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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Horror  /  Honey Mustard
Posted by: Don, September 20th, 2019, 11:44am
Honey Mustard by Michael Kospiah - Short, Horror - A waitress torments a rude customer after not being tipped. 8 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

Posted by: PrussianMosby, September 20th, 2019, 3:15pm; Reply: 1
Hey Michael,

P1 its – it

P3 it into

Reads tidy otherwise, so no further comments on typos.

'brief pause' - I'd rather search for a short visual idea here. f.i. something like: Dumbfounded, Chad eyes the few leftovers. whatever...
Perhaps a personal thing but I'm not a fan of the word pause as well as 'beat'. Takes me out of the world the writer created.

What to say: you certainly know the modern ways to twist the plot and raise expectations, then surprise with an option C that completes the storyline.

However I must say, while the characterization is there, and you try to give them motives for their actions, the dramatic backbone as a whole, in the end, is merely serving the gory parts. In a sense, I see it as, that you wrote a qualified story that makes it possible for someone to film characters strike axes into each other's faces. And if that's your goal – fine, mission accomplished.

As a part of the audience myself, it probably wouldn't give me the special feel-


Just a thing I thought about, maybe it's food for thoughts. While reading, I noticed little hints that this is (and could be as a whole) a far more fictional world, f.i. Patricia's behavior: instead of screaming for help and the ambulance, Patricia just walks to the rest room, looks into the mirror, then takes the axe from the kitchen –- what to me was a clear sign, that in this world, a wound doesn't hurt as a wound should hurt and how you react to it. Combined with the over the top behavior of Frank, in the beginning (a little Pulp Fictionesse :-) ) I thought if this wouldn't be the more interesting approach, when using more of this absurdity throughout. Say a kind of Sin City, fiction touch whatever… Your version of it of course. Just a coherent abstractness that you may give to it from A to Z (look, more unique diner, clothes, characters' background/behavior…)
As said, you already triggered this toward me, like; another example would be, when Patricia made her Ninja move of somehow getting in the bathroom without him noticing…

And those are the aspects you show that truly draw my interest. So imo expand that other-world-over-the-top-stuff. You wouldn't even have to change the general plotting of the storyline. Hope this makes sense.

Good luck.
Posted by: spesh2k, September 20th, 2019, 3:56pm; Reply: 2
I uploaded an older draft. Here's the latest draft. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1phVbpJcBJuD3f6p9xjjP-_1VFG2OuR9j
Posted by: spesh2k, September 20th, 2019, 4:03pm; Reply: 3
Hey Prussian Mosby, thanks for taking a look. I get what you're saying about the "far more fictional world", although Patricia's decision to go after Frank instead of screaming and calling for an ambulance was part of her character snapping -- we see her unraveling before the reveal. On the verge of snapping, we believe that she was the one who killed everyone in the restaurant. We eventually find out that it was Frank and, after getting shot in the face and surviving, she officially snaps. Both characters are supposedly having bad days and both characters snap -- one kills a bunch of people, the other kills the person who killed a bunch of people.

And I wanted to give the whole thing a surreal feel, so to have this weird shit happening in a real-world setting was my attempt to do that.

Thanks again!
Posted by: LC, September 20th, 2019, 9:00pm; Reply: 4
Hmm, I know you love writing a good slasher movie, Michael, in the context of horror and gore.

This just didn't do it for me, sorry to say, cause it's sadly just a shoot-em-up. A sad indictment on society that trivial things often result in deadly over-reactions. Patricia having his wallet set up in my mind the fact she could now torment and scare the hell out of Frank - the honey-mustard on the wall outside and inside the fridge was great (Frank rubbing it on his genitals was gratuitous and overkill imo) but then the flashback to what he did in reality at the diner? By the way, I'm guessing you chose to minimise Frank's reaction at the diner door, so as not to forecast his subsequent actions but the way you wrote it - not appreciating the comment was a bit unbelievable when logically he would have been seething. I still think the flashback would have been a shock and surprise regardless. At least when you repeat that scene further on he surely should be seen as boiling over with rage.

But, and this is the bigger point: Do you really want to go this route when Frank clearly deserves to be tormented in a more creepy and systematic way?

More to the point, gun violence being so prevalent and the idea that any minor gripe can set off a reaction like this - sad and possibly true, but I wonder as writers if we have a responsibility to not engage in duplicating this kind of horror reality. Not to mention from a production point of view movies have been pulled in recent times, or heavily edited - Gangster Squad, Jack Reacher (because of Connecticut).

