A divine visitation compels a down-and-out factory worker to rid his white trash world of human vermin.
HOW IT RATES
Micro to low budget, character-driven script showcasing strong male and female leads. FHIC is a vicious tale of justice and revenge that would do Charles Bronson proud.
The movie opens with a heart-pounding chase through the Ozark wilderness as a posse hunts pretty young fugitive Sherra James.
But they’re not alone.
The posse is savagely slaughtered by mountain man Keller McGavin, the infamous serial killer who disappeared into the backwoods decades ago.
When his wife and son were killed, McGavin went on a decade-long killing spree, and only a resemblance to McGavin’s dead wife saves Sherra from the same fate.
Desperate, Sherra follows the psychopath in hopes he’ll guide her through the backwoods to freedom.
When rookie cop Shea Knight informs Captain Joe Varnell of the missing posse, he leads his own squad into the forest, but for reasons unknown wants McGavin’s resurface kept secret.
McGavin knows the woods, but Sherra needs medical treatment, so they head for McGavin’s only friend, hermit moonshiner, Bailey.
Varnell, Knight and two colorful deputies fly into the heart of the forest, and after literally stumbling across the murdered posse, conflict erupts about how to proceed.
The fugitives reach Bailey after some close calls, and while stitching Sherra, Bailey issues a prophetic warning about getting too close to McGavin.
Bailey returns a treasured locket to McGavin, but the talisman triggers intense psychosis, and visions of his son’s ghost lead McGavin to murder Bailey.
The squad raids Bailey’s cabin, and Sherra hides inside the walls, right under Varnell’s nose.
Reunited with Sherra, McGavin turns the tables on the squad. The hunters become the hunted. McGavin picks them off one by one with dramatic flair until only Varnell and Knight remain.
Outgunned, Varnell deputizes a hillbilly poacher, who manages to get the drop on McGavin and Sherra. Wrongly believing that McGavin is the fugitive, he releases Sherra, and having bonded with the madman, she does run, but reluctantly.
Sherra and Knight collide in the woods, facing off in a catfight, and Knight is killed while McGavin disembowels his captor.
McGavin confronts Varnell, and we learn that not only are the two brothers, but that Varnell covered up the murders of McGavin’s family after sending thugs to coerce him into selling his land to coal developers. The plan went south, Ethel and Lucas ending up dead.
In a poetic reversal, Sherra blows Varnell away, but not before McGavin is mortally wounded. Dying, McGavin wades into the river. Surrounded by police, he’s reunited with his wife and son in a tranquil vision, then disappears into the water.
Sherra is taken away in cuffs, full circle, but has given McGavin his peace... his freedom.
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Reviews of From Hell I Came 32
by Eddiebo2112 on 12/09/2009I wasn't given this script as an assignment, I was browsing through some of the horror screenplays and the synopsis caught my eye...I figured I'd give a review regardless. I really like how you've set this piece up. I'm an avid fan of this genre, and although its not quite "Slasher" it contains many of the elements that make a good horror/thriller. You did an excellent job... I wasn't given this script as an assignment, I was browsing through some of the horror screenplays and the synopsis caught my eye...I figured I'd give a review regardless.
I really like how you've set this piece up. I'm an avid fan of this genre, and although its not quite "Slasher" it contains many of the elements that make a good horror/thriller. You did an excellent job of setting the stage with McGavin wiping out the team of dogs. That got the ball rolling for me immediately. One staple that I feel makes these stories work is the creation of a "terrible place," A place where the characters are pinned against an evil and until that evil is destroyed they cannot leave hte terrible place. The Forest was a great setting for that, especially with a character like McGavin running around.
One thing that I was confused about is the protagonist. It seemed to jump around a bit. At first I was rooting for Knight, and that shifted to me beginning to root for Sherra, and of course McGavin. I found it hardest to root for McGavin because he was killing all these men with families, and because he killed Bailey who had done nothing but help him. But I still had a hard time rooting against him, which made his character so complex in an antihero mentality.
