Genre: Psychological drama. I think.
Premise (after reading): Unhappy with her life, a housewife visits a physicist who transforms the way she views the world – and her own mind.
About: Carson received an email the other morning proposing I, Miss Scriptshadow, review our very own Grendl’s script. I have the female perspective on my side, which Grendl insisted was crucial. I know nothing about this script and I barely know Grendl outside of occasionally hearing Carson say things like, “The psychoness continues” while reading comments.  The only stipulation for this review was a promise not to represent Grendl in a sketched caricature.  So, instead, I’m including a suggested image by Grendl himself.
Writer: Grendl
Detail: 118 pages


I honestly don’t know how to start.

Grendl, dearest Grendl, has chosen moi as the prime-time reviewer of yet another supposed masterpiece: Undertow. I remember very clearly my day of reckoning, as if it had wandered to me in a lucid dream…

Carson awoke with drowsy requests for a crepe breakfast, and the cat was agitated and restless, seemingly unaware of my impending call to glory. I grumbled about the day’s chores, and rolled out of bed to mix up a batch of my very best crepe batter, prepared for yet another amazing day.

Unsavory rap music now thrumming through the apartment, I suddenly heard from the bedroom a tentative, “Um, there’s an interesting email from Guess Who. And it involves you.”

The email itself was tame, still not without a touch of the Gren’s signature, eerie flair – the above-featured black and white photo of a woman basking in ocean water taunted us from beneath the text. Why? We don’t know. We probably never will. I suspect it represents an ‘undertow’ of some nature. Either way, the woman looks to be having a grand time. I hope she’s not drowning. But, knowing Grendl, she’s probably already dead.

We start quietly with Veronica, a bored housewife, meeting her artist ex-lover Dean in a cafe as they discuss the probability that Veronica’s husband Eric is cheating with a redhead: a hair has been found plucked from his pants zipper, and it certainly doesn’t belong to Veronica. That hair makes for light conversation, something one-and-done for Veronica, and we quickly move into discussion about Dean’s big art showing at the MET.

Dean concludes their meeting by mentioning psychiatrist-but-not-really, Dr. Michael Saeghardt, and how the darkness in his life has all but gone as a result of Michael’s ‘radical’ work. Intrigued, Veronica visits Michael later in a spooky building after deciding she is simply ‘not happy,’ only to be greeted by a scary-as-hell janitor and the implication that all is not what it appears.

In fact, Michael is a physicist, an expert on ‘slip streams’ or channels of mental energies that surge across our planet, accessible through levels and lucid dreamlike states of mind. Veronica must use the escape word to get out of the stream: “hand.” Once uttered, Veronica ‘wakes up’ and sees her own naked body suspended in a clear chamber. She runs out of the room to see a black and white cat, which melts into a psychedelic, zebra-striped concoction of goop that splashes every surface as it chases her from the building. She ‘wakes up’ again on a beach to see a man named Harrington (not his full name, mind you), and then a little boy, Kyle. Kyle pulls her into a WWII-style shoot-out with laughing Germans.

But, wait! Veronica’s now in a movie theater with an old high school flame. Then she’s on a game show set where the janitor, Haberdasher, brings out the living corpses of each ex-boyfriend from her past so we can gloss over their histories with Veronica. In real life (supposedly) Dean reveals he found his soulmate through one of these ‘experiences.’ Veronica hopes for the same, but it never really happens for her – she’s still stuck with Eric. We finally end up in a courtroom wherein it is suggested Veronica made everyone up, and is actually a serial killer hell-bent on forcing unsuspecting men to her delusional will. The cat makes another appearance here, by the way.

It is now Dean who ‘wakes up’ from this experience (his? hers? I don’t know!) and waltzes out to meet up with a beautiful blonde who’s lost her… cat. Is it black and white, he asks? Nope. It’s gray.

Fade. Out.

I didn’t know how to start this review, and I certainly don’t know how to follow up a summary like that. I have never read anything so trippy in my life, which is really saying something since I delight in trippy. It’s what turned me on to film, the capacity for exploratory visuals, and worlds. Scenarios otherwise impossible and laughable in real life.

Yet, Undertow is perhaps exploratory to a fault.

While the dialogue is at times full of gems and the imaginative elements are unparalleled, everything just drags on and on. Conversations that could’ve ended in two pages instead last ten. Nothing connected for me even when it seemed to be laid out – the cat meant something, right? There was also a special ring, like an Inception token, to discern ‘slip streams’ and real life. Again, whether it really meant anything, or even connected as a common thread, is lost on me.

Grendl is truly tapped into the visual complexities of such an unusual world, such unusual circumstances. But that’s where the logic stops for me, and the confusing barrage of a dream world gone haywire, starts.

The biggest problem I noticed after really getting into the story was tonal inconsistency. I told Carson after getting through the first fifteen pages that I was getting a Blue Jasmine vibe: Privileged ‘bitchy’ woman is perpetually unhappy.

Then it got weird, with naked bodies in chambers tied to a ‘true’ physical world – okay, that’s the Matrix. Right?

Then, slip stream ‘levels’ and hypnotized dream sequences. That sounds a hell of a lot like Inception.

The rest is a psychotic Alice in Wonderland, if Alice were to face all her ex-boyfriends.

Reality-bending scripts are incredibly difficult to make work – not only does there need to be a clear establishment of rules and boundaries, but we need to have a little fun with it, too. Then it needs to service a plot that makes sense, and vice versa. It can’t be whatever just because we say it is. It can’t be entropic just because a physicist in the script explained it all away as free-flowing energy. Reality needs to be reality, and dream worlds need to be dream worlds. There has to be that distinction no matter what. I’m sure there were plot twists I missed because of subtle reality-dream-world mingling, and that’s the kind of movie I don’t want to watch in my free time. This is, without a doubt, a script from Shane Carruth’s wet dreams.

Carson once described the proportionate work required in reading a specific script as the ‘burden of investment': When a script is aesthetically dense, too difficult to read in one sitting, mapped out so chaotically it gives you a migraine, etc., then there is a certain ‘investment’ you make as a reader in order to understand the script in its entirety. The ‘burden’ part is simply the taxation of mental energy. Undertow maintained a HUGE burden of investment. I didn’t know which way was up or down after I got to fade out, and I’m not sure I wanted to know. My head was spinning. It’s good to make a reader think about your words after they’ve closed your script, but this was the sort of thinking that’s driven normally sane people to suicide.

The hardest part of this review is knowing deep in my gut that this was a laborious passion piece, a work Grendl perhaps holds very close to that Grinch-y heart of his. Undertow is not without intellect. It is not without observing human ills. It is not without an inkling of theme, or characters with real problems, scenes built on wild abstraction.

I just don’t get it, that’s all.

Hell, not everyone’s understood my work – it happens to all of us writers, beholden to artistic liberty and all at once the ability to tap into a commercially-viable well of generic human experience. A rock and a hard place.

This script could be something quite fascinating – pare down the dialogue, make it clear what is reality and what is not. Focus on one major narrative, one smaller narrative. Kill your darlings. Assuming this is meant to be in salable condition one day, the goal would be to take the bizarre – the shades of Shane Carruth – and churn it into something the layman would go see on a Friday night.

And if it’s never to be sold? Then I suppose the above doesn’t matter. Do with it what you will. As for my ‘female perspective,’ I understand some of the underlying issues Veronica faces are perhaps meant to draw in a female audience, but I prefer to believe gender has nothing to do with it. If a character is great, it’s because of their actions. Not gender.


[x] what the hell did I just read?
[  ] wasn’t for me
[  ] worth the read
[  ] impressive
[  ] genius

WHAT I LEARNED: When dialogue scenes last too long, as many of these did, it’s usually because the writer isn’t tuned into the point of the scene (understands what each character in the scene is trying to achieve).  If you know each character’s goal in the scene, you know exactly when they’ve achieved or failed, and therefore to end the scene and move on.

  • Matthew Garry

    Right up to the point where Veronica goes down the rabbit hole, “Tall, Dark, and Handsome” (which is the version I read, but I think is the same) is really good, and should it ever get made, the elevator/janitor scene is destined to become a classic.

    After that, it quickly becomes an acquired taste, which admittedly isn’t mine. It becomes a symbolic maelstrom which is too deep and moves too quickly to entertain: a limitation of my own faculty of comprehension, no doubt, but it left me unsatisfied.

    Still, up to that point it’s definitely worth the read from my pov, and what follows it might be interesting for those foolish or brave enough to enter the inner workings of a Grendl’s mind.

  • Bifferspice

    I read this last week, and loved it. Didn’t expect to see it on here!

    I too got lost by the end, but in the way that I do with David Lynch films such as Mulholland Dr, the point being it didn’t detract from my enjoyment. Sometimes it’s nice to get lost, if you have confidence that the answers are there. And I believe they are in this. Miss SS’s condensed summary is a bit of a pointless exercise – you could make lots of films sound confusing if you wanted. There was some fantastic imagery and insight on show here, all wrapped up in a mystery. I enjoyed many of the scenes on their own terms, while figuring out how it all hung together and where it might be heading.

    I had problems with the opening pages – the conversation scenes did indeed go on too long for my liking, but once she entered the building to visit the doctor, and had the experience with the lift, I started getting into it, and during the scene where she was expected to play along with Kyle, I thought “ok, we’re on a journey through her subconscious” and was swept up. The next time I checked the page, it was in the seventies.

    This sort of thing, exploring a character’s mind through non-literal representations of their subconscious in dreamlike states, seems tailor-made for films to me. You get to visually represent internal thoughts in a creative manner without the tethers of reality, yet still meaningful to the character and therefore truthful in all sorts of interesting ways. Many people disagree, and I’m sure they would find nothing to change their mind in Grendl’s script, but if you are interested in that, then there is plenty to love here – some really strikingly original visual imagery, that isn’t just there for show, but has a point. I loved the rising pool of black and white in the stairwell, the headcutting scene in the cinema, moving closer row by row, the toy machine gun splattering enemy soldiers in a crazy mix of play and gore, the cat literally has his tongue, the smile changing on the painting, the first description of zero, and the game with all the exes, rising from the graves.

    There’s a ton of stuff here that a director interested in dealing with dream imagery (and there must be LOADS of them) would fall over themselves to do. It’s clearly never going to be a commercial moneyspinner, but it’s got imagination, style and integrity. And it has points to make. The film amounts to more than “here’s some cool stuff I thought of”. That’s pretty rare in itself.

    I think it’s an impressive piece of work.

  • Casper Chris

    I remember reading this waaaay back. I also remember it popping up recently in an AOW under a different name.

    Based on what I read of it, it’s pretty trippy. Very Alice in Wonderland-ish. But it did have elements I liked (for instance the elevator scene at the beginning). And the whole slipstream idea has potential.

    I’ll try to give it another read. Have a feeling it might not be deserving of the WORST rating possible.

    btw. I love that picture. The surrealness of it. How she appears to be merging with the water. A woman being dragged asea by the underdow of her subconsciousness. Brilliant. And fitting.

    Oh, and speaking of Alice In Wonderland, I’ll just add here one of the greatest exchanges of dialogue in literary history. Pay attention folks:

    “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
    “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
    “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
    “You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

    • Matthew Garry

      Together with:

      “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
      “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”
      “I don’t much care where –”
      “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

      He’s one smart fellar, that cat.

  • fatherdope

    Un scenario de Grendl? Puh-leeze!

    • Cuesta

      I’m not sure, but perhaps it’s “a screenplay of” in french.

  • romer6

    I remember reading this one a long time ago and enjoying it. It had a different title but I´m pretty sure it was the same. It was hard to get into it but from the moment you stop trying to make sense out of everything it really gets momentum. There are some iconic scenes in there and I didn´t quite undertand everything but since I kept it so fresh in my mind it must have been a remarkable experience. I was never really into this trippy movie script thing at all, but sometimes I guess it is nice to read something that just takes away the floor from below our feet and throw us into a turmoil of senselessness. But if I might say, I don´t think this would transport as well to the big screen as it would to white pages, maybe in a novel format it would be better appreciated. I speak for myself as I also wrote a kind of trippy script and it got even crazier the more I worked on it so I decided to make it a novel instead and it really grew and got better. It still isn´t finished but I can tell that it was for the best. It takes a lot of effort to sit down and immerse yourself into a world without a clear sense of order for two hours without being able to take a pause, a moment to digest it all, a pause that a novel not only provides but invites you to take. I will download this new version and read it again when I have the chance. I am working now on a pilot for a tv series and I have a tight schedule to finish it and send it to a competition so it might be a while until I can give it a try but I´ll definitely do it.

  • brenkilco

    Have reached page thirty and so far like the set up. As noted the initial conversation goes on too long but the introduction of the doctor is well done. Am assuming the relationship with Dean will figure strongly in what follows and that he wasnt just a device to get Veronica to the Doctor.Three minor points, which may be premature. Has anyone ever gone from mentally unstable unknown to having a featured exhibit at the MET in six years? Wouldn’t a show at a small but influential gallery be more realistic? Most people who go through self improvement programs or therapies they consider life changing become prostletyzing true believers. Dean remains guarded and cagey. Why? Perhaps this is explained later. Finally, there are about a million shrinks and therapists in Manhattan. Is it really likely that an affluent woman would schedule an appointment with someone she knows zero about and cant even find a phone listing for based on nothing more than an offhand comment from an old boyfriend? I know we have to get her there but just wondering if she couldn’t be provided with a bit more motivation. Anyway, will definitely finish. Even though the guarantee in the review that I’m not going to get any rational payoff makes it harder.