I liked your logline. My expectations re torment were more by way of clever psychological torment so I suppose it just didn't go the way I imagined. They're both having a bad day. Perhaps if they both learn something, or she becomes hero, not avenger.

Jmh.
Posted by: spesh2k, September 20th, 2019, 11:11pm; Reply: 5
Hey LC, how ya been? Thanks for checking this out.


Quoted Text
This just didn't do it for me, sorry to say, cause it's sadly just a shoot-em-up.



Quoted Text
But, and this is the bigger point: Do you really want to go this route when Frank clearly deserves to be tormented in a more creepy and systematic way?


Yeah, that's kinda what I wanted it to be. Not for everyone. And I wanted to keep it under 10 minutes... I know in the log line, it says she "torments" the dude, but I didn't want to give away too much by saying she "seeks revenge". So, yeah, I was a tad misleading. Sorry! Having her cleverly torment her prey didn't seem within her character who, like Frank, snaps. That rage they've been holding and then releasing violently is something they have in common, although she ends up subduing the "bad" guy.

She already was having a bad day, getting shot in the face was the straw that broke the camel's back. Especially after being shot in the face, I didn't see her crafting a super-villain plan to drive Frank nuts. It felt more within her character to just kill the dude. The honey mustard on the door was the limit for me in terms of "torment". Perhaps I could've have intro'd another character, maybe he had a wife, a roommate, someone else to torment, leading up to the showdown/boss level. But I really wanted to keep this thing short, set-up, twist, punchline, the end. Bad guy gets what he deserves. And that's a violent death, right? Getting hacked with an ax probably hurts. Systematically? As cartoonish as this story is, it just didn't feel realistic to me given the circumstances. Usually, the characters dictate where the story goes, at least IMO. And it just didn't feel like it was in her character at that point of the story.


Quoted Text
By the way, I'm guessing you chose to minimise Frank's reaction at the diner door, so as not to forecast his subsequent actions but the way you wrote it - not appreciating the comment was a bit unbelievable when logically he would have been seething.


Perhaps I understated it for that reason, but in my mind, even if you consider the twist, I looked at it as the calm before the storm, before he goes to his car and returns to the diner. He could've kept complaining at the table, maybe snap there. But when you I hear the word "snap", I think of it coming suddenly. He calmly, albeit quietly seething, asks for his check. Leaves no tip, is on his way out. And then comes the smart comment that sends him over the edge. I live in NYC (South Bronx), and I've seen people snap. I've seen my share of fights, someone tormenting somebody, other person trying to remain calm, get on with their day, give them the silent treatment -- then, once they've had enough, they snap and start throwing hands, or worse (remember Bernard Getz in the 80s?). In the script, I really didn't think it was entirely that odd that he "didn't appreciate the comment", which is a bit vague, but he does stop for just a moment, which I thought was enough. Didn't wanna encourage bad acting by describing the character as foaming from the mouth in rage or something like that. I wanted to keep it subtle, which I know sounds odd for a script that's not very subtle at all. But pounding on his chest like King Kong, huffing and puffing didn't feel right to me.



Quoted Text
More to the point, gun violence being so prevalent and the idea that any minor gripe can set off a reaction like this - sad and possibly true, but I wonder as writers if we have a responsibility to not engage in duplicating this kind of horror reality. Not to mention from a production point of view movies have been pulled in recent times, or heavily edited - Gangster Squad, Jack Reacher (because of Connecticut).


Well, it's a short film, so it's impact on society and the PC cops that roam Twitter won't be talked about on CNN. Yes, gun violence is a taboo topic, but isn't killing people in general pretty ugly? I lean left on most topics, but this PC culture is kinda getting a bit out of hand. John Wick Parabellum was one of the biggest films of the year and the body count is like 300 or something ridiculous. I have no responsibility to anybody (which is what Tarantino has said about the violence and language in his films). I'm not writing about Connecticut or Parkland, I'm not writing about whether or not we should be allowed to open carry, I'm writing a horror short where a dude snaps, kills people in a restaurant. It's a horror movie and the dude does a horrific thing. There's movies about serial killers, right? Well, I'm sure there's plenty of people who've lost people to serial killers. So, should we not make movies about serial killers because some people may get triggered? There's so many taboo topics, if the PC cops controlled everything, nothing would get made. Sorry, but I'm also around a lot of stand-up comics, friends with a lot of comics and I really do think this whole bullshit "movement" is getting ridiculous. Sorry if I offend anybody. But if every movie were "safe", I would not want to be a screenwriter or filmmaker.

