Film is a science to me. The narrative the structure the benefit of it as an art medium. If I had a choice I would toil all day long. Despite some failed attempts to kickstart projects, working on the set of an indie film, and a class on the subject, it remains just a hobby. I hope I can impart any ounce of wisdom I may have to creative souls as an obsessed lover of film and learn how to become a better writer.
I LOVE good psychological horror and DETEST the latter. While I REALLY feel this writer has good ideas brewing somewhere within, this story is very much the latter. I’m of the opinion that any bad story can be salvaged. I would never tell a writer to toss the whole script out and try again. If this writer BELIEVES in this story with their heart, then I encourage them to make it work; and i’m here reviewing scripts because I LOVE film and I know what it feels like to be told your work is garbage and unsellable. I hope we’re all here to lean on each other for advice on what works and what doesn’t, and I hope I can give this writer exactly that, as a scholar and a lover of film. The truth is, I’m just not a fan of this story. First of all, I gotta get something out of the way that the writer needs to KNOW up front. In the “Additional Notes” section, i’ll go over specific examples of some of the mistakes. I just wanted to say, this script was DIFFICULT to read. All it would take on the writers part is ONE proof read to hopefully understand why. The lack of punctuation and odd phrasing’s had me tripped up too many times to lose myself in the story. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my writing, and I appreciate them being laid out by readers endlessly. Just understand your work is a reflection of you and your writing process. Respect your image as a writer. Give your work a simple once over. Your readers will appreciate it and so will their imaginations as you take them on this journey. I want to talk about the GENRE the writer subscribes to: “HORROR”. I love horror because of how broad the genre is. You can write everything from a horror/drama to a horror/comedy. Being frightened by something is a very raw feeling. Layer on the comedy or the emotional weight to that dread and suddenly you have a broad spectrum of entertainment value for your audience. The genre in “HE IS HERE” is inconsistent. There were times I had to stop and double check the writers chosen genre just to make sure I wasn’t being duped into a black comedy, which I would have really respected because I LOVE black comedy. The first bout of confusion came when Jack actually ‘googled’ “Demon constantly watching me”. That just tickled me. Not to say you or I wouldn’t go running to google for help if we were also being stalked by a demon, its just the idea of it. The audience doesn’t want to watch Jack defeat evil by googling it, they want to witness his struggle and the odds he’s up against. I had to read Mr. Browns part in J. Jonah Jameson’s voice. He’s just such a smarmy dick. At one point he tells Jack he could be replaced with a “tomato”? If that’s lawyer lingo then I wouldn’t know, and the audience wouldn’t either. The writer even hits Jack in the groin at one point for, I assume, no other reason than for a pratfall during a very tense situation. Jack himself is a hilariously pathetic character, which segues me into CHARACTERS on the whole: We should want to pull for our main character, even in a short film. I can’t root for Jack. For one: he’s a lawyer, but not JUST a lawyer; he’s a lawyer that tells us right off the bat he defended a serial murderer. Now he feels “bad” about it all this time later. We even find out that Jack, through some “hole” in the case, was able to bust this admitted serial murderers sentence down to a mere 3 years in a mental health facility. I’m sorry you feel torn up Jack, but that takes more than just “doing your job” to pull off that miracle. That’s going ABOVE and beyond to defend a guy who told you personally how much he loved murdering innocent people. I’m just not buying into his plight. I CAN at least feel bad for him whenever he talks to Lucy, a character I would describe as emotionally inconsistent. Trust me, I’ve been with my wife since high school for a total of thirteen years; I KNOW how the opposite sex operates sometimes. This is just a bit too much for me to see a character move between being pissed off that Jack clearly has PTSD, then crying, then threatening to show police evidence against him, then personally taking them to a therapist for help. I COMPLETELY understand that the intention was for the audience to question the reality around Jack. I would just REALLY hope that the writer wouldn’t use that as an excuse to write these hyperbolic and inconsistent characters. There’s more fun ways to make your audience question sanity. The little bit about the disappearing coffee was a GREAT example. I was really hoping to read more off kilter moments like that. Although I’d recommend a rewrite to say “Jack reaches for the coffee but see its now an empty cup in the trash” to imply time has significantly passed without us noticing. Shit like that freaks me out, and its effective if done well. Shifting into the FINAL ACT of this story, i’ll say this: One thing I really don’t appreciate when moving through a story is feeling like, at any point, my time has been wasted. I felt that when Jack gets Owen to give him Neros address only to find out Nero is the guy who ran away from Jack in the cafeteria and it turns out