Can it be true? A dying Carson is brought back to life by a fetus that kills people?
Logline (from writer): A young, hip Hollywood couple on the verge of becoming first-time parents begin to fear their unborn baby is a murderous demon.
Why You Should Read (from writer): I used to work at a major talent agency. During my stint there, my wife was pregnant with our first child. This script was written over that period of time. Horror comedies are hard to pull off. That, coupled with a story that lampoons, among other things, big talent agencies seems like a recipe for disaster for an amateur writer. Which is pretty much why I wanted to write it. Or “needed to” is probably more accurate: I had to find a way to channel some of the negativity I was feeling about the biz, living in LA and bringing a baby into that world.
Writer: Michael Voyer
Details: 106 pages
In the world of screenplays, I’ve seen a lot of things.
I’ve seen men who kill.
I’ve seen women who kill.
I’ve seen teenagers who kill.
I’ve seen kids who kill.
I’ve even seen a baby who kills.
But I have never, until this moment, seen a fetus that kills.
And had you told me that there was any possibility going into this premise that I was going to enjoy myself? I would’ve informed your delusional ass that you were insane in the brain cage.
“Young Hollywood” introduces us to Colin and Bobbi Downs, a young married couple who are making it work in the trendy LA suburb of Silver Lake. Colin’s got a job at a major Hollywood agency. And Bobbi’s third-term pregnant, ready to turn this twosome into a triumvirate.
When Bobbi starts to have visions of a crazed Jamaican woman, we chalk it up to weird pregnancy hormone shit. That is until we learn about Colin’s lurid past.
Colin and his frat buddies (who include his best friend and neighbor, Don) used to fly down to Jamaica for Spring Break and go nuts. One night, Colin had sex with a wild Jamaican girl, who he unknowingly impregnated.
That girl, Constance, shows up in Los Angeles five years later to inform Colin of his bastard son, and also, his seed has since been cursed. The baby growing inside his wife is a demon ectomorph that has the power to leave the womb and kill things.
Naturally, Colin thinks this is bullshit. But when Don’s dog, and then one of his children, are murdered, it’s time to redefine “bullshit.” What do you want to reverse the curse, Colin asks Constance. In classic Hollywood fashion, she wants him to read her screenplay and make her famous!
Luckily, Colin’s boss happens to be looking for a horror script. But it’s probably going to take a miracle for him to like it. Constance isn’t exactly Aaron Sorkin. Meanwhile, Bobbi starts battling her own demons, namely, does she even want to have this baby? Has she ever wanted to have this baby? And now that she thinks about it, did she ever want to be with Colin in the first place?
It’s all going to come to a head in a “Young Hollywood” party for the ages.
Much like our characters’ reaction to their baby potentially being a demon, I wasn’t a believer at first. But the more I read of “Young Hollywood,” the more of a believer I became.
I’ll tell you the exact moment, actually, when I knew this wasn’t another AA script (average amateur). And I’ve been reading a lot of AA scripts lately, so I consider myself an expert. It was when we found out that Bobbi had this complex past where she chose to abort a child when she first met Colin, since she was afraid he’d leave if he found out she was pregnant.
So often in the screenplays I read, the only complex backstory the writer thinks about is the hero’s. Now occasionally, the slightly-less-lazy writer will go a step further and provide backstory for their secondary characters, but it’s always something generic, a screenwriting 101 box they can say they checked.
When a writer takes the time to find complex thoughtful backstories for more than one character? That script is usually worth reading. And I loved everything we learned through this couple’s backstory.
But what’s really amazing about “Young Hollywood” is the tone tightrope it walked. We have tragic child deaths sharing the same margins as voodoo witches promoting their new screenplay. And let’s not forget our killer fetus that slinks out of our wife’s uterus every night to get its killing fix in.
How did Voyer manage to make it work?
It’s simple really. He was more interested in these characters than he was the “gimmick” of his screenplay. That’s where so many writers go wrong. They’d take a premise like this, think up a bunch of goofy ways a uterus could kill someone, and fill the rest of the script with a half-ass exploration of a “struggling marriage.”
Colin and Bobbi are REALLY going through something here. Even if this was a normal baby, they’d still have issues to work through. It seems so simple when we see it in practice. But the reality is, we rarely get screenplays where characters and relationships are explored in a genuine way.
The problem with all these bad screenplays I read is that yes you have characters, yes they have flaws, yes these characters have issues with other characters, yes there’s conflict, yes there’s drama.
But none of it feels REAL. And it’s because the writers aren’t basing their choices on what real people would really have going on. They’re basing them on fakey movie reality where every choice is a variation of past movies they’ve seen.
I wasn’t surprised at all when I read Voyer’s “Why You Should Read” that he wrote this when his wife was pregnant and he was working at an agency. He was clearly working through some shit that was reflected in the characters and the situations, all of which felt truthful.
On top of all that, I had NO idea where the fuck this was going. And holy shit is that rare to experience. Every script I read has an inevitable quality to it that makes it seem like you’ve already read the outline before you read the script. This script had choice after choice that was ambitious, weird, unexpected, you name it.
When we killed a child? Wow.
When our villain promised to lift the curse if our hero read her screenplay? Didn’t see that coming!
The steady stream of backstory revelations? Ongoing wow.
And here’s the thing with choices, guys. I didn’t always like the choices. Some of the choices actually made me uncomfortable. But choices aren’t about being liked. Choices are chances. You’re taking a chance. And the safer the chance you take, the less of a reaction you’re going to get. The more dangerous the chance you take – whether they like your choice or not – they’re going to remember it.
Could I pick apart aspects of this script? Yeah. But like any good script, the weaknesses are actually what make it interesting. If we tidied everything up, the script would feel too “clean,” too “predictable.”
For example, I would’ve liked the comedy-to-horror ratio to have more comedy. I also would’ve liked for the final party to have higher stakes. But these are cosmetics. It doesn’t change the way you feel about these characters or how you react to this script’s twists and surprises.
This is the kind of script that makes me want to do more Amateur Offerings.
Screenplay link: The Young Hollywood Party Massacre
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: What do I mean when I say that writers don’t base their choices on truth, but rather past movies?
Well, let’s say a writer’s favorite movie is Jerry Maguire. And in this writer’s new script, their hero gets fired. Instead of getting into the head of their hero and asking what led to this firing and what he’s feeling in this moment and how would someone like that react in real life, they think, “Oh good, I get to write my big memorable firing scene like Jerry Maguire!” The last thing on their mind is truth. And if all you’re doing is writing variations of scenes from other films, nothing you write will ever resonate with anyone. Read that line again because it could be the difference between you becoming a professional screenwriter or not.