  • Ange Neale

    I remember seeing ‘Vanilla Sky’ however many years ago that came out, and about 2/3rds though, a guy near the front stood up, turned around to everyone behind and yelled out ‘Can someone please tell me what the f^*k is going on?’
    I got to p. 37 in real quick time, into the trippy part. I need to tell you I’ve got the ‘flu, grendl, but I’m not nearly medicated enough for this to make sense.
    That elevator scene with the janitor, though… Cracking good.
    Lol for giving the bird to the Courier 12 font on the title page purists, too. It won’t get you past most of the gatekeepers, but, hell… You know that already.

    • Stephjones

      Sorry you got the flu, Ange. Feel better. Love the Vanilla Sky tidbit.

      • Ange Neale

        Thanks, Steph. Yeah, the guy got the best laugh of the whole movie. That was the only line I remembered, and it wasn’t even from the damned movie.

        Seems like every second person here’s sick at the moment. I’ve been tied up in conferences for the last couple of weeks and it’s like sitting in a petri dish.

        Your boat’s giving you lots of grief? How far behind schedule are you? You let us know when you move on, where you’re heading and when you expect to get there, okay? If you don’t check in, we’ll contact the Coast Guard to look out for ‘Eagle’, Steph, J, and Emergency Rations.

        • Stephjones

          Hah! Don’t get me started on the boat problems. We are so far behind schedule we no longer have a schedule. Probably end up spending peak part of hurricane season in the Dominican Republic. Not too bad an option. I’ll improve my Spanish, eat the most incredible mangos and avocados and drink too many el presidente grandes.
          As long as we are in puerto Rico I’ll still have easy Internet. Gets harder in the D.R. and beyond but will check in from time to time, for sure, when I can. Thanks.

          • Ange Neale

            Plan B has definite redeeming features. Not too shabby at all.

            Just remembered an anecdote from a (little-known outside Australia) actor called Jack Thompson who had an English mate come to visit. They were fishing around dawn from a dinghy in a river just north of Sydney, kookaburras laughing, fish biting and almost jumping into the boat. Beautiful, warm day, and his pal said to him (slightly grumpily), ‘I can’t believe we sent you bastards here for punishment.’

            Mangos are best eaten over the bath, in my experience. Sticky arms shouldn’t be a problem for semi-naked snorkelers though!

    • Cuesta

      “Lol for giving the bird to the Courier 12 font on the title page purists, too. It won’t get you past most of the gatekeepers, but, hell… You know that already.”
      Is that some sort of a deal-breaker? :/

      Btw Grendl, if you wanted to write “a screenplay by” in Spanish, the correct term would be “un guión de”.

      • Nicholas J

        Anyone worth a damn won’t care. Probably.

        • gregthegreg

          The “rule” that a non Courier 12 font on the title page won’t get you past the gatekeepers is a myth. Plenty of writers do it.

          Put yourself in a reader’s shoes… if you’re looking at the mountain of unread screenplays on your desk and your eye catches a title because it’s larger, well designed, a different font, etc, which script would you pick up first?

          Ask yourself, what does my title page font choice convey about my story?

          • ripleyy

            “Cartella”, recently in the AOW lottery, used this technique which got me to read it (and I ended up loving it). So yeah, using titles in different fonts definitely do work and I think they should be encouraged.

          • Matthew Garry

            >Ask yourself, what does my title page font choice convey about my story?

            -That you spent an inordinate amount of time (more than the time it took to type the title) on something that has no bearing on the quality of your writing.

            -That you feel “rules” and conventions don’t apply to you because you’re a rebel who’s exceptionally gifted and any reader who disagrees is just a hack who doesn’t understand your artistic genius.

            That said, an alternative font is certainly not a deal breaker or even something major, and in a pile of 10 it might make you stand out. In a pile of 100 though, you’re just “another one of those”.

          • Brainiac138

            Like I said above, it is pretty common now with pilots to have elaborate cover sheets.

          • gregthegreg

            I think it shows that you care about the material. It’s why there isn’t a hard and fast rule for fonts on movie posters. Because fonts can mean something.

            I don’t think any reader or creative exec would ever refer to any writer as a “rebel” or as “another one of those” for choosing to have a font other than Courier on their cover page.

            Bottom line, I really don’t think it hurts your screenplay. As you said, it has no bearing on the quality of the writing. But it can convey genre and tone.

          • Brainiac138

            This is true, especially with EVERY SINGLE WRITER mostly trying to get pilots out there, instead of features. It is pretty common for a pretty elaborate title page with graphics or at least graphic font, that will be in the style of the envisioned title sequence.

      • Ange Neale

        I don’t know who or what to believe any more about this ‘rules’ stuff, Cuesta.

        For instance, there was this from a ‘Script’ article back in April called ‘Why Spec Scripts Fail':

        “Most working first level readers in agencies are given this “Rule” as an
        automatic toss. A correctly formatted title page and script bound by two
        #5 brads and washers is expected (positioned in the top and bottom
        holes, leaving the middle with no brad). Just do it. Now, before the
        more energetic among you get all over my case, realize these are NOT my rules. I challenge you to read on.

        “These longtime conventions are an industry method to determine if the
        writer can be creative in story substance vs. trivial fluff. It’s more along the lines of how do we filter out the wheat from the chaff now that everyone with a laptop and writing software thinks they are a writer. Don’t misunderstand me, the use of industry standard writing and formatting software is essential if you want your words of wisdom to be taken seriously by the industry gatekeepers. Unfortunately, since the advent of computers vs. typewriters and script formatting programs or templates, the flood of correctly formatted substandard stories has overwhelmed the system.

        “Story is king/queen.”

        If it was up to me, the last sentence would be the ONLY thing that mattered, and if ‘The Godfather’ had been written longhand on papyrus scrolls, I’d still read it.

        (The rest of the article is at and )

  • Randy Williams

    I started reading. I’ve gotten to page 8. I’m going to read more. I’m sure it’s good.

    But I do have a suggestion. LOL. I feel like I’m approaching King Midas with some gold plate.

    Imagine you are meeting a friend at your normal meeting spot. Suddenly they’ve placed carpet where you normally stand. In fact, they are installing it around you as you speak with your friend. Furthermore, as you go about your day, carpet is appearing underneath everywhere you go!

    Imagine how you’d react, how you’d step gingerly over the carpet for the first time. How you are at times distracted by the workers laying carpet around you, sometimes even losing your train of thought, troubling your conversation. Definitely an obstruction to “thinking on your feet.”

  • Logic Ninja

    I think Miss Scriptshadow has a good point about tonal inconsistency. Dialogue is excellent–not too realist, not too purist–but tonally, the first few scenes feel a bit like a rom-com. A bit tame. All the insanity which follows comes entirely from outside our characters (as far as I could tell).

    Most trippy movies force us to stare unblinking into the dreams of a madman. Here we have the dreams, but no madman. Even in mindbenders like INCEPTION, the primary danger (Mol) comes from within the protagonist.

    We aren’t expecting crazy, because there’s nothing crazy inside our characters, itching to escape (as far as I could tell, again).

    What if, for instance, Veronica was plotting to kill her husband? Or herself? And couldn’t make up her mind, so she flipped a coin, and it came up tails: kill herself–but she couldn’t do it. She realizes just how insanse she really is, and this prompts her to visit the physicist. Or something crazier. Something better.

    That way, when something nuts happens (b&w cat), we don’t get it, but we sort of “get” it–or at least we’re expecting it, and can accept it. Those details reflect elements of the real world we remember from the first half of the first act. Like the Queen of Hearts in ALICE IN WONDERLAND, or the whole universe of SPOTLESS MIND.

    Anyway, your skill with dialogue alone is impressive, Grendl. Thanks for a very interesting morning read! And best of luck!

  • ChadStuart

    Back in college – oh, those many years ago – there was a student in one of my writing classes who loved to write abstract stuff. Completely impenetrable for the most part, but the writer swore that it made sense if you “paid attention”.

    Well, the professor basically called him on his bluff. He had the author write down in simple terms what happened in the story. Then, as an assignment, the whole class read the story and wrote the same simple precis of what we thought the story was about. The professor also had two colleagues join in on the fun.

    At the end of it, he compared all the summaries to the one of the author. No one was even close to what he intended it to be.

    The point was that it’s the author’s job to communicate his ideas clearly, even in the abstract, and not the reader’s to work so hard to “get it”.

    I haven’t read this, but I think it’s a good exercise to conduct if what you’re looking for is clarity. Give the script to three people you trust, and have them produce summaries of what they think happened. If at least one gets it right, then I think you know that you succeeded. If not, then you may want to do some work to clarify a bit.

    Or, you can also not care if people understand it. The irony to my story is that the author, at first, didn’t care that others were enjoying it and pulling their own interpretations and meaning out of the piece. He was frustrated that they weren’t getting the meaning he intended (he was writing about Valhalla and vikings, which was a point NO ONE got).

    • Matty

      Your student was Nicholas Winding Refn???

    • Bifferspice

      so are you saying that if you’re writing about vikings, it’s ok to be vague?

      • ChadStuart

        Well, I’m saying that if your story is about Vikings and Valhalla, then you should probably use the words “Viking” and “Valhalla” in there somewhere. He didn’t. He used “Warrior” a lot and I forget the word he used to represent Valhalla, but it wasn’t Valhalla.

    • Nicholas J

      I’ve always liked the Ebert quote: “If you have to ask what it symbolizes, it didn’t.” Or something like that.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Oh, I say.

    Hold it, hold it, hold it.

    Let me just fire up the Alex Duetto and pull a double Finca La Fany.

    Now, where did I put my half-moon reading spectacles?

    Ah, there they are.

    Okay, everybody.

    Please continue.

  • walker

    I must say I am a bit disappointed in this review and by LJ’s approach in general. Giving this difficult but highly ambitious and imaginative script the same rating that Trajent Future got seems like the reviewing equivalent of a sketched caricature. How is it that Scriptshadow can take an embarrassing lightweight piece of crap like The Equalizer seriously but not at least be respectful in reviewing an admittedly challenging piece by one of your best and most consistent commenters?

    • Bifferspice

      i don’t know who LJ is, but I agree with your point. The review doesn’t even try to get it, but seems rather to delight in not understanding any of it, not even a single part. it’s a difficult script to grasp in its entirety, but it isn’t too difficult to get the gist of the main narrative and many of the scenes therein. the review sounds like a jumble of scenes that make no sense from one minute to the next, whereas it’s well explained that it’s a journey through someone’s subconscious. to not understand that and just reel off a load of scenes as if there is no explanation for them being there seems somewhat wilfully obtuse. and it gripes that it asks a lot of the reader/viewer. well guess what, sometimes people like to be challenged.

      • Casper Chris

        LJ = Lauren Jefferson = Miss Scriptshadow = Carson’s girlfriend

      • S_P_1

        Who’s job is it for the script to make sense the reader or the writer?

        • Bifferspice

          not sure what you mean here. the writer has an aim when writing a script. whether it’s to please themselves, an audience, how much information to give them, etc. that aim might not include spoonfeeding the audience every single detail. to get the best out of some art, in whichever form, an audience might have to work at it. you get out what you put in. ever heard that expression? whose fault is it if the writer leaves something up to the audience and they don’t put the work in an ultimately don’t like or understand the art as a result? is it a ‘fault’ thing? i’d argue that if the audience would have enjoyed the art, or had their life enriched by it, had they put in the work required, that it’s a shame and a missed opportunity. not sure whether ‘job’ comes into it. but if you run a script review site, it indicates a level of commitment to trying to understand the script you’re reviewing.

      • kenglo

        Yeah, like that Circle of Confusion 1994 MATRIX coverage…..they really blew that one……

    • ripleyy

      But Trajent Future touched our hearts and was misunderstood :( Plus, mocking Trajent Future (TRA-GENT FUUUU-TORE!”) is low. He was just in the wrong script at the wrong time.

      • walker

        Yes he really belongs in the future, when trajent becomes a word.

    • S_P_1

      Are you implying because he’s a consistent commenter he should get a different grading scale. I challenged him about his unsolicited promotion of Bifferspice script. His response was Bifferspice was ultimately responsible for his own rating and under those same terms Charles is responsible for his own ratings. No special treatment of long standing members, new members, non-members.

    • Citizen M

      I thought Miss SS was leaning over backwards to be respectful and find something positive to say about the script.

      • Randy Williams

        I agree. However, she composed things in a way that made the script seem more confusing than it is. Especially when she was explaining how the protagonist jumped from one location to the next, “But then!” and interjecting back story in the midst of that explanation made it doubly so.

        I like her, though, and they have a cat.

    • klmn

      LJ and Carson are two separate people – I think.

