to kill him. When he hears of the news that she committed suicide, he returns to his childhood house for preparation to sell it, as well as confront his dark past once and for all. He soon discovers that something evil lurks within the depths of the house, and after all these years, it’s been waiting for him to return.  98 pages - pdf format

contest: Horror Film & Screenplay Competition - Official Selection; WILDsound FEEDBACK Film and Screenplay Festival - Official Selection; Shriekfest - Quarter Finalist; Crimson Screen Horror Film Fest - Finalist

Writer interested in feedback on this work





Based on the short story Where The Bad Kids Go

Interview with Sean Elwood


1st Scenes Reading of WHERE THE BAD KIDS GO
Posted by: Scar Tissue Films, February 17th, 2018, 3:43am; Reply: 1
Alright Sean, good to see you back. As a big horror fan, I always enjoyed your stuff.

I'll try and have a read this weekend.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 17th, 2018, 9:48am; Reply: 2

Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
Alright Sean, good to see you back. As a big horror fan, I always enjoyed your stuff.

I'll try and have a read this weekend.


Glad to be back. It's been a rough past few years and I fell out of writing for a little bit, but now I'm back. This script shows it, too. It's rather personal to me but I've decided to share it with everyone. Glad you've taken interest in reading it, and I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks!
Posted by: eldave1, February 17th, 2018, 11:28am; Reply: 3
Sean: Horror is my least favorite genre but haven't seen your stuff so thought I would take a peak.

First impression is that you handled some very difficult story/format issues quite skillfully. You had V.Os, flashbacks, montages all in the first ten and there was never a point where I was lost. Long winded way of saying - great clarity on your part.

Also - even at ten pages I already care what happens to Jesse.

The law enforcement (Deputy) dialogue was a little stilted to me - especially given the circumstances. It seemed to every day to him.

A lot of talent here.

One question. You do this a lot:


Quoted Text
INT. HOUSE - NIGHT

HELEN’S BEDROOM


versus this:

INT. HELEN'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT

i.e., your splitting the scene headings and I know if's purposeful as you obviously know what you're doing. Other than it being different I thought it worked quite well - seemed crisper - clearer. When did you start this approach?  
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 17th, 2018, 2:17pm; Reply: 4

Quoted from eldave1
Sean: Horror is my least favorite genre but haven't seen your stuff so thought I would take a peak.


Thanks for taking your time to check it out! I appreciate it.


Quoted Text
First impression is that you handled some very difficult story/format issues quite skillfully. You had V.Os, flashbacks, montages all in the first ten and there was never a point where I was lost. Long winded way of saying - great clarity on your part.


That's great news to hear. I hope it handles well with other readers because I've been told that it's too jumbled and too much is going on. That might be the case for some people, but I've tried to make it as clear as possible for the reader.


Quoted Text
The law enforcement (Deputy) dialogue was a little stilted to me - especially given the circumstances. It seemed to every day to him.


Dialogue has always been the hardest thing for me, and I've worked pretty hard on this scene. After looking at it again, I do see how you mean how "every day" he sounds. I'll work on that scene a little bit more.


Quoted Text
One question. You do this a lot:

INT. HOUSE - NIGHT

HELEN'S BEDROOM

versus this:

INT. HELEN'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT

i.e., your splitting the scene headings and I know if's purposeful as you obviously know what you're doing. Other than it being different I thought it worked quite well - seemed crisper - clearer. When did you start this approach?  


I started this approach quite a while ago after I'd been screenwriting for a few years. I thought it was a lot crisper�as you said�and easier to read. I tend to ignore sluglines unfortunately, even when reading other people's scripts (been trying to fix that habit), so this approach helps me pay attention to them more. Somehow. It's just cleaner in my opinion. Also it makes for scene changes a little less bulky. You have one location with multiple rooms, you just split it up like I did.

Thanks for taking the time to critique what you have so far!
Posted by: eldave1, February 17th, 2018, 2:38pm; Reply: 5
My pleasure - solid
Posted by: OscarM, February 18th, 2018, 6:03pm; Reply: 6
Hi Sean, returning the favor now. Here's the feedback and I hope it's useful to you. I like doing it in a rpofessional coverage manner for practice and I feel like that way I give better comments:

The story is a horror/mystery take on the idea of coming back home and trying to deal with the demons (in this case real and maybe even supernatural) of our childhood. There are some very strong scenes in the script, particularly the flashbacks involving Jesse and his mother Helen. She’s a very disturbing character who pushes her own child to the brink of hell. The story moves at a brisk and compelling pace, the use of flashbacks never feels too distracting and in fact always reveals interesting surprises about Jesse and Helen.

The story and characters have a strong arc, although this is one of the parts of the script that needs a stronger polish.  The overall theme of dealing with our demons, coming to terms with them and learning how to forgive is another strong part of this script. The writing style is also effective, along with the already strong scenes, it’s simple but detailed enough to keep us reading while also providing strong images.

There’s plenty to like about this script but as said before, there are areas that still need work. Although the arc in itself is strong and moving, the script feels like it needs Jesse to have a stronger goal. It’s clear that he wants to get rid of his past while also wanting to get to the bottom of it. Perhaps there can be a way of him finding objects or interviewing people as he begins to suspect that maybe he was wrong about his mother after all, something that keeps him in propulsive action. In his current state, Jesse turns more towards passivity in the second act instead of that determination he shows earlier on in the script. It seems like things happen to him rather than him taking direct action against the forces that are attacking him. This can work, particularly in horror scripts, but in this case it just feels like it makes the story meander a bit too much and takes away from Jesse’s character development.

In addition, there are a few weak spots of dialogue that come off as a bit forced or obvious, such as Jesse’s “My mother was a bitch. I hated her. I still do” or Trent’s “…Believe it or not, I’m your dad” or Jesse’s “The trauma from when you attacked her turned her into a drunken psycho, and I was the one who suffered the consequences” and Jesse’s final voice-over. The common problem with these lines is that they feel like they give away too much of the story and the character, or that they hammer the point of the script. More subtle dialogue in these and other spots could benefit and consolidate the solid character development present in this draft.
All in all, Where the Bad Kids Go seems to be headed in a good direction. More work in pointing Jesse towards being more active and a dialogue polish could do it big favors in helping it achieve its potential. There’s a lot that’s already very strong here and a few polishes could help it possibly be a scary and moving horror film.

Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 19th, 2018, 11:09am; Reply: 7
Oscar,

Thank you for the detailed feedback!


Quoted Text
In his current state, Jesse turns more towards passivity in the second act instead of that determination he shows earlier on in the script. It seems like things happen to him rather than him taking direct action against the forces that are attacking him.


This was honestly the direction I was going for, and it was to show the depression/schizophrenia slowly overtaking him, rather than him heading for that determination he first showed. Depression is one hell of a drug, and it shuts you in away from everyone else, and it slowly overcomes you day-by-day until it brings you down. It takes you away from your motivation to do things and instead you just wanna shut yourself away from the world, or wanna die even. It brings you down until you just don't want to be anymore.

Additionally, he did sorta find out information about his mom and what was really going on through his dad, Trent, and the letters that his mother left behind. Those scenes used to be longer before I cut them back, but they revealed a lot more about Helen and what Jesse was facing. The script used to be about 115 pages before I cut back and cut out a lot of scenes/dialogue.


Quoted Text
In addition, there are a few weak spots of dialogue that come off as a bit forced or obvious, such as Jesse's "My mother was a bitch. I hated her. I still do" or Trent's "Believe it or not, I'm your dad" or Jesse's "The trauma from when you attacked her turned her into a drunken psycho, and I was the one who suffered the consequences" and Jesse's final voice-over. The common problem with these lines is that they feel like they give away too much of the story and the character, or that they hammer the point of the script. More subtle dialogue in these and other spots could benefit and consolidate the solid character development present in this draft.


The dialogue is something that I am still working on with this script. I plan to have a sit-down with some friends and do a round table reading so that I can actually hear what the dialogue sounds like when it's spoken out loud. Now that you point out those lines, some of them do sound a bit to-the-point. I'll try and work on the dialogue some more, but it's just so difficult to make it sound real sometimes.

How did you feel about the character Marco? Was he developed enough? How did you feel about the reveal of Helen's death at the beginning? And what about the reveal Trent's death in the middle? I ask because these two scenes used to be real different (Helen's death reveal was during a therapist scene at the beginning, and Trent's death reveal was made by two police officers showing up at the house).

Thanks again for reading, I really do appreciate it.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 19th, 2018, 11:11am; Reply: 8
If anyone is interested in the prose version of this script, it's based off of the short story by the same name that I wrote a couple years ago: http://afterlifeafterdeath.tumblr.com/post/142234097370/where-the-bad-kids-go
Posted by: Shawnkjr, February 19th, 2018, 9:44pm; Reply: 9
Cool! Hey Sean...I haven't been on the boards in a while but I used to enjoy your scripts. Going to give this a read soon.
Posted by: OscarM, February 21st, 2018, 1:30pm; Reply: 10

Quoted from Zombie Sean
Oscar,

Thank you for the detailed feedback!



This was honestly the direction I was going for, and it was to show the depression/schizophrenia slowly overtaking him, rather than him heading for that determination he first showed. Depression is one hell of a drug, and it shuts you in away from everyone else, and it slowly overcomes you day-by-day until it brings you down. It takes you away from your motivation to do things and instead you just wanna shut yourself away from the world, or wanna die even. It brings you down until you just don't want to be anymore.

Additionally, he did sorta find out information about his mom and what was really going on through his dad, Trent, and the letters that his mother left behind. Those scenes used to be longer before I cut them back, but they revealed a lot more about Helen and what Jesse was facing. The script used to be about 115 pages before I cut back and cut out a lot of scenes/dialogue.



The dialogue is something that I am still working on with this script. I plan to have a sit-down with some friends and do a round table reading so that I can actually hear what the dialogue sounds like when it's spoken out loud. Now that you point out those lines, some of them do sound a bit to-the-point. I'll try and work on the dialogue some more, but it's just so difficult to make it sound real sometimes.

