Since this blog was started there’s been a Halloween tradition; a horror movie liveblog in the lead up to Halloween. Sadly this is the first (and hopefully, only) year where that won’t happen. For personal reasons (mainly lack of internet) I’ve been unable to do it in time (it turns out there’s a lot of films in the Halloween franchise, like at least 2). So to make up for it I decided to post something special. Years ago we made a short called 10:41, which was a romantic comedy set during a school shooting (to read about the logic behind it read here). Well I still like that idea and felt it had potential to be more than it was so. So with help, I came up with a plan to write it as a series, every episode focused on a different character caught within a tragic event, using the original film as the first episode. So here, as a treat, is the script for the first episode. I haven’t looked at it in about 2 years so I’m hoping it still holds up, I remember there was quite a bit of dialogue I’m going to need to cut out at some point, and I’ll do that in the future once I’ve finished the current scripts I’m working on. So until then, enjoy this:
Month: October 2019
This was originally published elsewhere when the film was first made in 2014, decided to repost it on here to explain a few things. Over next few weeks I’ll be updating this page with the treatment and cast list etc, but until then, enjoy this.
So a couple of weeks ago we got told that we have to pitch a script idea to the class. Now, those of you who are lucky enough to know me know that pitching is not my strong point as it’s built up of two my biggest flaws:
- The inability to sell myself or my ideas (seriously, if I invented the cure for cancer I’d still struggle to convince people it’s a good idea)
- Public speaking.
I knew there’s no chance this could end well for me. I knew what would happen: I’d plan the pitch, make notes on flash cards, stand in front of the class, and immediately forget how vowels work. It’s then I remembered that there have been a few occasions in classes where I can speak eloquently enough to be mistaken for an actual human: when I’m defending/arguing a point. And therein lied the solution to my self inflicted problem: I had to come up with an idea that I would have to defend, and it had to be easy to sum up. Basically: I had to think of a one-sentence story that would cause people to argue with me and tell me it’s awful and shit.
Some of you who have read anything I’ve written (or seen anything) know that my writing tends to have one trait: I focus on shining a light on relatively dark subject matter. That was my key here: I had to come up with a subject matter so dark that it would cause people to get angry enough to disembowel me, but it had to be something which I could genuinely approach from a light angle. Eventually, it came to me. An idea so twisted yet heartwarming, disgusting yet brilliant, so quintessentially me that I knew I had to pitch it:
A love story set amongst the backdrop of a school shooting.
That was perfect for me, I didn’t have to convince everyone it was a good idea, I just had to argue it well enough that it would completely mask the fact that I am terrible at public speaking. But when I went to pitch it something odd happened: nobody argued against it. In fact, people seemed to understand what I was trying to say with the story. I had done so well in countering every single argument, that I had somehow made a good story. In fact it was so well received, that it’s actually being made now. People who have seen the complete script love it, I love it, and we’re getting together a good cast. It’s f*cking strange, but very, very, exciting. I know that there are one or two people who still maintain that this is too dark an idea to work, and to them I say three simple words:
“Bring it on”
To say this film had a lot of buzz is an understatement. I mean, IT: Chapter Two had a lot of hype, but absolutely nothing compared to this. The closest I’ve seen this year was Avengers, and that had over a decade of build-up. Expectations were very high for this, and it kind of met them. That’s mainly due to two things:
- The general tone. Particularly at the end of the film. This is a Gotham that makes sense to exist. In previous films, Gotham has just seemed like a normal town, albeit with organised crime. This Gotham seems hopeless like the whole place is just sinking, spiralling down to oblivion. The architecture is run down, there’s no sense of “wow” to it. You won’t get this Gotham as a lego set, it’s just too horrible. It’s a cesspool of filth that needs cleaning, this is a Gotham that NEEDS someone like Batman.
- Joaquin Phoenix. He’s phenomenal in this. Physically he’s just perfect. At times he seems to contort his body into an almost inhuman shape, like his body is a cocoon he is trying to escape from.
You come out of this film exhausted. It’s the film equivalent of having your face scraped along a road, albeit a really smooth and polished road. There is a roughness to this film, but it’s a slick roughness, like those guys who spend hours getting their hair elegantly dishevelled. I think one of the biggest issues I have with it is that it’s kind of predictable. There’s not much that will surprise you, everything happens as you expect it would. For something like this I feel it needs to subvert expectations in some way, and except for “this is dark and realistic” this doesn’t really do that. We’ve all seen this movie and story before, so even when it is at it’s best, it doesn’t feel unique enough to stand out among the crowd. In particular, the death of the Waynes feels so familiar it’s a weirdly dull moment to put that close to the end of the film.