  • Steffan

    Take this as you will:

    There is something inherently faulty with a “heady” screenplay such as the one described above–Grendl, I’ve yet to take a look at it; so I can’t comment specifically about yours.

    Novels work at the level of language. Novels and short stories are ALWAYS about words regardless of what the plot is.

    As such, films are ALWAYS about image regardless of what the plot is.

    Screenplays though exist in a very slippery contact zone between word and image. As such they are much more akin to comic books/children’s books/picture books than traditional “literature” even though they resemble the later on the page.

    I say this only to make the point that something like this script might need to be “watched” or “seen” rather than “read”. I find Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” haunting, but I doubt it would have the same oomph on the page while I sure as hell wouldn’t mind reading “Blue Velvet”.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is this: when a script drifts away from story towards image–that is the moment a film needs to be made in order for it to be judged on its own merits.

    In other words, that is the point where the screenplay becomes moot.

    -Steffan DelPiano
    Check out my own “heady” script below!

    • Bifferspice

      i think your point is valid if you are talking about reading screenplays as a product in themselves, but not in terms of judging screenplays in terms of becoming potential films. you say the film should be made in order for it to be judged – that isn’t possible without it being judged first by many people, and found to be worth making. i’m sure you know that, but i’m just pointing it out as an important distinction. as such, i think it’s possible to judge it with that in mind, that it will be more cohesive and striking on screen than on page, but that should be the case with all screenplays, or they would be better as books than films. a screenplay review website should obviously be able to make that distinction when reading it, and review it with that caveat in mind.

  • Stephjones

    Read to page 41. From what I remember of Tall, Dark and Handsome this is much improved. I like it…a lot.
    A few suggestions:
    I personally love most of the dialogue. Some can be trimmed but I only occasionally felt it was too much. Here are a few thoughts on where to trim…
    Page 4 Roni’s dialogue is too expositional. I think you can shorten it down to: ” But, I was there, remember?…you weren’t heading…
    Page 6 might leave off, ” his methods are too radical” it’s already inferred by his reluctance to talk about it.
    Page 17 might leave off ” notorious” . Too OTN. Just have; ” Ah, yes. Veronica Fall” Don’t set up a preconceived notion of her.

    Non dialogue thoughts:

    Page 16 LOVE the cab taking off. Really gets our attention.
    Page 24 I’m starting to Ike Roni because of her playfulness in the dialogue here. It implies a fearlessness but this spunkiness seems inconsistent with her set- up as a somewhat paranoid, miserable woman. The red hair might be better utilized to show the audience she suffers from doubt and insecurity without her revealing it in dialogue to her husband and friend. Have the spunk hide her underlying insecurity? Be part of her problem?

    • Stephjones

      Discus froze on me and won’t let me edit the above. Fucked up my train of thought.
      I’ll read on after I help hubby solve some of the endless problems we’ve been having on our boat. Gremlins in our slipstream.

  • Jarman Alexander

    Despite this, I didn’t mind the long scenes early because the dialogue was nice. Read to page 15 before I looked up wondering how long the scenes really were.

  • Nicholas J

    I will say that I really enjoy this script, and I believe that’s saying a lot, as I hate “dream” films. But Gren has such a talent for writing compelling stuff that he pulled me through to the end. It’s very rare that I actually finish an amateur script anymore.

    There is some great stuff in here. The dialogue is fantastic. The creativity level is high. The theme is there, even if it does get lost sometimes in all the chaos. And it’s certainly memorable.

    The main problem I have with this story is that it is basically one long therapy session. Once you are in a dream, unless there are direct, real world implications involved, the story is at a standstill. I guess here you could say that the dream world can help Veronica’s depression, but that really isn’t tangible enough. And that’s using an external medium for something entirely internal. IMHO that just doesn’t work.

    It’s Eternal Sunshine without all the chasing. In that film, you have the internal stuff, but at the same time, it is externalized as we see Joel racing through his memories with Clementine, trying to hold on to the good ones and fight/hide from the corporate erasers that are trying to tear it all down. There are real world stakes involved. If Joel doesn’t survive this memory armageddon, he will lose some of the best times he’s ever had in his life and be left with nothing but emptiness.

    I think a great addition to Undertow, and one Gren is possibly adding or has already added, is to make Veronica go to the therapy session with the active pursuit of finding her soul mate. This gives her some purpose in the dream world.

    Right now, she just kind of goes because Dean found help and she thinks she can be helped, too. But this is much too vague and there isn’t really anything at stake. If she goes there thinking she can find true love, that’s something much more tangible.

    But will that fix the main problem I have with this script? I’m not sure to be honest. It may still need more. It’s all about the execution of it. And I’m not even sure Gren wants to add something like that into it. It seems that he likes the internal-ness to it all. And that’s great, I respect sticking to your guns and what you set out to write. But it will make it that much harder to get this thing actually made, if that is the end goal.

    Grendl talks the talk on here all the time, but he seems to be able to walk as well. I’d just really like to see him use that talent and knowledge to pursue something more straight forward. He may think that would be stifling his creativity or something, but it’s really not. It’s learning how to harness it into something mass quantities of people will want to watch. That, to me, is a necessary skill to have if any of us want to “make it.”

    • walker

      You should check out Grendl’s script Haddegon Tails, a second rounder in last year’s Austin competition and reviewed by Carson last summer (under the alternative title Real Monsters). It is a much more traditionally plotted and structured script, but it still has great dialogue, sharp description, and unusual thematic depth and density.

      • Nicholas J

        I’ve read some of that. I remember it being more of a character piece. Not saying there’s anything wrong with that, I love character pieces and they work as great writing samples, being much better suited for contests and getting noticed. But here I am talking about the big genres where sales are made – a straight comedy, horror, thriller, something similar. Putting his depth and care for details and character into something like that could yield awesome results.

      • Poe_Serling

        Real Monsters

        The members of a small Irish town housing a supposed Lochness-like monster in their lake find their world turned upside-down when an American documentary crew arrives to find out if the monster is real.

        One of my favorite scripts from last year.

        What can I say… I had my net out to snag a lake monster, but then something unusual happened along the way from Fade In to Fade Out. The thrust of the story was altogether different than what I expected, and it turned out to be a more rewarding reading experience in the long run.

        • walker

          Poe, that is not the first time a comment by you has helped to restore my faith in some small measure. Did you notice the tonal similarities between Haddegon Tails and underrated Hitchcock masterpiece The Trouble With Harry?

          • Poe_Serling

            “… the tonal similarities between Haddegon Tails and underrated Hitchcock masterpiece The Trouble With Harry…”

            I bet you’re right. To be honest, it’s been such a long time since I watched The Trouble With Harry that I can only remember bits and pieces of the storyline.

            I will definitely keep an eye open for the film when it airs the next time on TCM or some similar venue.

    • S_P_1

      I don’t agree with the walk the walk assessment. He has an appreciation for 70’s golden era films with an over-reliance of using JAWS as an template for just about all topics of film discussion. Now if you’re referring to putting up his script for peer review as far as walk the walk – I agree. If you mean as far as execution of an exceptional script he’s not there. I read a few of his posts where he harps about writers using zombies and what not and in his own script he has a midget with an axe. (completely going off memory)

      The majority of members on this board have a firm grasp of script writing fundamentals. But when it comes to a polished product not everyone can deliver.

      • Casper Chris

        I feel many are actually delivering ‘polished’ products. It’s the creativity/originality that is often lacking. Grendl is really good here. I feel he’s pushing himself more and being more creative with his choices than the average AF writer, creating some memorable moments and dialogue. It feels like he just needs a better spine to hang his creativity on. A better story. Where the underlying mechanics are a bit more sound. Anyway, I’d much rather read a script like Undertow where there are at least some attempts at pushing the envelope than some cookie-cutter been-there done-that script that hits every Snyder beat perfectly.

        • drifting in space

          But… but… someone saves a cat in Undertow…

          • Casper Chris


        • Nathan

          Speaking of The Disciple Program, does anyone possibly have the script to share? And does anyone know how it’s all going? imoffshit at hotmail dot com. Thanks.

  • S_P_1

    I read this script when it was titled Tall Dark and Handsome from start to finish.

    Ms SS hit the nail on the head this is a modern day version of Alice in Wonderland mixed with the Matrix.

    I was only jarred once, before I got where the story was heading. It involves the Toy Soldier scene. Going off of memory I don’t recall if it ever jibbed within the greater context of the story.

    I agree that the warped floor was extremely visual and creative. Essentially if the majority of the script focused on the dreamscape aspect instead of the relationship aspect it might be more tonally cohesive.

    Also the game show with the grave consequence was clever. I could tell it was probably his favorite scene.

    Outside of the relationship drama I could tell Charles was trying to weave an Outer Limits / Twilight Zone vibe. Several times in the script I thought she was outside of the machine. Which makes me think about these time loop scripts. It was implied (going off of memory) that she visited the doctor prior to the very first instance in the script. Once you blur the initial point of entry it becomes hard to follow.

    I didn’t care for the original title although it did tie in to a certain person on a movie screen. (without giving to much away)

    There were strong visuals. Some of the dialogue went on too long. There was also a meanness about Veronica. I get that Charles was attempting to create this free thinking independent woman who followed her own mind and didn’t need a man to define her. And several times within the script other characters put her in her place. So even if he was trying to be evenhanded with the sexes, men are still dominate within his script.

    Going by LInkthis83 suggested category I give this script.

    [x]wasn’t for me / worth the read

    The strongest piece of advice I have is play up the dream sequences and reel in the relationship drama. That whole scene about the single red hair was stretching a premise beyond belief which in turn set her on her journey.

    Also if you’re going to have a Blue is the Warmest Color type bitch (both women in my opinion) then make the dreamscape build in sequence how she became that way.

    • Casper Chris

      I didn’t care for the original title although it did tie in to a certain person on a movie screen. (without giving to much away)

      I believe Undertow is the original title. At least I read it as Undertow almost two years ago, long before it was featured here as Tall, Dark and Handsome. I think the latter was just a mock title, but I could be wrong.

  • leitskev

    Nothing to add on my end. Just wanted to say thanks to the Miss for the review.

  • drifting in space

    I got to page 8. Honestly, I couldn’t take it anymore. Grendl can write, I’m not debating that. I just think he should try his hand at writing a novel.

    I’m not going to comment much since I only read a few pages. What I did read went too long and was full of exposition. I didn’t feel chemistry between the two characters. I felt like they were telling me their chemistry. That’s not how people that know each other talk. Even if they aren’t together currently. I felt there needed to be more tension, more subtext.

    NOTE: if you describe a woman as shapely, you don’t need to tell me 6 pages later that she also has shapely legs. Little things like that can subconsciously distract some readers. Or maybe just me.

    But I’m a peon so my opinion means nothing. Keep at it. I’m sure there are people that will fight and go down with the grendlship on this one.

    • ripleyy

      I think a script such as this one would have thrived better in the 1950s and 60s, in the days of Casablanca and such, because those were scripts written with a novel approach.

      • drifting in space

        I agree 100%. It has that same feel to it.

      • Randy Williams

        I was thinking 60s too, and hallucinatory drugs.

    • brenkilco

      Agree about the dialogue. It’s OK but there is the sense that the couple are providing info for the benefit of their unseen audience. People with an intimate history are going to be referencing things and conversing in a shorthand that an eavesdropper isn’t necessarily going to understand. Keeping the dialogue natural while keeping the audience in the loop is one mark of a good dramatic writer.

  • mulesandmud

    Grendl, am curious why you wanted this script up for discussion here.

    The material is way outside the comfort zone of this website. The notion of difficult, non-Hollywood, non-genre, art-over-commerce filmmaking tends to struggle in this forum. Carson and many commenters seem at times to be aggressively disinterested or outright opposed to that side of the coin (with exceptions, of course – relax, folks).

    I doubt even the best rating would open any new doors for the project; the record suggests that SS simply isn’t plugged into the kind of infrastructure that gets projects like these off the ground.

    As a reading experience, the script is alternately fascinating and frustrating. Often intentionally so, I suspect. A challenging read, and not easy to discuss constructively. I don’t know how helpful a general call for notes would be; the conversation would probably do far better with a smaller, more targeted group.

    Furthermore, you operate with a general suspicion of bias against you here, so I can’t imagine that you expected a fair read, whether from Miss SS or anyone else.

    Seems like a bad bet from the start, unless 1) you had specific reason above and beyond just gender to expect different from Miss SS, or 2) you’re intentionally falling on your sword to demonstrate the limitations of the site.

    Would love to hear your logic, if you feel like sharing.

    • drifting in space

      Likely #2.

      • Citizen M

        Grendl deserves to be judged by a jury of his peers.

        Unfortunately, he has no peers.

    • Casper Chris


      Tons of people are reading this site, including industry people. Someone might read the script and take a liking to it. Someone who knows someone who knows someone. Grendl has nothing to lose. He’s writing under pseudonym anyway.

      He probably didn’t expect that rating though.

    • grendl

      II’m going to repost what I wrote below.

      Now if you or anyone can explain in detail how the story described in the synopsis is not the one in the script, I would like to see it.

      You can’t say start with the relationship between Veronica and Dean, because thats not where the story starts. It starts within the slipstream.

