It’s turned into a Mish-Mash Monday, which may sound depressing but I just couldn’t bring myself to read and review The Last Witch Hunter this evening. I’m actually having an existential crisis with this script. How do you make witches scary to grown men? I know how you make them scary to little girls. But how do you make them scary in a Vin Deisel movie? Is Vin Diesel one of the witches? That could be scary. This is the catastrophic conundrum I’m in, is that this simply doesn’t make sense, this project. It’s the reason I’ve been so on the fence about reading it. One side of me says there’s no way it could ever be any good. Another wonders, what if they’ve found an ingenious clever way to make witches badasses? And that’s why this movie is getting made? Cause they found the secret! And I’m missing out on it because I’m being a little wuss-boy who refuses to crack open a screenplay. I’ll ask you guys. Are any of you interested in this project? Does this sound like a good idea or a disaster? Because right now I’m kind of imagining this is going to look exactly like Dracula Untold (???), where they had a 25 million dollar budget but tried to make it look like they had a 125 million dollar budget? Can’t say I’m wanting to see that movie.

Speaking of movies people shouldn’t see, I saw Annabelle this weekend. You know, the horror movie with the doll? I am now convinced that there are a group of writers studios call on in Hollywood that are specifically brought in to borify a script. There have been a handful of times where I’ve walked out of a movie feeling absolutely ZERO emotion from a film, but this one trumps them all. Annabelle wins the prize for the most boring 90 minutes of story ever created. I mean the screenplay was uninspired. The casting was uninspired. The directing was uninspired. They even found a way to make that creepy-looking doll uninspired. Did you know that the doll doesn’t even move the whole movie? Like it doesn’t do anything. It just lays there? I thought this was supposed to be a movie about a scary doll. How can that happen if the DOLL ISN’T SCARY? Somebody bring back Chucky.

But I did learn something from the experience. Scary movies need to be scary. That’s not a facetious line. I know I talk a lot here about the importance of a good story and good characters with “depth” and “backstory” and “flaws.” But after watching Annabelle, I realized that none of that actually matters if you don’t put a single thought into creating good scares. There were no good scares here. NONE! In an entire horror movie. You’d think you’d get one just by accident. But this entire movie amounts to waiting for the doll to do something scary and that moment never happening.

And let me take this moment to explain, at least partly, why this was the case. “Annabelle” was following a rule-set it had established in its backstory, which is that the doll itself doesn’t become a thinking moving thing. It’s merely being manipulated by a demon that has attached itself to the doll. So the invisible demon can do things like pick it up and move it, but the doll is never going to do anything beyond that.

I HATE when writers create rule-sets that prevent their movie from becoming a better movie. If you have a rule-set you’ve established, and that rule-set prevents your world from functioning in a way that’s going to make your movie more entertaining? You have to re-think the rule-set. And that’s definitely what happened here. I’m not saying the doll had to have facial expressions. But it needed to do more than get dropped on the ground. I mean come on.

I also saw myself some “A Million Ways to Die In the West,” on Itunes, a script that I actually liked. But boy did the movie not work. I mean, Seth McFarlane, bless his heart, is not an actor. He is awkward to look at. He’s awkward to listen to. He has an awkward gait when he moves. He’s also so vain that he kept his same haircut and 2014 look despite being in a movie set in the year 1880.

But the big takeaway from the film was that McFarlane spent way too much time on the relationship. There were a half dozen scenes at least where him and the romantic interest (Charlize Theron) would go do something together that had nothing to do with the plot. For example, they’d go to the fair and just hang out there for 10 screen time minutes. What did this have to do with anything? Beats me. As you all know, every scene should push the story forward, should get your characters closer to their objectives. If that’s not happeing, you probably don’t need those scenes. And if your characters don’t have any objectives in the first place, then you have much deeper structural problems.

I call these scenes, which I see ALL THE TIME in amateur scripts, “Pause Scenes.” Because it’s literally like the writer pauses the story so his characters can engage in a scene he thinks might be cool or funny. Then, when the scene is over, he unpauses the story and we continue moving forward again. This should never be the case. The idea with screenwriting is to always combine these scenarios into one. If you want to include a fun scene, find a way to make it an essential part of the story.

So earlier in A Million Ways To Die In The West, there’s a scene where our hero has to square off against some guy he owes money to. If you really want to include the Fair scene, then make it so that our hero is supposed to meet that guy there to settle their debt. Our hero also gets dumped by his girlfriend in the first act. Maybe the Fair is his first chance to talk to her again. He’s hoping to go there and get her back. This way the scene has an actual point to it, instead of it feeling floaty and unimportant.

Finally, I caught Chef, yet another directed-written by-acted vehicle and boy did it start out great. I mean I was like, “This is that fun easy-going movie you throw on on a Saturday to feel good about life.” But that structural problem I saw in the screenplay way back in my review (we don’t get to him starting the food truck – the actual PREMISE of the movie – until after the halfway point) came back and bit this thing in the ass.

Favreau is so good with dialogue and he knows he’s so good with dialogue that he thought he could dialogue us to Marmalade Heaven and we’d forget all about the plot beats. But if we watch a movie about a famous chef who decides to start a food truck and he doesn’t actually start selling food on that food truck until the final act? We’re going to be a pretty impatient audience, aren’t we?