And, in terms of getting this produced and worrying about people being afraid to take it on... again, it's a short film. If it were a big-budget feature, maybe... but still. "Falling Down" came out within a decade of that McDonald's shooting. Of course, it was a different era back then. But movies like John Wick make carrying a gun look cool. I don't think I glorify it in this story nor do I believe I'm perpetuating gun violence. I think that's absolutely silly.


Quoted Text
Perhaps if they both learn something, or she becomes hero, not avenger.


Yeah, I suppose she could be heroic rather than just an avenger. The Kill Bill films, the Bride began as an avenger but she becomes a hero once she finds out that her daughter is alive (total coincidence). Maybe he has the manager from the diner tied up in a closet or something and she saves him or something like that.

Thanks again!
Posted by: LC, September 21st, 2019, 1:18am; Reply: 6
How you doing, Michael?

Well, I said I wonder...  ;D
But you're right to defend your choices. That was my knee-jerk reaction.

A couple more things:

Reading your story again I didn't actually get the suspicion falling on Patricia on the first go around - maybe that's on me...

The only thing I might add as a suggestion is that some more wit and humour/sarcasm be injected in dialogue by one of the characters. Chad seemed that way at first with his 'three things' line, but then he also turned into a hard-arse in his exchanges with Patricia. I naively thought he was going to be a kind soul.

Anyway, good luck with this.
I'll be curious to see what others think.
Posted by: eldave1, September 21st, 2019, 9:34pm; Reply: 7
Gave it a read.

You had me till page 6 where he pours the honey mustard over his genitals.

This sets up nicely as a - even a minor issue can set a maniac off - and then unnecessarily turns into a tale about a dude obsessed - to the point of sexual gratification - with honey mustard.  

Much better IMO if he doesn't have any in the fridge.

Best of luck with this.
Posted by: Marcela, September 25th, 2019, 5:16pm; Reply: 8
I loved the first few pages. I had a good laugh - 'Very punchable face' etc.
There was a nice human touch to it - the waitress's life was a struggle (she wasn't allowed to see her child) and then we find that HIS life is a struggle too (eviction notice).  I stopped understanding the script once the blood started pouring... Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of a murder as a result of forgotten honey mustard and the personal struggles. It was just too much of blood and shooting etc. towards the end.
Keep up good work
Marcela
Posted by: Marcela, September 25th, 2019, 5:20pm; Reply: 9
Also you forgot to put copyright on the title page.
M.
Posted by: spesh2k, September 26th, 2019, 6:28am; Reply: 10
Thanks to all for checking this out... yeah, MAYBE I'll take out the honey mustard on the genitals bit, though I really, really like it a lot better than everyone else does lol.  


Quoted from Marcela
Also you forgot to put copyright on the title page.
M.


Meh, I dunno, is this a thing? Haven't been on SS for at least a few years now and I know all these screenwriting communities seem to grasp on to stuff like this. Unless this is something that is suggested by Don or something. I do copyright all of my stuff but not sure exactly how having that on the title page prevents people from stealing it. Maybe I'M the one being nit-picky. After all, it can't really hurt to have that on the title page. But then again, is it really mandatory? Maybe I've been away from on-line screenwriting communities for so long, I'm out of touch with what's hip.

Any who, thanks again everyone.
Posted by: Kevin_S, September 26th, 2019, 8:29am; Reply: 11
Look at what American Pie did for apple pie?  Lol.

For some reason, I see him dipping his bullets in honey mustard then putting them in the gun.



Posted by: khamanna, September 26th, 2019, 4:12pm; Reply: 12
I think something is missing, almost like you have to explain to me why he’s this way. Maybe if he had a story behind his craziness. Otherwise it kind of jukes for me when he starts all the crazy actions, it’s a bit too unexpected.
Otherwise you kept me on my toes up until I reached the flashback stuff. His flashback I mean.
Good luck to you with it
Posted by: StevenClark, September 26th, 2019, 4:57pm; Reply: 13
Michael,

Read this. Written well, of course, but this one didn’t do it for me. What’s missing, I think, is a potent plot twist and a protagonist I can get behind. I liked Patricia, just not enough. Having been a waiter, just a douchebag having a bad day and bitching about honey mustard isn’t enough to put me into axe murderer mode. It would take a lot more. However, another page or two giving me more of a look into Patricia’s world might do the trick. Perhaps she has a young child in the hospital - something like that, if it was tied in, might do the trick.