How did you feel about the character Marco? Was he developed enough? How did you feel about the reveal of Helen's death at the beginning? And what about the reveal Trent's death in the middle? I ask because these two scenes used to be real different (Helen's death reveal was during a therapist scene at the beginning, and Trent's death reveal was made by two police officers showing up at the house).

Thanks again for reading, I really do appreciate it.


Hi Sean,

Yes, I understand what you were going for. But in this case, you may want to clarify Sean's depression. I didn't really see him as depressed. But also I think that if you're going in that direction, you may have to use Marco to be a foil for that and someone who helps him go through that because that way, as an audience we'd still sense the struggle he's going through while also watching how depression is consuming him. Things have to get really bad for him and those around him. I don't know if you've seen the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion but its protagonist suffers from depression that worsens especially at the end of the show, where the stakes are at their heighest and the consequences of that are frightening.

I did like Marco but sometimes he felt a bit too much like a soundboard and he kept disappearing. I think you could strengthen him to create a solid subplot that can serve the story or its themes. I thought Helen's death's reveal was almost a bit too casual but that's a matter of reworking the dialogue. Hearts in Atlantis isn't a very good movie but there are similar scenes at the beginning where the lead character finds out about his friend's death after receiving his baseball glove in the mail. And then at the friend's funeral, he talks to someone about the other friend he's waiting to see and that other person tells him that she has passed away. These are strong scenes because they're displayed through visuals, objects and actions and when there's dialogue, there's a rough reversal for the characters. The mood of the film, scene and character changes off that one line of dialogue. They feel it, we feel it. Not saying that what you did was wrong or bad, but you have a good chance there of punching it up. In fact, you're already doing that with Trent's death. It's surprising, scary and mysterious.

And you're welcome! Thanks for reading my script too!



Posted by: ReaperCreeper, February 21st, 2018, 6:23pm; Reply: 11
Hi, Sean. I figured I'd take a look at this one, since I haven't read much of your work in quite a while (took a long time off from the site as well).

I will generally refrain from mentioning formatting, in-text set direction, intentional sentence fragments, etc. henceforth, as well as the intentional 2-line slugs, unless any of them affect readability. I know you're already well versed in the "rules" by now and whatever choices you've made regarding them are obviously conscious and fully deliberate.

I'll red-line the entire PDF as I go with suggestions where I see opportunities for improvement and/or notice typos or mistakes. Shall I email it to you when done or nah? I just do that with all the features I read nowadays, as practice for my tech writing job; I won't be offended if you say no. :) Most of my text changes, dialogue suggestions, and edits will be on there. This post will be more general.

GENERALLY -
Your writing style is crisp, clear, and to-the-point without feeling overly vague or too staccato-like. I really enjoy that. That said, I noticed many unnecessary redundancies that really don't need to be there, since you're already descriptive enough otherwise.

STORY -
Pages 1-4: Jesse's V.O. could be highly condensed. It doesn't "read wrong" on paper, but that's 3-4 minutes of on-screen V.O., which I haven't seen in a lot of films and could easily get quite tiresome. I feel like little or no information would be lost if you trimmed it, since you already contextualize it visually pretty well, both in these same scenes AND throughout the entire story. That said, I definitely would KEEP "It�s been sixteen years since my mother tried to kill me" no matter what, since it's a pretty damn good hook (regardless, I also red-lined the V.O. in the pdf in case you do choose to keep all of it).

I obviously wouldn't want to you to delete ALL of the V.O., since it's Jesse's journal, just trim it a little. Or a lot, whatever you end up deciding when you polish this one up.

Jesse's child abuse in the beginning goes on really, really long for a horror film. It was a little uncomfortable, but I understand that this is a drama as well, so fair enough. Just saying, perhaps it's too early in the movie for a long montage like that. I'd still keep it, but I'd move it for later if it makes sense to do so. It might be better to pepper these little scenes throughout the script, rather than info-dump the viewer right off the bat.

Helen's first knife attack in Jesse's bedroom is pretty creepy. I almost thought she was a ghost for some reason, though she wasn't then. Good stuff.

The voices egging Jesse on to return home, go in the house, etc. would be awesome if handled quite delicately, mixed in very, very deep into the sound mix so they're almost inaudible. If shot as regular V.O., it could come off as cheesy. Not sure how important it is to call that out in the script, but I'm sure something creepy and subtle like that is what you were going for.

IMO: by page 14, the way Jesse's age differences are stated throughout the flashbacks are very, very distracting and/or confusing. Do we really need to make a distinction between Young Jesse (10) and Young Jesse (11)? I suggest just using general ages for him in particular, as it would help the reader picture the different actors needed for the roles. Same with Helen and whoever else applicable. I go more into it in the pdf, but I feel the need to notice here since it did make me go back and do a double-take more than once.

Marco's "when we were kids" line leads into a very small montage, then into a flashback. The transition is rather awkward; not the scenes before or after, mind you, just the transition w/the dialogue, if that makes sense. Is it needed? I think either the dialogue or the short montage could go, structurally speaking, but maybe it'll pay off later (read 'til later; it did, sort of).

I really dug the brief day-to-night transition where Jesse hallucinates Helen. Super creepy, and surprisingly not at all affected by Marco being present; usually it's the loneliness of a situation that builds up the dread and creep factor, but it all works well here. I like how you switch between Young Jesse's coming-of-age stuff and the present-day horror story stuff. Sometimes throughout the script, the actual execution of these transitions gets better or worse, but they're more or less always acceptable, and that's at the very least. Good work!

Pg. 19 (also on red-lined file) I don't know much about police procedure, but something tells me they'd check the whole house to even determine that it was a suicide and not murder, especially with the bizarre way she did it. The bit where Marco says they didn't need to check every room should perhaps go away. Again, not a cop expert, just throwing it out there.

I like the structurally casual yet narratively deep-rooted nature of Marco and Jesse's relationship. Not a lot of well-explored gay romances in horror films. It has the same sense of importance that hetero romantic subplots have on-screen in most films.

As a horror film, Helen and Jesse's house is almost a character in itself. I suggest identifying it by name where applicable (i.e. the Myers House from Halloween) both in the slugs and in the narrative. The scene with Jesse in the crawlspace 22 or so pages in where he sees the outline of a monster reminded me of The Babadook. In a good way, mind you. So far I'm not sure what the hell is wrong with Helen, or if there really is a monster in the crawlspace (doesn't look like it since she's creating noises to scare Jesse, but I could be wrong).

The scene of Helen peeking in on the kids as they play in Jesse's bedroom freaked the hell out of me. I don't know what the hell is wrong with her, but if there really is a monster, it can't be worse than her (hope the monster isn't a human she's keeping captive, since that's the first thing I thought of).

P.S. Missed a golden opportunity when Helen first meets Marco, and afterward. If she's homophobic, she may as well be racist. Could be going overboard; it's just a thought that popped into my head.

Rick monumentally pissed me off, which I guess is... good? That funeral home scene was well-written and I could picture it on-screen clear as day, could easily feel Jesse's growing antagonism towards him. That said I was slightly confused on Gabriele's gender due to the name spelling.

I know you said this one is personal to you, Sean, but the scenes with Helen and Young Jesse are incredibly distressing and sometimes go past the entertainment level, IMO (could be because it's also a drama, but this is rather unusual for Horror fare). I know they're crucial to the story and they do seem to be leading up to something, but these things are happening to a kid. I'd reel these scenes in just a little bit, enough so they're at least a bit more digestible to an audience. At this point I don't know if I can take more of it (I'm at page 36).

Possibly fun option: add Marco to the montage on page 36.

Stopped at page 40, will come back and re-post (or edit this one) when I finish. Nice job so far!
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 21st, 2018, 8:17pm; Reply: 12

Quoted from Shawnkjr
Cool! Hey Sean...I haven't been on the boards in a while but I used to enjoy your scripts. Going to give this a read soon.


I haven't been on the boards in quite a while myself! Glad to still see you around. And thanks for giving this a read! Means a lot to me!


Quoted from OscarM
Hi Sean,

Yes, I understand what you were going for. But in this case, you may want to clarify Sean's depression. I didn't really see him as depressed. But also I think that if you're going in that direction, you may have to use Marco to be a foil for that and someone who helps him go through that because that way, as an audience we'd still sense the struggle he's going through while also watching how depression is consuming him. Things have to get really bad for him and those around him. I don't know if you've seen the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion but its protagonist suffers from depression that worsens especially at the end of the show, where the stakes are at their heighest and the consequences of that are frightening.

I did like Marco but sometimes he felt a bit too much like a soundboard and he kept disappearing. I think you could strengthen him to create a solid subplot that can serve the story or its themes. I thought Helen's death's reveal was almost a bit too casual but that's a matter of reworking the dialogue. Hearts in Atlantis isn't a very good movie but there are similar scenes at the beginning where the lead character finds out about his friend's death after receiving his baseball glove in the mail. And then at the friend's funeral, he talks to someone about the other friend he's waiting to see and that other person tells him that she has passed away. These are strong scenes because they're displayed through visuals, objects and actions and when there's dialogue, there's a rough reversal for the characters. The mood of the film, scene and character changes off that one line of dialogue. They feel it, we feel it. Not saying that what you did was wrong or bad, but you have a good chance there of punching it up. In fact, you're already doing that with Trent's death. It's surprising, scary and mysterious.

And you're welcome! Thanks for reading my script too!


Thank you for this, Oscar! I completely understand. Much appreciation!

Reaper--

Thank you for reading thus far! And I'm glad that it is scaring you and that you're enjoying it. I would love to see the PDF edits that you've made which will definitely help my script in the next rewrite.


Quoted Text
Pages 1-4: Jesse's V.O. could be highly condensed. It doesn't "read wrong" on paper, but that's 3-4 minutes of on-screen V.O., which I haven't seen in a lot of films and could easily get quite tiresome. I feel like little or no information would be lost if you trimmed it, since you already contextualize it visually pretty well, both in these same scenes AND throughout the entire story...


...I obviously wouldn't want to you to delete ALL of the V.O., since it's Jesse's journal, just trim it a little. Or a lot, whatever you end up deciding when you polish this one up.


So I have the script open and just went through it trimming out some of the redundancies, and it actually does read a lot better. Thanks for that suggestion.