Knight I felt was the clear cut hero, a good cop who wants to do the right thing. I felt for her the most and was most put off when she was killed by Sherra.
Which brings me to Sherra, tough not to root for a women who escapes being held captive by a cop who is looking to rape her. I thought her character was very well developed and that she had a great dynamic with McGavin. One thing I foudn difficult to believe is that she'd try and shoot Knight. I mean if shes in there for burglary, why murder an innocent women like that? I understand her fears here but it didn't seem like a logical thing to do, especially since its inevitable she'll be caught.
Lastly I was just curious what the word "Siedow" meant. Does it have an signifigance? Other then the obvious.
Great work and keep it up read
by tank22 on 04/18/2008Let me start off, as I began to read the screenplay, I was drawn extremly quickly. I really liked, how it didn't diddle, dattle around with trying to get in the action. As so many other scripts, that i have read do. Also, i like how, you aren't to concerned with blood, and gore. For me, too many people are scared to do. Also, being familar with the Ozarks, it brought me back... Let me start off, as I began to read the screenplay, I was drawn extremly quickly. I really liked, how it didn't diddle, dattle around with trying to get in the action. As so many other scripts, that i have read do. Also, i like how, you aren't to concerned with blood, and gore. For me, too many people are scared to do. Also, being familar with the Ozarks, it brought me back towards a cabin I have been to and the running through the woods with my cousins. Also, with the dialogue, I thought that it was well written. It allowed me to engage with the characters and make them feel like I was with them. With the charcter of Kenn, i felt that he waas just a little too pumped to go find McGavin. I think if, it took him a few pages, to actually get ready, and want ot find McGavin, would have been better. Overall i thought the script was good, and a nice thriller. Good luck. read
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 04/14/2008Let me open by saying the bloodbath genre is not my fave. Let me also say that I was utterly able to look past the gore and recognize some quality writing. Characters were all interesting, and the dialog was superb -- despite some of the cheesier macho crapola. I think what's wrong with this extremely well written piece is best summed up in this action line: "The pump of... Let me open by saying the bloodbath genre is not my fave. Let me also say that I was utterly able to look past the gore and recognize some quality writing. Characters were all interesting, and the dialog was superb -- despite some of the cheesier macho crapola.
I think what's wrong with this extremely well written piece is best summed up in this action line:
"The pump of the shotgun behind them ends the touchy-feelie moment."
On a minor note, this is telling, not showing. I wouldn't mention it, were the script not overflowing with such intrusive moments.
On a major note, if the script itself mocks its more human moments, why even include them? Why not just make it one, long, relentless murder spree/chase and call it a day? I'm serious. Why even feign a semblance of humanity in what is really just a well written snuff film?
Mind you, I had this exact same question leaving NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. I don't care what anyone tells me about 'the book'. I love the Coen Brothers sometimes, but not as a religion. Their 'best picture' is nothing more than an excuse for an audience to get cheap thrills watching a scary dude kill scared shitless people. The same can be said of FROM HELL I CAME, to the letter.
Does something about this genre allow authors to skip over those touchy-feelie moments that make okay movies great? If yes, I missed the memo.
SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and ROBOCOP had violence. They were also great stories. Each with genuine human moments. I didn't roll my eyes when Starling missed her Dad. I felt terrible for Murphy, for having his life literally taken from him. Without this counterpoint, what would be gratifying drama is reduced to gratuitous action. Explicit/grainy violence doesn't equal vivid/compelling drama.
Did I really care what happened to McGavin's family? With genuine apology to the quality writing, no. There was nothing to grab onto. Blood is funny that way -- you can't pick it up the way you can pick up a living, breathing person. It slips through your fingers, and goes everywhere and nowhere.
Authors, an easy fix is to simply remove the offending line I started off with. A better fix is to set up the story properly. Find a way to make me care about McGavin by the one quarter mark (instead of 7 pages shy of the middle), and you'll give me a reason/excuse to follow the bloodbath.