The big killer with the script is that Favreau gave us two of the exact same set pieces. The opening act is about him serving the biggest food critic in the city, and it turning into a disaster. So how does he follow that? By giving us THE EXACT SAME SCENE. He again prepares to serve the same food critic and it again turns into a disaster. 15 minutes were put into each sequence, totaling 30 minutes of screen time. Youch!

I heard Favreau likes to write fast and that he didn’t rewrite this too much, wanting to capture that “energy” you only get with a first draft. But there’s no doubt that a couple of rewrites would’ve caught this problem and made the script a lot better as a result. Because the truth is, we needed the hero to fall hard in those first fifteen minutes, be down on his luck for the next 12-15 minutes, and then have that Food Truck option open up. Since he’s un-hirable, he gives it a shot, and you can now focus more on the core reason we came to the movie in the first place, which is to watch this down-on-his-luck chef reinvent himself.

I was actually talking with Miss Scriptshadow about the movie afterwards because she had the same issue. “Why did it take so long to get to the truck?” I told her I’d listened to an interview with Favreau where he’d made a point to say he wanted to change up the structure because whenever he goes to a movie, he knows what’s going to happen at every stage. He wanted this movie to be unpredictable even to the more seasoned movie-goers.

“Well that’s stupid,” she replied. “So he made his movie worse just so it would be harder to predict?” It was a sound observation that brought up a deeper question. As writers, in our eternal quest to keep the audience guessing, should we make a plot beat or a character different JUST TO MAKE IT DIFFERENT? Sure, Favreau’s movie would’ve been more predictable had we gotten to the food truck sooner, but wouldn’t it have been more satisfying? Wouldn’t the story have moved along quicker and therefore kept the audience more entertained? I think so. What do you guys think?

Well, that about does it for me. I’m gonna conk out. In the meantime, I’ll dream about my new movie obsession. Star Wars 7? No. Batman vs. Superman? Not a chance. I’m talking about John F&*%ING Wick. Me and Keanu have a date for October 24th. Goddamit, that dog was a gift from his dying wife!


Who’s coming with me???

  • hickeyyy

    Man, that damn John Wick. Anyone remember my AOW offering from months back called Monty? Same story!

    Well, at the very least, Act 1 is basically the same. Once we get into the second Act it takes a drastic change. Monty was about a wiener of a man becoming a badass. This looks like a badass turning back into a badass.

    • walker

      Monty is a good script. It should have received an Amateur Friday review that week. I would hope Carson might consider giving some AOW scripts a second chance, especially if they had a strong showing the first time around but still didn’t get picked.

  • lonestarr357

    Though I enjoyed CHEF, you make some damn good points. Another thing I noticed (which may play into the whole ‘Favs changing up the structure’ issue you mentioned): all the conflict evaporates after the first hour. The second half, everything is smooth sailing for Carl: getting the food truck, becoming a success with it, even an implied reconciliation with his ex, which really short-changes ScarJo’s girlfriend character. Again, I liked the movie, but a re-write would’ve helped immeasurably.

    • GoIrish

      I thought the same thing about the second half of Chef – zero conflict/challenges. The closest it got was when they didn’t have a permit and the cop told them they had to move down the street (“we have to move down the street?! We may as well give up now, guys. If only we had some sort of mobile restaurant that would permit us to move a block away…”). Then there was the painful scene where Favreau told his son they wouldn’t be able to spend as much time together and that was resolved like 5 minutes later.

      • Andrea Moss

        ‘The closest it got was when they didn’t have a permit and the cop told them they had to move down the street (“we have to move down the street?! We may as well give up now, guys. If only we had some sort of mobile restaurant that would permit us to move a block away…”).’


        • Somersby

          I liked the emotional tone of the movie, but you’re right about the scene with Russell Peters playing the Miami cop. It was such an extraneous, unrelated-to-anything-else-in-the-story scene, I couldn’t understand why it was included. The comedy was awkward and forced–and, ironically, it’s the one scene I remember most because it was so out of place.

  • Andrea Moss

    John Wick seems like a pretty decent action movie. You know, the medium budget thriller that studios abandoned long time ago because they’re looking for the comic book franchises gold.

    And, pardon my French, this is a fucking shame.

    Where is the next Die Hard, Hollywood? Or the next Lethal Weapon? Or the next “Produced by Joel Silver” picture? BRING BACK THE ACTION TO THE SCREEN, GUYS!!!

  • Jim

    Annabelle honestly looked like one of those movies that was rushed into production to capitalized on The Conjuring’s success. As for scary – the very best kind taps into any given individual’s fears. The reason why Child’s Play worked (at least the original) is because there was a child involved, so we rode shotgun with the child’s perspective and saw scares through his point of view. Blurring the narrative and creating a sense of unease through suggestiveness – where reality, or at least a character’s perception of it – goes a long way, too. I didn’t get any sense of that whatsoever from Annabelle’s trailer which looked DOA – but hey, it’s proving to be quite profitable.

