An older sister cries wolf to terrify her younger brother, but she quickly comes to realize that there may actually be something to be afraid of.
SummaryA play on the Haitian folklore Jé Rouge (which is creole for Red Eyes), surrounding vampire-like warewolves.
*This is a short for a feature that's I'm fleshing out.
As to the originality of the concept, it seems familiar but I can't recall any specific story, probably just the element of the victim-is-actually-the-bad-guy twist. It has a Tales from the Crypt feel to it, both in style and length. I predicted the ending, probably because of that.
The dialogue is a little bland and the characters a little shallow. I know it's a short, but some more banter between the siblings might add to the tension and give the situation and characters a little more depth. The conflict seems minor compared to the consequences.
I think the flow between the scenes is good, and the scene lengths feel appropriate in proportion to the script length. The pacing seems appropriate in that respect as well.
I was wavering back and forth between liking the last line of dialogue and wondering if it was too corny and takes away from the horror. Consider losing it as seeing how it hits you. Either way it works, but it definitely changes the feel of the scene. In fact, losing it actually takes away from the Tales from the Crypt feeling of the story; keeping it makes it more Tales-y.
The first and foremost compliment I can put forward is that it is a smooth read. That's not easy to do. Descriptions and actions are not over or underwritten. There isn't very much wasted space, save for a couple moments that feel repetitive. There is, however, one thing missing.
Early on, it would be good to have Monica tell Darren a fake story about a monster that lives in the woods, just to give us a little more context as to how she's trying to scare him. She first mentions a monster at the dinner table, which made me think "what is she talking about?" which is never good.
As for the repetitive scenes, Lynn tells Darren twice that there's no monster in the forest, three times if you count when she chastises Monica at the dinner table. We don't need that moment as many times as it happens. I think once is enough.
The story is well paced despite this and no scene goes on for too long. It all builds up to a tense and scary climax that hints at what the monster is without revealing it fully, which makes it that much more effective.
Characters are somewhat flat and don't change, but that's to be expected in what is essentially a tragedy. Having the daughter be the one who is killed is the best choice, seeing how insufferable she is. Leaving the fate of the mother ambiguous helps sell the final scare at the end. The one thing I might suggest is to see if you can make the characters a little more active rather than passive, as that will make them more compelling.
Dialogue needs a little work. Some of it doesn't feel natural, particularly when Monica teases Darren about the monster. The way she talks about it is awkward and not at all the way a teenager talks. Also, cut out whenever someone says "crying wolf". People don't talk like that.
All in all not a half bad horror script. If this does get turned into a feature, there is a larger story you could tell with the mother trying to protect her kids.
Now this is show not tell, good job. Theoretically this could be taken “as is” and shot. It would leave quite a few lingering questions, but, for what it is, it’s fine. While, it’s still on-the-nose dialogue, it’s at least not exposition.
Since I can’t go back into the comments section, I could be wrong on the following, I thought you wrote that this was fleshing out of what would be a full length feature, which would probably be good. Because the main question I would have is “how does the boy become the beast?” He sees it in the woods that night, and later he becomes it. There’s nothing in the short that made me think he was the beast. I knew he was going to be the killer. But, I thought he’d just kill her. You do say it’s based on folklore, but that piece of folklore I do not know.
As I said this could theoretically be shot as is. But, overall every scene could be better. I think we’ve gone over my thoughts on your dialogue, and it’s much better here. But, there’s still room for improvement.
Scene 1: Car
Driving to the Lake House shows a family who doesn’t communicate. If mom just looked at her two bored kids and kept driving, we wouldn’t lose anything.
Breaking down the dialogue, “Do you ever get off that thing?” Her mother is asking a question she obviously knows the answer to. No, Monica doesn’t. Then Monica says a long winded “What… look the same.” Is there anything wrong with that? No. But, perhaps a little more entertainment value with foreshadowing.
Lynn: There’s things to look at in the real world.
Monica’s website is buffering. She looks out the window.
Monica: Oh my God mom…
Monica: A tree… Look there’s another…
If the exchange went something like this, when Monica plays her prank on Darren, the viewer would know this is part of her personality. Honestly, isn’t this a tad more interesting than saying the on-the-nose dialogue?