If the brothers must spend so much time talking about touchy-feelie things at the story end, this discussion should have been going on the entire time.
All this said, I'd read anything else (outside of this genre) by these authors. Best of luck with the SOM.
STRUCTURE: below average/fail
by Dannie on 04/13/2008From Hell I Came This is a well written and extremely compitent script. It sets off running from the beginning and never lets up with a chase that leaves us wondering who the good guys are. It's an interesting exercise to create a story around characters with very questionable pasts. From a technical standpoint this SP is a very easy read, nice and clean. A few errors that... From Hell I Came
This is a well written and extremely compitent script. It sets off running from the beginning and never lets up with a chase that leaves us wondering who the good guys are. It's an interesting exercise to create a story around characters with very questionable pasts.
From a technical standpoint this SP is a very easy read, nice and clean. A few errors that can be chalked up to hill billy phonetics. So it's easier to just talk about the story and characters.
I like the setting, keeps it simple and true to the story allows for a Deliverance style soundtrack. Watching Sherra from the beginning we assume that this is her story and with Siedow she has a more current history with the law than Keller does.
Where the story doesn't quite mesh is Keller's grudge with Varnell. The description of the rapists is vague enough that we really don't know the connection to Varnell other than the badge. This doesn't give the Keller revenge angle enough weight. He holds Varnell responsible and yet we're never certain of the connection. The rapists are Varnell's deputies, what happened that Keller thought he was the one to serve out justice? He "killed his boys", through 15 years he could have simply walked up to Varnell's cabin and finished it all sooner. Varnell thought Keller was dead so he didn't pursue him, but there is no real explanation for the 15 year gap. The history becomes nothing more than a device to bring us into Sherra's time and her story isn't central enough to the script to stand without Keller and Varnell's. Where did Keller go? Not even Baily knew. The story also implies that Keller's spent time in the woods killing just for the sake of killing, trying to fill his families void with more death. On the otherhand we're led to believe he might just be completely crazy, which doesn't mesh with him helping Sherra or the ending. Keller ends up being like Predator only he's from this planet.
Creed starts the McGavin story and yet completely back peddles when Varnell tells him it's true. This feels really inconsistant. Shea is another puzzle piece that doesn't quite fit. Aspiring to be more than just a dispatch person, she ends up in the deep end without her water wings. Her seperation from Varnell towards the end makes sense and we are with her when she makes the move but we lose faith in the story again when she is dispatched, more or less, by a lucky gold coin that she'll get to pay the ferry man with. Sherra's only gain through this whole story is the death of Siedow other than that she's only had time off from prison. Plus, her only reason for shooting a cop is to protect Keller without really learning too much of his backstory. She owe's him one but it's a life sentence for one of the few characters that we like.
Guess the only real complaint with this story is your audience is forced to choose between the lesser of evils if they want to cheer for a character. Keller is justified in a crazy way but seems to be killing for sport. We never know what Varnell or Siedow have to lose other than their lives, or what Knight has to gain by succeeding in catching Sherra.
There are a few questions about casting and marketing. Who is your audience? Horror fans? Then who's going to be cast to draw the teeny bopper gore fans? It doesn't quite seem to fit in that genre.
Keller is crazy, he is haunted by ghosts. That said, I guess my feeling is that this script needs to go one of two ways. Make it closer to a horror film with the supernatural side more prevailent and Keller awol from hell, or a thriller/drama where Varnell is closer to Ethel's and Lucas's death than we ever imagined and this becomes a family gone wrong revenge story. Right now it is on the fence.