Quoted Text
Jesse's child abuse in the beginning goes on really, really long for a horror film. It was a little uncomfortable, but I understand that this is a drama as well, so fair enough. Just saying, perhaps it's too early in the movie for a long montage like that. I'd still keep it, but I'd move it for later if it makes sense to do so. It might be better to pepper these little scenes throughout the script, rather than info-dump the viewer right off the bat.


You think so? The montage would only be about 15-20 seconds long probably. 30 at most. But it would be quite disturbing too, I won't doubt that. I guess it just helps set the tone of what to expect throughout the script—just a bleak, disturbing atmosphere where everything bad that could happen, does. This isn't your average fairy tale!


Quoted Text
The voices egging Jesse on to return home, go in the house, etc. would be awesome if handled quite delicately, mixed in very, very deep into the sound mix so they're almost inaudible. If shot as regular V.O., it could come off as cheesy. Not sure how important it is to call that out in the script, but I'm sure something creepy and subtle like that is what you were going for.


I would want the voices to be very subtle, almost inaudible like you said. And whispered, off to the sides as if the audience is hearing voices themselves. If it were cheesy, regular voiceover, nah that wouldn't fly with me.


Quoted Text
IMO: by page 14, the way Jesse's age differences are stated throughout the flashbacks are very, very distracting and/or confusing. Do we really need to make a distinction between Young Jesse (10) and Young Jesse (11)? I suggest just using general ages for him in particular, as it would help the reader picture the different actors needed for the roles.


Yeah I wondered that when writing it but just kept it that way because I wasn't sure how else to portray the ages. I guess I don't mean to be so specific, but this is based off of a short story I wrote where the ages are specified so I worked off of that. But I'll clean that up throughout.


Quoted Text
Pg. 19 (also on red-lined file) I don't know much about police procedure, but something tells me they'd check the whole house to even determine that it was a suicide and not murder, especially with the bizarre way she did it. The bit where Marco says they didn't need to check every room should perhaps go away. Again, not a cop expert, just throwing it out there.

I like the structurally casual yet narratively deep-rooted nature of Marco and Jesse's relationship. Not a lot of well-explored gay romances in horror films. It has the same sense of importance that hetero romantic subplots have on-screen in most films.

As a horror film, Helen and Jesse's house is almost a character in itself. I suggest identifying it by name where applicable (i.e. the Myers House from Halloween) both in the slugs and in the narrative


I'll ask a cop lol. But really, though, I'm not sure either. I would figure since the body would be down in the basement and the charred area and gas container, and with no other signs of a struggle, it would seem more like a suicide than a murder and they wouldn't have to check all rooms. They might've tried testing the knob, but seeing that it's locked they probably didn't pay much mind to it. I could be completely wrong.

I wanted the "love story" to be as subtle and/or casual as possible and not "in your face" (I hate it when movies do that). Thanks.

That's a good idea about giving the house a name, because it truly is a character.


Quoted Text
P.S. Missed a golden opportunity when Helen first meets Marco, and afterward. If she's homophobic, she may as well be racist. Could be going overboard; it's just a thought that popped into my head.

Rick monumentally pissed me off, which I guess is... good? That funeral home scene was well-written and I could picture it on-screen clear as day, could easily feel Jesse's growing antagonism towards him. That said I was slightly confused on Gabriele's gender due to the name spelling.

I know you said this one is personal to you, Sean, but the scenes with Helen and Young Jesse are incredibly distressing and sometimes go past the entertainment level, IMO (could be because it's also a drama, but this is rather unusual for Horror fare). I know they're crucial to the story and they do seem to be leading up to something, but these things are happening to a kid. I'd reel these scenes in just a little bit, enough so they're at least a bit more digestible to an audience. At this point I don't know if I can take more of it (I'm at page 36)


Hah, I never thought about making her racist before. I guess that would make sense! I dunno if I should add it though...She's already hateful enough!

It's good that Rick pissed you off, he was supposed to. I worked in a funeral home that was like that, and it was just not good. I didn't like it.

I guess it's also good that these scenes are striking a cord (or is it chord?) with you? I didn't write it for shock material, I wrote it because it actually happens. I could tone it down a bit, but I really want people to dislike her. It makes sense in the end.

Thanks for reading what you have so far!
Posted by: Don, February 22nd, 2018, 10:24am; Reply: 13
Sean,

Here are nice word in the comments about your script - http://www.simplyscripts.com/2018/02/18/original-script-sunday-february-18-2018/

Don
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 22nd, 2018, 10:55am; Reply: 14

Quoted from Don
Sean,

Here are nice word in the comments about your script - http://www.simplyscripts.com/2018/02/18/original-script-sunday-february-18-2018/

Don


Don! Thanks for bringing that comment to my attention! It was very encouraging to read. He actually contacted me for an assignment he's working on and he chose Where the Bad Kids Go for his assignment, which has been both helpful and encouraging since we've been chatting.
Posted by: ReaperCreeper, February 22nd, 2018, 6:26pm; Reply: 15
PART 2 (pgs. 40-102):

Gotta be honest, Trent's reappearance is a bit weird, and I don't mean just in the context of the situation. He just randomly shows and casually reveals that he's Jesse's dad, with virtually zero apparent impact to it in that scene, either in the narrative or in the characters' perceptions. Then he proceeds to info-dump Jesse.

The dialogue exchange feels really off as well (Trent? My dad?). You could blink and miss that revelation, or I suppose skim and miss it, in this case. I don't know if it will be important later, but it's very, very off-putting the way this scene's currently structured. Same for the whole scene, not just the reveal. That said, the lead-up to Trent showing up as Jesse's searching the basement is very well-done.

I also noticed some gaps in logic with that conversation, some of which ties into my other notes about the cops not investigating the door upstairs. Trent had a restraining order? A lady with a restraining order out on her obviously criminal ex just immolates herself and it's instantly ruled a suicide, no questions asked? Not even a mention by Marco? Even if there's some sort of justification for it, I can see that causing a few head scratches with an audience. Maybe mention Trent was in jail at the time or something like that? Some of Jesse's dialogue is also a bit unnatural here, but less so. I could totally buy it if he's that mad at Trent (more on the pdf).

Despite some pretty heavy reservations about the dialogue here, I do like the rest of Trent's monologue where he describes how insane Helen is, especially after he explains that he found her with a knife. Barring some reservations on my end about some wording choices, that is.

My biggest (and probably my only) issue with the writing so far on the technical side is that it refuses to infer/derive meaning far too often, resulting in slightly or sometimes heavily redundant passages and dialogue, where virtually zero information would be lost if you trimmed almost every single paragraph in half. I do cite examples in the pdf, but here's one of them:
"I grabbed her hand that had the knife and managed to knock it from her."
Grammatically sound, but not much else; it's not natural-sounding and there's no inferred meaning there whatsoever as with real conversations. How about --
"I grabbed her hand and managed to knock the knife away from her." OR...
"I grabbed her knife-hand and managed to knock the damn thing away from her." Or even simply...
"I grabbed her and managed to knock the knife out of her hand"
Not verbatim, necessarily, but you probably get the gist. I think the audience would still "get it."

I generally like Marco and Jesse's scene after this. However, the cop on the radio seems fully aware that Trent was Jesse's dad, where Jesse wasn't. As Jesse's friend, wouldn't Marco had said something way before? Honestly, it may be better if Jesse just knew from the very beginning of the story that Trent's his dad. It doesn't really work as-is, even as a minor twist. Maybe it worked better in short story form, but it keeps rearing its head here -- I'd honestly just axe it and make it so Jesse just knows. Would it really change that much?

Trent's off-screen death was a bit disappointing/predictable, but I can live with it. Marco does act a bit out of character when he instantly accuses (or seems to accuse) Jesse of killing him. I know he's a cop, but I feel that his "copness" shows up literally only at the wrong times lol. I like the "Is there something you're not telling me?" line, but that little exchange right after goes on a bit too long.

I feel like the rising action is starting unravel at this point, 53 pages in. Some would probably tell you that's just too damn long for a horror film, but it's your story, and I happen to believe that story structure is malleable to a degree. I just feel like I should mention that, since those comments will undoubtedly pop up eventually.

Autospy tech is definitely trolling... just "rather" shocking, yeah... sure... Great scene btw.

Helen's "I'm sorry" in the beginning gave me a nagging suspicion that she wasn't entirely herself. I thought it was creepy at the time, but it would perhaps work better if you removed those lines. I don't mind telegraphing twists that much, but I know people who do.

I really like that the counting scene in the beginning paid off.

The tiny cuts where Jesse's pretty much losing it go on a little too long (collectively, I mean), enough that I got lost at least a couple of times. I would keep them, since they're effective on the whole, but I'd trim 'em down just a small, tiny bit. They also pad the length of the script a lot IMO, since there are so many dialogue breaks. Not sure how I would remedy that though.

Jesse telling off Marco (pg. 73ish) was pretty heart-wrenching. Over all, I think you earned that one. Keep that!

At some point when everything's going to hell you refer to the creature as having "beady eyes," which to me made It sound cute (made me think of an adorable mouse). I highly suggest an alternative adjective, almost any other. Pulled me right out of the scene, which was quite engrossing otherwise. Page 85, I think.

I totally was right about the house being a character. :)

Someone else already said this, but Jesse truly becomes a passive protagonist towards the end. Personally, though, I don't mind, since Marco and even Helen pretty much take up the role of the heroes by then, at least for a little bit.

IMO, the script should have straight up stopped by page 95 or thereabouts. It's touching the way it is, sure, but it also goes on forever, long after the climax has passed. I'd trim the hell out it, but still keep it, since the message, in the end, is a good one. I just don't feel the ginourmous epilogue actually ties up as many loose ends as you perhaps intended.

Over all, it's pretty solid. The grievances I have with it are probably 30% story, 70% technical. It's a good tale, but I do feel that it has certain readability issues. Will send over the pdf. If I can't do it in a PM, which avenue would you prefer?

Nice job.

--Julio
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 22nd, 2018, 7:23pm; Reply: 16
Reaper--

Thanks for reading the rest of the script!