      It starts in a cafe, French movie style, with a woman trying to reconnect with the artist she dumped, now happily married. Please explain in detail how that was either not conveyed, or poorly written.

      Keeping in mind this is a revenge fantasy, a scene thats a wet dream for Dean Haller. Seeing the woman who dumped him grow more and more frustrated as the revelations about his great life pile up.

      But gren, we DON’T KNOW THAT, when its happening. No and you didn’t know bruce Willis was a ghost in the “Sixth Sense”whats your point? Oh you didn’t ask.

      The following is what the stories about. You don’t need to be smart or stupid to understand it, its pretty straight forward, and mules if you’re suggesting “Upstream Color’ about pigs ruling the world makes more sense well then we will have to agree to disagree.

      Unknows can write surreal to, and submit it here. And I;m not at all ashamed of it. In fact I;m proud as hell of it. And its nice Eric Heisserer loved it too when he read it back at Zoetrope years ago.

      Here it is again in a nutshell. And artistic license is still valid on Script Shadow.
      Starting with the background to the story, before we actually see the cafe scene, exposition we will come to learn over the course of the script.

      Veronica Fall and Dean Haller shared a rat hole of an apartment on Bleecker Street in NYC for 6 years in which he could never sell a single painting, other than to the man who would eventually take Veronica away from him, Eric Fall. He bought the abstract painting of her in blue shards.

      Now try to remember that. Veronica as an abstraction. Not only as a painting because its going to figure into the nature of what she turns out to truly be at the end , an abstraction, an idea, a memory twisted and tormented in Dean Hallers brain for his own sadistic pleasure.

      So after she leaves him and moves in with the Wall Street shark Dean attempts suicide, and then seeks out the help of en enigmatic doctor with a bizarre form of psychotherapy. He’s managed to discover invisible rivers of energy encircling the globe, the largest of which runs through Manhattan, and the wall in his loft/

      He’s been able to devise a methodology for putting severely disturbed people under, in a state of hypnosis, injecting them into their slipstream to encounter their past in a rather refracted form.

      So Dean has done that.

      And where does his slipstream experience start.

      Scene one at the cafe of their Bohemian past together. Now he’s a great success, with a show at the Met of all places. How weird is that? How implausible. Well it never happened, because we’re watching a revenge fantasy play out not the actual past. Because the Mandrake slipstream, composed of both black and white energies, negative and positive has allowed him to indulge in his revenge fantasy.

      So now he’s a hotshot, and Veronica is miserable, having discovered a red hair lodged in her husbands pant zipper. She’s unhappy with the choices in her life ( but not really because shes not real, shes a cast member in a revenge fantasy who doesn’t know it )

      But we follow her journey, in trying to do what Dean did, in going to Dr. Saeghardt to find out why she’s so unhappy, now that shes got money and living on Central Park. The alpha male is cheating on her with a red head.

      Again none of this happened. Its a revenge fantasy in Deans brain playing itself out. I’m allowed to do that as a writer. Thats how Dr. Saeghardt gets people to heal sometimes by letting them live out their FANTASY.

      So down the rabbithole, this woman, who isn’t real, but a memory, goes. And encounters men from her past in a rather refracted surreal manner, and over the course of this we see a man of mystery appear. Someone she doesn’t know. He follows her through the slipstream and saves her time and again.

      You know? Like Prince Charming Disney fills little girls heads with? The perfect man who doesn’t exist, or so that is Deans contention. As this is his revenge fantasy. Taking Veronica to task for her unreasonable expectations, demanding perfection in her mate.

      But theres one glitch in the fantasy. Dean still can’t get the paintings perfect to warrant the success his slipstream experience allows him to indulge in. Its like if someone imagines themselves in the NBA beating the Heat and Lebron James but they’re a shitty basketball player. The fantasy has no merit.

      So Veronica sees the painting of herself being touched up, time and again in the courtroom and realizes this isn’t about her. She, like the energies in the game show, is a memory. And idea, an abstraction.

      And she turns the tables on Dean. Saying okay, if you’re such a big success hot shot, lets see these great paintings of yours. Something he is unable to produce, because this is nothing but a revenge fantasy. And he still can’t do the one thing that he couldn’t do when he was with her.

      Thats what this is about. it may be complicated, but if you say it makes no sense, I’d like to hear how.

      • Malibo Jackk

        ‘Eric Heisserer liked it…’
        ‘Eric Heisserer loved it…’
        How does the feedback at Zoetrope work?
        Did he drop you a note? Was he just one on a committee?
        Did he give you notes?
        How does/did it work at Zoetrope?

      • leitskev

        “Thou shall not bore and thou shall not confuse.”

        I have not read the script, but your explanation sounds complicated, and severely in risk of violating the second commandment you’ve made famous.

        Now, that doesn’t mean the story doesn’t have value. It wouldn’t be the first film to challenge its audience. I did this kind of thing with an early script of mine(which actually got dollar optioned by some guy without a clue to financing it). However, I would never do it again. Challenging the audience is risky enough for a director. But it’s completely pointless to do it with a spec script. With all the thousands of scripts out there, no one is going to slog through and struggle to figure out a script by an unknown writer. Why would they?

        Sixth Sense is a tight script. There are clues to figure things out, and if you don’t, it all comes together at the end. It was driven by extremely compelling mysteries relating to both the boy and the B. Willis character. The mysteries carried the audience to want to see it through. And the resolution of those mysteries gives satisfaction.

      • mulesandmud

        I read the script when you submitted it to AOW, and thought the story made quite a bit of narrative, intellectual, and emotional sense by the end. It’s also unambiguously heavy lifting, and takes pride in that fact.

        My question was more about your goal in submitting, not because you shouldn’t have, because I’m curious what you’re hoping to give or gain from the process. It’s a question I often have, but I’m more interested in actually hearing your answer than most others’. Was the big win to get featured at all, for the general reason of exposure? Were you hoping for a fresh batch of feedback on a new draft (seems largely the same to me)? Were you trying to generate a particular discussion? Was it just a lark to keep Carson and Co. on their toes?

        Regardless, it’s an interesting project. Good luck with it.

    • BSBurton

      Totally agree, great post. It is outside any site in my opinion lol…

  • Chris Mulligan

    [x] Made my day.

    • pmlove


  • kenglo

    “Your music makes sense to no one, but yourself…” Purple Rain.

  • Craig Mack
    • Ange Neale

      Completely awesome list, Craig!

  • Gregory Mandarano

    I’m a fan of Grendl’s script Real Monsters, and I look forward to reading this madness. Ive given notes on one of Grendl’s othet scripts, which is a good comedy that he’s working on. This script seems to go off the deep end, and while people might balk at the script or think negatively of Grendls writing chops, I think it’s a valuable exercise in screenwriting to try to write something totally out of your comfort zone and normal genre and experiment. If nobody ever tried to shake things up, for bettwr or really worse, then film as an art form would stagnate. Obviously scripts that are surrealistic are challenging to both the writer and the reader, but the very act of writing one will expand one’s mastery of the craft.

  • bookfan

    Lauren shouldn’t be reviewing scripts when there is a long line of people who are dissatisfied with her work. Just sayin’.

    • drifting in space

      Says…………… who?

  • Citizen M

    I got to page 41. I see no organizing principle or story line after Veronica goes to Saeghardt’s building. It seems to be a bunch of random psychedelic scenes featuring Veronica.

    What is Veronica’s goal? She tells Dr. S she’s there because her husband is cheating on her and she’s unhappy. (Maybe she’s also unhappy at leaving Dean before he became mentally well and successful.) He tells her misconceptions are the reason she is there and by following the mental “slipstreams” that exist around the earth she will encounter her past and reach epiphany.

    The problem is, so far I see no evidence that she is encountering her past, and no move towards epiphany. It promises an interesting take on the age-old problem of how to cope with having an unfaithful spouse, but I don’t see any fresh illumination of the subject.

    In the parts I did follow, the dialogues went on for too long — Roni/Dean, Roni/Eric, Roni/Dr. S.

    Generally speaking, this is not the kind of movie I enjoy. I felt the same about The Fountain. So maybe I’m not the right person to comment about this script. As it stands, my verdict: same as Miss SS.

    • Casper Chris

      I got to page 41. I see no organizing principle or story line after Veronica goes to Saeghardt’s building. […] He tells her misconceptions are the reason she is there and by following the mental “slipstreams” that exist around the earth she will encounter her past and reach epiphany.

      You stopped literally at the page where she meets ex-boyfirend Nick (a scene that explores one of these misconceptions). Not kidding.

      • Citizen M

        Now that I’ve read Grendl’s explication, it’s clear I got it all wrong, anyway.

  • grendl

    Evidently Carson chose today for slow moderating,

    Wonder why???

  • Nick Morris

    I like the slipstream concept and can definitely appreciate the dream-like, surrealist approach to it. Obviously, this would make for a much better watch than a read, but Grendl is a strong writer and I think he manages to keep things relatively grounded here. I enjoy reality-bending stuff like this and would totally check this movie out. Great job!

    Also, the jock/bully ex-boyfriend character has a really cool name. :)

  • ChadStuart

    Great. But the point of the exercise is to give the script to three people you trust and see if that’s how they describe your story, without having read your synopsis.

  • leitskev

    Is this a different script than the one he entered months back? The opening scene seems altered. I actually read the opening back when he first put this up and I remember really liking it. Thought it was clever. I didn’t read beyond the opening, but not due to the script, just my own schedule.

    Something feels different about the opening now. Maybe I’m crazy. I don’t remember the red hair thing, and I remember the identity of the painter being more of a twist, which was the main strength of the scene. It seemed to me we didn’t learn until later in the scene before that Dean was the painter. I even talked about it with another writer as it being a very good scene.

    • Casper Chris

      The red hair thing was definitely there in the AOW version (Tall, Dark and Handsome), but the first scene has been altered slightly. I don’t remember the cat poster in the opening either. Must’ve added that.

      • leitskev

        Was anything changed? I know it was a while ago.

        • Casper Chris

          Oh, did you mean if the ‘red hair’ was mentioned in the cafe scene? I don’t remember to be honest. But yea, the scene has been altered slightly from what I recall.

          • leitskev

            The main reason I liked it before was because of the argument over whether to use the painting…and the painting turns out to be his work. It feels different to me now, and wasn’t sure if I just read the scene wrong before, or even now.

          • Casper Chris

            I just checked (AOW version). They are pretty much identical (and the cat poster was there too) leading up to the reveal that it’s his painting. There is no real “argument” over whether to use the painting in either.

            So unless you’re thinking of the original Undertow… someone might have posted it in the comments section a couple of months ago. And yea, the original was definitely different. That could be it.

          • leitskev

            I’m going on memory, so could be way off, but I seem to remember reading it last fall, like September. I don’t remember if the draft was in AOW or something else. No biggie.

          • Casper Chris

            It was featured in AOW December last year (as Tall, Dark and Handsome. So if you recall correctly (that you read it in September), then you must’ve read the original Undertow which has been around for a few years.


          • Citizen M

            TITLE: Tall, Dark and Handsome
            GENRE: Thriller
            LOGLINE: A Manhattan trophy wife’s attempts to retrace the missteps of her romantic past lead to the doorstep of a mysterious doctor and down a rabbithole of hatred.

            Title: Undertow
            Genre: Psychological drama. I think.
            Premise (after reading): Unhappy with her life, a housewife visits a
            physicist who transforms the way she views the world – and her own mind.

          • Casper Chris

            Same link I posted below. It’s possible he read the original Undertow (even earlier version).

          • Citizen M

            I see the link now that I refresh the page.

          • Somersby

            Usually appreciative of Grendl’s participation on this site. But since this script had its opportunity on AOW just a little more than six months ago, I’m stymied as to why it’s being reviewed again.

            I enjoyed his earlier submission Real Monsters, but it seems unfair (not that there’s a stated “Fairness Policy” on this site), that he’s had three reviews–and three exposures–in 10 months.

            I’m not alone, I’m sure, in having submitted multiple scripts multiple times and haven’t had a nibble from Carson. Granted, they’re outside his wheelhouse, but so are Real Monsters, Tall, Dark and Handsome and Undertow.

            …Maybe the squeaky wheel DOES get the oil.

          • Citizen M

            Do you identify yourself as Somersby with your avatar when you submit your script? Maybe Carson doesn’t realize who you are if you submit under your real name.

            As you are a long-time commenter I think you are more deserving of a slot on AOW than some unknown writer who doesn’t contribute to the site. But I have no say in the matter.

  • Nicholas J

    I was under the impression there was no monster and it was a hoax and it became the story of the town putting on the hoax or something? So like more of a character drama. Jaws without the shark basically. Right?

    • grendl

      When the fisherman tells his story we don’t know its bullshit until after the punchline “course it could have been the booze”

      But in real time watching it, that night fishing story, if shot right, with a nice scary monster and music is scary as hell.

      And when Liam gets attacked in the lake we again don’t know thats the animatronic monster. Another after the fact revelation that won’t spoil the attack in the slightest.

      See thats the problem with reading spoilers first. Readers then think
      “well I knew that was going to happen”. No you didn’t, you read the review first then slammed something for being exactly what Carson wrote about it.