I really enjoyed reading this and think it's a wonderful piece of writing and displays your talent really well. There were times that I loved the writing and thought it was close to brilliant- especially the way the story comes full circle, beginning in the river and ending in the river. I recommend this script and score it highly just because I admire the talent and had a good time reading this. Keep up the great writing! read
by Andrew Moser on 04/10/2008Well when I started reading I was immediately drawn in with the opening sequence. I enjoyed you opening up with something that was grab my attention and kept me reading. You also did very well with the dialogue. I have seen to many screenplays with just nasty dialogue however I think the dialogue in this is one of the strong points. The description in this also made me feel... Well when I started reading I was immediately drawn in with the opening sequence. I enjoyed you opening up with something that was grab my attention and kept me reading. You also did very well with the dialogue. I have seen to many screenplays with just nasty dialogue however I think the dialogue in this is one of the strong points. The description in this also made me feel right in there. I never had a hard time imagining what was going on. I liked the Character Varnell, he was developed very well.
Some things that you should take a look at-
1. It seemed that there were to many officers. I seemed to lose track of who was who. You could probably combine at least two of these characters.
2. The character Kenn seemed very fake. I mean his brother-in-law is just killed and he gets all exicted to go looking for McGavin. I would work on showing the audience that he is more distraught. It seemed like he forgot he was even out with his friend.
3. It seemed very cliche with McGavin out for revenge for the murder of his family. Also the little twist of Varnell being is brother was not very original.
4. A little techincal thing on page 81 you refer to Knight as Sherra. Also on page 83 Varnell tells Knight to get back yet on the next page he is screaming nooooo! Seemed strange.
Overall this script has potential to be a nice thriller but I would say to go through and make it more original.
Good Luck read
by dleonetti on 04/07/2008A lot of spit and polish has went into this screenplay. It has the best 10 page hook that I have read so far. Though you are working in a familar genre, the screenplay has some getty-up and go from the first blood bath in the woods, and carries us head-long into the story. It is the dialogue, a mixture of redneck and oakish brevity, that lends even more versimilitude...
A lot of spit and polish has went into this screenplay. It has the best 10 page hook that I have read so far. Though you are working in a familar genre, the screenplay has some getty-up and go from the first blood bath in the woods, and carries us head-long into the story. It is the dialogue, a mixture of redneck and oakish brevity, that lends even more versimilitude. Good job.
I see where Deliverance is one of your favorite films. You have some of that man against the wild, man against himself, man against man in this terrific little piece. I also see where you are shooting this feature, so I am only reading to see if I could suggest anything to improve the story. The Zippo lighter at the end, didn't get it?
Page 50--not that important, but soldiers were issued a ration card for booze and cigarettes, more than enough, so that most sold the whiskey and cigarettes on the black market for extra money. Never would have made moonshine. Here, you could just change moonshine to Viet whiskey, which pardon the clique, could peel paint off wood.
McGavin, a vet, I like how you gave him some PTSD issues: nightmares, rage, self isolation (along with Bailey). But there would also be fear, and so it would be nice if you could have McGavin booby trap the woods, so that (spiked pit), etc Varnell and his posse would have to dodge these additional threats in there chase? Who did this? The runaway girl couldn't have? Alas, they have more issues than they thought. . .my bad there it is on Page 67.
Orange tents, would Varnell be so naive with a devil lurking in the woods?
Clusterfuck--tells me one of you two guys is a veteran? Might have McGavin take some ears from his deadly deeds, and wearing an ear necklace? Give it a little more army touch. Page 97: McGavin could say: "Only so many bullets you can dodge, Joe. And need a lot of ears to cut, Joe. The world is deaf."
Page 76--need period after sentence: He turns to Creed
Page 79--Sherra crouches. Should be Knight.
Do you have an outlet for this? If not, I may be able to help?
by itchinbay on 04/06/2008characters: You have a nice balance of characters. Their dialogue is well done. It was well paced. structure: very good. The movie built to a climax, always moving in the right direction. I don't see many scripts that do this as well as yours. I enjoyed this script. It kept me entertained as I read. I think it's very close to being a Hollywood movie. However, at... characters: You have a nice balance of characters. Their dialogue is well done. It was well paced.
structure: very good. The movie built to a climax, always moving in the right direction. I don't see many scripts that do this as well as yours.
I enjoyed this script. It kept me entertained as I read. I think it's very close to being a Hollywood movie.