You're not the first person to mention that Trent's reappearance was out of the blue. I've been thinking of adding in the funeral scene at the cemetery, a moment where Jesse sees Trent standing and watching the funeral from afar. That way when he appears later, it would make more sense.

You do have a point about how Helen's death was instantly ruled as a suicide, when she has a restraining order against her ex. Maybe in the phone conversation at the beginning, the Deputy could say something along the lines of, "Yeah, we though it was Trent, her ex, but he had an alibi." What do you think?

I'll look through these long conversation scenes again and trim the dialogue down even further. You should've seen this script, these scenes were probably twice as long as they are now! Ha.

Helen's "I'm Sorry" is supposed to be sorta her catchphrase, I guess. One of those things that Jesse remembers her for.

I think I might keep the tiny cuts of dialogue because I expect it to be quick cuts, and each page is really only, like, 15 seconds long while he's talking to himself (instead of the traditional minute). I'm not sure how to trim back the dialogue without him sounding less crazy. I dunno. I like how it reads :)

You really think 'Beady Eyes' reads as too cute?? lmao I can see why, but I don't know how else I could describe it!

Yes this is a very slow burn script, and I've been told that it doesn't have a lot of plot points as most movies should, but I feel it has a constant pace to it, until the very end at least. It's a slow, steady ride where each scene reveals something new (almost), and then the last 30 minutes or so is when it really picks up...

...Except for the very end, where it apparently slows down greatly! You're not the only person to point that out, either! I'm gonna try and trim up the ending even further, and I think I know how. Hopefully it works out. I've already trimmed a lot of it, I'm afraid to take anymore out! If it still doesn't work out, I think I know where to stop.

Thanks again for the read. I'd love to see the pdf. You can email it to me, if you'd like. Or PM me a link to a Google Drive or Dropbox file.

Thanks! Much appreciated!
Posted by: SteveUK, February 23rd, 2018, 6:53pm; Reply: 17
Hey Sean,

I really enjoyed this - a good story, well written with plenty of creative scares.

You set an ominous mood early on and maintain it throughout with an increasingly creepy atmosphere to the script.

It was a brave choice to have a potential gay romance between two male characters in this type of story - it’s not something I’d have expected in a low budget psychological horror, but I thought you handled it really well.

While the writing was strong in general, I thought the dialogue could do with a bit of work in parts - sometimes it comes off a little on-the-nose, especially in the early scenes between Jesse and Marco, and when Jesse is reunited with Trent. For example, Jesse saying “So, you’re a cop now?” to Marco after he’s just got out of a police car in full uniform.

One issue that stood out to me was that you seemed to show too much at times and over-explain things when it would probably more effective if things were left more ambiguous. There were three occasions when this happened:

1 - When Trent and Jesse are reunited in the basement, Trent goes into a long story explaining what happened between him and Helen the night he supposedly attacked her. He describes in detail the way she behaved, how she looked and sounded, what she said, that she hadn’t been drinking, how strong she seemed, the strange way the mattress sank in etc. This felt like too much information and would be better IMO if Trent still seemed a little sketchy while pleading his innocence to at least keep us guessing if he’s completely telling the truth instead of giving a coherent account of exactly what happened.

2 - When Jesse find’s Helen’s letter in the mattress it felt like a big exposition dump. Helen starts telling the backstory of first moving to the house and the whole story of hearing the voices etc. - Again, this felt like more information than we needed. We already know something is wrong in the house, and in the scenes following this we see Jesse start to go crazy because of the voices. If anything, having Helen explain what happened to her lessens the impact of what happens to Jesse because we already know what to expect. It might work better if instead of finding a long letter written for him, he finds incoherent ramblings that hint at what happened instead of explaining everything in detail.

3 - The second letter that Jesse finds in the Bible at the end seemed like another big exposition dump - it’s four pages of backstory and flashbacks that don’t really add anything to the overall story - we already know what caused Helen’s behaviour and that she wasn’t really evil. It just felt like you were trying to wrap everything up in a nice little happy ending, and personally I didn’t feel it was necessary.

The only other thing that I thought you could possibly improve was how easy it seemed for Jesse in the end. I like the way you forced him to have to go back into the crawlspace, but he seems to triumph  without really having to do anything - the fire is started by the bulb bursting, Helen appears and tells him that all he has to do is forgive her, then the firemen save him. It just felt all too easy - I was expecting him to have to battle The Thing in some way, but it just kind of sits in the corner doing nothing.

Despite that, I genuinely really like this, and with a bit of work I think it could be even better. You’ve got a good story, interesting characters, a strong theme and loads of effectively creepy moments - I could definitely see this getting made.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 23rd, 2018, 8:23pm; Reply: 18

Quoted Text
Hey Sean,

I really enjoyed this - a good story, well written with plenty of creative scares.

You set an ominous mood early on and maintain it throughout with an increasingly creepy atmosphere to the script.

It was a brave choice to have a potential gay romance between two male characters in this type of story - it’s not something I’d have expected in a low budget psychological horror, but I thought you handled it really well.


Hey thanks for giving this a read, Steve. I'm glad you appreciated it for what it was worth, and that you enjoyed the scares sprinkled here and there, as well as the romance subplot. I tried to make it as subtle as possible.


Quoted Text
One issue that stood out to me was that you seemed to show too much at times and over-explain things when it would probably more effective if things were left more ambiguous. There were three occasions when this happened:

1 - When Trent and Jesse are reunited in the basement, Trent goes into a long story explaining what happened between him and Helen the night he supposedly attacked her. He describes in detail the way she behaved, how she looked and sounded, what she said, that she hadn’t been drinking, how strong she seemed, the strange way the mattress sank in etc. This felt like too much information and would be better IMO if Trent still seemed a little sketchy while pleading his innocence to at least keep us guessing if he’s completely telling the truth instead of giving a coherent account of exactly what happened.


That's actually a good idea, having Trent be kind of sketchy and a bit twitchy (he is high after all). I just don't know how to fit in there because I've already trimmed this scene down so much. It used to be, like, 8 pages long and went into more depth about Helen's insanity. I've trimmed it up some just now and it does read a little better, but I honestly don't know what else to take without taking away details that I like.


Quoted Text
2 - When Jesse find’s Helen’s letter in the mattress it felt like a big exposition dump. Helen starts telling the backstory of first moving to the house and the whole story of hearing the voices etc. - Again, this felt like more information than we needed. We already know something is wrong in the house, and in the scenes following this we see Jesse start to go crazy because of the voices. If anything, having Helen explain what happened to her lessens the impact of what happens to Jesse because we already know what to expect. It might work better if instead of finding a long letter written for him, he finds incoherent ramblings that hint at what happened instead of explaining everything in detail.


Yet another scene that cut dramatically as it used to be a lot longer than it is now. I went through this as well and cleaned up what I could, but I kept what I thought was vital to the story. I'll continue to go through it and see what else I can get rid of.


Quoted Text
3 - The second letter that Jesse finds in the Bible at the end seemed like another big exposition dump - it’s four pages of backstory and flashbacks that don’t really add anything to the overall story - we already know what caused Helen’s behaviour and that she wasn’t really evil. It just felt like you were trying to wrap everything up in a nice little happy ending, and personally I didn’t feel it was necessary.


And yet another scene that I cut dramatically, lol. I think I'm going to keep this letter in the story because it's supposed to close up Helen's suffering and reveal that she wasn't actually the bad guy after all. But as stated above, I'll continue to go through it and see what else I can get rid of.


Quoted Text
The only other thing that I thought you could possibly improve was how easy it seemed for Jesse in the end. I like the way you forced him to have to go back into the crawlspace, but he seems to triumph  without really having to do anything - the fire is started by the bulb bursting, Helen appears and tells him that all he has to do is forgive her, then the firemen save him. It just felt all too easy - I was expecting him to have to battle The Thing in some way, but it just kind of sits in the corner doing nothing.


If you haven't figured it out already, The Thing is supposed to be a metaphor for depression/mental illness. I wanted it to really not do anything, because that's how I view depression in real life. It's not something that can pick you up and throw you across the room. It's something that slowly overtakes you through your weaknesses and brings you down just by existing.

I honestly didn't want a big showdown between Demon and Protagonist because 1) i felt that it would be too cheesy, lol and 2) it wasn't what I wanted when it came to giving The Thing a metaphoric overtone. It's just sitting there watching Jesse because it didn't have to do anything anymore. Jesse was the one who initiated the fire by pouring gas everywhere. The Thing made the light bulb burst and then just had to watch the show go down. And then Marco comes and saves the day (in the short story, there's a part where the narrator says something along the lines of Helen staring at Marco with such enmity, as if he were going to save Jesse from her, i.e. It). I don't really want to change the climax just because I've planned it out so well and had it flow so well.  ;D Sorry, I had to say it!

Though I can see how you see it being easy for Jesse during this moment, remember that he's trapped in a crawlspace choking on smoke, and quite honestly, his mother's most likely a hallucination (or, if you wanna get spiritual with it, it could be him having a near-death experience and seeing his mother's spirit). It's not so easy for him because he's literally dying, but then the firemen save him at the very last minute before he gets crushed by the burning house.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Thanks again for reading! Your notes were very helpful! I gotta work on the dialogue, and I'm gonna see where I can still trim up some of those longer scenes with lotsa talking. I would love to see this get made, too. It would be pretty easy, apart from the house burning scene (but I could think of a few ways to work that out)...
Posted by: SteveUK, February 24th, 2018, 7:30am; Reply: 19

Quoted from Zombie Sean

If you haven't figured it out already, The Thing is supposed to be a metaphor for depression/mental illness. I wanted it to really not do anything, because that's how I view depression in real life. It's not something that can pick you up and throw you across the room. It's something that slowly overtakes you through your weaknesses and brings you down just by existing.


Early on I was thinking that the story was more about mental illness and the voices/monster were personal demons, but as it went on my thinking changed, mostly due to things that are said and happen later in the script.

When Trent is talking to Jesse in the basement he describes Helen as if she were possessed by some kind of evil spirit - talking in the third person; laughing like a witch; having the strength of two people; the mattress sinking in as if some invisible force is there.

After that scene I had completely changed my mind and assumed that there was a demonic spirit in the house as Trent wouldn’t see or feel those things if it was just Helen going crazy.

