Synopsis: The most important people in the world are dying mysterious deaths. Someone is predicting them each and every time.
About: Karma Coalition is the kind of spec that sparks outrage. A lot of people thought this was a sloppily executed high concept story. I say…they’re wrong! (well sorta)
Writer: Shawn Christensen
I am a sucker for these kinds of movies. Anything where a character learns that something mysterious is going on, looks into it, and finds that the rabbit hole goes much deeper. Bonus points if it’s sci-fi. The Matrix has been the bar for these types of films. So how does Karma Coalition – an equally cool title – hold up? Well read on to find out.
Karma Coalition is about a recent spat of deaths of very “important” people around the world. Archdioses, scientists, celebrities. Oh but that’s not all my friends. Someone is betting on when these people are going to die. And they’re right *every time*. Too bad the bettor is killed on page 6. I guess we’ll never find out how he did this. Or will we………..?????
The movie centers around William Craft, a young college professor who’s been laid off (for sleeping with one of his students — wait a minute, don’t all college professors do this?) who we learn is a widow. His wife (and love of his life) died in a car crash six years ago. Without her, he seems to have lost his direction in life. Well, except for the direction of sleeping with his students that is.
Directionless and jobless, where does William turn? Although it would be fun to speculate, we never find out because William is rounded up by the police for being the aforementioned bettor’s only close friend (“close” is relative – they had a falling out years ago) and thrown into an interrogation room where he’s informed he will be arrested for murder. But first, the cop wants him to open a mysterious box – the one thing the bettor left to anyone. And he left it to William.
William obliges. Inside are five things. One, a note that tells him the cop opposite him is one of the dirtiest cops in the city. Two, a gun. Three, smoke bombs. Four, a DVD. And five, a note. A note that says simply: “She’s still alive.” Have I got your attention yet? Yeah, up to this point, the script really sings and your curiosity is piqued. Then again, in these “something bigger going on here” types of scripts, the set up is the easiest part. Does the rest of the movie deliver? Keep reading to find out.
I’m not going to tell you how William gets out of there because it’s pretty obvious. Smoke bombs and a gun will get you out of anywhere people. Anyway, William gets the hell out of Dodge and to a friends house so he can check out this DVD. When he pops it in, he realizes that the DVD is actually a movie that *he is in right now*. He learns that he’s just a character. And that somehow he has to get out into the real world. Okay, I’m kidding. The DVD is of the Bettor, who informs him that in 2013 some huge catastrophic event happens where 90% of the earth’s population is wiped out. Because of this, a secret organization called the Karma Coalition is faking the deaths of very important people, in order to get all of them onto a secret island called “Parista” where the smartest of the smart can continue the human race. Oh, and guess what? His wife is there too!
I have to admit that I was pretty damn into this. All of it felt very cool to me. And this alone would be enough to get this puppy sold. But the big question was – once again – would the rest of the script deliver?
The answer, for the most part, is yes. Without getting too in-depth, William realizes that he is on the list of people going to Parista. The powers that be summon him, and this is the biggest weakness of the script. The writer tries to have it both ways. William desperately wants to get to Parista because his wife is there. But once you go to Parista, for obvious reasons, you can never come back. And William wants to come back. The problem with that is, why? He doesn’t have any friends here. The love of his life, who we’re reminded he loves every other page, is on this island. So why is he so keen on getting back home?
I believe the only reason for this was to set up a final sub-plot whereby William tips off the police (with a secretly encoded message – okay, we’re getting just a little cheesy here) so that they can come after him, and possibly help him get off Parista.
MAJOR MAJOR SPOILERS
Well William is knocked out cold and sent to Parista with about 25 pages to go. Parista is pretty much what you’d expect it to be (a semi-futuristic utopia island). Probably the only vanilla choice of the script.
And because there’s so little time, his reunion with his wife feels both forced and way too fast. And after that is when we get the big reveal. William is told he has mail. Mail that was sent for him 10 months ago (even though he just got to the island yesterday). He goes to pick up the mail, opens it, and we intercut this with our old friend the cop (who originally busted him) who has since been on his own journey to find “Parista”. The cop and his cop friends follow some clues to a suspicious ice cream shop in the middle of Wyoming. What?? Parista is in Wyoming?? They invade it, knowing it’s a front. Find an elevator. Take the elevator down 94 floors deep into the earth. They come out. And find themselves in a huge not-so-futuristic “Matrix” styled cavern, where as far as the eyes can see, bodies are kept in suspended animation. The cops are caught by the Coalition, who allow the cop his last wish of “writing a letter”. This of course is the letter William is now holding.
We cut back to William to learn – through the letter – that the year is not 2009, but 2059, and that he was in suspended animation all those years, then brought to Parista. What this means – and this is where the script really loses the uumph that it needed – is that he can never go back home. So he’s super depressed.
…hold up, WHAT! Now despite the “coolness” factor of finding all these people in suspended animation deep under the earth (I really did think that was cool), it simply doesn’t fly. First of all, he’s on a utopia island WITH THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE who “five” days ago he thought was dead. What’s to complain about? Second, why would he want to go back? So he could die in four years during the catastrophic event?? That doesn’t make any sense. And third, why does it matter that it’s 2059? Who cares if it’s 2009, 2059, or 3009? Once you’re on Parista you have no contact with the outside world and can’t go back anyway. So who cares what year it is?
Despite these problems, I have to say that I enjoyed this script quite a bit. And although I respect the other voices that have called this “riddled with plot holes” I just thought the whole thing was so imaginative. And like I said, I love these types of scripts. They need to clean up those last 40 minutes or so. But once they do, they have themselves a movie. And I’ll be there opening day.
What I learned from Karma Coalition: Keep your story moving. Karma Coalition sold because the story moved so fast nobody had time to think about the script’s holes.