However, at the end, I had many questions.
1) the coin. What in the dialogue showed this coin to be special? At one point she flipped it, saw it was heads, and suggested that it was a bad omen. But it wasn't explained. At the end, she left the coin in Knight's mouth, like a hitman's calling card. What was that all about?
2) Why did McGavin spare Shera? The comments suggested that he had killed many people. What was special about her?
3) Now Shera is a cop killer. At the beginning, it was mentioned that she was a first time offender, but no princess. She doesn't seem to have any malice throughout the movie. The audience felt endeared to her -- this was well done, by the way -- from the beginning. I understand why she did it, but killing a cop is not going to help her any. It gave me mixed feelings. I'd prefer Varnell to die by someone else's hand, especially McGavin's, since he had a motive for revenge. Knight's death could look accidental. As an alternative, he now has a reason for suicide, since the truth of his coverup could be exposed.
4) The rapists were Varnell's deputies. Why wouldn't he arrest them? Leaving them as above the law would just make it worse for him.
5) How did he get away with the bad call on the autopsy? Aren't those reviewed? And why were they still around for Knight to find?
6) The ghosts of the victims had appeared to others, not just McGavin. I think either they should appear only to him, thus being his imagination, or they should somehow figure prominantly in the plot. At the beginning, you talk of it as a well-known myth of the area. As it is, I wondered why they were there.
7) They were brothers? This could have been worked in more, but it wasn't. It would make more sense if it had been left out. They don't even have the same name. They could easily have a common history without being brothers. Partners in crime, perhaps, or part of a threesome in Vietnam?
8) Why didn't Varnell mention that McGavin was the killer? What difference would that have made? It sounds like he makes poor judgements often.
But honestly, I think this movie could sell even without all these changes.
p. 5 'Hooper lingers. Looks down at the leashes in his hands. He pitches the leashes to the ground and heads out.'
What happened? What are on the leashes? Have the dogs disappeared or are they dead?
You don't answer this for another page. Do you mean that at the time, Siedow sees it but the audience doesn't? This could be effective, but it was confusing when I read it.
p. 12 - 13 McGavin has a flashback to his wife. It might be more effective if you have the flashback after she says the full lines. They would spark his memory.
p. 24 Sherra’s expression says, “great, a crazy vet.”
I'm not sure I can imagine an expression that says this. I think many in the audience would interpret the expression differently.
Sherra's goal is to escape, but I'm not sure of anyone else's goal. Why did McGavin help her? Does she remind him of his wife? And why didn't the captain mention McGavin? Is his goal to capture Sherra only?
p. 26 The officers talking say that McGavin tortured his victims first. But that isn't what we saw.
p. 33 I like the dialogue. The morbid humor sounds like how the law enforcement guys would talk.
p. 79 I still don't understand why Varnell didn't tell the men who they were really after. Why was it necessary to hide they were going after McGavin?
p. 85 'He lifts a jar of corn whiskey and flings it to the ground
where it SMASHES to pieces.'
Breaking glass makes a characteristic sound, Isn't he close enough that they can hear?
p. 97 'She carefully presses the coin into Knight’s mouth,
then uses her bloody palm to close Knight’s lifeless eyes.'
I don't get the significance of the coin. Why would she leave evidence incriminating herself?
Good action. The ending was well done. I gave a rating of 'good' for each category below because each area was done well, but no area jumped out at me as being excellent. read
by Gammon on 04/06/2008This isn’t a script that about which you say “Wow, I really liked this script” or people might think you were psycho. This is a good script with competent writing by and large. My feedback is random except where indicated. Impressions once I reached Fade Out, really. I took a break around page 12 after the carnage and before the Flashback. (Coffee. Sue me.) First observation... This isn’t a script that about which you say “Wow, I really liked this script” or people might think you were psycho. This is a good script with competent writing by and large.
My feedback is random except where indicated. Impressions once I reached Fade Out, really.