Also, Helen’s descriptions in the letter that Jesse finds in the mattress also make it sound more like supernatural events that are actually happening to her rather than something psychological. Her writing is too specific and detailed, like she’s telling a coherent story rather than someone suffering a psychotic episode.

Something that I forgot to mention previously was that it stood out to me as a little random that Jesse found two letters hidden in the mattress that were written in 1999 & 2015. It might work better if instead of letters that were written six years apart he was to find some kind of journal, possibly damaged in the fire that only allows him to read snippets of what she was going through rather than a linear backstory.


Quoted from Zombie Sean

I honestly didn't want a big showdown between Demon and Protagonist because 1) i felt that it would be too cheesy, lol and 2) it wasn't what I wanted when it came to giving The Thing a metaphoric overtone.


I completely understand and agree that there shouldn’t be a battle between Jesse and the thing in this context now, but something that should be changed is the house screaming as it burns - if there’s nothing supernatural happening, why would Marco and the firemen hear the tortured wails as they extinguish the flames? It would make more sense if only Jesse hears the screams as his inner demons are dying.


Quoted from Zombie Sean

Anyway, I'm rambling. Thanks again for reading! Your notes were very helpful! I gotta work on the dialogue, and I'm gonna see where I can still trim up some of those longer scenes with lotsa talking. I would love to see this get made, too. It would be pretty easy, apart from the house burning scene (but I could think of a few ways to work that out)...


It was my pleasure! And feel free to shoot me a pm if you’d like me to read the rewrite - I’d be more than happy to.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 24th, 2018, 12:59pm; Reply: 20

Quoted Text
When Trent is talking to Jesse in the basement he describes Helen as if she were possessed by some kind of evil spirit - talking in the third person; laughing like a witch; having the strength of two people; the mattress sinking in as if some invisible force is there.

After that scene I had completely changed my mind and assumed that there was a demonic spirit in the house as Trent wouldn’t see or feel those things if it was just Helen going crazy.

Also, Helen’s descriptions in the letter that Jesse finds in the mattress also make it sound more like supernatural events that are actually happening to her rather than something psychological. Her writing is too specific and detailed, like she’s telling a coherent story rather than someone suffering a psychotic episode...

...something that should be changed is the house screaming as it burns - if there’s nothing supernatural happening, why would Marco and the firemen hear the tortured wails as they extinguish the flames? It would make more sense if only Jesse hears the screams as his inner demons are dying.


You do make a good point. I was trying to juggle between the two and make the audience wonder if it's real or if it's all in Jesse's head. Maybe I made it a little too real, but I dunno. There was a psychiatrist scene in an early draft where the psychiatrist explained all of the phenomenons that happened to Jesse, but people thought it was too redundant as we already guessed it all.


Quoted Text
Something that I forgot to mention previously was that it stood out to me as a little random that Jesse found two letters hidden in the mattress that were written in 1999 & 2015. It might work better if instead of letters that were written six years apart he was to find some kind of journal, possibly damaged in the fire that only allows him to read snippets of what she was going through rather than a linear backstory.


I honestly don't know why I chose those dates. I guess it was to show that she's been crazy all this time. I like the idea of a burnt journal, it would tie in with how he keeps a journal too. Though the letters already kinda do that. But it would make more sense than a slice in a mattress with the letters stuff in there...though I wanted that to tie in with her standing over Jesse with a knife ready to stab him.

Thanks again for all of your notes! They've been helpful :)
Posted by: Curt, March 7th, 2018, 10:26am; Reply: 21
I hope my critique helps as you as much as yours helped mine. Coincidentally, a lot of things you said to look for I kept my eye on!

First off, it was really easy to read. I didn't realise how big of a feat that is until reading some of these other comments, but with your montages, voiceovers, jump cuts, I was still able to visualise it all without trouble and follow your story. And all your special "things" (montages, cuts, etc) made sense.

You also don't critique out of your ass- you brought up how my story is a slow burner and could benefit from a few more scares or characters noticing things, and I see what you mean. Jesse and Marco see the basement door, and in the next scene you actually go into it. You also did a good amount of montage to take Jesse to his scares, which didn't detract at all from the movie in my head. BUT . . .

That beginning I think is way too off-beat for a horror film. Like, ideally I want to go into a horror film feeling scared and dread; with yours, it plays more like a drama and I don't know if I would stick around. I think showing less child abuse happening, and more the results from it could help in that aspect. There's a movie called CHAINED which I saw a while back. A serial killer kidnaps a kid and obviously abuses him. But if I remember correctly, it took a long time before anything like "dragging a kid violently down steps" happened. It was mostly bruises, cuts, malnourishment. Might be something to think about.

I also think The Thing doesn't need to be seen. Or seen a lot less since it reminded me, in appearance, of The Crooked Man and I just love that visual. But in the only moments that stand out to me, The Thing doesn't do much (he crawls into bed and lays wheezing on the ground for the most part, correct?). I think physically taking him out would at least be a good exercise. But it seemed like a creature that's really shy which . . . is sort of adorable!

Regardless, you don't talk out of your ass. I see now how scares can build into the next scare and build into the next. Introduce the basement, then introduce a potential threat, and just keep having that threat appear whether via voices, flashbacks, or shadows. I understand that. And I do understand your subtext!

And I wish I would've known about this forum sooner 'cause I'm originally from not too far away from you :)  
Posted by: Zombie Sean, March 7th, 2018, 7:52pm; Reply: 22
Hey Curt, thanks for reciprocating! As I said, our stories sound quite similar, but are vastly different. I'm glad that it was an easy read for you! I used to write with long, descriptive descriptions which I believe now would weigh down the script's reading ability. Short, to the point sentences make for a faster, cleaner read, now that I've tried it out. Just say what needs to be said and leave the details to the director.

This story is as much of a drama as it is a horror, though I want it to be mainly horror as it has quite a few disturbing imagery in it. Child abuse is a horrific thing, but I do understand why you think it's more dramatic. I don't wanna see this playing on Lifetime if you're thinking it's that kind of movie when it first starts. I've never seen Chained but I will see if I can find it and give it a watch, as I'm interested in how you mean.

I felt that The Thing isn't really seen that much, and really only seen toward the end, when the rest are just bits and pieces of It. I wanted something scary to have manifested from Helen's mental illness because it is her personal demon. Depression is like another being in the room, and it hangs around and other people can feel it. So I wanted to give it a face. If this were to ever get filmed, The Thing would not be seen very much, either due to it being dark/nighttime, or quick cuts of what it looks like, etc. If done right.

I've never seen The Crooked Man either, but I will also look that up and watch it (and I'm not going to look up what he looks like because I don't want to spoil it for myself). I also didn't really describe what the creature looks like TOO much so that if this were ever directed by someone, they could conjure up their own idea of what the creature looks like with the details I've provided. Plus, I go into more detail of what the creature looks like in the short story if they would ever use that for inspiration. It would be a good exercise to take The Thing out, but since It's such a prominent character, it would be quite difficult! :) And, adorable...lol...

Thanks again for reading. I'm happy to hear that you've used my script as a learning tool. I think (and hope) I've done everything a right as possible in my script. I love horror so I try my best to create my own. Too bad we couldn't have met sooner if you've lived close by before!
Posted by: Dreamscale, March 8th, 2018, 11:33am; Reply: 23
Hey Sean, great to see a new feature from you!  You've been here at SS for a long time and it's always nice to see something new from a longtimer, like you.

Also good to see your script getting some attention on the board, and comments seem to be positive.

I don't have time to read this entire script, but I did read the first 3 pages and wanted to throw some things out to you.

Page 1 - So, let's start at the very beginning.  No FADE IN.  Obviously, a personal choice, but IMO, no reason not to use one.

First Slug is problematic to me.  You say "UNKNOWN TIME", and that's going to be true to those watching, but you're the creator here and you should know.  It doesn't really matter, obviously, but it does stand out.

Also, using "HOUSE" here is (or can be) an issue...especially in a feature, where you may have multiple houses.  I ALWAYS make it clear whose house it is, so it helps the reader know immediately where they are when a new Slug like this pops up.

Finally, for some reason, you chose to make "BASEMENT" a mini Slug, which in this example, is a mistake any way you look at it.  This scene takes place 100% in the basement.  Sure, a basement is part of a house, but here, the house part has nothing to do with anything.  Mini Slugs are great when transitioning between rooms of a structure, and having no time pass, but as used here, it's a mistake and it costs you 2 extra line for absolutely no reason.

I don't want to go into too great detail on everything, but let me just say that you used 14 lines and 6 passages to describe the basement, but in reality, what you have described here is a very typical basement - as in this is exactly what an "unfinished" basement is.

Now we get to the crawlspace.  Check this out...

"The CRAWLSPACE. An old, wooden door flap built into the far wall of the basement, shrouded in darkness. Something about this crawlspace seems wrong. Bad. This place reeks of evil." - the crawlspace door shouldn't be any older than anything else in the basement, as it was all, most likely, built at the same time.  I wouldn't use a comma between "old" and "wooden", either.  "of the basement" is a waste of words, as we know we're in the basement.  Your next 2 sentences are obviously you telling us that we need to understand the crawlspace is bad, evil, etc, but you haven't shown us anything that would make us think or realize this.

For me, The use of (O.S.) isn't quite right, but I get what you're after here.

You say Helen is "30's".  As I always say, give your characters an exact age.  There is a HUGE difference between 30 and 39, especially if she has an 8 year old son.

It would not be easy for Helen to lift open the crawlspace door, hook it to stay open, and pick up an 8 year old screaming, fighting kid and toss him into the crawlspace.  Actually, it would be quite difficult for her to accomplish this.

The crawlspace shouldn't have a dirt floor, actually.  Usually, they are unpolished cement, unless this crawlspace is not actually part of the house.  And, usually, there are light sockets in a crawlspace, as they are used for storage.  Just saying...

OK, on to Page 2...

So, you start with a V.O., but since no one has seen or heard Jesse speak at this age (which we don't know, BTW, as we don't know when she tried to kill him, and I assume it wasn't the opening scene when he was 8).

