First off, I have to make a declaration and apologise. I forgot I had picked this up in order to soak up a wet afternoon and I've let it languish until such time as there's less than 2 hours left on the clock. What I'm saying is, I'm sorry this review is perhaps not as full and complete as I might have liked, but I'm kinda reading as I review. Again, my most profound apologies. The logline drew me straight in. I'm a sucker for trope-y horror flicks (despite my writing partner's aversion of them) and this is really in my wheelhouse of "creepy". Well done. The concept here is well-worn but it feels fresh in this instance. The "found/YouTube footage" thriller/horror is always going to get people in. I also like that this script had me asking enough questions (internally speaking) to keep the pages turning. Achievement unlocked. Congratulations! There were a couple of things I didn't quite get on first reading. There's nothing wrong with what you've written, it just took me a second to hook into what you were attempting to achieve. I see it now and I'm just not entirely sure you've gone about it in the best fashion. It took me a second or two to hook into the fact that a lot of what's on screen is coming via Wilf's using a camera/camcorder in the prologue. Maybe I missed its introduction in action - I'm only scanning to get this finished on time (as you know) - but it just took a moment to realise. It's just a bit jarring and immersion-breaking to see variations on the theme of "through the camera we see". If you can, work on eschewing those from the script. The other thing that's a little clumsy is that flashback section about the middle, where he's walking through the house. I applaud your use of mini-slugs (there should be more of it generally) but it's just a little ... disjointed in the way it's written. It's fine, just needs a little polish. Still on the flashback section: shouldn't the flashback be designated by the scene heading and not the transition to and from? Maybe it's the latest formatting change (I've seen a couple of scripts formatted this way recently) and I've missed the memo. To me it just feels clunky to write it the way you have. Work on that if you can. OK, I'm going to really step this up now, because I'm running short on time. Your dialogue is fine although I was disappointed to see so many parenthetical directions for Wilf. Where possible you really should direct the actor subtly, through the tone of the action. While you've done a pretty good job of creating a character, give the actor enough oxygen to embellish a character. Overall, I gotta say, despite the rushed read, I honestly enjoyed it. If you've got any further questions, ping me and I'll discuss it with you.
First to the logline: There's just something missing. I'm not entirely sure what that is, but there's just something that doesn't sit well with me. I get the attraction of a "window into a life", but it just feels needs an injection of something. Perhaps if you raise the stakes in the logline. There ... it just needs a sprinkle of threat. I don't know, maybe it's there, it just needs a bit of polish applied in the wording. That said, I feel this concept is passable, but it's not especially strong. It's bordering on cliche for mine. I won't shy away from the fact that I was looking to pass some time reading a script on a wet Saturday afternoon. Congratulations! Achievement unlocked. I do like the initial set-up despite the fact it's been a variation on a theme in countless teen slasher movies. But it's lacking in drama. There's not the emotional investment I would expect to make. I don't care about Jonathon, or more to the point there isn't anything to make me care. Yes there's a fractious relationship everywhere he turns, but how do we turn that negative into a positive? The script in itself is well written. The dialogue is honest and believable. It's not spectacular dialogue, but it serves the story in an acceptable way. With a bit of polish it'll be great. There were some moments in the script I thought you were over describing things in a scene. Watch out for this. Its a real morale killer. There were a few pages I read that were lucky to have 2 lines of dialogue shoe-horned into multiple paragraphs of action that probably extended too far. Four or five lines in a single paragraph of action is too much. Here's some free advice. Every time you press 'Enter' that keyboard, the camera (theoretically perhaps) moves. Keep that in mind. Another thing I really wanted to point out, which you've done a reasonable job at self-policing, is being careful when using adverbs in action. Of course there are times where it has to be used, but in most instances they're redundant because writing for the screen is very much in the active tense. And the camera can't really see the difference between, to use an example "bleeding" and "bleeding profusely". But here, I think the balance is right. Well done. OK I'm gonna wrap this up with a little more encouragement. The conflict is good, but could be better. The pacing is good, but could be better. The key is to keep working on it. No script is ever complete. No script. Keep working on it. The climax is okay, but it could be better. In all, not a total waste of time. To satisfy an audience with a great story is very hard. Harder than most people think but not impossible. I think this is a nice skeleton to flesh out and build a script on. It deserves more than what you've given us. Good luck with everything!! SSC