I took a break around page 12 after the carnage and before the Flashback. (Coffee. Sue me.)
First observation is that the writing is very visual, but it also calls attention to itself upon occasion, as if it were trying too hard. "JUICY RIP." "draws the knife out with a SLURP."
Second, you write "Lightening fast blur and the sound of STEEL ON FLESH." Later, "Another BLUR accompanied by the same metallic SLASH." What is this metallic thing that does such damage? Who knows? It may be just my logical mind, but don't tell me something metallic and invisible comes out of nowhere with enough force to V-slash a throat or clean-slice off a wrist and never explain it. Everything else is done in such burp-vomit reality that I don't buy it. I thought I missed something and reread. I hadn't missed anything. It wasn't there.
I can't help but think there's a better placement for the flashback of McGavin's than after all the carnage. It may give pertinent back story, but it sure comes at an awkward, story-interrupting place. And after reading the dialog, if that menacing figure isn't McGavin, then he'd have no way of knowing unless he's tied up somewhere in the barn watching.
Hovering menacingly over her is a SHADOWY FIGURE. Your writing is so good that lines like this hit the page with a THUD. I call it backward writing. A menacing, SHADOWY FIGURE hovers over her. Subject-verb. Who-what. Moves the action. Pulls us along.
Just a thought, if the flashback was triggered by Sherra's "I don't want to die," then the association with Ethel's "I don't want to die" makes the memory make sense. You could go back to present, but pick up with Captain Varnell's home. Leave us dangling and wanting to know what happened next.
You forgot to ALL CAP Varnell when he's introduced.
The Sherra/Sidow Flashback - feels out of place. No reason for it anyway. That she's been in jail has been established to death. And Siedow's dead already.
P. 62 (Stopped for another coffee break for one thing) and because something made me wonder. How would Sherra have known that McGavin left his hunting knife behind? You don't indicate she's hunting for any kind of weapon, so it reads like she knows he left it behind. Wasn't she asleep when he left?
This script moves at a fairly good clip. Good forward motion with the story except for the flashbacks. They felt contrived. Often unnecessary. The flashback of Sherra and Siedow in the jail... Sherra covers that competently and succinctly in dialog.
And then again and again to the murder of McGavin's family. It feels like it's broken into so many pieces (perhaps from trying to build suspense) that it became intrusive. Not sure why having all that information in the opening of the script, and done so that we know the what and the how, but the who is the mystery that's revealed in the final scene with Varnell.
The fact that Varnell chose his "boys" over McGavin certainly put a different light on the character of Varnell. I thought he was the protagonist at first. Likeable. Good lawman. But the reveals eventually make him not much different than McGavin (just a smaller body count).
In fact, I'm not sure who the protagonist in this piece is. I toyed with the possibility that it was Knight, but she wasn't driving the story. That left McGavin. Hmmm. Not sure about that choice. Although, McGavin would be a great protagonist if we felt strongly enough for his loss of family, as well as loss of everything because of his monumental revenge for the death of his family. The scene at the end in the creek is touching, but if he were the protagonist, and we felt his pain, it could be significant and devastating. In some ways, Varnell is just as much a "villain" as McGavin because Varnell knew his adversary and what McGavin was capable of. He should have been more cognizant that these Knight, Creed and Jenkins were no match for McGavin. Varnell is determined to catch McGavin. Vaulting ambition which o'er leaps itself? Certainly didn't decrease the body count any.
I wonder about the curiosity of your female characters. Why does Sherra go into the secret room to rifle through the trunk again? Other than she needs to be hidden when Varnell et. al. gets to the cabin? Why does Knight rifle through the things in Varnell's tent? Other than we need the information she uncovers. I didn't feel like her distrust of or suspicions about Varnell had been sufficiently established to make her spy on her superior officer.
No points off (I mean, it is what it is) but I didn't see the dramatic bang for the buck of having McGavin kill Bailey. Up to that point, we haven't seen McGavin so delusional that he sees his dead son running through the woods. It would seem to me that, sparing Bailey his old friend would reveal some residual humanity in McGavin just as his helping Sherra gave him a touch of humanity.