Then we go to some "HOUSE", and we have Helen again, but no age is given, so I have to assume she's the same age as in the opening (30's).

The next VO doesn't work for me at all, as it's all just an info dump you're feeding us, but not showing us, and BTW, using VO's is tricky, as you're basically telling us this is a certain person's story and he/she is narrating, and alive at the end of the story (or else, how could they be narrating?).

You've also chosen again to use a Mini Slug for HELEN's BEDROOM, which again, as used, is incorrect.  You can switch to Mini Slugs, but you never want to start with one.

Then you do it again right after the VO.  Note how your Slug is identical to the preceding Slug - and it should not be, as this is a completely new locale.

So, now we see Jesse is 3, meaning, this is 5 years prior to the opening scene, and Helen's age is now a real mystery, as she could be anywhere from 25 to 34.  Basically, you're flashing back without using a FLASHBACK.

OK, check this out - "Young Jesse (3) hides under the bed with his hands over his
ears. He sobs quietly as he stares out his bedroom door and down the hall into Helen’s bedroom." - First of all, this is a very, VERY tough shot to pull off.  Even filming a kid under a bed can be tough, as you need the right kind of bed in which he can be seen.  But what makes it extremely difficult is the 2nd part of your sentence. It's basically a POV from Jesse's perspective, and you have to have his bedroom door line up with Helen's bedroom door (as in at 2 ends of a hallway, which isn't the way most hallways/bedrooms are set up, as you don't want peeps being able to look into someone else's bedroom, from their own bedroom).  Know what I'm saying?

I'm going to stop there.  Hopefully, these things make sense and you can decide if you agree with me or not, as I'm just trying to help.

Best of luck with this, Sean.

Posted by: Zombie Sean, March 8th, 2018, 11:49pm; Reply: 24
Thanks for taking a look at the first three pages here!


Quoted Text
Page 1 - So, let's start at the very beginning.  No FADE IN.  Obviously, a personal choice, but IMO, no reason not to use one.

First Slug is problematic to me.  You say "UNKNOWN TIME", and that's going to be true to those watching, but you're the creator here and you should know.  It doesn't really matter, obviously, but it does stand out.

Also, using "HOUSE" here is (or can be) an issue...especially in a feature, where you may have multiple houses.  I ALWAYS make it clear whose house it is, so it helps the reader know immediately where they are when a new Slug like this pops up.


For some reason, I've just never been too keen on using FADE IN with my scripts. I guess it's just a personal choice, but it wouldn't change this script and would actually be appropriate for a FADE IN.

Does the time of day really matter if we don't actually see it? I feel UNKNOWN TIME would be most appropriate since it's an interior location, in a scene where the time of day is not crucial to the movement of the story. I could put DAY or NIGHT in there (Night would probably be more 'effective') but in the end, I feel it's a bit superfluous in a way. Again, I guess it's just personal choice.

And since there's only one house in this entire story, I feel it would be okay to use INT/EXT. HOUSE, but I do see why it would be a good idea to give it more of a name and distinguish it from just a general location. Julio in one of his comments mentioned that the house is even enough of a character on its own to give it a name.


Quoted Text
Finally, for some reason, you chose to make "BASEMENT" a mini Slug, which in this example, is a mistake any way you look at it.  This scene takes place 100% in the basement.  Sure, a basement is part of a house, but here, the house part has nothing to do with anything.  Mini Slugs are great when transitioning between rooms of a structure, and having no time pass, but as used here, it's a mistake and it costs you 2 extra line for absolutely no reason.


Further into the script, the mini slugs play more of a role, so I figured I would keep it consistent throughout the script. I don't want to have mini slugs sprinkled throughout the script, but none at the beginning of each scene, because I feel that would be inconsistent, which I do not want. What's your opinion on that? Do you feel it would feel a bit unbalanced, to have mini slugs throughout the script, but none at the start of each scene (especially in the house)? Maybe if you find the time to read further into the script, it'll make more sense?


Quoted Text
Now we get to the crawlspace.  Check this out...

"The CRAWLSPACE. An old, wooden door flap built into the far wall of the basement, shrouded in darkness. Something about this crawlspace seems wrong. Bad. This place reeks of evil." - the crawlspace door shouldn't be any older than anything else in the basement, as it was all, most likely, built at the same time.  I wouldn't use a comma between "old" and "wooden", either.  "of the basement" is a waste of words, as we know we're in the basement.  Your next 2 sentences are obviously you telling us that we need to understand the crawlspace is bad, evil, etc, but you haven't shown us anything that would make us think or realize this.

For me, The use of (O.S.) isn't quite right, but I get what you're after here.

You say Helen is "30's".  As I always say, give your characters an exact age.  There is a HUGE difference between 30 and 39, especially if she has an 8 year old son.

It would not be easy for Helen to lift open the crawlspace door, hook it to stay open, and pick up an 8 year old screaming, fighting kid and toss him into the crawlspace.  Actually, it would be quite difficult for her to accomplish this.

The crawlspace shouldn't have a dirt floor, actually.  Usually, they are unpolished cement, unless this crawlspace is not actually part of the house.  And, usually, there are light sockets in a crawlspace, as they are used for storage.  Just saying...


Thanks for helping me clean up the crawlspace description. I know that a screenwriter shouldn't tell, and should show instead, but I guess I just like the description. And admittedly, I don't really know how to show the crawlspace being bad. I guess the action of a screaming boy being thrown inside of it shows that it's bad enough, and further into the script we find out why, but I wanted to make it apparent as soon as possible that this was not a good place.

How is the usage of (O.S.) not right? Genuinely curious.

I've thought about giving the characters specific ages but wasn't entirely sure. I figured it would be, yet again, another personal choice to either have an age range, or specific age. While I do understand that there is a noticeable difference between 30 and 39, does the age really help push the story further than it already is going? I'll consider this further as I do think it's a good point. I just don't know if it justifies actually changing (for myself, at least, but to each their own).

You make a point about Helen multi-tasking with a kicking and screaming 8-year-old. Maybe I could have Young Jesse trying to pull away from her grasp.

I think all crawlspaces are different. For instance, my crawlspace in my home has a dirt floor, cinderblock columns, and only one crummy light fixture at the entrance. My parent's crawlspace is a little bit more luxurious but it still has a dirt floor. And have you looked up on Google Images the word 'crawlspace'?


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OK, on to Page 2...

So, you start with a V.O., but since no one has seen or heard Jesse speak at this age (which we don't know, BTW, as we don't know when she tried to kill him, and I assume it wasn't the opening scene when he was .

Then we go to some "HOUSE", and we have Helen again, but no age is given, so I have to assume she's the same age as in the opening (30's).

The next VO doesn't work for me at all, as it's all just an info dump you're feeding us, but not showing us, and BTW, using VO's is tricky, as you're basically telling us this is a certain person's story and he/she is narrating, and alive at the end of the story (or else, how could they be narrating?).


I assumed it would be distinguishable enough between Young Jesse and just Jesse. As an example, how would you start with this V.O. and let the reader know that it's adult Jesse, and not Young Jesse?

And you are correct, Helen is the same age as she was in the opening. I didn't want to put the age next to her in every scene because I feel it would become too redundant. But I can see why you might get confused while reading.

The next VO is something I've struggled with keeping. I like it, but at the same time I hate it because, you're right, it is an info dump. But it's such a small piece of information that I've kept it because I feel it doesn't detract from the story, and just gives you a brief idea of who Helen is before you really get to know her. Same with Trent. And I don't mind if the VOs give away that Jesse remains alive at the end of the story (SPOILERS!!! but you've figured it out already).


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So, now we see Jesse is 3, meaning, this is 5 years prior to the opening scene, and Helen's age is now a real mystery, as she could be anywhere from 25 to 34.  Basically, you're flashing back without using a FLASHBACK.

OK, check this out - "Young Jesse (3) hides under the bed with his hands over his
ears. He sobs quietly as he stares out his bedroom door and down the hall into Helen’s bedroom." - First of all, this is a very, VERY tough shot to pull off.  Even filming a kid under a bed can be tough, as you need the right kind of bed in which he can be seen.  But what makes it extremely difficult is the 2nd part of your sentence. It's basically a POV from Jesse's perspective, and you have to have his bedroom door line up with Helen's bedroom door (as in at 2 ends of a hallway, which isn't the way most hallways/bedrooms are set up, as you don't want peeps being able to look into someone else's bedroom, from their own bedroom).  Know what I'm saying?


...it says at the very top of Page 3 that Helen is in her 20s...unless you're talking about specific age again.

1) What do you mean that he needs the right kind of bed to be seen? It's a regular bed that he can hide under, and he would be peeking out from the space beneath it. I could imagine the camera being at floor level with Young Jesse, and then tracking away from him and craning upward as it pans to down the hallway toward Helen's bedroom. But that's if I were to direct this ;) 2) I do know what you're saying, and that's actually exactly how I picture the hallway being structured, even if hallways aren't typically structured like that. I wanted a way for Helen to always be able to look into Jesse's bedroom.

Anyway, I do hope that you continue reading because I'm interested in what else you have to say about it (I know how deep you go into your critiquing). I would just have to prepare myself for you to rip it apart! :o
Posted by: Curt, March 9th, 2018, 2:10pm; Reply: 25

Quoted from Zombie Sean
Hey Curt, thanks for reciprocating! As I said, our stories sound quite similar, but are vastly different. I'm glad that it was an easy read for you! I used to write with long, descriptive descriptions which I believe now would weigh down the script's reading ability. Short, to the point sentences make for a faster, cleaner read, now that I've tried it out. Just say what needs to be said and leave the details to the director.

This story is as much of a drama as it is a horror, though I want it to be mainly horror as it has quite a few disturbing imagery in it. Child abuse is a horrific thing, but I do understand why you think it's more dramatic. I don't wanna see this playing on Lifetime if you're thinking it's that kind of movie when it first starts. I've never seen Chained but I will see if I can find it and give it a watch, as I'm interested in how you mean.

I felt that The Thing isn't really seen that much, and really only seen toward the end, when the rest are just bits and pieces of It. I wanted something scary to have manifested from Helen's mental illness because it is her personal demon. Depression is like another being in the room, and it hangs around and other people can feel it. So I wanted to give it a face. If this were to ever get filmed, The Thing would not be seen very much, either due to it being dark/nighttime, or quick cuts of what it looks like, etc. If done right.