The portion of the script that I read (pages) was good in the main, and I have to admit to liking it after re-reading it. Not liking it initially was my own fault, I began reading when I was far too tired. The concept is well-thought out and well-written, despite the fact I think a few of the scenes are too short. White space is used with good effect. I like that most of the dialogue is quite snappy and well-paced. I also am impressed by the lack of parenthetical direction; but where it is used it is done so correctly. It can be a difficult thing to get right. Yes there are times when the parenthetical direction is called for, where you wish to single out in dialogue something that is happening, or the character delivering the line is having an interaction with a prop or some such. This script achieves that balance. I've noted in previous scripts that I have read - here and elsewhere that the great temptation of a screenwriter is to micro-manage every single aspect of a production. It is only thanks to long experience that we managed to hammer it out of ourselves. A screenwriter must leave enough room in their work for EVERYBODY working on a project to 'have enough to be going on with'. This entails where appropriate, not giving an actor a parenthetical direction on how to deliver a line (although as I have noted, it is sometimes appropriate) thus robbing the actor of the oxygen to create a character. Or telling the costumier that there are 3x3 buttons on an actor's shirt. The key to a script while it is in production is that EVERYBODY working on the project wants to see it succeed and "be good". It is the sum total of a collaborative effort of everyone involved. Screenwriters are not the only creative people involved in a production and sometimes it is good to be reminded of this. This script is a good lesson for those who want to achieve a nice balance. It does enough directing without being overt. It was also nice to read a script that does not overuse adverbs. Again they are sparing and appropriate. It smacks of amateur-ness, making the writer look lazy in the process. On top of all that, it really makes no difference to the camera whether somebody is "bleeding" or "bleeding profusely". As I said, I enjoyed this script. Well done. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
I have to admit to being dismissive seeing yet another script emerging from the primordial sludge of the post-apocalyptic milieu. It's an environment that's been used and overused a lot in the last few years; very nearly to the point of cliche, so I wasn't expecting a lot from it. Consider me now pleasantly surprised. This is a great introduction to your protagonists (I presume). In a previous review for another script posted here I lamented the author's lack of a character introduction. It was not any more advanced than "A YOUNG WOMAN, twentyish, barefoot". Almost immediately disengaged. I would much rather read something like what appears in your script. You've used the page's white spaces well. I like the way the script flows. It's refreshing to see something unfold in a deliberate and logical fashion. As I alluded to, I've lost track of how many post-apocalyptic milieu/alternate future scripts I've read in recent years it must be getting harder and harder to find new angles of storytelling within the confines of that environment. The pandemic apocalypse is a well-trammeled path, but I feel this is something of a fresh angle. It's certainly engaging enough. I've got a couple of pet peeves in screenwriting that drive me up the wall, to the point where I will NEARLY ALWAYS tell aspiring screenwriters to work on eschewing it from their toolkit completely. Chief among them is screenwriters directing actors through parenthetical direction. I cannot find any instances of an extraneous parenthetical anywhere. Well done. You've given the actor enough oxygen to create a character from the bare bones of the script. It's a difficult thing to do, but here it has been done well. The other major peeve I have is using adverbs (-ly words) in action. It makes the writer look lazy to a point, but it's also largely redundant given the camera struggles to be able to show the difference between "bleeding" and "bleeding profusely", or to use one example of yours "cracked road" and "heavily cracked road". I think in the same sentence you used a phrase like (please excuse my paraphrasing) "the roads haven't been maintained for years." Stick with something like that: "Roads that fell into disrepair long ago" It was also refreshing to see the mini-slug used correctly! I'm a big advocate for it. Congrats. The hallmark of a good script is wanting to find out more. This script does this in spades. In this regard I was reminded of one of my favourite films of all time, Luc Besson's 'Leon'. It would be fascinating to know what happened to Mathilda next, or to what happened to Amelia in the intervening 12 years. I realise this is a short, but I cannot but help feel there is more to this story than has been told. But its omission is a good thing. It would be fascinating to know. I enjoyed this read. Thank you. I wish you all the best in your future endeavours.
A serial killer stalks a rural Prussian village - while the stranglehold upon a continent of one of history’s greatest warriors tightens.