It feels like you could lose much of the State Trooper plot thread. Establish that they've been called and have them show up at the end. They're there to prod Varnell, but he's not the protagonist. And McGavin, by virtue of what he had done over the years as well as killing the officers at the beginning of your story, is justification enough for Varnell to go on the manhunt initially.
So, I get to Fade Out. No one wins. No one learns anything. No one changes. Not even Sherra. A truly wry ending would be if Sherra were captured and all that she faced was some additional time for escaping and her only crime was still shoplifting, even though she blew Varnell away.
This is a well-told story. The writing is overall very good although it does call attention to itself from time to time when it made me feel you were describing your movie rather than making the story play on the movie in my imagination. For example: TILT DOWN To reveal they’ve just walked past the dead German Shepherds, now swarmed with BUZZING FLIES.
Or since I knew it was McGavin watching, why write:
UNKNOWN P.O.V. - FROM THE WOODS
The squad is being watched.
It may sound as if I didn't enjoy this script. I did. You have interesting characters. An action charged scenario. It feels like it could be more of a heart-pounder if the action took the focus and the emotional motivation for McGavin were the undercurrent. Thanks for a good read. read
by AMDavidson on 04/03/2008"From Hell I Came" was easy to read and understand. Only one instance on page 72. INT. VARNELL'S TENT where I believe the writer actually used Sherra's name instead of Knight--it was a simple mistake, one easily fixed. Pg. 62 'its' instead of 'it's' (I do that to by accident). I do want to say that I really really liked this story until the point McGavin murdered Bailey... "From Hell I Came" was easy to read and understand. Only one instance on page 72. INT. VARNELL'S TENT where I believe the writer actually used Sherra's name instead of Knight--it was a simple mistake, one easily fixed.
Pg. 62 'its' instead of 'it's' (I do that to by accident).
I do want to say that I really really liked this story until the point McGavin murdered Bailey. I thought I was in for some kind of cool vengeful ghost story with a clever twist that never came. Not even the ending was surprise, and I had to admit that I was let down by every single characters story arc.
At first I felt for Sherra, who I had a strong empathy for in the beginning that became stronger when I realized that she was being raped by the COs at the prison. I could understand why she risked escaping and recapture. After her scene with Knight and her subsequent capture, I didn't understand her arc, was she just a beat for the main struggle between McGavin and Varnell? When McGavin found her in the log hollow there was "recognition" there. I kept waiting for something... did he simply just recognize her as a fugitive? I also didn't like that in the end she was simply recapture to face not only escape charges but murder charges. You could have Knight allow Sherra go free after Sherra tells her what happened in prison, and Knight realizes that McGavin and Varnell are the true 'monsters' in the scope of things. I believe there was no reason for Knight's death or Sherra's recapture. It might be a good thing to end Sherra's arc in this story on a more ambiguous note with her running off into the woods.
On pg 85 when Knight told Varnell:
You don’t even care about Sherra
James, do you? Hell, maybe you
Do you mean "This was never about Sherra James"? Meaning the whole chase through the woods was always about Varnell amd McGavin. When you used "cared" I thought Sherra had some relationship to Varnell or McGavin.
Varnell seemed like a standup guy, wise and a person who others looked up to. I did like him at first, until more and more it seemed he had a history with McGavin. When you revealed Varnell covered up the murder of McGavin's wife and son, I was confused at first. I do not believe he would ever choose his fellow lawmen over his brother, sister-in-law and nephew. He calls the rapists 'my boys' and I wanted to believe he meant that literally so the coverup would make more sense. I could see that it would be hard to chose between his own sons and his brother. That's the only way I can make sense of why Varnell would cover up this henious crime. It would make more sense that Varnell would be so enraged that he would kill his own deputies.