I've never seen The Crooked Man either, but I will also look that up and watch it (and I'm not going to look up what he looks like because I don't want to spoil it for myself). I also didn't really describe what the creature looks like TOO much so that if this were ever directed by someone, they could conjure up their own idea of what the creature looks like with the details I've provided. Plus, I go into more detail of what the creature looks like in the short story if they would ever use that for inspiration. It would be a good exercise to take The Thing out, but since It's such a prominent character, it would be quite difficult! :) And, adorable...lol...

Thanks again for reading. I'm happy to hear that you've used my script as a learning tool. I think (and hope) I've done everything a right as possible in my script. I love horror so I try my best to create my own. Too bad we couldn't have met sooner if you've lived close by before!

Yes, they are very similar- it was definitely a familiar read and a good learning tool!

As far as The Crooked Man, that's actually just a scare in The Conjuring 2. But that character stuck out to me when I watched it, and so when you described The Thing, it just reminded me of him (albeit I see yours as more of a slenderman type than a lanky man in a hat type). So yeah, every time you mentioned it I already had a "default" character, so to speak, to jump to. It may have also been that instead of describing it as "something" in the shadows, you described it as . . . Actually, it's all on Page 39. That's The Thing, right? If not, I mis-understood the character on that page, which is a definite possibility!

It would be interesting to see on Lifetime though :D
Posted by: Zombie Sean, March 9th, 2018, 9:39pm; Reply: 26

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As far as The Crooked Man, that's actually just a scare in The Conjuring 2. But that character stuck out to me when I watched it, and so when you described The Thing, it just reminded me of him (albeit I see yours as more of a slenderman type than a lanky man in a hat type). So yeah, every time you mentioned it I already had a "default" character, so to speak, to jump to. It may have also been that instead of describing it as "something" in the shadows, you described it as . . . Actually, it's all on Page 39. That's The Thing, right? If not, I mis-understood the character on that page, which is a definite possibility!


Ah, okay, now that sounds familiar. I knew I heard that name before, but I just couldn't remember exactly! But you're right, it's more of a Slenderman type of creature. Page 39 is the first time that we see THE THING, but I wanted the reader/audience to think it was a man at first. Since the demon is more of a humanoid than anything, It would be mistaken for a man. But in the end, I'd leave the creature design up to the director, based on the details I've given.


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It would be interesting to see on Lifetime though :D


Would it really, though? I guess it's different enough from the rest of the stuff they play on there. But hey, even if it did show up on that channel, at least it's something!
Posted by: JordanB, March 21st, 2018, 3:48am; Reply: 27
Damn this is a brutal story. I loved it. You guided me through this dark world really well with very creative techniques. Well done.  As the script is already very solid, I’ll offer some small ideas that came to mind.

Perhaps have Helen violently force the Bible onto a young Jesse. This would at first add to her already demented persona but will change later on as we understand she was trying to actually protect her son with Biblical scriptures.  

Page 6  - When there is a transition from young Jesse to old Jesse, I would consider using a transitional method by writer William Monahan whereby he uses the eyes as an age leap. For example, in The Departed he writes…

ECU: COLIN’S EYES swerve up. We are now on (MATURE) COLIN’S EYES eyes. This is how the character transits the “age leap”...on the unchanging eyes.    

I immediately thought of this due to my perception of young Jesse. To me, he has a kind of innocent set of blue eyes. Anyway, it’s just a suggestion. No biggie.

Page 12 – This random voice has me intrigue.

Page 17 – Really liking the back and forth time lapses.

Page 28 – In addition to the attack, I wanted Helen to verbally disapprove of the adult magazine.

Page 55 -  Helluva scene with Trent in the Freezer room.

Page 73 -  You are capturing Jesse’s mental decline so well.

Page 85 – I’d cut the dialogue from Marco stating “It’s the house”. A look of realization or shock to me, would be much more impactful.

Page 87 -  I was really hoping Helen would return in spirit and help Jesse. Thank you and well done on this.  Just a thought, maybe have Helen literally save Jesse from the fire instead of a fireman.

Also, I really wanted some kind of retaliation from ‘The Thing’.  Maybe ‘The Thing’ is attacking Jesse and Helen emerges and battles it off to save her son. There MUST BE A FINAL SHOWDOWN! Hahaha.

Final thoughts – You have a very solid script here that kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. Well done and good luck with it. I hope to watch it one day.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, March 21st, 2018, 11:30am; Reply: 28

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Damn this is a brutal story. I loved it. You guided me through this dark world really well with very creative techniques. Well done.


Thanks! This is probably my darkest story I've written so I'm glad it didn't turn you off or anything (and after reading Feed Her, I can see why you like the darkness of it).


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Perhaps have Helen violently force the Bible onto a young Jesse. This would at first add to her already demented persona but will change later on as we understand she was trying to actually protect her son with Biblical scriptures.  


I kind of like that idea. It would come off as crazy first, but in the end it would make sense, like you said. The question is...where would I fit them in!? :) I just don't want her to come off as a crazy religious lady so it would probably only be 2 or 3 Bible verses.


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Page 6  - When there is a transition from young Jesse to old Jesse, I would consider using a transitional method by writer William Monahan whereby he uses the eyes as an age leap. For example, in The Departed he writes…

ECU: COLIN’S EYES swerve up. We are now on (MATURE) COLIN’S EYES eyes. This is how the character transits the “age leap”...on the unchanging eyes.    

I immediately thought of this due to my perception of young Jesse. To me, he has a kind of innocent set of blue eyes. Anyway, it’s just a suggestion. No biggie.


I do like that imagery of the transition; I feel that the TITLE CARD is a good enough indicator that time has passed and we are now focusing on present day Jesse. Unless you're talking about describing the eyes after the transition (like, "all facial features have aged, however the blue and innocent child-like eyes still remain" or something like that)?


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Page 12 – This random voice has me intrigue.


I hope it paid off!


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Page 17 – Really liking the back and forth time lapses.


Thanks. I'm quite proud of them myself, especially the part where Jesse opens the door to Helen's bedroom and it's suddenly nighttime. I can just picture it all in my head and I like how it turned out, as well as the rest of the back and forth's.


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Page 28 – In addition to the attack, I wanted Helen to verbally disapprove of the adult magazine.


Curious, what were you wanting her to say? Or expecting her to say?


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Page 55 -  Helluva scene with Trent in the Freezer room.


My favorite scene. Probably the strongest scene in the entire script, in my opinion.


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Page 73 -  You are capturing Jesse’s mental decline so well.


Thanks! For the longest time I was thinking of how I was going to portray it, and then one day the idea clicked of having the JUMP CUTS and splitting his dialogue into bits and pieces. If filmed right, I feel it could come off as very creepy/disturbing.


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Page 85 – I’d cut the dialogue from Marco stating “It’s the house”. A look of realization or shock to me, would be much more impactful.


I almost--ALMOST--want to remove this line. I don't know why I like it, but at the same time the story can be just as good as without it. I want the audience to know that Marco does sort of believe that something bad is wrong with the house, but there are already indicators of that in other scenes, so I could remove it. Maybe I will...argh.


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Page 87 -  I was really hoping Helen would return in spirit and help Jesse. Thank you and well done on this.  Just a thought, maybe have Helen literally save Jesse from the fire instead of a fireman.

Also, I really wanted some kind of retaliation from ‘The Thing’.  Maybe ‘The Thing’ is attacking Jesse and Helen emerges and battles it off to save her son. There MUST BE A FINAL SHOWDOWN! Hahaha.


That's a good suggestion, having Helen save Jesse instead of the firemen. Though, I wanted this scene to be a 'near death experience' and he sees his mother in spirit form. Since she's a ghost/spirit she can't really do much, at least not in this horror story.

Same with The Thing, since it's supposed to be a metaphor for mental illness, it just can't really do much except hang around and torment through its own power of voice and depression/alcoholism/mental illness. As much as this story should have a showdown between protagonist and The Thing, I feel it would be out of place for the story. But I want to toy with the idea, since you're not the only person who suggested that there be a final fight/showdown with The Thing. I just don't want it to come off as too cheesy or anything. This Thing might not even exist, anyway, and could be just a figment of Jesse's imagination. Essentially, he's fighting himself. Protagonist vs. Protagonist.


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Final thoughts – You have a very solid script here that kept me glued to the pages from start to finish. Well done and good luck with it. I hope to watch it one day.


Thank you for reading this! And so quickly too! I'm glad you enjoyed it and your comments were insightful and are getting the gears in my head rollin'. I, too, hope to watch it one day. One can only hope!
Posted by: Philostrate, June 23rd, 2018, 6:39am; Reply: 29
Hey Sean,

Finally got the time to read this one.

Wow, this script is solid and I can't do anything but to congrat you for the good work.

The concept is original and you guided me skillfully through a screenplay with some creative montages, jump cuts and flashbacks.

The script is very contained and the characters, dialogue, story, pace, etc. are strong.

You grabbed my interest from the first scene and the script was easy to read and follow.

I feel that the script is very solid as it is, but I'm going to provide some suggestions, just in case they can be of use to you.

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

Page 2) Perfect opening scene.

Page 5) I think Helen should hold the knife when the police officers enter the house since, later, she stills stares at Young Jesse with ill intention as he walks escorted by an officer through the room. She could throw the knife to the floor when the police officers enter.

Why Helen left the knife in the bed?

Page 6) Great beginning. Grabbed my interest right away.

Page 8 ) I think you could introduce the VOICES just after Jesse doubts:

DEPUTY CONNORS (V.O.)
Would you be willing to, Jesse?

JESSE
I, uh...

VOICES(V.O.)
(very faint)
Do it.

Jesse lifts his head up at the VOICES.

JESSE
What?

DEPUTY CONNORS (V.O.)
I said we have the key to the house. It wasn’t hard to find. She had it on as a necklace.

It took me a second realizing what was going on, but that's just me being picky.

Page 10) Good way to introduce Marco, I didn't expect Jesse already knew him.

