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[Review Contest] Vampire Script Part 5

by BlueAfrica


All right, reviewers, here's an installment of a script from 2012, the last year of Script Frenzy and baby Blue's first foray into script-writing (outside of school assignments). Happy reviewing!

A/N: Haunted Mansion but darker and with vampires. (Shhhh.) So far, Mackenzie and Dallas Haas, on their honeymoon in northern Scotland, are invited to tour an ancient castle when a freak snowfall traps them and another couple inside with their host - a man named John Findler, who seems oddly taken with Mackenzie. While trapped in the castle, the husband of the other couple dies mysteriously.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT [DREAM]

The Haases' bedroom is dark and silent. Jan is asleep on the chaise; the Haases share the bed.

Mackenzie sits up in bed and looks over at Dallas, but he is asleep. She takes a candle from the bedside table, lights it, and heads out into the hallway.

The castle is silent but not empty. As Mackenzie wanders the corridors, dark figures glide in and out of the shadows. She pushes open the library door and sees one of the figures kneeling over a body in the center of the room. Its eyes glow red and blood drips from its mouth.

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

The Haases' bedroom is dark, silent except for soft snoring. Jan sleeps on the chaise; the Haases share the bed.

Mackenzie shoots up in bed, breathing quickly. She touches Dallas' shoulder, but he snores on. A DISTANT WAIL sounds from somewhere within the depths of the castle. She hesitates, listening, but the castle has fallen silent once more. She takes a candle from the bedside table, lights it, and heads into the hallway.

Mackenzie gazes around nervously as she makes her way through the castle. At the staircase leading down to Findler's chambers she hesitates and looks around. Then she descends into the darkness.

INT. BED CHAMBER – NIGHT

The room is in darkness. All that can be seen is the looming shadow of a four-poster bed. Findler lies in it, gazing up at the dark ceiling with his hands folded on his abdomen.

OLD VAMPIRE (V.O.)

I can give you life. I can give you revenge. And all I need in return is one small service.

FINDLER (V.O.)

I never should have taken that deal.

FLASHBACK TO:

EXT. FOREST (1793)

Findler lies on the forest floor, bleeding copiously from a wound that has him open from shoulder to belly. His breathing is ragged and shallow.

A gaunt, bald OLD MAN bends over him. The man wears a long cloak and has a gash in his forehead.

OLD VAMPIRE

You will be young and strong when I turned you. You can be my protector.

Findler turns his head to look at Isabel, lying dead several yards away.

FINDLER

All right.

The old man smiles widely, revealing fangs, looking suddenly demonic. He lowers his fangs to Findler's neck. Findler screams.

FADE TO BLACK

FINDLER (V.O.)

I slaughtered the villagers who pursued him, every man, woman, and child of them. I hunted Isabel's killer like an animal and murdered him in the bloodiest way I knew how. And when it was over, I realized I would live forever...and had nothing left to live for.

BACK TO PRESENT

A NOISE at the door. Findler's eyes flicker toward it, but he doesn't move until Mackenzie enters. She carries her candle and closes the door behind her. Findler leaps to his feet, tucking in his shirt and smoothing his hair.

MACKENZIE

I’m sorry.

(beat)

I thought I heard something.

FINDLER

But what are you doing up, my dear?

MACKENZIE.

I had a dream there were vampires.

FINDLER

(bitterly)

Indeed.

MACKENZIE

It woke me up. And then I heard someone crying out – I thought I did. But I guess it was nothing, so—

FINDLER

Mackenzie.

He seems at a loss for anything to say, but he clearly doesn't want her to leave.

FINDLER

Would you join me for a stroll?

MACKENZIE

It's two in the morning.

FINDLER

Sleep eludes me.

(beat)

It would ease my mind to walk with you a while.

MACKENZIE

Okay.


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Fri Feb 09, 2018 11:31 pm
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TheSilverFox wrote a review...



Considering the distinguished competition, the odds of my writing a comparable review are laughable. Still, I have the time, and I've been reading a lot of Hamlet these days, so I thought I might as well enter the contest.

I feel mixed about this, to be honest? My major problem with this script is that it feels...unmemorable, for lack of a better word. Mackenzie seems interesting, given how she seems relatively unfazed by her surroundings, but that's the problem - she is unfazed. After a dream like that, I wouldn't want to go off alone, much less repeat the circumstances of my dream in the process. Yeah, her actions edge close towards cliche, since she puts the minimal amount of effort to waking her husband up, and also readily descends down a dark staircase in a creepy castle. It's good to see that Findler is personable and inviting (though, I confess, walking with an insomniac man who has some barely-hidden affection should raise some red flags in Mackenzie's mind, and it's odd that she isn't bothered), though I'm not sure how much of an act that is. He still manages to prop up the script at the end, since I find his dialogue kind of charming. Its formality hints at his age, but also makes him come across as a gentleman (and I like the gentlemen type in general). His final line, complete with a beat, sets up the next part of the script nicely by indicating his future actions. I suspect, based on that line, that this 2 AM-walk will not be simple - Findler might try to turn Mackenzie, or make some kind of odd request, or something like that.