      Makes no sense at all.

      • Nicholas J

        Well let’s be clear I didn’t slam anything. I haven’t read it.

        So people will go in thinking this is a monster movie and then they find out at the end the monster has a zipper? I assume you’ve seen The Village? People hated that movie for that very reason. I happen to love that movie when watched as a character drama, but as a monster movie it’s rather lame. Not saying that will apply to yours as well, but it’s very possible. I seem to remember a lot of the feedback about it being centered around that, but I could be wrong.

        Anyway, feel free to send me your latest version of that one. Sounds interesting.

        • Malibo Jackk

          Give the audience what they want.
          If they come for the monster — you have to give them the monster.
          You can’t disappoint them.

          g has described the script as a type of comedy.
          If you market it as such, people will not expect a bloodbath
          — unless it’s a dark comedy.
          The tone of the script will clue the audience as to whether the
          monster is to be feared or not.
          (Just my opinion.)j

  • drifting in space

    This actually sounds pretty cool. I’m going to give it another shot. Disregard my previous comments.

  • walker

    Hey WW, I have been commenting on Scriptshadow for five years. So I am not so much a plant as you are a snide coward.

  • pmlove

    I read the whole thing. It’s not perfect. But for all it’s surrealist trippy nonsense, it all has purpose. Most scripts attempting this sort of thing leave you with no meaning, just feeling (usually, bored) but this does a decent job of wrapping up the story.

    A couple of suggestions:

    The Haberdasher. I couldn’t figure why this character? I imagine because he would look cool but it would be nice to see this have a link to reality (something Dean was trying to work on painting maybe). This is Dean’s primary vehicle for catharsis, so the character needs some context from the real world.

    Slipstream. Personally, I think this script could use LESS explanation. The slipstream stuff raises more questions than it answers. It’s all a dream/nightmare, I can get on board with that without the Mandrake current. The problem is this is the one thing that is supposed to exist in the real world. I can take all the shit you throw at me in Dean’s head but real world Mandrake sounds… hokey.

    There are definitely bits that feel slow and too talky – eg the dinner scene and game show bit goes, ditto some of the courtroom.

    But hey, if Tim Burton needs a shot in the career arm, I imagine something like this could work.

  • NajlaAnn

    ” If a character is great, it’s because of their actions. Not gender.” ABSOLUTELY!

  • Casper Chris

    Okay, I finished it as well.

    So yea, my first assessment — “trippy” — still stands. I also stand by what I said below, that I love that Grendl is being creative with his choices and trying to push the envelope (something I miss a lot on Amateur Fridays)…


    I have to agree with Leitskev… I think Grendl violates his own second commandment (Thou shall not confuse). I’m not going to lie. I was confused toward the end.

    After reading Grendl’s synopsis/explanation, I’m still left with questions:

    My biggest question is:

    – If the Veronica we’re watching is a part of Dean’s revenge fantasy, how would she be able to turn against him and expose him? If she’s a figment of his imagination/fantasies, then he controls her. And if he controls her, why would she do anything that is against his will? The fact that she does do something that is against his will suggests that she has her own will and if she has her own will, she can’t be a figment of his imagination. She can’t be an “actor” in his revenge fantasy.

    Is there a logical explanation for this in the script right now? And is it clear?

    Question number two:

    – If the Veronica we’re watching is a part of Dean’s revenge fantasy, why the scene where Eric reveals that the red hair was just from a ginger guy at the dry cleaner? Isn’t that incongruous with the revenge fantasy? Dean wants her to suffer in her relationship, right?

    Niggles I caught along the way:


    spokes models/spokesmodels

    missing comma in the sentence
    “Mental energy is subject, Ms. Veronica Fall to magnetism…”

    vantagepoint/vantage point

    fining dining/fine dining

    dark enclave/dark alcove (?)

    in synch/in sync

    cap after colon (this/This)

    missing comma in the sentence
    “A dead girl, 16 years old lies on her side..”

    elderly man with a can/elderly man with a cane (?)

    rifles through/riffles through

    • Casper Chris

      As I’m on my way to bed, I’m going to post Grendl’s reply (in moderation) here and then answer it below…

      Grendl’s reply (in moderation):

      I think mules is right about my many detractors here.

      You wouldn’t accept any explanation, whether it was in the story or I gave it to you.

      You’d say I didn’t provide it.

      If I told you the slipstream isn’t simply making someone up in a revenge fantasy, that their mental energies still flow into it as Veronicas does, that shes partially there in spirit, I don’t think you’d understand or buy it.

      If I told you Dean wouldn’t get any pleasure of torturing someone he totally makes up in his mind, I don’t think you’d buy it. WHats the fun in those kind of fantasies.

      Dr. Saeghardts process in the slipstream allows people to encounter the essence of others from their past, their energies. Not make them up for the sake of acting out some totally fabricated fantasy. Theres an element of the real person present.

      And Veronica becomes aware of that. Just like the energies at the game show table, she’s just an energy too. Shes not the actual person but a memory, an abstraction. But she becomes self aware and turns things around on him,.

      I don’t care if thats not a good enough explanation. No explanation would satisfy my many many detractors.

      My reply:
      I’m not your detractor Grendl. Stop playing the victim. The fact that you’re throwing that card actually makes me a bit angry, because I was defending you in this thread. I was really liking elements of this script, but I ended up being confused, and now I want to know if that was my fault or your fault. Simple as that.

      You drew a comparison to the The Sixth Sense below and the cool thing about The Sixth Sense is that once you get to the ending and the big reveal, it all makes sense. It’s all clear as day. The explanation is so beautiful in its simplicity and “sensemaking”, and once you rewatch the movie, you realize all the clues were there all along.

      Once I got to the big reveal in your script, it wasn’t a light bulb moment. I was confused. Then I read your explanation (“Veronica as an abstraction… a memory twisted and tormented in Dean Hallers brain for his own sadistic pleasure”), but that explanation opens up another can of worms. So I present that “can of worms” as a very logical and lucid question and what do I get? A disclaimer telling me that I won’t buy this explanation (most likely because you know it’s not a very good one), followed by an explanation that not only goes against your earlier explanation (now she’s not JUST an abstraction/memory after all, but she is “partially there in spirit”) and some mumbo-jumbo about slipstreams that, even if it made sense, no layman watching the movie would ever get.

      And much of this stuff IS NOT IN THE SCRIPT. Even if it’s hinted in the most minuscule of details somewhere, it’s overshadowed by the massive and contradictory indicator I presented in my question above. Even if it all the clues and info I need to arrive at the explanation you just gave me are there in the script (let’s be honest, it’s not), I would still feel cheated because the script has such strong contradictory indicators, indicators that cannot be justified on the basis of “clever misdirection”.

      I really wanted to like this script and I admire its ambition, but in the end, it didn’t hold up to scrutiny. With all that had gone before it, so much hinged on that ending and your big reveal making sense.

      The good thing is that you have that “gift of creativity” that Nicholas J talked and you can write competently, so I’m sure it’s just a matter of time before you have a hit on your hands. Good luck.

  • gonzorama

    Post a link to your script or let us know how to contact you.

  • Tom

    In all honesty, if you hadn’t posted this synopsis, I wouldn’t have cracked it open. Like all the others who say they don’t care for “dream movies,” I just couldn’t get interested in “Woman tumbles down her own mind.”

    But “pathetic artist’s revenge fantasy against his ex-lover”?! Shit, man. That got me VERY intrigued.

    “Surrealist revenge fantasy” is one hell of a hook. We’ve all been there. We all daydream. We all want revenge against the ones who cause us pain. And revenge fantasies don’t have to involve AR-15s. They can be pure schadenfreude. That feeling of “Look at what you’ve become. Now look at what I’ve become. Who won now?” Your synopsis got me on board. It’s accessible.

    Reading it from that “day-dreamed revenge fantasy” perspective made all the pieces fall into place. It made the depth of the world and the characters all the much clearer, and it made me appreciate the ease of your writing style.

    If I hadn’t known what I knew, I would have given up.

    I have to wonder if you’re doing a disservice to the script by building it around the twist. By withholding that vital piece of information, you’re keeping the reader in the dark for 98% of the story.

    In a weird way, the most satisfying end-twists tend to be the most superfluous. They add an extra layer to a story that we thought we understood. Sixth Sense could have ended with Bruce Willis finally redeeming himself from failing his earlier patient. That would have been fine, and everything would have made sense. But the death added another level. In a less “Oh Henry” sense, Y tu Mama Tambien ends with a twist. We discover that she had been terminally diagnosed with cancer the whole time. We thought we understood that entire journey, but, again, the twist added another layer.

    Ultimately, the twists that give us a deeper understanding of the characters, but aren’t necessary for the plot to function, are the most satisfying, and the most challenging.

    Compare that with movies like “The Uninvited.” The twist exists to explain a plot that otherwise would make no sense. And because of that, the story feels gimmicky and empty. It’s not far off from “Ah! It was only a dream!”

    That’s kind of what you have in Undertow. In some ways, it’s a Scooby-doo, “And the real subconscious is… (pulls off the mask)… DEAN!”

    This script builds to a moment at its end that justifies everything we have seen previously. We’re unable to appreciate the story as it’s presented because there is one unifying piece of information that’s being withheld from us. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could have similarly withheld information. We could have gone through that story wondering why Joel’s world is disappearing, and why his relationship with Clementine is moving in reverse. We could have found out at the very end that he had chosen to have it all erased. And while such a strategy would have added mystery, it would have been a lesser movie.

    Ultimately, I have no concrete suggestions. You’ve given the mechanics of this script, as well as its deeper themes, an immense amount of care and thought. Any notes I could formulate in an afternoon would be an insult to this script’s intricate nature. This is an incredible script.

    But I do think you should re-evaluate whether the twist serves the script or detracts from it.

    Personally, by knowing the inner workings of this world, I enjoyed this script far more than I otherwise would have.

  • Montana Gillis

    To tough to get through. Not looking for mental exercise – just to be entertained. This wasn’t my cup of tea.

  • leitskev

    Just reading his explanation you knew the script was going to be confusing. Again, not saying it’s bad, it could be genius. But I think you need to direct your own material if that’s the case. Spec scripts need to be easy to understand. I always say Grendyl’s law is kind of the golden rule: don’t bore, don’t confuse. Like Grendyl, I have a tendency to think in complicated schemes. It’s something I have to guard against. I recommend the G man doing the same. Just my penny’s worth, nothing more. I know G’s a bright guy. Off his rocker, but never dull. He’ll come back with something better.

  • Nathan

    I can imagine M Night having this exact conversation after every one of his subsequent flops. Damn this business.

  • brenkilco

    I enjoyed it quite a bit. And its not nearly as incoherent as the review indicates. Movies where characters confront their past and their failings via dreams and fantasies are pretty common after all. Wild Strawberries, 8 and a half et al. And for all it’s surreal filligree, at heart this is a piece about life lessons. Some people have mentioned Alice in Wonderland, and the courtroom climax with dialogue stuffed with non sequiturs did seem inspired by Lewis Carrol. But another inspiration may well have been A Christmas Carol, with the sort of female protagonist forced to relive the pain she has caused in her past but in a more surreal participatory manner than Dickens’ Scrooge. Some of the elements, like the Germans, felt random but I liked most of the imagery.

    What didn’t work? Well the whole notion of a protagonist who doesn’t actually exist I find troubling. In effect, we never meet the real Veronica. Only Dean’s mental projection. Most of the script is her wrestling with her feelings, but none of this is ultimately relevant. In the end she exists only to give Dean a good talking to. And since until the end he is only a peripheral character we really can’t take much satisfaction in his final, happy epiphany. Also the Veronica we follow for so long is fairly shallow and uninteresting. Didnt really know what she wanted and didnt care whether she got it. Eric is also fairly useless. There’s really nobody I was rooting for. And I’m not sure whether the final reversal completely counters what comes across as a fairly strong streak of misogyny in the script. Also didn’t much like the trial. It was somehow both too over the top and too on the nose.

    Last point, I don’t think the final reveal can work unless there is at least a hint that what we are watching may be someone else’s point of view. Everything appears to happening from Veronica’s point of view when in reality Dean is having some sort of schizo slipstream experience where sometimes he is involved in the action and at other times he is viewing everything from an omniscient Godlike vantage. The slipstream seems to be an uncontrollable hallucination but the suggestion is that Dean is controlling what happens to Veronica. In the museum scene Veronica encounters Dean who has been chatting with a curator. But if this is Dean’s dream shouldn’t the scene start with Dean and the Curator and then bring Veronica on. POV questions abound and I would have liked a little more clarification before the twist.

  • astranger2



    It opened well:

    Obviously a very noir feel. Veronica, ala Veronica Lake, felt like a brunette Jessica Rabbit with “her long raven hair flowing into the folds of her blue satin dress like an estuary.”

    Nice image of the Picasso-esque blue shards painting. The dialogue is precious:

    “Are there locusts in my hair?” Veronica responds. “You have just rattled off half the signs of the apocalypse…” All in response to Dean’s rattling off mundane details of his newly-found domestic bliss.

    Loved this snippet from Eric: 
”At what evolutionary point did parking garage attendants branch off from the rest of the species?”