Page 13) In the line:

Jesse opens the fridge full of expired foods and drinks. He retches back in disgust.

Maybe you can reverse the order for anticipation:

Jesse opens the fridge. He retches back in disgust. It's full of expired foods and drinks.

Again, just me being picky.

Page 15)

INT. HOUSE - DAY

BACK TO PRESENT

HALLWAY

I wonder if "BACK TO PRESENT" maybe should go before "INT. HOUSE - DAY"…

Page 18 ) I think Marco wouldn't want Jesse going into the basement… so I would suggest changing the dialogue from:

MARCO (CONT’D)
You wanna go down--

JESSE
(sternly)
No.
(beat)
Not now. Not yet.

To:

MARCO (CONT’D)
You aren't thinking about going down, are you?

JESSE
(sternly)
No.
(beat)
Not now. Not yet.

Or something like that…

Page 35) I was missing Marco at the funeral… but you didn't disappoint ;)

Page 40) The man was Trent, ok. I expected it but it was solid. Good dialogue.

One question came to my mind in that scene… Is Trent Jesse’s biological father?

Jesse introduces him that way on page 2:

"Her boyfriend at the time, Trent, …"

But in this scene I felt like Trent WAS his biological father…

I suppose Jesse didn't introduce him as his father on pg. 2 because, in that moment of the story, he didn't feel like he was. Am I correct?

Page 52) Awesome scene at the freezer room!

Page 60) Maybe you could change the bold text style with underlines in the note:

PUT HIM IN THE BASEMENT.

why

DO IT.

why

HE IS A BAD KID. HE DESERVES IT.

I wouldn't ask for it if it weren't for the adjacent "BACK TO SCENE".

Anyway, is a matter of style. Do what you feel more comfortable with.

Page 62) Jesse's depression tried to slow down the script a little, but you solved it with craftmanship.

Page 82) Great end! Jesse has to confront his fears if he wants to stay alive. The basement on fire was a strong visual and I couldn't think of a better ending. But I missed one thing. Maybe it's just me, I don't know, but since the demon feeds on one's fears and insecurities, I wanted Jesse to have to confront him in the crawlspace to make it alive. I wanted the demon not to just lie aside, but to try to scare Jesse to death, giving him the opportunity to finally make a stand and defeat it (in a visual way).

I hope my comments weren't too picky because that wouldn't do justice to the great impression the script has left on me.

Hopefully, it will keep placing high in more contests until it grabs the interest of a director or producer after the box office success of horror films like Hereditary.

Best of lucks with this one.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, June 23rd, 2018, 10:40am; Reply: 30
Hey David,

Thanks for reading! I'm glad you enjoyed it all and am happy to hear you thought everything about it was strong. I appreciate it.


Quoted Text
Page 5) I think Helen should hold the knife when the police officers enter the house since, later, she stills stares at Young Jesse with ill intention as he walks escorted by an officer through the room. She could throw the knife to the floor when the police officers enter.

Why Helen left the knife in the bed?


I guess I wanted her to have immediate regret for what she had done, or was going to do. You wonder if it was really her that was going to kill Jesse, or was she "possessed"? Plus, I like the visual of the knife glimmering on the bed when one of the police officers shines their flashlight into the room.


Quoted Text
Page 8 ) I think you could introduce the VOICES just after Jesse doubts:

DEPUTY CONNORS (V.O.)
Would you be willing to, Jesse?

JESSE
I, uh...

VOICES(V.O.)
(very faint)
Do it.

Jesse lifts his head up at the VOICES.

JESSE
What?

DEPUTY CONNORS (V.O.)
I said we have the key to the house. It wasn’t hard to find. She had it on as a necklace.

It took me a second realizing what was going on, but that's just me being picky.


While I do like this, I also like my approach of Deputy Connor's voice getting manipulated into the voices that Jesse hears in his head, when Dep. Connor's says "Go back to the house, Jesse." Does he actually say it, or is it just another voice that Jesse hears?


Quoted Text
Page 13) In the line:

Jesse opens the fridge full of expired foods and drinks. He retches back in disgust.

Maybe you can reverse the order for anticipation:

Jesse opens the fridge. He retches back in disgust. It's full of expired foods and drinks.

Again, just me being picky.


Updated. I like this approach, stylistically. It's the small changes, right? ;)


Quoted Text
Page 15)

INT. HOUSE - DAY

BACK TO PRESENT

HALLWAY

I wonder if "BACK TO PRESENT" maybe should go before "INT. HOUSE - DAY"…


I've actually updated the slugs completely in this script to read as more "traditional" formatting, rather than how I have my slugs, and then mini slugs. Hopefully it still reads clearly. And I think you're right, how BACK TO PRESENT goes before the slugline. I'll have to look at some scripts that utilize flashbacks.


Quoted Text
Page 18 ) I think Marco wouldn't want Jesse going into the basement… so I would suggest changing the dialogue from:

MARCO (CONT’D)
You wanna go down--

JESSE
(sternly)
No.
(beat)
Not now. Not yet.

To:

MARCO (CONT’D)
You aren't thinking about going down, are you?

JESSE
(sternly)
No.
(beat)
Not now. Not yet.

Or something like that…


While I also like this idea, I wanted Marco to have more of a "guidance" and "I'm there for you" demeanor ever since we first meet him. With him dismissing the basement along with Jesse, I feel it's out of his character. He's there to support Jesse and be there every step of the way, especially since he still has feelings for him. Which prompts him to kind of "push" Jesse along by asking him if he wants to go down, rather than dismiss the basement along with Jesse and make him avoid it even further.


Quoted Text
Page 40) The man was Trent, ok. I expected it but it was solid. Good dialogue.

One question came to my mind in that scene… Is Trent Jesse’s biological father?

Jesse introduces him that way on page 2:

"Her boyfriend at the time, Trent, …"

But in this scene I felt like Trent WAS his biological father…

I suppose Jesse didn't introduce him as his father on pg. 2 because, in that moment of the story, he didn't feel like he was. Am I correct?


You are correct. Yes, Trent is Jesse's biological father, and I like how you noticed that at the beginning it doesn't feel like Trent was Jesse's real father. In a way, Trent wants to feel the same way, because he didn't really want a kid. And to Jesse, Trent was barely in his life so he just doesn't consider him as his dad really, and that he grew up without a father. Not until their reunion does it feel like they're related, as if Helen's death has brought them together and a bit closer somehow. And then the exposition "Like father, like son" and having Jesse run up the stairs two steps at a time like Trent did just further solidifies that feeling/fact that they're related.


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Page 52) Awesome scene at the freezer room!


My favorite scene ;)


Quoted Text
Page 60) Maybe you could change the bold text style with underlines in the note:

PUT HIM IN THE BASEMENT.

why

DO IT.

why

HE IS A BAD KID. HE DESERVES IT.

I wouldn't ask for it if it weren't for the adjacent "BACK TO SCENE".

Anyway, is a matter of style. Do what you feel more comfortable with.


This has actually bothered me as well but I never did anything to change it. I want the lines in all CAPS to still be bold because that's how I imagine it to look written on paper (boldly written), but this time I underlined those lines and it separates the BACK TO SCENE better. Thanks for the suggestion.


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Page 62) Jesse's depression tried to slow down the script a little, but you solved it with craftmanship.


Thanks. That route of formatting the script was a risky move for me because I wasn't sure I was doing it correctly, but so far I've gotten nothing but compliments on how I solved the downward spiral of Jesse. Took me a while to figure out how I wanted to write it!


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Page 82) Great end! Jesse has to confront his fears if he wants to stay alive. The basement on fire was a strong visual and I couldn't think of a better ending. But I missed one thing. Maybe it's just me, I don't know, but since the demon feeds on one's fears and insecurities, I wanted Jesse to have to confront him in the crawlspace to make it alive. I wanted the demon not to just lie aside, but to try to scare Jesse to death, giving him the opportunity to finally make a stand and defeat it (in a visual way).


Argh, you're not the only person to suggest a stronger ending and I'm sure you won't be the last either! The Thing represents mental illness in a way, and I find it the most reasonable for it to just lie there and watch Jesse ruin his own life, because that's how depression works. It hangs around and makes one's life miserable, and it feeds on, like you said fear and insecurity, but also the hate and energy and mind/psyche of someone until they become weak, break down, and ruin their own lives. With Jesse, The Thing and The House had swallowed him up so far that it causes him to create his own demise (i.e. setting the house on fire and burning alive) because he's not thinking clearly/he's depressed/"crazy". While yes, The Thing should be more "physical" it is more of a "mental" character than anything. Him forgiving his mother was him overcoming the demon. I hope this makes sense.

Thank you again for reading, and for your suggestions! I'm working on a rewrite that I will hopefully post here shortly on SS. I really appreciate it!
Posted by: Zombie Sean, August 27th, 2018, 11:03am; Reply: 31
Hi everyone,

Just wanted to update that this screenplay won the Horror Film & Screenplay Festival and the WILDsound Film and Screenplay Festival (both not TOO big of competitions, but still the news was exciting nonetheless), and they did a reading of the 1st few scenes, which you can watch on the first page of this discussion thread, or here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Mdi4hliMzY

The script should be updated to its most recent draft as well, so it'll be a bit different (just slightly) than from the reading that they did. I'm happy with how it turned out, and hope that more good news is to come!

Sean
Posted by: eldave1, August 27th, 2018, 11:40am; Reply: 32
Atta go! Congrats - super news.
Posted by: Philostrate, August 27th, 2018, 4:24pm; Reply: 33
Hi Sean,

Great news! Keep up the good work ;)

David
Posted by: JordanB, September 7th, 2018, 6:40pm; Reply: 34
Great news! I remember reading this. It such a great example of escapism. Talented writer.
Posted by: Dustin, September 8th, 2018, 1:23am; Reply: 35
Congrats. Nice job.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, September 8th, 2018, 7:02pm; Reply: 36
Thanks everyone! I can only hope more good things to come but I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this without the help of SS and everyone within it!

Sean
Posted by: GM, September 8th, 2018, 10:43pm; Reply: 37
Congrats Sean. Good to see you back. A win is still a win. You can put it down in your resume.

Gabe
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