Get Your Script Reviewed On Scriptshadow!: To submit your script for an Amateur Review, send in a PDF of your script, along with the title, genre, logline, and finally, something interesting about yourself and/or your script that you’d like us to post along with the script if reviewed. Use my submission address please: Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Remember that your script will be posted. If you’re nervous about the effects of a bad review, feel free to use an alias name and/or title. It’s a good idea to resubmit every couple of weeks so your submission stays near the top.
Premise (from writer): Deep in the twisted and lawless labyrinth of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, a hip sociologist named Vega and her dirty gutterpunk friends are viciously hunted by the Lurkers, a pack of deranged, homicidal hobos — or maybe something even worse.
Why You Should Read (from writer): It’s always a lucky day when an idea picks you. Here, I had no desire to draft a horror screenplay, but frequent walks through San Francisco’s parks got me obsessed with what goes on there after dark. I mean, if the City streets are this sketchy during the day, then the nighttime park must be a fucking murder zone. And so the Lurkers were born, and now I’m half convinced they’re real. Definitely dirty business. — I’m more than a little over the current state of horror movies, so this is my effort to take it old school, with a focus on characters and a slow build. But for the shots of San Francisco it would cost little to make, so I hope I can convince an edgy director to take a chance. — Thanks again for all your hard work, Carson, it’s a real inspiration.
Writer: Todd Scott
Details: 87 page
Finding a horror idea isn’t that difficult. You simply identity something that scares you and build a story around it. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t walked down that dark street late at night, saw that homeless person sitting or standing there, and thought to yourselves, “What if this man just went crazy and tried to kill me?” So I completely understand the appeal of building a story around that idea.
Here’s the problem though. Lrkrz is stuck in genre no-man’s land. Is it a zombie movie? Not really. Is it a slasher movie? Kind of. And that’s an issue. When a movie gets stuck between the cracks, it can slip through them. We saw it just a few weeks ago with Crimson Peak. A horror movie? Maybe? A ghost story? Possibly? A box office bomb? Definitely.
That had me wondering if Lrkrz could survive the same night its characters got stuck in. But here’s the good news. If you write something great, it transcends genre. People don’t care because they’re just happy to see a good movie. Let’s find out if Lrkrz was able to achieve that rare feat.
Vega is a beautiful 20-something latina who lives in San Francisco. She writes for a local paper, and has been working hard on a story about San Francisco’s “traveller” community, which is a politically correct way of saying, their “gutterpunks.” For those of you who’ve never been to San Francisco, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in the world. But it has one drawback – its rampant teenage homeless problem. These dirty aggressive vagrants, who aren’t afraid to use the very sidewalks you walk on as their toilets, are a stain on your memory of the city that cannot be erased.
The gang we hang with here have names like Mama Kat, Yahtzee, Shine, and Dusk. And their community is an open one, which makes them more than happy to give Vega access to their group. They honestly believe they’re part of a “movement” (being lazy is a movement?) that will change the way people live in the future. So they take Vega into their favorite parks, get drunk, get high, and tell her all about the wonderful lifestyle they live.
But something strange is a-brewin. Certain homeless men are walking around with blackened eyes. These men can move faster than Neo, are stronger than The Rock, and are set on crushing and killing any living being in their path, particularly – it seems – these gutterpunks.
It just so happens that it’s the vagrants’ big night to show Vega their lifestyle when these “lrkrz” go crazy. It’s the gutterpunks unbridled belief that the entire world is their playground that gets them in trouble. It starts when they start coupling up and heading off to screw. That’s when the Lrkrz attack. And when I say “attack,” I mean “attack.” Like one guy gets his head smashed in like a watermelon.
Because our group is so high and drunk, it takes longer than usual for them to realize what’s going on. And when they do, their goal becomes simple: Get the fuck out of this park! But it seems like wherever they go, more and more of these lrkrz appear. And that means they’re probably screwed. As Vega espouses when the chips are down: “I’m going to die in a Forever 21 sweater.” I don’t know if Vega’s going to die. But I can guarantee that a lot of these people are going to die. And I think the question that bothered me most as I finished Lrkrz was, “Is that a bad thing?”
I can see why Lrkrz won the weekend. As someone pointed out in the comments, it’s the only script with a voice. Todd’s the only one who bothered to infuse some actual personality into his writing (“VEGA looks like shit. She’s a beautiful twenty-something latina woman, but in the elevator mirror all she can see is last night’s make-up, clothes from off the floor, jizz stain on her skirt.”). There’s nothing worse than boring by-the-numbers writing. So Lurkrz gets an A+ in that department.
But despite personality bursting from every page, Lrkrz starts to display a critical problem. There was no one to root for! You’ve got the gutterpunks themselves, who are so dirty and annoying and lazy, you can’t possibly like any of them. That leaves us with Vega herself. And as you can see from her intro, she doesn’t exactly ooze Tom Hanks-level likability. She rails against her subjects the second they turn their back. And her life is just as lurid and directionless as theirs (she drinks, gets high, parties, fucks randoms). That choice might have been on purpose, a commentary on the hypocrisy of her stance on these kids. But I just didn’t like the woman. And that left me with no one to root for.
It’s an important question to ask when you write a screenplay. Who is it that the audience is going to root for here? It doesn’t always have to be the protagonist. But it has to be somebody. And that means considering how you’re going to make that character – gasp – LIKABLE. If you’re not at least considering that question, you’re not doing your full homework as a screenwriter.
Lrkrz’ big strength also turned out to be its biggest weakness. What pops about this script is the authentic realistic bickering between all its characters. I definitely felt the personality of each and every character come out (even if I didn’t like them). But that wandering authentic babbling came at a price. The story started to wander as well. There are only so many scenes I can listen to of these kids’ random opinions. That may work in real life. It doesn’t work on the page when we need some sort to structure to guide us, to remind us where all of this is going.
I mean, what are we looking forward to once they realize they have to escape the park outside of escaping the park? Yesterday we had the reveal of a 200 year-old wellness center to try and figure out. Tuesday we had the revelation of how a little boy became a doll. In Lrkrz, there is no mythology. It’s just people trying to run out of a park. And that’s fine. Not every movie needs to have some deep-set mythology. But if your genre-piece DOESN’T have mythology, it needs to have strong characters we’re rooting for. And that was the thing. I didn’t like any of these characters so I didn’t care whether they got out of the situation alive or not.
I think, moving forward, Todd should work on BALANCE. Instead of making every single character a fast-talking hard-partying trainwreck, look to build more variation into everyone. And always consider the “root for” question. Nobody’s going to root for a character just because you created them. You must GIVE THEM A REASON to root for that character. And Todd didn’t give me a reason to root for anybody. That’s what doomed Lrkrz. And that’s what I’m hoping he’ll learn for the next script. I wish him luck cause he’s very talented.
Script link: Lrkrz
[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: Today’s “What I Learned” actually comes from BellBlaq, a former professional reader who gave some great notes to all the entries last week. I read the opening of his notes for Lrkrz and couldn’t agree more: “Reads to me like all of the disdain in this piece comes from you, the writer. I want to be immersed in and enamored with the story, not distracted by how you feel about some shit.” I definitely got that “I hate everything” vibe when I read the script as well, and it probably was a big reason for why I didn’t like anyone. Because the writer didn’t like them either! All the emotions and feelings in a script should come from the characters and the story, not the writer’s opinion about what he’s writing. Never forget that.