However, though the dialogue is one of this story's strong suits, there is a weak spot. Findler's comment of "Indeed" just comes across as incongruous. I'm guessing Mackenzie doesn't believe in vampires at this point, and I don't think Findler wants to be this open about their existence. So, why even make that statement? It might be better if Findler says it more as an aside (I figure this is more of a TV script than a play script, given the rapid scene changes at the start, so it'd be more like the voiceovers that appear earlier), if at all. Mackenzie's lack of response to the odd confirmation of her statement is also conspicuous. And that loops back to my earlier statement that she's a tad unfazed. Actually, I'd say she's more unresponsive. She reacts to the relatively cliche dream in a relatively cliche setting - bloody violence in a creepy castle - appropriately, and does cast doubt on herself when she talks to Findler, but I feel like she's not as reactive as she should be. I'm not the average person, but, after creepy dreams and strange voices, I'd be more hesitant, anxious, and trying harder to wake up my spouse. A relative stranger wanting my attention would also be suspect. Hence, she comes across as a bit flat.

I think that's why I like Findler more than Mackenzie, and the past part more the present part? His journey of revenge and isolation is summed up neatly, and the accompanying voice overs do a wonderful job explaining his regrets. "I should never have taken that deal," is cliche, yes, and I feel like the last part of his voiceover better covers his feelings, but you do a fantastic job of characterizing his emotional arc and present state. He's well-rounded and conflicted, which makes me interested in seeing how he might influence the plot. Back on the topic of the past scene, the appearance of the old man, Findler, and the forest are also well-described. I will admit, though, if someone put that much effort into killing Findler and Isabel, it does surprise me that they didn't finish the job concerning Findler, who didn't try to hide his still being alive. Then again, it was practically a mortal wound, and this was in the middle of a forest - the assassin was not expecting anyone else to show up. But yeah, I love the whole past scene, including its transitions and setup.

I don't have much else to say, so I think I'll focus on some inconsistencies. For instance, I do have some issues with the formatting here? "Old Man" and "Noise" are completely capitalized, but similarly introduced people, like Isabel, are not. Ideally, you'd want either one or the other for all people, and I feel like full capitalization emphasizes their significance to the play in the reader's mind. It would also be nice if the action descriptions were more clearly distinguished from the dialogue; the former is shifted to the left, while the dialogue is shifted to the center, but I did find myself confused at "He seems at a loss for anything to say...". Perhaps the action descriptions could be italicized? But yeah, overall, this is a pretty decent script. I feel like a number of the elements are more cliche, and the plot and dialogue do contain some weak spots. At the same time, Findler's character is interesting, the past scene is well-constructed, and you do a good job of establishing the circumstances behind the next scene in an interesting fashion. So yeah, all in all, well done!




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Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:05 pm
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Elinor wrote a review...



Hey BlueAfrica!

I'm so happy that you wrote a script and I am looking forward to giving you a review here. *rolls up sleeves*

I'll admit that I'm not too familiar with supernatural stories or have too much interest in them, but there are some that I like. I was a little bit confused at first, although once I got into it I found myself interested in where it would go.

I'm assuming, based off of the formatting, that this would be a script for a film rather than a stage play. Or would it be a TV series? Right now I can see it as either, but I suppose it depends where you're going with it.

The confusion at the beginning came from not really being sure of the time or place, especially when you flash backed to 1793. Because Mackenzie is in a castle and takes an actual candle with her, I assumed that it was not modern day, but it was unclear how far in the past 1793 was in relation to the rest of the story. I was also confused as to whether the flashback was also a dream, or it was something that really happened.

The other thing I noticed throughout this and a good thing to keep in mind is that a screenplay, at its core, is a technical blueprint for how a film should be made. It doesn't mean that it can't be artistic, and the writing can't be beautiful. But unlike prose, where you're telling your entire story with words, a script is only a piece of a larger production. Reading produced screenplays is a great way to get practice at this. There's tons online, but my personal recommendation would be to check out the screenplay for Ordinary People, which can be found on google, and then watch the movie. The screenplay itself is very cut and dry, but it turned out to be a beautiful made film with very rich characters. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if you can't see it on screen, don't write it.

For instance:

He seems at a loss for anything to say, but he clearly doesn't want her to leave.


This would work in a novel, but how would this be shown on screen?

A great script should make me want to imagine it as a film. Right now, it reads as half script, half novel, which isn't a bad thing, but it just takes practice learning to write in a completely different medium. Again, this is where reading scripts comes into play.

The other thing I wanted to mention, and this is more my personal preference, is to get creative with your beats. There are lots of different pauses that can happen in a conversation, and going into more detail will only help draw your reader into your world.

I think your characters are promising and the story is compelling enough, but there's definitely lots you can do with this premise. Tonally it made me think of Gaslight -- it's an old movie that has nothing to do with vampires, but it's essentially a noir set in Victorian England and it's so atmospherically rich. I imagine this being something like that if it were made.

I want to know more about Mackenzie especially. She seems to be the protagonist, but I don't know what her thoughts are about any of this. While shaken, she still seems nonchalant about the dream. Think about what you're trying to convey. In this same vein, I think it moves along a little too quickly. The strength of this piece, at least right now, would definitely be in making your protagonist feel isolated and making this castle feel as creepy as possible. What does it sound like? What do the hallways of the castle look like? Are they in disrepair? Is the wind howling outside?

Your script has potential. I enjoyed reading it.

-- Elinor





Very well; I hear; I admit, but I have a voice too, and for good or evil mine is the speech that cannot be silenced.
— Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness