Get Your Script Reviewed On Scriptshadow!: To submit your script for an Amateur Review, send in a PDF of your script, along with the title, genre, logline, and finally, something interesting about yourself and/or your script that you’d like us to post along with the script if reviewed. Use my submission address please: Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Remember that your script will be posted. If you’re nervous about the effects of a bad review, feel free to use an alias name and/or title. It’s a good idea to resubmit every couple of weeks so your submission stays near the top.
Premise (from writer): After survivors of a recent hurricane relocate to a quiet Louisiana bayou town, a creature goes on a nightly rampage of terror and carnage. Convinced it is the legendary werewolf known as loup garou, an intrepid teen vows to discover the beast’s true identity and destroy it.
Why You Should Read (from writer): This script is my take on the classic monster movie. The story moves quickly, is filled with colorful characters and contains a truly badass werewolf. It’s placed well in a couple smaller contests and now I want to see how it fares in the AOW thunderdome.
Details: 93 pages
It only seems appropriate that a script about a mysterious werewolf is written by a mysterious writer. Known to us only as “S.D.” the Primal scribe has thrown his hat into the Amateur Offerings arena.
Mysterious or not, S.D. has a tall order ahead of him. Of all the monsters out there, I think werewolves are one of the weakest. My issue with them is that they’re basically glorified wolves, and the rules that govern them aren’t as clean as some of the other monsters. For example, we know vampires need blood to survive. We know zombies need human flesh to survive. What do werewolves need? Why do they kill? That’s something I thought a lot about during Primal.
Say you’re a guy who turns into a werewolf. If you move into an area and start killing everyone in sight, you’re probably going to have to move out fairly quickly, which is logistically inconvenient – having to move from residence to residence every week or so. Now if you HAVE to kill? If killing is something you have no control over? That’s another issue.
But that was my problem. I never knew why the werewolf was killing. I don’t know if werewolf fans care about this stuff. But as a storyteller, I think it’s in every writer’s best interest to know all of the rules governing their universe and convey those to the reader clearly. Especially since S.D. appears to be breaking away from werewolf lore (his werewolves don’t need a full moon to turn). With that in mind, let’s check out Primal.
18 year-old Chris Durance works as an assistant manager in a New Orleans trailer park, where he also lives with his father. Things seem to be going well until two new sets of tenants move in. First, there’s the easily agitated James Hettis, and then the father-daughter duo of Remy and Annie. Lucky for Chris, Annie is a little beauty queen in the making, and she seems to have the hots for him.
Soon after that, the killings begin. There’s a hunter, an old codger, and even Chris’s own father! It’s serious enough that a Monsters-are-real blogger type, Tobin Fromski, shows up and starts documenting the killings. The thing is, nobody really believes that something supernatural is at work here. It’s gotta be some angry bear or something, right?
But as the evidence continues to mount, all signs point to some French version of the werewolf, which is like, the worst kind of werewolf there is. This guy doesn’t even need a full moon to turn. He does it whenever he wants!
The rest of the script is about everyone (including us) trying to figure out who the damn werewolf is. Is it the mysterious drifter who’s always hanging around just outside of town? Is it the intensely private new tenant James Hettis? Or is it some outside presence they haven’t met yet? Download the Primal script below to find out.
Primal was so easy to read! This script slides down your throat like a tall glass of milk. The paragraphs are short and to the point. The writing glides along from word to word. And it’s a pint-sized 93 pages.
Now there’s some debate about whether that’s a good thing or not. The argument being, how can you move someone on a deeper level if everything’s so short and simple? In the end, that’s a choice you make as a writer. Not every script is going to be Casablanca. Not every plot needs to be as complicated as Citizen Kane. So when you’re talking about a “monster in a box” werewolf script, simple is probably the best way to go.
With that said, the lack of complexity did affect my enjoyment of the story. Despite how well this was written, I knew who the killer was almost immediately. (spoilers) The other suspects (the drifter, James Hettis, and Annie’s dad) were so outlandishly bad that it would’ve been too obvious if they were the werewolf. That left one person – Annie.
The thing is, I believe Annie was the right choice to be the werewolf. S.D. just needed to cover his tracks better. This is essentially a murder mystery. And with any murder mystery, your job as the writer is to keep fucking with the reader. Every person we meet has to be presented along with the tiniest clue that THEY could be the killer (or werewolf in this case).
So everyone Chris investigates – whether it be old man Swagger, Deputy Munro, or even Chris’s own father – has to make us reevaluate what we think we know. I mean Chris’s father just came back from some long job, right? Maybe he caught something out there.
From there, whoever your killer is, you have to give us one scene that DEFINITELY RULES THEM OUT, so that we never consider them as a possibility. So for example, Chris should be with Annie when one of the killings occurs. That way we don’t even consider her and when she turns out to be the killer, we’re truly shocked. How you explain that other murder will be tough, but that’s what a writer’s job is. To come up with creative solutions to tough problems (they did it in Scream by creating dual-murderers).
Character-wise, I think S.D. suffocated the script with too many characters for a 90 page screenplay. On my count there were 18-20 characters, which is way too many for something as simple as this. With all those characters, you weren’t able to get in depth enough with the characters that mattered.
I mean I barely knew Annie. She had, what? 3-4 scenes with Chris before she’s devastated to hear that he’s leaving with his father? If you cut out some of those other characters, you could up that to 7-8 scenes, and then it feels a lot more realistic when she’s upset. I know when that scene came I was like, “What?? You barely know this dude.” I mean we have two deputies here. Do we need two? We have Sam Washington. Who the hell is Sam Washington?
Likewise, use that extra space to beef up the depth of ALL the key characters. I liked how S.D. built up Wes’s (Chris’s dad) backstory, how he lost his wife and had turned to drinking. But I barely knew anything about Tobin, the blogger, who probably gets more time than anyone. And come to think about it, I barely knew anything about Chris, too. And he’s your hero!
Outside of that, the script felt a little small. I don’t know if there was enough of a twist here to get people excited about this as a film. There’s the trailer park angle, which was different, but is it different enough? These movies can certainly get made because the setup is so easy to convey. But to REALLY get a producer excited, you need something fresh.
I mean there’s all this talk about this being a special kind of werewolf, but the only thing different about it was that it could change whenever it wanted. If you could expand the mythology of the werewolf and add some new twists to it, maybe this starts to feel fresher. I wish I could give some suggestions but, again, werewolves aren’t really my cup of tea.
Like a lot of people who win the Amateur Friday slot, S.D. is definitely a good writer. In addition to that, he’s writing movies that have a chance in the marketplace. But I think this is one or two complexity notches below what gets producers excited. Get rid of some characters, beef up the remaining ones, add a little more mythology to the werewolf, keep us guessing with the killer, and this script could eventually do some damage. I wish S.D. the best of luck!
Screenplay link: Primal
[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Remember that whatever vice your character has, there was a trigger for it. It might’ve happened recently or it might’ve happened a long time ago. Find that trigger, because it’s probably the thing that’ll most shape who your character is. So for Chris’s dad, he’s a drunk. The trigger for him drinking was his wife dying a year ago. That’s who he is in this story. He’s a man grieving. He’s a man who must get over the death of his wife.