    From Page 10 to Page 30 – it was in dire need of Viagra. While the banter between Veronica and the cab driver was fun, it didn’t really move the plot forward.

    And the entire Mad Professor Laboratory was filled with boring exposition. And “quite futuristic” equipment?? Come on, grendl. You’re better than that. Dr. Saeghardt’s ponderous explanations, the Bride of Frankenstein laboratory, the Robin Cook-type “Coma” body tubes… all that was missing from this cliché’ was Vincent Price’s voice. …
    you even had an Igor…

    (AlthoughVeronica’s #2 pencil joke is funny… )


    Veronica Fall(s) down the rabbit hole, and a wonderfully riveting adventure ensues! Much better than “lions, and tigers, and bears… oh, my!”

    I don’t understand how people cannot follow this. It’s like they never took a hit of acid in their life –

    — or read Rod Serling, Richard Matheson… or Charles Dodgson…


    But if you want to point to structure, it has a very strong one. Just like the Magic Mountain roller coaster, Colossus.( It MUST have great structure, to bear the twisting and turning it must endure… and endure beautifully…)

    I was expecting this convoluted structural mess. But I am confused… to the confusion… This is a modern day Alice – and it’s a whale of a ride! You don’t ask the driver of the roller
    coaster the route…

    The Haberdasher is the Mad Hatter… the roller coaster driver, Rod Serling…

    … trying to find logic in the illogical… it’s like when some deranged Ed Gein psychotic ends up with heads in his freezer, people always shake their heads and ask, “why would a person do this type of thing???” Well, if you can UNDERSTAND how they thought – you’d have heads in the freezer too.

    P.73: Zero holds the double barrel shot gun into Eric’s face.
”Hey, pal, I’m losing the mood here.” Fucking hilarious…

    P. 91: Where Dean sees various women on top of the ice – pure Ionesco-like metaphorical, and visual genius:

    “Dean comes to the surface and looks around. There on a couch is Veronica, her body composed of blue shards lying in repose and a canvas on an easel.”

    P. 93: Veronica: “… this some kind of weird dating service?”

    P. 107: Clarence Darrow in cowboy boots? … priceless…

    P. 112: “Hi, mom!” … such marvelous free association.

    They say all fiction is autobiographical, and this one is probably strictly by the numbers for grendl. (Maybe even an exact retelling… )

    And, a producer friend once told me after lambasting one of my protagonists – men usually write women they desire… I have a feeling there may have been a Jessica Rabbit in grendl’s life?

    Regardless, this is not for everyone. But as I’ve said, if you are a fan of CLASSIC works from The Twilight Zone – this is easy to follow as 1-2-Z….

    I never had a single problem following the plot, or the scenes and action within the scenes.

    Was the action surprising, and disjointed? Yes!? But not incongruous to the world that was built for me. I delightfully expected, the unexpected…

    My only suggestion is to dump those 20 burdensome Dark Castle expository scenes.

    You could just have Veronica FALL head first into the Picasso/Dali painting – no Physics lecture necessary… but, if I wrote as well as you… I wouldn’t listen to a Philistine like me…

    (Oh, did I forget to praise the Madhatter’s (Haberdasher’s) wonderfully poetic dialogue – and later Veronica’s? Simply superb!) You have remarkable talent!

    I haven’t had this much thrill reading a script since DEXTER STRANGE!!!

    (Now that was also a nerve-jangling, breathless read!)

    Thanks for the ride, grendl… : V )

    • S_P_1

      Once I got past the toy soldier scenes I could follow the plot as well. It has potential and I’ll leave it at that.

      • astranger2

        It is a visual exploding supernova on the senses… I’m not saying it is anyway marketable… but for me, a quick page turner…

    • Matty

      Fucking assholes who have never done acid. Losers.


      • astranger2

        LOL… yeah, really? I remember doing a lot of acid and… what are we talking about? ; v )

        • Matty

          Shit is amazing. Pulled me out of a deep depression a few years back. I wish I had some for when I fall into those black holes of depression every year or two.

          Only done it like three times in my life. Least addictive drug I’ve ever done, most beneficial. And, apparently, it’s one of the least harmful substances you can put into your body according to many studies. Worst part is not being able to sleep for a good 20 hours or so.

          • astranger2

            Didn’t read those studies… but Timothy Leary, Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey, and Jack Kerouac… will now incessantly chant your name… lol

          • astranger2

            You need to email Big Pharma and educate them on the potential profits… we’ll be able to buy acid out of gum ball machines after the lobbyists are through… ; P

          • Matty

            Nah, it would likely reduce the “need” for the massive amount of anti-depressants prescribed in our over-medicated American society.

            Extremely frequent use of LSD is likely detrimental to mental health, but I firmly believe that infrequent, once-in-a-blue-moon use can be extremely beneficial and healthy…. more so than any prescription drug on the market. Four years ago I was in one of the worst bouts of depression I’ve ever experienced…. had been in it for three months, I stopped writing, stopped doing anything really, stopped caring about anything. Mostly just slept all the time. Then, December 24th, Christmas Eve morning, I took two hits of acid, and it pulled me out of that dark, nihilistic cloud of depression. And I don’t just mean for the 14 hours or so I was tripping. I mean it totally pulled me out of it. After I finally got to sleep and woke up, life was just different. It wasn’t gloom and doom. I was energetic. I was motivated. I felt like I had a purpose and that the purpose was meaningful and worth pursuing.

            And unlike most drugs, I didn’t feel the slightly desire or need to do any more acid. It wasn’t like I constantly needed it, like heroin addicts do. And it didn’t turn me into a different person, or fuck me up, it just restored me to the person I was before falling into that depression.

            Every year or two I fall into similar depressive traps for a month, maybe a few months. Never have they been that bad again, though. And I suffer from depression in general – I have my bad days. But for those rare month-long doom and gloom times, I really wish I had some acid. It truly is a miracle drug. And like I said, numerous studies that show it to be one of the safest substances you can ingest – literally, I believe it is considered safer than caffeine.

            Thankfully, for the first time in like 40 years, clinical LSD human trials had resumed in 2009 or 2010, I forget which. I hope one day the government will see the significant benefits of the drug, and the almost total lack of negative consequences.

            Sorry for the rant. I just feel acid is the single most misunderstood, most unfairly maligned, and most beneficial (and safe) illegal drug out there. Even more so than marijuana, primarily because marijuana actually poses more health risks and marijuana is quickly becoming socially and legally acceptable.

            END OF ACID RANT

          • astranger2

            It’s been decades since I’ve dipped my toe into that pool. And, I have always felt grass is more subtly pernicious in nature, as it is so subtle in it’s negative ramifications. Some seem to use it judiciously, but for others, grass can suck all life drive from them… it’s a matter of opinion, but as Colorado has made it legal… you can see why I question the intelligence of those that use it… ; )

            I’m glad acid helped you turn a bad corner in your life. And I can truly believe it. But the nature of this discussion is potentially explosive… even though I wished it to continue.

            Don’t know if the story is apocryphal or not — most likely — but supposedly Cary Grant was given LSD to “cure” him of fears of his latent sexual preferences… only Dyan Cannon knows for sure… ; )

          • Matty

            Yeah, weed can definitely, if used all the time (as many do), destroy your drive and motivation. I like to use it occasionally, as I find it helps me creatively. I used to smoke a lot more, but it never got in the way of anything. First time I tried it I was in college, but I never got stoned and went to class (except for the one day that we screened WAKING LIFE in film class – I think most would agree I was justified in that scenario). I don’t use it as much anymore because it tends to enhance my anxiety, but occasionally it’s nice when I’m writing.

            Throughout the 50s, 60s, and 70s, LSD was used in a huge variety of therapeutic trials and experiments. Many of which proved very successful. Though, there is the possibility of a negative outcome (aka “bad trip”). But as far as I know, in lieu of excessive, constant use, there haven’t been any lasting negative effects found. But the amount of ailments it’s been investigated for… it’s staggering. Depression, anxiety, alcoholism, sexual problems, migraines, drug addiction, schizophrenia, the list goes on. And just one administration of it has shown to have positive effects lasting for months or years.

            it’s amazing. I’ve done a lot of reading about LSD, particularly because I used to be one of those people who thought it just turned you into a brain-fried hippy, and I was utterly shocked at how wrong I was. I’m glad they’ve started using it again in therapeutic, clinical settings.

          • Midnight Luck

            Unless it is covered in rat poison, like the one time i took it.
            Wow, happy days are not ahead.
            Though it did make me laugh nonstop for 12 hours (which also wasnt as fun as it sounds)

          • astranger2

            When products aren’t FDA – “approved,” we don’t always know if the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack’s box… is REALLY plastic…

          • Matty

            What asshole covered it in rat poison??? I would’ve kicked that shithead’s ass.

          • Midnight Luck

            A lot of the cheap stuff has a top coat of strichnine(sp?). I didn’t know it was cheap, hell i am as drug illiterate as they come. I used to sell t-shirts at rock concerts with my business partner and at one point someone talked us into trading for some shirts. Held onto the acid for a few years and one weird day some friends and i tried it. Shitty thing is, they all lied and never actually took it. So i am the only one who got poisoned with it.

            If i could ever find that person again, i would break their legs if i could.
            Ive seen all kinds of shit and done all manner of crazy shit, this one, i would have rather skipped. Rat poison coming out your system is about the worst feeling imaginable.

          • astranger2

            Wow, under the heading of learn-something new-everyday… while I knew strychnine was a poison, didn’t know it was actually used in rat poison… at the Metallica concerts, they just told me it’s what made me see… colors… j/k

          • Matty

            Wow, that’s fucked up, sorry that happened to you. What, if I even want to ask, does rat poison do to you when you ingest it like that? I mean what effects did it have?

            Worst things drug related that have happened to me were, 1) getting fake acid (just blotter paper with nothing on it, so no harm done except getting screwed out of money), 2) some asshole lacing weed I got once with PCP because he thought it would be funny – made me freak the fuck out because I had no idea what was happening, and 3) snorting some coke that was heavily cut with Ambien…. doesn’t hurt you, but it gives you that crazy Ambien trip, which isn’t what you expect from coke.

            So, basically, never anything harmful, though honestly I would like to be able to say I’ve never done PCP…. not something I ever wanted to do, never will again.

          • Midnight Luck

            It is difficult to explain. Rolled around on the ground for eight hours in such unbelievable pain. It felt like each individual nerve was being pulled feom the center of my body and soul. Like it was being torn slowly, bit by bit out my bellybutton, fingertips and back of my throat and eyballs. Just brutally awful. Sadly, that doesn’t cover it all, but will have to do.

          • drifting in space

            #2 is my favorite. When I lived in Cali, that shit was rampant. And awesome. ;)

          • Matty

            Whenever I think of PCP – and at the time when I found out it was PCP – for some reason I always remember the line from one of the cops in “The Terminator” to Sarah Connor when she asks how he punched through a windshield and the guy’s like “probably hopped up on PCP. Broke every bone in his hand, won’t feel it for hours.” So I tried to feel like The Terminator, but mostly I just freaked out.

            And that one story I heard about a guy on PCP who was hacking his leg open/off with a hatchet. Creepy.

            And then there’s bath salts. I actually tried those once when they first came around. My roommate was doing some one night when I came home, he was like “you want some?” And I was like “well, of course.” I didn’t question drugs. It was actually pretty awesome – like if you combined coke and ecstasy, except extremely addictive – I wanted more like 20 minutes later. I could definitely see how people would get addicted and start doing it all the time, which is when they probably start doing that shit like eating someone’s face. Thankfully I only ever tried it the one time because I don’t trust synthetic crap that’s been around for a couple months and no one really knows the long-term effects.

          • drifting in space

            Synthetics will make you lose your mind. Scary shit. PCP does have a “I can do anything” feel to it. Which is both good and bad. Good when you need to break into a dump at night with your friends (not sure why we needed to do that…)

            As for jacking off his leg, YIKES. I don’t ever want to be near that kind of decision.

          • Matty

            I think most of the people who did crazy fucked up shit on bath salts were already probably drug addicts and already fucked up to begin with. I doubt they were just normal people and then bam! they’re eating someone because of bath salts.

            I love this short made for the ABCs of Death 2 contest (I believe it won, too):


          • Ange Neale

            At least you didn’t get the urge to attempt a ‘birdman’ stunt from the top of a very tall building, Matty.

          • Ange Neale

            LSD’s extracted from ergot, a fungus which thrives on rye, especially in humid conditions. Its psychotropic ingredients can survive the baking process and poisoning with it is called ergotism.

            It’s been implicated as a possible culprit for the Salem witch trials, an entire French village poisoned by it back in the 50s or thereabouts, and also some Neolithic guy whose body was pulled out of a peat bog in UK or Ireland — he was ritually strangled, probably because he suddenly went off on a mad trip and his family and friends must’ve figured he was possessed or something.
            Would definitely make sense about Salem — apparently the climatic conditions were right for ergot and a dog who was fed a piece of rye-bread dunked in the urine of one of the ‘witches’ had a really bad trip. No-one thought to blame the bread…

          • astranger2

            Nice lessons to learn from this — never eat bread soaked in witches’ urine, as it will leave you in a piss-poor mood, and a rye sense of unappreciated, madcap humor… ; v )

  • Midnight Luck

    I cannot possibly be the only one that is irritated by this?