McGavin, his wife raped beaten killed, his son beaten and killed he goes crazy, kills lots of people. I kept waiting for some big reveal on McGavin like he was a ghost, but he was just a pissed off crazy vet killing people, any one, who crossed his path... except Sherra. I do realize after the fact that he killed Creed and Jenkins as vengence for the two lawmen who killed his wife and son, but I didn't make the connection at first because Creed and Jenkins have no direct connection to the two faceless/nameless lawmen rapists. Maybe Creed or Jenkins has red hair or something to remind McGavin. What ever happened to the redheaded rapist?
How to improve: I feel there has to be a more compelling reason for Varnell to betray his brother over the rape and murder of Ethel and the brutal murder of Lucas. I think there should be a reason for Sherra's involvement with this... because if I were her, I would have run for the friggin' hills instead of hanging around with a loony vet killing everyone. Baily's death was pointless... at least I could semi sorta understand Creed and Jenkins, but not Bailey. And Knight, I think she needs to live and learn a lesson even if it's as simple as realizing that Sherra was nothing in the bigger picture and letting her go. Knight's death was pointless and actually pissed me off as did Sherra's rearrest.
I think this might work better as a vengeful ghost story and maybe the rapist are cousins... jealous contenders for Ethel? A coverup would make more sense then.
Good luck with the story. I hope my comments help.
by alitta on 04/03/2008You started great with a very engaging scence and you kept up the pace in a well-structured story for the whole length of the screenplay. I was a little disappointed with your choices towards the end of the film. I suppose if you had a choice you want your beginning to be the strongest part of the film even if it lags towards the end. Spoiler alert. In particular, I didn't... You started great with a very engaging scence and you kept up the pace in a well-structured story for the whole length of the screenplay. I was a little disappointed with your choices towards the end of the film. I suppose if you had a choice you want your beginning to be the strongest part of the film even if it lags towards the end.
In particular, I didn't understand why Knight had to suffer the fate she did. In most stories a character like hers would be used to restore the status quo. Ie. have her capture and return the escaped fugitive.
A bigger problem I couldn't get past is the underlying mystery resolution, the cornerstone of your twist. If my own family was involved, I couldn't care less whether the perpetrators were wearing badges or angel wings, my loyalties would remain with my family no matter what. I think most of your audience would echo my sentiment. Make the relevant characters Vietnam buddies or something. The betrayal would be more plausible if less jarring.
I gave you *good* on your structure and I think it's as good as it possibly could be. I think the genre limits you to how much rising action you can develop. People have to die in these stories in an episodic manner and all you can do is make their demise more and more visceral. You did all that very successfully I thought.
I was really impressed by your dialogue. It was easy to distinguish between characters and they didn't all sound alike. You had more time to do this with your second batch of cops than with the first one, but I was really impressed how you managed to pull that off.
I would perhaps re-evaluate some of the language you use in your description. I realize the need to use off-color language in dialogue, especially with these characters, but I don't know if I'd use it in the description quite so much. Ie. p4. "No one says a damn thing."
Another issue that I had with was the nature of McGavin. You set him up as an almost supernatural being in the beginning. A Satanic force of nature. This is reinforced by your title as well. Yet quickly you shift gears and make him a vulnerable mortal. Later on when he deals with Kenn he becomes supernatural again but off-screen (I'd make it on-screen btw). At the end he is mortal again. Perhaps you did this on purpose in which case the fault may lie with me, but I was confused as to the actual source of his power. Is it beyond the grave or is it just Rambo-based?
I gave this a consider. If you addressed my above laid out qualms, I'd give it a recommend, but I suppose I am not your only audience.
- Writer: Doug Johnson, Dennis Smithers, Jr.
- Uploaded by: postmortem
- Length: 105 pages
- Genre: action, crime, drama
- Updated draft available upon request.
- Bio: Co-writer, "Debt to Society," Featured Submission, with Brian Murphy (heat_wave187). Contributor, "WOW! Never Expected That!" anthology by David Brough (D J Sheridan). Winner, Fade In Awards, Best Short Screenplay, "The Bassinet."
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