The absolute worst thing about this movie? There’s one scene where he dances down some stairs alongside a Gary Glitter song. That’s convicted paedophile Gary Glitter, on the soundtrack to a major movie in 2019. You’d think someone who worked on the film would have pointed that out. It’s a moment that completely takes you out of the film as it’s impossible to hear one of his songs and not feel really creeped out.
There was a worry that this film would serve as an inspiration for assholes. That a large amount of disaffected white men (and lets face it, it would be white guys) would see this movie and think “yes, the world also mistreats me, I held a door open for a woman earlier and she didn’t even offer me sex. I’m going to kill people, I’m a hero”. Considering this film is about the character inspiring a movement, these fears weren’t completely unfounded. After seeing this film I think it’s less likely to be the case, purely because of how utterly pathetic the character is at times. He’s shown to be terrible with people, not that smart, not charismatic as himself, and not funny. Anybody who would see this as a role model is beyond hope in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, you do feel sympathy for the character, he is mistreated by a lot of people, and the healthcare system in general. The turning point is when he’s beaten by three suited asswipes. He shoots two of them in self-defence, then hunts the third one down and executes him in cold blood. It’s at this point he goes from “oh no, poor guy” to “oh, he’s an asshole” and it is superbly done. A lot of the deaths in here are really good actually, there’s one in particular which is so brutal it’s incredibly uncomfortable, in a good way. The moment where he shoots someone on live television didn’t really work as well for me. I get what they were going for but I think it would have been more effective if we saw more people watching the broadcast to really hit home what’s happening. We get the reaction of the studio audience, but that’s pretty much it. The chaos that follows that scene is so intense it gives you a sense of dread for society in general, so that’s good. Now, the closing scene, it feels a bit too “arty” and “this is deep” to be an effective closer. It kind of works but I feel could and should have been better.
So in summary, you DEFINITELY should see this film. You may not enjoy it, but you will like it. It’s intense, exhilarating, and features one of the best performances you’ll see in a long time. It’s not a “greatest movie ever” film, but it’s definitely going to be a highlight of the year.
The Kitchen (2019)
I was quite excited by this, it seemed like an interesting an fresh story (albeit one based on a comic book series so not entirely original) starring Melissa McCarthy in a not “I’m fat and swear a lot, this is comedy” role. It seemed like an interesting idea. So I was kind of disappointed with the final product. The whole thing seems like a bunch of wasted opportunities. It does have to be said how good the central performances are though; McCarthy is great in it, as is Tiffany Haddish, and Elisabeth Moss, my favourite performance though is Domhnall Gleeson, who is quietly building up a REALLY solid filmography in terms of performance; Brooklyn, Ex Machina, Star Wars etc. His performance in this is kind of terrifying in a great way, he seems like a cold-blooded killer. The cast does lead me to one of the big issues with this film; there are too many bland characters. There are people who you are supposed to recognise so you can be like “Wow, I can’t believe their relative did that”, but you don’t recognise them so it just seems like someone did something and you don’t get the importance of it until it’s revealed by dialogue later on. I think part of this is because it builds up characters as important threats, and then just kills them without fanfare. This means all that time spent developing that character feels kind of wasted. The twist near the end also doesn’t seem to land. I think the reason for that is because it’s supposed to be a big deal, but happens so close to the end that the ramifications of it never hit home, especially since about 4 minutes after the “big betrayal” there’s a “we need to put aside our differences and work together” scene which ends the film. So really it had no impact on the plot at all. I’m interested to read the comic this is based on, just to see if it makes the same mistakes.
I guess my big problem is I found it hard to give a shit about it. Especially once Elisabeth Moss’s character died, I found myself not really rooting for the main characters. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t rooting against them, I just wasn’t rooting for them; I flat out didn’t care about them. This review is shorter than normal, usually when I don’t like a film I can find a lot to talk about, I’ll use the issues I have with the film to kickstart a rant about something, I can’t work up the energy to do that with this. It’s left almost no impact on me at all. To the point where in a few years I’ll see a trailer for this this somewhere, and completely forget I’ve already watched it.
Still, Margo Martindale is awesome in it.