    So one writer gets his next script removed from AmFri because he was reviewed already and recently.

    However Grendl, who has been put in moderation has had Undertow reviewed twice now, THREE times when you consider the fact that Tall, Dark and whatever was the same story, and has had Real Monsters reviewed, and…i understand i seem to be the only one who believes this, but am 99+% sure that Mayhem Jones is actually him, as he has already used multiple names to get things read. (The story, the name, the personality were just like him, as was everything about Trajent Future way back when)

    There have got to be a ton of writers on here waiting to be read, instead we have one person reviewed 5 times, 3 times for the same fucking story?

    I know everyone on here seems to love and idolize Grendl for some reason. I guess everyone is a masochist. But this is just bad form. I dont care if Laur reviewed it, it is still SS once again taking time to review the same thing.

    Either no one is sending in scripts for AoW, or Grendl has an inside hook (blackmail?). I will give it to him, he is good at finding a way to get read.

    I’ve been having a lot of trouble with SS for a while, and this just took the cake. I have been on here since its inception, but i have lost a lot of respect for it over the last 6 months to a year.

    Carson really needs to realign himself to what used to be good on here. Though, in the end losing a longtime follower probably doesn’t matter to him or anyone else on here. People come and go, but there have been a lot of great commenters over the years who stayed for years and most of them are gone now. There must be a reason.

    Everyone loves Grendl’s antics and put downs and bullshit. I guess if anyone wants to get a script read, just be a bully and abuser. Everyone will love you and you can get every script you write reviewed.

    P.s.: no this has nothing to do with jealousy or anything. I have never sent Carson a screenplay to review. I am not jaded over not being chosen or something. I just think so many of these kinds of choices are poor on SS’s part. Others deserve help and to be read, but hey, that’s just one person’s viewpoint. Others on here may not care.

    • S_P_1

      I discovered this website towards the end of 2012. I recently heard about Trajent Future. I’ll take your word that Tall, Dark and Handsome is on its third review.

      I’m really responding to the possible Mayhem Jones connection. IF this is actually Charles his performance surpasses Edward Norton’s performance in Primal Fear. I’m not speaking from a writing standpoint I’m speaking from a complete personality switch. The comments made by Mayhem Jones were over-enthusiasm, energetic, and spastic. If he has that level of talent then it should show in his scripts.

      Speaking from a writing standpoint The Tragic Life of Dexter Strange is head and shoulders above when it comes to engaging, witty, self-inflected dialogue. That skillset should be present to some degree in “Undertow”. Undertow had the premise of a buried plot and over-extended dialogue. Dexter Strange was all dialogue and no plot.

      I can see the angle you’re coming from with Dexter Strange. A character that delivers monologues in the tone of Grendl’s rants. It’s extremely interesting to think about. The other reason I’m not fully convinced Undertow is formatted in standard script format. Dexter Strange is more polished in its format.

      There’s another major issue. It would mean Charles has mastered essentially a two-handed screenplay format. That’s a lot of skill to deceive and deliver.

      I’m not convinced but it was interesting to speculate.

      • Matty

        I have to agree with this.

        I really truly do not think Mayhem Jones is grendl.

        Grendl – and this is not a cheap shot at him, not a criticism, nothing like that even though he’ll likely take it that way – has a style that is much more traditional. Much less unique. Much less standoutish. Simply put, it’s a very standard style of writing.

        Dexter Strange is the total opposite. Some of the most unique, stylized writing I have ever seen.

        I don’t believe a person is capable of two entirely different styles like that.

        Once again, not saying grendl’s style is bad or lacking. It’s just different than Mayhem Jones’s. Like everyone else’s styles are different than Mayhem Jones. Radically different. And as you say, if they are the same person, it’s the internet-age version of Ed Norton in Primal Fear.

        • astranger2

          Radically different???

          Mayhem Jones uses formatting as Van Gogh uses brushes. It is VISUALLY stylistic. It is in almost all ways in violation of ANY and EVERY screenwriting rule… and yet, it works beautifully…

          Dexter Strange uses every paint, and combination of paints, on the palate — italics, bolds, underling, Caps, odd spacing, all done with artistic and frenetic purpose– assaulting the reader’s eyes from so many different “angles of attack.”

          It is so aesthetically pleasing, yet disturbing, if you did not know English… your eyes would still be drawn to the page…

          AND the dialogue? It machine-guns into your ears like the clashing cymbals and strings from The Rite of Spring…

          It’s exhausting… if you don’t pace yourself… And you’ll fade and droop like that elderly 40-year-old couple at a Metallica concert if you haven’t prepared yourself with enough “Folger’s” blend…

          … but if you’ve banged back a couple shots of Jack, and whatever else keeps your boat afloat… YOU WILL NEVER EVER EXPERIENCE A READ LIKE…


          • Matty

            Yeah, so isn’t that radically different?

            There are plenty of scripts (amateur and pro alike) that I could place next to grendl’s script(s) and the style would be extremely similar. Once again, nothing wrong with that.

            Dexter Strange? There ain’t a single fuckin’ script on this earth with a style similar to that script.

            Honestly, it’s one of the best examples of a “voice” I’ve ever seen. Grendl’s scripts aren’t. Neither are mine. Neither are most people’s. Shane Black has a distinct style. Mayhem Jones does too. What’s truly great about the style of Dexter Strange’s writing is that it perfectly meshes with the character and the story. I remember saying, when I first saw “Drive,” that it was one of the best examples of a film’s style taking on the personality of its protagonist. Dexter Stranger is the same, for a screenplay.

            Now, whether the story is good is another matter entirely. But the script itself is truly unlike anything else. It is a 100% unique construction. If I was still a reader for a production company, I would’ve recommend the writer 400%. The script probably would’ve been a consider (still hard to achieve) for me, but the writer has some serious fucking skills. Natural, raw talent.

          • astranger2

            I was actually agreeing… in an unorthodox loud manner… Mayhem has a LIVE VOICE!!! … only 400%.. lol… we agree! ; )

          • Matty

            I figured you were, was just making sure.

            I’m sure most of us who read that had flashbacks to Charlie Sheen’s crazy youtube rants. But Mayhem’s ability to replicate that stuff, with such intensity and fascination, while at the same time having the writing style match that insanity and fascination…. true brilliance.

            From what I remember it was basically a first draft. Which would explain why I felt the story itself wasn’t great. It was good, but not as great as the writing. With a little bit of work (which I fully believe Mayhem is capable of) it could be a truly brilliant, top-of-the-blacklist piece of work.

          • astranger2

            She… like others on this site… made that mistake of saying it was a “first draft.” But, it is because she felt it was a classic take on stream-of-consciousness, at least I think she thought that… and that there is no such animal as a second draft on that particular current?

          • Matty

            I definitely got that stream-of-consciousness feel from it. Totally. Which can be really fun and great, if you’re good at channeling it, and she was (is).

            But I disagree that there is no such thing as a second take on that. I mean, yes – once you rewrite it, it’s no longer stream-of-consciousness. However, scripts aren’t supposed to be stream-of-consciousness. Poems can be. Hell, a novel can be. Not a film, especially not a spec script.

            To me, starting out with a stream-of-consciousness piece of work like Dexter Strange, and then taking that and rewriting it to hone the story is a great way to create a quality piece of work. The stream-of-consciousness is merely one of many ways to “vomit” out that first draft (just like some people outline, some people don’t). And then you rewrite it.

            All that matters in the end is the final product. Nobody cares how you wrote it. Nobody gives you extra points for being stream-of-consciousness. Nobody gives you points for outlining it first. Or for not outlining. They just give you credit for the work in front of them.

            And Dexter Strange could be a great piece of work, and a strong spec. Right now, it’s an extremely strong writing sample. If I was in the position, I would definitely give Mayhem consideration for a writing assignment based on Dexter Strange. But with some work, it could be both a great sample and a great blueprint for a movie.

          • astranger2

            I completely agree with all your points. And I hope we hear from Mayhem again. Dexter Strange is a piece I would love to run with… riding on the coat tails of that rare, fevered genius…

            Who wouldn’t? But as in any uniquely creative work, the artist is usually manically protective of her “child.” I would be. Maybe she isn’t? I don’t know, but as passionate as it is, I would suspect so…

            And even though it is predominately dialogue-driven, that dialogue outlines so many action sequences vividly… as you point out. This is a pedal to the medal script…

            I do agree you have to be extremely collaborative in this field. You are actually viably working in it so have much more depth to your knowledge…

            … I NEED to read that again… for me, it’s like that healing hit of uplifting acid… without the 20 hours of sleeplessness… ; v )

          • Matty

            I just hit 20 hours of sleeplessness four minutes ago actually…. meaning it is time for me to retire to the mattress for 4 hours. Maybe 5 if I’m lucky. Current assignment deadline is busting my nuts. Plus about four other assignments and projects I’m supposed to be working on.


          • astranger2

            Thanks for the chat! It was a pleasure. ; v )

          • Matty

            Indeed! Acid, Mayhem Jones, and a drug-addled Dexter Strange. Appropriate.

            Onward and upward!

          • Casper Chris

            I agree Dexter Strange was pretty crazy (in a good way). And while it did work for that particular story (it wasn’t much of a story), it’s not going to work for most stories, especially not the kind of stories Hollywood likes to make. For me to recommend Mayhem as a studio writer, he’d have to demonstrate better story sense as well as the ability to actually make himself more invisible in his writing, particularly in his descriptions.

            Shane Black also has a description line in Lethal Weapon that reads something to the extent of “A big Santa Monica mansion. The type of mansion I’m going to buy when I sell this script.” Yea, it made me smile, but it also pulled me out of the read and made think about Shane Black instead of the story he was telling. Definitely don’t want too much of that stuff in a script.

      • astranger2

        grendl has a unique, vibrant voice. Mayhem Jones has a UNIQUE VOICE!!! And, if you actually read DEXTER STRANGE, it is filled with a fuel-injected, current cultural references — more indicative of a younger, more vibrant plugged-in personality…

        Not even Apples and Oranges… Z-28 Camaro as opposed to a Porche Carrera GT…

      • Midnight Luck

        There is just such a similar bipolar like division between Grendl’s melancholy and manic. There is that same division if u look at Tall, Dark and at Dexter Strange. It is an over the top Showmanship like presentation with Dexter, and a subdued melancholy with the other. It fits with what seems to be his internet personality. I believe it is all for show, but some of it may be real. Either way it causes talk and controversy, which is what he is after and is effective.
        I really dont think it is that big of a leap or difficult to see the connections.
        But, it is all conjecture, maybe Mayhem is actually a drug addled Sally Field.

      • Casper Chris

        I discovered this website towards the end of 2012. I recently heard about Trajent Future. I’ll take your word that Tall, Dark and Handsome is on its third review.

        It’s not. It’s never been officially reviewed here to my knowledge. It was posted long ago in the comments and sparked a bit of discussion (on the old site). Then it was featured in the AOW selection recently. And now its first offical review.

    • Malibo Jackk

      I understand the cat has not yet read the script.
      (There could be another review in the works.)

      • Midnight Luck

        That’s funny.

    • Casper Chris

      Undertow has never been reviewed here before, M. This is its first time.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Do you have the trailers up yet?

        • Casper Chris

          It’ll be up soon. First I’ll use the site to pitch my script to Carson. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll post a link here. Then those interested can take a look.

      • Citizen M

        TITLE: Tall, Dark and Handsome [aka Undertow]
        GENRE: Thriller
        LOGLINE: A Manhattan trophy wife’s attempts to retrace the missteps of her romantic past lead to the doorstep of a mysterious doctor and down a rabbithole of hatred.

        • Casper Chris

          Hey Citizen. This is the second time you post that link after I initially posted it in this thread ;)

          But yea, as stated elsewhere, I’m aware that Undertow was selected for AOW in December last year, but it wasn’t reviewed by SS. And before that, Grendl shared it in the comments section of the old Scriptshadow (blogspot version). But again, it wasn’t reviewed by SS. This is the first time the script has been reviewed by SS (or in this case Miss SS). Even if we were to count the AOW feature as a review (which, let’s be honest, it’s not), it can still only be two reviews, not three (like Midnight Luck is suggesting). So I feel her “unfairness case” is a bit overstated.

      • Midnight Luck

        I remember seeing the name and the artwork on here before, so i apologize for adding in that it had been reviewed that one extra time by SS as opposed to just being posted in comments, my bad. But it has been reviewed before. Mostly commenting on it making little sense that a writer would be announced in the newsletter to be reviewed and then have it pulled for having already been reviewed for something else, but then review another posters exact same story a second time. Oh well, Carson likes to keep em guessing i guess.

        • Casper Chris

          Not the exact same story. Again, Undertow has not been reviewed before It was featured in an AOW and yea, it didn’t win, but then again, it’s not the first script to not win AOW that still get a review (we had a couple of those recently).