Nero WANTED Jack to find him. There’s NO NEED to give me the run around. Instead of feeling any sense of dread, I’m just wondering why Nero didn’t just ask Jack to pop on by the old homestead to talk about “creepy pale hands”. Again, I COMPLETELY get it. Jacks crazy, he didn’t have a conversation with Nero or probably even Owen. In fact, taking all the events into consideration, I can only assume Jack just imagined this whole story. Insanity is something that’s too often used as a crutch for psychological horror writers. When the writer implies to me that everything I’ve witnessed is just “make believe”, then I feel like my time has been wasted; And there simply wasn’t enough intrigue to make anything feel “worth it”. To be clear, there’s good ways to make this twist work. But, it rarely ever works now after the torrid of failed attempts in this genre. Just assume your audience is expecting this twist because I certainly was. The good news is that I really felt like the writer has good ideas. Lawyers defend serial murderers in reality after all. But, you don’t normally see that crooked lawyer as our main character. There could be a lot to dive into with that idea. As well as the “pale hands waving”. Not the most unsettling thing imaginable, but that would be up to your cinematographer to make that look good. What I liked about the idea is that its subtle. It’s not “THEN A SPOOKY BLOODY FACE JUMPS OUT DA CLOSET!!”. It’s slow, elegant, and most importantly unexpected. It’s just so unfortunate for the writer to establish this many cliches of the genre around good ideas Namely; **”I’m not crazy!!” **”You know something!!” **”This case is eating you up!!” And etc. I encourage the writer to look at the current landscape of horror and understand how WILD and exciting the genre is getting. Its like this because cliches have been beaten to death. Not that cliche ridden films don’t still get made, but guess where they end up? Bottom of the barrel and poorly reviewed. I would encourage this writer to get inspired and stand out in this genre, even if its simple twists on simple ideas. Understand what’s a cliche, isolate it, then FLIP on its head. Otherwise, this writers ideas are going to get left behind. Thank you so much for your work, and letting me review it. I sincerely hope I was able to impart some inspiration and encouragement. I’ll leave you with a great quote from H.P. Lovecraft: “I never ask a man what his business is, for it never interests me. What I ask him about are his thoughts and dreams.“ I look forward to seeing your dreams as a writer but most importantly...your nightmares...
This TOTALLY worked for me on every level. The story had me laughing at nearly every page, sometimes out loud. The writer understands absurdity and I LOVED this short story for how damn absurd it was. Right off the bat, we get a sense of the characters we’re dealing with when Pete tokes up a doobie on his way into the apartment where his creepy wife is staring out of the window. This subtly tells the audience to “relax”, don’t take this supposed serious situation seriously. Upon reflection however, I have to wonder if what Pete sees in the following scene is hyper absurd because he smoked up some REAL GOOD SHIT. It’s brilliant that we’re never told who Pete and Peggy really are as everyday people, leaving us to wonder after the big twist if Pete and or Peggy are just batshit out of their heads. I love the twist; but if I’m being honest, I was REALLY falling in love with the idea of this insanely dysfunctional relationship between a stoner and a woman possessed by a demon. There’s a tv series or feature length idea right there! May I suggest a spin off? I’m a BIG fan of black humor, especially the melding of comedy and horror and the more the two genres act as conflicting polar opposites, as they do here, the BETTER it is. It’s the pure absurdity of finding humor in dire situations that ends up elevating that humor. I got such a kick out of the idea of Pete casually approaching the fact that Peggy is vomiting in a chip bag, leaving rotten food in the stove, and running around screaming; even ROLLING with it when he tosses more trash on the pile. It’s that Homer Simpson mentality of being blissfully ignorant to everything. Speaking of the Simpson’s, I just want to express my love for Treehouse of Horror, and how much this short made me feel like I was watching a quick and fun segment from one of those episodes. Reading this short made me think, “why couldn’t we have a live action Treehouse of Horror style show featuring quick comedy/horror segments like ‘Unholy Union’?”. That’s right, this absurd skit has inspired me. I want to see MORE skits from this writer, compile them, make a series. I just found myself wanting MORE. I loved it is what I’m trying to say. Other than that, if you want to keep editing this story, just add MORE jokes. Not to say the script is short on humor, it’s certainly not. Just work in some funny dialogue, write some absurd things to throw in the background. John Swartzwelder, one of the greatest Simpsons writers ever, would often write in his scripts “for some reason...”. Such as “For some reason, a man is digging a hole in the background”. WHY?! We don’t know, it’s just absurd, and fun, and makes me tickled when I read it. The writer has created an environment where they can just have so much fun and I encourage this writer to keep having fun, because they are genuinely entertaining. Thank you so much for your work and letting me read it!