Steve
Posted by: AndyJ, November 4th, 2019, 2:58pm; Reply: 14
I liked it. I took the fact he poured it down his pants was to show just how much he loves the stuff so with everything else, no money, not being able to pay rent, this was just the last straw.

Oh and it take a lot more to turn Patricia into an axe murderer, it was the murder of her co-workers and her being shot lol

Having her standing there as he closed the fridge door was very predictable but so what.
Posted by: spesh2k, November 7th, 2019, 4:20am; Reply: 15

Quoted Text
Look at what American Pie did for apple pie?  Lol.

For some reason, I see him dipping his bullets in honey mustard then putting them in the gun.


Lol. Not sure about him dipping the bullets in honey mustard. What I was going for was something that Troma might film, though I wanted the setting to be in a grounded, realistic backdrop. Yes, I know, he pours honey mustard on his genitals, but I just wanted one touch of perversion here to somehow further suggest how deprived this guy is (without having to add two pages of backstory, spelling out why he is how he is on this particular day, being too obvious and spoon-feeding everything to the audience). The dipping of the bullets in honey mustard doesn't feel impulsive enough.


Quoted Text
Michael,

Read this. Written well, of course, but this one didn’t do it for me. What’s missing, I think, is a potent plot twist and a protagonist I can get behind. I liked Patricia, just not enough. Having been a waiter, just a douchebag having a bad day and bitching about honey mustard isn’t enough to put me into axe murderer mode. It would take a lot more. However, another page or two giving me more of a look into Patricia’s world might do the trick. Perhaps she has a young child in the hospital - something like that, if it was tied in, might do the trick.

Steve


I've waited tables for 20 years... and I've had physical altercations with people over things just as mundane, sometimes even less. No, I didn't hunt them down and turn ax murderer, but I'm sure if he shot me in the face and then brutally gunned down my co-workers AFTER the honey mustard incident (like what happens in the script), there's a chance I might see red. Especially after dealing with everyday life things. As for giving an extra two pages specifically for backstory, kinda feels like a pace killer to me. I wanted to create something bleak, something jarring yet something silly and somewhat perverse. There's small details that suggest backstory elements (the eviction notice, the child custody thing with child support), but adding full 2 page scenes specifically for backstory feels forced to me. I feel like each character's character is explained enough through their actions given the circumstances presented to them within the narrative (but I could be wrong). But let's take a film like "Taxi Driver"... would showing flashbacks of Travis Bickle in Vietnam really add to his character? Showing him with his parents and other relationships outside of Cybil Shepherd and the guys from the taxi depot? I'm not saying the characters in "Honey Mustard" are nearly as rich, but explaining every aspect of a character's behavior sounds, to me, like something that would fit better in a different story. I feel like, especially in a short film, there's enough backstory. And let us not forget that not every character in every story is sane like you and me and will make the same decisions as you and me.



Quoted Text
I liked it. I took the fact he poured it down his pants was to show just how much he loves the stuff so with everything else, no money, not being able to pay rent, this was just the last straw.

Oh and it take a lot more to turn Patricia into an axe murderer, it was the murder of her co-workers and her being shot lol


Exactly.


Quoted Text
Having her standing there as he closed the fridge door was very predictable but so what.


Yeah, could probably have a more creative way to have her emerge.
Posted by: Colkurtz8, April 17th, 2020, 2:08am; Reply: 16
Michael

I thought this was going to be a standard "going postal" style revenge fantasy, which it kind of is...but there is also a wonderfully adept piece of misdirection thrown in there that I didn't see coming. It really pays off when the penny drops.

Sharp, biting humour throughout as well, a real, nasty misanthropic edge that I dug. Good job.

Col.
Posted by: spesh2k, April 17th, 2020, 10:37am; Reply: 17
Hey thanks, Colkurtz... this actually inspired the feature version. Changed some names around to give it a fresh start, gave the characters more depth, gave it more of a story. But the twist is pretty much the same as the feature (one of the twists)... though in the feature, it happens 40 pages in.

Thanks again for reading.

-- Michael
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