          You could say that it’s unfair that Grendl gets two reviews (one with Undertow and one with Real Monsters) when Bluedust (I think) was cheated out of his second review with a second script. But then again, Grendl has been an active participator here for many years so I think it’s okay.

          With that said, I didn’t understand why Bluedust didn’t get his review of Black Autumn last Friday. He earned it fair and square. I think that’s the real injustice here, not Grendl getting his second review on an off-beat Wednesday (it seems Carson is busy at the moment).

      • Ange Neale

        Hey, Casper, I’m sticking around, too, for what it’s worth. Still trying to learn how to give better notes and improve my own work based on feedback I’ve received here. Very grateful for it, too. I’d wade in a bit more but I’m on a tight deadline for a big literature review for dissertation.

        • THE JOKER

          Good, don’t leave. I just got here!

    • JakeBarnes12

      Hey, Midnight,

      I guess the question we all need to ask ourselves is what are we getting out of this or any other screenwriting site we visit regularly?

      Is this site helping me to become a better screenwriter or to educate myself on other aspects of the business such as pitching?

      For me, the value lies in what the site was originally about; learning through reading the latest professional scripts in Hollywood. Doing that you’re seeing how professional approach dozens, if not hundreds, of story situations and you can decide on what they’re doing right plus poor choices they’re making.

      To the extent that Carson still reviews professional scripts that we can actually get our hands on and discuss in the comments, I think this site is useful. From the Thursday articles I either learn new stuff or they serve as useful reminders.

      If you’re getting enough good stuff out of it that still feeds into your writing practices, then I’d suggest either having fun with or ignoring stuff like yesterday.

      • Midnight Luck

        I agree. I ask that question all the time. I do like and enjoy most of the articles and reviews. I am impressed with what Carson does. I do come back, mostly for those.

        • JakeBarnes12


          You might not want to bother with this Thursday’s comments section. :)

        • drifting in space

          I typically read this site as it usually gets me thinking about my projects in a different light and is helpful.

          Other than that, it’s just some to pass the time on my hour+ commute to work.

    • klmn

      I wouldn’t be concerned if your scripts are not being considered for amateur Fridays. Carson only likes scripts that can be summed up in three letters, G, S, and U.

      There are a lot of ways for a script to work and a lot of ways for it to fail. Carson has limited range.

      As for Miss SS, I’ve only seen a few of her reviews, so I can’t make any inferences about her range.

      • Midnight Luck

        Like i said, my comment isn’t about that. I have never sent a script to Carson for consideration for AoW or anything. So it isn’t about rejection or anything. It was about all tje other people who try but don’t get spots.

    • drifting in space

      What happened to the good ole’ days when you could just post a lengthy inspirational rant and get Carson to review your script in the future?

      Boy, that was a self-serving comment. (mine, not yours)

      • Midnight Luck

        I know, right?
        Those were the good ol days.
        Well, i guess it only works for Grendl anymore.

    • BSBurton

      Good post Midnight. I can’t believe the guy that won AF won’t get a review. WTF

  • JakeMLB

    While it’s almost cheating, Cole explains that ghosts only see what they want to and thus we see Malcolm as he perceives himself. I’ve never liked that explanation and couldn’t buy into the twist because of it but that’s the explanation.

    • grendl


      I don’t like it either but liked the movie.

      We tend to forgive some plot holes if the emotional experience is a good one.

      Not in amateur work of course. Then we crucify them.

  • astranger2

    Based on the recent posts… IF a script is worthy of a SECOND review… what about THE TRAGIC LIFE OF DEXTER STRANGE?

    I realize there are many other worthy offerings… but if ANY script is worth a second look at UNIQUE and creative formatting, dialogue, and VOICE… this one is worthy.

    Anyone else feel this way?

    THE TRAGIC LIFE OF DEXTER STRANGE? … perhaps this time, reviewed by the lovely Miss SS… as it is more in her preferential wheel house?

  • Malibo Jackk

    “Manifestant” Eric s script which he had reviewed on Zoetrope in 1999.”

    I gather the script was called “Manifestant” back then.
    Thought maybe he had reviewed it in connection with the Zoetrope competition. But I think you are saying that he reviewed it — before he became well known in the industry (1999).

    As far as challenging your claim, I don’t think I’ve ever said you were a liar.

    And as for the like vs love confusion — it reminded me of the old Hollywood saying and something we all struggle with —
    “Liked the script. Didn’t love it.”

  • Lauren

    Hi, all. Miss SS here.

    I was at work all day and so did not get the opportunity to really respond to comments about this review, which was a bummer. I do want to say that I was absolutely exhausted when I read Grendl’s script last night, and I never meant to come off as harsh or disrespectful in any way :) If I did, my apologies to Grendl!

    Again, *I* did not understand the script, which is just one opinion of many. Despite the polarizing effect it had on me, it doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things as it appears Grendl has tons of supporters and fans on his side. That’s truly uplifting to see in a community of writers.

    I also wanted to clarify that I don’t consider that “what the hell did I just read?” rating a ‘low’ one; I simply had no other way to express acquiescence that I couldn’t make sense of what I’d just read. “What the hell?” can absolutely be a gray area of positive & negative reaction.

    After reading Grendl’s own synopsis of UNDERTOW, it’s still a fascinating idea.

    I hope to see Grendl giving us other works in the future :)

    • astranger2

      The lovely Miss SS,

      I loved your comments. I don’t think anyone really thought your comments disrespectful, but more in the comic vein of the SS community. IF I hadn’t read all the way through — I would’ve used the same rating.

      I also think the “what the hell did I just read?” rating a more flavorful, less drab one than “wasn’t for me.” It’s funny. As were the insights into your Raymond and Debra making breakfast crepes lifestyle… “Honey! It’s HIM again… can you make blueberry waffles?” lol…

      I do, however, think DEXTER STRANGE needs a Lauren review… Carson is phenomenal at most reviews… but he isn’t, well you understand… standing on the front lines of cutting edge? Worried about Harrison Ford’s ankle? Really?

      Tell the truth… YOU must of made him read Cake and Hot Air? … how did he like the crepes? ; v )

    • astranger2

      … not sure Midnight agrees with that last statement… ; )

      • Midnight Luck

        No it has nothing to do with Grendl aside from him already having multiple coverages on SS, but only because the other person lost out having Black Autumn covered on Friday, because, well, they alreasy had a script covered. And after their Friday spot had been announced in the newsletter.

        • astranger2

          Many apply polly loggies… I misunderstood your meaning… ; v )

  • Bifferspice

    i was talking about the relationship between an artist, his/her aims, and his/her audience. you’re trying to guess what an unknown script reader is looking for, and making up conversations between them and their equally unknown boss. where did i defend sloppy writing?

  • Rick McGovern

    Undertow — Tool’s best album.

    Haven’t read the script… or too many of the comments. Still recovering from the awesome Kiss/Def Leppard concert last night… Kiss puts on one hell of a show (even for non-Kiss fans). Also been taking a break from writing since completing my first draft of Killing Field, and trying to spend quality time with my daughter.

    But this is how all AOW posts should be. It hasn’t really strayed onto other subjects. Most comments are about the script. And I love when writers get involved in the discussion of their scripts. Doesn’t always happen. Helps us all learn more about this hard task of writing.

    The end result is to help the submitted script get to a place it can sell and be made, so not a huge fan when comments stray far from the script, and then the writer doesn’t get as much out of it as he could, and probably should.


      What’s the best Def Lep song? “Love Bites?” Is that them? I can’t remember if that’s right or not..

      • Rick McGovern

        Yeah, that’s them lol but Pour Some Sugar On Me was probably their biggest hit.

  • Midnight Luck

    If that is true and you’ve only been on here twice, well, i apologize for having misspoke.
    As for a feeling of entitlement? Have no idea what you mean or are talking about.
    And for the rest, well the two year old tantrums and fighting (like this) you like to do are just pathetic and boring, while adding zero to the site. (And i really don’t care one bit if your name appears on here, all it means is something snide or cruel is about to be said for (and you have proven it to be true yet again))

  • drifting in space

    You catch more flies with honey, babe. This isn’t the right business to be in if you want to burn bridges every chance you get.

  • BSBurton

    What was your goal with this script?

    • astranger2

      $$$$$$$$$$$$$… what is your goal, with scripts, BS? : )

      • BSBurton

        Usually to tell a compelling story with a good balance of humor! Then the cash comes as a result lol.


      Who needs goals or plans, seems like you’re a little sideways!

      • BSBurton

        I can’t argue with that… Joker.

        • astranger2

          The joker seems a little… schizophrenic, imho…

  • ChadStuart

    I’ve been saying that for years about “Fight Club”. It was such a simple fix, too. All they had to do was have “Tyler” get into a fight with someone else.

    • drifting in space

      I don’t think so. It’s fine how it is.

      They are outside a grimy bar in a shitty area. Some psycho is beating the shit out of himself in the parking lot. The seedy dudes watching are drunk/alcoholics. Norton is schizophrenic, he can’t decipher what is real or not. The seedy dudes don’t give a fuck, it’s entertaining when you are leaving a bar at 1AM.

      So, Norton offers them the chance to beat the shit out of him. They think, why not? Guy is nuts. I could take a few swings. It’d be fun.

      Turns out, they like it. Psycho guy starts fight club.

      All it took was one person to fight him before the club could start. They never speak at the same time and half of the time, Norton is in the shadows.

  • drifting in space

    I think it was actually because of Brad Pitt’s rock hard abs. At least that’s what did it for me.

  • FilmingEJ

    For all it’s worth Grendl, I actually really enjoyed it. It’s quite dense and complex, but it’s challenging, and I like that. Granted I haven’t finished it, but I thought it was a nice change of pace for what’s usually looked at on this site.

  • Angelus

    Lmao. now I defo wanna check it out.

  • Gilx

    I have to say, I kind of enjoyed this. I read it through to the end. There are a few passages where the action is somewhat abstract (bear in mind, I count Altered States among my top 20), but if you simply read those passages as “insert smoke and mirrors here” and stick with the emotional journey, it pulls you through. I also work in a VFX house, and have read a lot of abstract description meant to be translated into CG, which never quite resembles the scripted version anyway, so I don’t worry about that so much.

    The things that didn’t work for me here were also things I find laudable in the risk-taking department, so I was torn at times. The twist is one. (Spoilers) Finding out that Veronica is really sort of a phantom in Dean’s session with Doctor Saeghardt (that’s how I’m reading it, anyway) raises some issues with the substantial investment in Veronica we’ve made throughout the preceding 100 or so pages, but it didn’t piss me off like it could have in the hands of a less assured writer. But that’s not saying it worked. It’s saying it could work. I think Dean maybe needs to pop up a little more throughout “Veronica’s” story so that when we finally transfer to him at the end, we’re not left on shaky ground as viewers. That’s just a suggestion.

    In retrospect, I wasn’t sure if Veronica had ever even visited the Doctor, and if she did, was her initial visit (the one we witness) or her implied earlier visit, the “real” one. Or were they both just part of a story playing out in Dean’s session with the good Doctor. Also, man, Dean is way too concerned with Veronica, in any case, if his whole trip features her this heavily. And that’s my only big objection. Veronica was too sour and hard to invest in. Whether or not it’s “her” story is irrelevant, because we spend so much time with her that she is the operative protagonist, whether or not the ultimate one. That prospect, though, led me to a brief sensation of relief in finding out that the whole shebang was not just some “weird dating service” she’d stumbled into, and that the drama was not just this one lady’s worrying about whether she’d found the right partner. The premise seemed too big for that story and, in the end, it was, although only slightly. It was more about whether any of us has the power to go out and manifest the right life for ourselves (with an emphasis on finding the right partner as part of that, as written.) I’d emphasize the “right life” part in a future draft, and minimize the “right partner” part, I think. The reveal when Veronica deduces that Zero is Dean because he would never have had the wherewithal to get his shit together and have his own show was a glimmer of real excellence. More of that, please, and less of the memory-lane, lonely-hearts club stuff. That’s just a personal taste thing.

    Haberdasher is memorable, but I felt there was just too much of him. All that courtroom stuff with him and his rhymes somehow got me thinking about Q from Star Trek TNG, and pulled me out of the story. Less is more with him, I think. (And he’d still be memorable.) All in all, audacious and unique, and it pulled me through to the end, so kudos. I know there’s a lot of interpersonal politics going on with this entry, but I really just don’t care. I’m here to learn about what makes a script work and what doesn’t, and Undertow was helpful in that respect. Cheers to all.

  • BSBurton

    All your comments to me are deleted before I can read them, Steven. Can you repost them all at once ? lol


    JOKER here, I thought it was good toooo, oops too many o’s hehehe. If you keep spinning tales like this, you mind end up with me, on the wild side!

    When’s the next draft coming Grendy?


    A great point of view, mine’s a little warped but I can always appreciate the hard work of a visionary. You know?

  • davejc

    I’m late to this party and it’s been a long time since I read the script but I do remember having no problem with this particular caveat, because Dean(like all men) could never truly control Veronica, not even in his own revenge fantasy. It was that simple.

    I don’t know how I missed this thread but I remember the AOW and felt this script should’ve won. And while I agree with many of the points Ms SS brought up I still felt this rates a definite worth the read.