D.R. ROBERTS lives in Kent, UK with his wife (who stalks people for fun), son (who is named after a vampire) and two fat cats (who ate all the pies). He has worked in a castle, lived on a remote island and he is also a trained chef. He loves the macabre, lighthouses and getting caught in the rain. He sometimes acts, directs and writes whenever he can find a pen. Find him at www.davidrroberts.com.
I think the opening to this this was really good and it got my interest. Quite a few characters are introduced and we don’t get a feel for any of them at all but its forgivable in this scenario as we get straight to the point as a house invasion kicks off and I feel we can catch up with who they are later. The initial build up of tension up to the firing of the shotgun is good, only slightly dissipated by two characters leaving the room and having a little expositional conversation. (I suggest giving this information in a flashback, but too be honest, what is going on is explained without the aside. What might be better told in a flashback is that the shotgun is not loaded, “Dude. Don’t you think a shotgun is a bit much..” ”Don’t worry, it’s not loaded.” Etc. After the shotgun is fired things devolve into a series of violent acts that lead to a third act twist that doesn’t really convince and a downbeat ending. The plot is mainly driven by the search for a XXX games trophy that never appears. (A little clarity as to what that actually is would help) I think you’re in a good starting place to write a further, stronger draft. The two biggest things to tackle are tone and character. With tone I was never quite sure if this was a serious piece or comedic. The horror of the home invasion and violent deaths suggest a darker piece but the ludicrous motivations and over-the-top action suggest something tongue in cheek. There’s no reason why you can’t straddle the two for a great black comedy but at the moment it isn’t clear what this is supposed to be. I think if the characters are written realistically but have this comical motivation (a later reveal that the trophy is some tacky piece of crap would work as a great punchline) it would work really well. Which leads to the characters. Overall they all feel a bit samey, with similar speech patterns and even attitudes. All the male characters appear to be violent bros (murder comes easy to all of them it seems) and the women are painfully underwritten. And they need to follow their own internal logic. Cujo runs from the fight but then comes back. Why? They shouldn’t just do things because the plot dictates. I feel Jayden is your lynchpin character but his arc does not make sense. He effectively scuppers his own plan by attacking his coconspirators and then turns on his house mates for no fathomable reason. There’s a slight reason in that he might have been given away but he doesn’t even try and talk his way out of it, just goes straight to murder. And still wants the trophy despite his actions leading to this bloodbath. I think with his character you need him to be the one trying to calm things down and seeing them unravel. He’s created this scenario and it’s all gone wrong.I one point I actually thought Jayden was a women and when she attacked the invaders, I thought it was an interesting twist. Perhaps you could set up a seemingly meek house mate. Jayden appears to get everyone to calm down after the shotgun goes off, (maybe a little hint like a look to the gunman that gives a clue to the later reveal he’s in on it) and then this seemingly meek character suddenly goes psycho on the attackers and everything kicks off. I think you can then escalate from there with Jayden stuck in the middle trying to negotiate. And then a reveal that they do have the trophy and it’s broken or something sends him over the edge. I think what I’m getting at is pacing. (You can really draw out the tension before and after the shotgun goes off). A natural build up, with believable character motivations, helps draw the audience towards these Grand Guignol conclusion. I appreciate I’ve given you a lot of suggestions and it might be going against the direction you want to take it but whatever you do, I would look at your characters and really make the tone of the piece clear. It maybe obvious to you what that is but for me it’s not coming through in your script. I do think it’s worth working on because I think the idea is great. Best of luck.
First, it is not recommended to submit a first draft for review. A first draft is always bad. It's just a starting point to rewrite from. At this stage it's difficult for anyone to review you work because you haven't really got it to where it needs to be and its hard for the reader really dig down into where you might be going awry. That being said it has the basic elements (bar one) that you need for a decent story and the action (and there is a lot of action) is clearly written, which is always a big tick. The potential is there. The subject matter deals with demon slaying in the most part by a near indestructible super hero. I could see it aimng for the heights of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Hell Boy or Constantine. The one basic element that these shows/films have the SVF doesn't is a clearly defined world. Descriptions of locations are sparse, vague and very basically named in the slugline. A lot more thought needs to be put into what world you are bringing the audience to. How are the borders of Hell defined in this world. At one point a bunch of students know exactly who SVF, so this is a world where people are aware demons and monsters exist. But we never get a feel of that anywhere else. Everyone seems pretty prosaic about it. Defining this world is going to help you with the next concern of the script: What is the story? You may say its about SVF defeating the Devil. Good vs Evil. (or at least semi-good). But these are just trappings. You real story is going to be defined by the characters. Who is SVF and what does he want. What's his weakness? What's his fear? At the moment it feels like all your characters are being forced to dance along like marionette puppets through a very basic plot. All those opening monsters he battles have to mean something. Each battle has to have a deeper reason behind it, other than you want to see some ultra violence. If they don't, the audience will not care a jot. SVF's backstory is he had a car accident, the devil, for some reason tried to turn him into a killing machine, succeeded, but not really and then he hooked up with the mayor of a town who uses him like a pest controller. There's a lot of `"whys?" there. But you also have an interesting hook for your character that you never explore. Who was he before? Surely that would be what drives him towards some third act revelation, probably from the villain or a close close compatriot who turns on him. The major issue overall though is do you have a unique concept. And I would say know. This has been done, and its been done a lot better. You definitely need to find a better angle on how you approach this. What is going to make your film stand out above all the others? Why is this film right for now? Don't abandon it, but you really need to answer those questions to make it worth you while. The above should be a good starting point for redrafting. There are lots of other issues but I think you'll work through them as you tackle these problems. Keep at it!
In the vein of films like “Dude, Where’s my car?” and “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey”, this follows Trev on his mission to find some toilet paper and becomes increasingly more surreal as each attempt is thwarted. Overall this could work as a wacky, subversive road-movie style comedy but is hampered by poor story telling and an over reliance on toilet humour. Although the very concept demands toilet humour, the script is often funnier or when it’s taking surreal turns like an alien invasion or the arrival of Death. The surreal nature is enhanced by the unrealistic dialogue, but it does work as a stylistic choice, with characters speaking out of turn (a notable example is the Lady Cop) It’s difficult to get a handle on scene breakdowns because of the formatting, especially the lack of scene headings, which disorientates the reader, but it seems as if each scene could be expanded and made its own set piece in which Trev comes close to getting his paper but then is thwarted. Although this is what happens in each scene the action seems so incidental we lose some of the potential conflict. I feel there could be a few more trials for Trev, the stakes ratcheting up each time. Maybe the Aliens should come later in the script as things get wackier. There is also potential to weave the other characters into the story more. With a better structure you could link Marty and Lady Cop into Trev’s actions throughout and give them all decent arcs. The constant reference to songs that a reader may not have heard of along with particular Australian slang (“drip my face”?) could potentially be alienating to a reader. Is this to be produced for an Australian audience only? Also think about theme. What is this search really about? Even the most low brow comedy can have a higher meaning going on behind the text. Does Trev shitting himself become a sacrifice in the end. Maybe he could give up the roll to the Lady Cop in the end or for his mate, Marty Overall don’t be disheartened by a poor score. It feels like a very early draft but the concept has potential. There are a lot of issues but they can be worked out. Screenwriting is work, after all I would say the biggest hurdle to a reader is clarity at this stage. It’s hard to drill then into story and character when the formatting gets in the way. Keep at it.
An ex outlaw turned overweight farmer discovers his old comrade is still alive, and sets out across the chaos of the dying west to confront him.