The story and this writer are both incredibly charming and have a wonderful understanding of what “Spooky” is. But I can’t say this script is anything but REALLY corny. I would say that’s fantastic, because “spooky/corny” is something that you don’t see too often in the horror genre (and what a refreshing idea, having FUN with horror). I WOULD say that, but unfortunately I feel as though that’s not what the writer was aiming for. If I were to imagine myself as someone in the market for a horror story, I would ask the writer what their intentions were here. It’s obviously written from an adult perspective given the “fucks” that are thrown around and the “dead end job” angle. But, (PLEASE don’t take offense) I feel this story would be more at home for a younger audience, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would LOVE to see a story like this grace a reboot of GOOSEBUMPS or, since Wilfred is from Canada, ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK. What I mean by that, is that this was a FUN SPOOKY/CORNY story, wether it was intended to be or not and I love the writer for this reason. It’s just so damn rare to see a horror story that has fun. My advice to the writer, is to have MORE fun. Wilfred is such a cornball character that I found him charming. Hearing Wilfred admit he’s a dead beat is not that fun. If the therapist would have maybe shot him down more during that scene, that would have ventured into a great black comedy moment. Speaking of the therapist scene. Just lean into absurdity more with the characters. Black comedy is a wonderful thing in this genre, use it more. Speaking of characters, I don’t understand the point of many of them here. Wilfreds girlfriend is kinda just “there”, his mother is just “there”, his boss, his therapist, his brother, they’re all just “there” not doing anything, not contributing to this plot. Going back to the black comedy angle again, I would have rather seen Wilfred without a girlfriend just to sell the idea of that “dead beat” character point, and also she’s probably the most useless character. Loved the idea of Wilfreds origin story, that was a fun scene to read. I positively LOVE the statue idea. Those “statue” street preforms creep me out and this played into that phobia well. I’m gonna skip to the ending now: I could say that Wilfred has zero arc in this short story, but I honestly feel there’s no point. He goes to a creepy place, sees creepy things, and then meets his demise. That’s perfectly simple, and perfectly fine for short and sweet penny dreadful. Maybe the writer could have injected headier themes. Perhaps a commentary on something like chasing internet fame. This is a great platform for something like that, but also unneeded. I really had fun reading The Devil Knocks At Night (great title by the way), keep writing and keep have fun. This genre is good for the writer. Thank you so much for your work, and letting me review it.
Though the underlying message is “blatant”, I REALLY enjoyed the spectacular imagery forged by the writer and his unique style. The message is screaming loud and clear. “NURTURE YOUR CREATIVITY!!!!” It’s a message I truly believe in, and I love the imagery used to sell this mantra. However, as much as I love this message, I think it’s fair to say it’s a bit on the nose. In other words, it’s not an idea that REALLY makes me think. It’s more like an idea that I can silently nod along to. But, maybe I have too much faith in society to think we all understand how important creativity is even outside of any artistic spectrum. This animated short could be very beneficial to some stubborn one out there. Some messages are simply timeless. As far as details go, there’s not that much to talk about. The son drifts through several scenarios of “this nurture creativity” to “this DON’T nurture creativity” as indicated by the battery levels of the heads. For instance, when the mother is on her cell phone, her brain and her sons brain is at 30%....which is....not as low as I’d expect your brain juice to be when on your cell phone instead of paying attention to your son. Or was the idea that the mother and son are sharing the screen? That was unclear. Another moment that was unclear to me was on page 2: “Mothers head is on 98% but nobody notices it.” That sentence really gave me pause, mostly because it’s never repeated or mentioned again. What’s the idea here? The effort of our mother’s is under appreciated? All that matters is the creative development of the son? AM I LOOKING TOO DEEPLY INTO THIS?! Damn people! Notice your mother’s! Then, directly afterward we got: “SON (15) shares his discoveries and inventions with mother. She doesn`t care.” ........Okay now I don’t feel bad for “mother battery head”. Was the intention for the mother to come off as WILDLY inconsistent like this? One minute she’s playing with her son, operating at 98% brain juice, the next she just snubbing this kids discoveries?! In all seriousness, it would have been nice to show an arc of positivity through the child’s development, followed by the downfall of adulthood. Trust me, I understand how emotionally inconsistent humans can be. It’s just confusing in this context to keep bouncing between the mother being bad and then good. Take a page out of Disney’s book in this regard. Build us up with positivity and THEN drop the hammer of depression. It will make the ending much more impactful. I had a LOT of fun reading this, and I think the writer has a true creative soul. I’d LOVE to see this vision brought to life. Thank you so much for work and letting me read it!
Teenage Claire Hasley, a sufferer of social anxiety, faces her worst fears in the town of Fairfax, where a once buried malevolence quietly consumes the townspeople and acts out their societal roles.
When the elite S.T.A.R.S. team crash lands outside the mysterious Spencer Estate, they may have just found what is responsible for the cannibalistic murders plaguing Raccoon City.