Scene 2: Lake House
Reads well. Could have a little more tension and build-up. But, its fine. The only piece of dialogue I’d question is Lynn’s “Monica, stop teasing him!”
I’m sure when Monica’s not on the phone and in the same room as Darren, she probably tortures him regularly. But, in this script, they don’t associate with each other in the car. Since they’re removing baggage it’s probably the first torture session of vacation. At the absolute least it should be “Monica don’t tease your brother!” But, it should possibly be a little stronger and not so on-the-nose. This is vacation.
Scene 3: Kitchen
As is, it’s fine. This OTN dialogue is a little forced. “I’m stuck here. “ prompts Darren to somehow grow a pair to say “Who said they’d wanna hang out with you?”, which then gives her the opening to the exposition about the monster getting him.
The question I would have regarding this scene and this family is “What is their problem?” This is one miserable group. I’ll give Monica the benefit of the doubt and say “she’s a normal 16 year old.” But, what’s Darren’s problem? He’s either bored or acting like a little sissy (I’m not PC). Mom just seems clueless. I’m assuming this has something to do with no father being there. But, who knows. It doesn’t really matter for a 7 page script. But, what fun is it to watch a family like this? It just makes me happy I have no kids.
Getting rid of the on-the-nose dialogue would be easy if the characters were in motion.
The family eats. Lynn eyes Monica nibbling her food while scanning a webpage on her phone, and Darren mopes while he eats.
Lynn: I saw Monopoly in the closet.
Neither were listening.
Lynn is about to say something else. But, she knows it will go on deaf ears. She reaches across the table and grabs the phone from Monica.
Monica: What are you doing? Give that back.
Lynn: This is family week. Family dinner.
As Lynn puts the phone on her lap she notices the photos on the phone. She scrolls through them.
Lynn: Is this Beth?... Trish? You wanted to go with them? Oooh…
Darren moves to try and see the photos.
Monica: You have no right doing that?
Lynn: Sit. (Monica sits) I have every right… (to Darren) Back, eat.
Lynn puts the phone in her pocket.
Lynn: Everyone eat. (like a warden) After dinner we’re going to play Monopoly.
The quietly eat. Monica notices a slight smirk on Darren’s face.
Monica: Why don’t we play hide and seek outside, in the dark woods. We can go out and look for the beast that eats little…
You don't have to like this, but, do you see there’s at least a little naturalness to it?
What I applied above, could go for the rest of the scenes.
All in all a good job for a first draft.
I like the overall concept. The characters are relatable, as is their situation. The script was clean and had no errors. The horror genre is tough to do because a lot of the tropes are overdone. The entire "cry wolf" idea has been done so much, it would need a new approach to really stand out. Unfortunately it doesn't happen here, but with a few changes it's possible that it could.
I would take any reference to "cry wolf" out of the dialogue. We know what she's doing without the characters telling us such. That would hopefully free up a few lines to use toward character development. Right now the characters are very generic. A drinking single mother, smart phone crazed millenial. We get it. Maybe brings something else to the table that leads us into better character development. How is Darren a wearwolf? when did that happen? Was he bitten? Is the mom a wearwolf? If you develop these type of questions then you allow each scene to drive the plot toward the ending / reveal. Right now it's just.... happens. We see it coming from a mile away, but that's b/c we know the genre, not b/c it's driven by character choices or development.
With saying that, most of the script is spent building to this ending which is predictable. None of the scenes really make me care about the characters. Here's an example that might help: let's say that the 10 year old boy is going through puberty. He doesn't know it, but his mom and sister know, that this isn't just any old trip to the woods. In the end, the reveal is Darren, and then the sister eating a deer. The mom transforms as well. This trip is actually his chance to transform for the first time. Every scene before that has to lead to this conclusion while at the same time hoping to throw the audience, as we're expecting the obvious, what was originally written.
I was very impressed with your writing style. I like the way you set your scenes and describe the surroundings. I like the character development of the childern but the moms character could have had more of her own moment. Like when she poured her wine, maybe pull out a photo of her childern and gaze for a second...giving a moment like that is all you need to describe who she is in a quick scene. I like the build up but I thought it was pretty cliche. The plot twist however, I was not expecting. It was a strange twist but It was the unlikeliest of results so I guess it works. Especially for a short film. All in all it was a decent story. I believe your writing style was what made it what it stand out.