Ad Astra (2019)
This was the perfect movie for me at this time, it’s just what I needed. The last film I watched was so bad it almost put me off the concept of film, and the concept of enjoying things. This film put me back on track. It’s glorious as fuck. It looks magnificent, there’s not even a single second where you don’t buy into everything you watch on screen. I was sold in the opening scene when a space station blew up and people plummeted to earth (horrific way to die when you think about it by the way) and the way it looked meant this scene which could just look like a standard action scene, instead looked as terrifying as it would be in real life. Really, think of how that scene would play out in most films; it would be loud, lots of screaming, but you won’t feel anything. You’d be very aware you’re watching a movie and that there is no suffering on screen. This is the opposite, you feel everything that happens.
It’s not just the visuals, the sound work is great too. Well not just the sound, the use of silence too. Far too many films are scared of silence or don’t utilise it properly. When it’s used effectively it’s one of the best tricks in a filmmakers arsenal. This is doubly so in two specific genres; horror and sci-fi. The sound of silence can really help drive home isolation and nothingness. We’re so used to some form of background noise that complete silence is incredibly unnerving to experience, in a good way.
Now onto the bad; I felt this movie was lacking emotional depth. There’s a moment at the end which is supposed to be a huge emotional moment but for whatever reason, it didn’t really hit home. I think it might be because the entire film was building towards something happening, and then it did happen it wasn’t executed very well and just seemed kind of bland. Also, the narration was unnecessary.
There were also a few moments where it dragged slightly. Not as much as you’d think though. It’s a long film, and A LOT of the film is just padding, but it kind of works as these are the moments where the film breaths and truly comes into its own. Some of the wasteful scenes do highlight another problem with this film; disposable side characters. Brad Pitt’s character is undoubtedly the main character, but that would be a weird film to watch for two hours, so the film brings in side characters for very brief moments. Sometimes they just tell him “your dad killed my parents” and then help him on his way, sometimes they worked with his dad years before they had an argument and stopped talking, and sometimes they want him to detonate a bomb on a planet to kill his dad. Either way, these characters all only appear for a few minutes and then are never referred to again. Also, it’s kind of weird how his entire character is his dad, even in terms of how other people relate to him. Look at all those characters I just described, they’re all focused around his dad, not him. As such he doesn’t really get chance to develop much of a character, I realise that could be the point to show how we live in the shadow of the sins of those that came before us, but the character spends most of the film on his own, it’s important he is well defined and this just about doesn’t manage it.
So in summary, see this, and see it a cinema, it’s what it deserves. This film is crying out for a big screen and immersive experience. And it’s great to see Tommy Lee Jones and Donald Sutherland again. Side note; Donald Sutherland would be a great voice for an animated movie.
Let’s See You Do Better (Update #1)
So, last month I posted this. So since writing the opening scene, what have I done? To be honest, nowhere near as much as I feel I should have done. Still kind of finding the rhythm of what this story is. The main thing is I still need to plan out who the main characters are. I’ve got ideas for set pieces and general plot etc, but the characters will be what makes it work. So far I’ve got some ideas. One is Bruce and Carol. Carol is a middle-aged single mother who starred in some low budget horror movies in her youth. Bruce is her teenage son. This is what that leads to:
I’m going to set up the abuse throughout the film. Decided on this because it’s not really something that’s seen that much in horror films, not in that way anyway. When we do see a parent sexually abusing a child it’s a father abusing his daughter, I wanted to showcase the horror of when the genders are flipped. I’m considering making Bruce one of the main characters, have him kind of bring Freddy back by striking a deal; he’ll scare his friends by telling them the stories of Freddy, leaving them more open to Freddy’s influence and danger. In return, Freddy will stop Bruce’s recurring nightmares. Essentially like a mafia protection racket. That scene, in particular, will be used to kick off the third act. Bruce being in a coma will also allow me to have an absolute mindfuck of a final act.
Now onto the second scene that I’ve done. This will be about halfway through. My plan is to set up two stories; a group of children being abducted and killed by Freddy when he was alive in the past (so essentially a slasher movie mixed with IT), and the same kids when they’re older being haunted by Freddy in their dreams. The two stories will run alongside each other, leading to this:
So yeah, I lie. It’s not actually them, it’s someone elses memory. I’m not going to lie, this is mainly because I was fed up with the number of horror films that have flashbacks of the main characters near death, I hate them as you know the characters are not going to die so the scenes have no tension. I’m going to set up the truth subtly, so characters we establish as having no siblings in the present, will have a brother/sister in the past, and characters who are allergic to certain things will be seen eating them in the past. The main focus of this section though; the death of human Freddy. My plan for this was to have it go from “yeah, get that bastard” to “this is kind of uncomfortable”. I think I can go slightly further with what happens to him, but not certain.