  • Sullivan

    Chef was horrible. Talk about a movie where nothing happens. Nothing.

  • jw

    Carson, I’m glad you brought this up because it actually hits on something I see around here quite often — the “that’s not going to work approach” where those around here play studio exec. with simply their own opinion and nothing with fact. Which obviously begs the question, “why the hell does everyone consistently get it wrong?” You just took Dracula, which by the way, Box Office Mojo has the budget at $70m, and you said there’s no way that could be good, but it came in second at the box office with more than $20m and arguably would have done better without Gone Girl in its second week (timing). You talk about Annabelle, which at present is a film that cost $6.5m to make and has made over $60m. You talk about Chef, which doesn’t sound great, but made more than $30m at the box office. I mean, stop and think about that for a moment — a movie about a food truck without any A-listers made more than $30m domestically and $45m worldwide. And, the list just continues on and on. People may sit there all day long with their erroneous opinions and say “this could never work” and while everyone here is busy TALKING about how something can’t work, those in the industry are busy DOING something that is. I’m not defending a scary movie about dolls because it isn’t something I would ever see, BUT we as writers need to learn to DIVORCE ourselves from our internal opinions to really ask the question of whether or not something can truly work, NOT WITH US, but the general movie-going public. Remember, Honey Boo Boo was once one of the highest rated shows on TV. Making a buck in this industry doesn’t require a PhD from Harvard.

    • Erica

      “Making a buck in this industry doesn’t require a PhD from Harvard.”

      It also doesn’t require a soul apparently, I suspect that some of those who sold theirs are collected on October 31st.

      You do make some good points. The problem is separating “Art” from “Business” and those who make those decisions do so based on “Business” and “Timing”.

      • jw

        But, I think that’s where we like to pretend that those go hand-in-hand. As though you can’t make a quality film while making a buck and I just don’t believe that. However, that’s not what I was referring to, as I was simply stating that the people around here talk A LOT about “what doesn’t work and what does” and there’s so much energy put toward “that was crap” or “that’s never going to do anything” or “here’s why I stopped reading on page 4,” meanwhile, no one else really gives a shit and goes out to do what they do on a daily basis without paying attention to “why you stopped reading before page 5.” There’s a can-do mentality in the industry that I think gets lost on this board sometimes and I don’t think it’s a necessary.

        • walker

          It is striking that you would point to a “can-do” mentality in the industry. My experience is somewhat different as I have found the industry people I have dealt with to be timorous naysayers obsessed with telling people what they can’t do.

          • jw

            Because of the hierarchy that naturally exists, yes, that can be true. But, if it was the case that no one ever said “yes” then we would have no films to watch. Which obviously isn’t the case. It will take time though to put yourself in a position where others listen, but in the meantime being a writer with a “can do” attitude will get you a long way.

    • Dale T

      Solid post. The harsh reality about these screenwriting communities is that we push for higher quality, but movie-goers would prefer a fresh experience before they do a quality time. The brain changes and pumps endorphins whenever new information is introduced to it, and it’s this change that creates that “can’t take my eyes off the screen ass glued to the chair” euphoria that we all strive for, the very feeling that storytellers were created for to provide the rest of humanity. Where I think the key to a successful movie lies in is its trailers. We subconsciously take trailers at face value as a pound for pound preview of how the movie is going to move us emotionally, and if the trailer impressed us then the movie will too. If there’s even one scene in it that is been here done that, then we’ll assume that the entire movie will be too.

      I haven’t seen Anabelle, so maybe it was completely void of any scares, but goddammit the trailer was one of the scariest trailers I’ve ever seen. The brain is a stubborn thing; Carson tells me its not scary, but even though he knows way more about the movie than I do, my first instinct is to disagree with him because I saw the trailer and it was pretty damn scary! Of course that doesn’t follow logic; you can’t compare a trailer to the actual movie the trailer is based on, but hey, the brain is an irrational thing when it’s running wild on endorphins and adrenaline.

      • jw

        Well said.

    • ArabyChic

      By the way, Chef is chock full of A-listers. Pretty much the whole cast. Unless your definition of “A-list” differs from everyone else’s.

  • Randy Williams

    Annabelle the doll and Keanu Reeves in the same article.
    What is this,
    Stiff actor Monday?

    • Sebastian Cornet

      Wow, I actually did an automatic rimshot after reading that. Good job, sir.

  • Cfrancis1

    That might be the first bad review I’ve read of Chef. Interesting… I wanted to see it before but now I really want to see it!

  • Poe_Serling

    “Scary movies need to be scary. That’s not a facetious line. I know I talk a lot here about the importance of a good story and good characters with “depth” and “backstory” and “flaws.” But after watching Annabelle, I realized that none of that actually matters if you don’t put a single thought into creating good scares.”

    One of the keys in any memorable horror project is the ability to build suspense ramps for those jump scare moments in your scripts.

    Here’s one of the best in my opinion:

    • Erica

      Funny, I remember that scene scaring me more back in the day.

    • klmn

      “Suspense ramps for jump scares…” Nice turn of phrase.

      • Levres de Sang


    • Acarl

      Brilliant, Poe! IMO, this scene from Exorcist III is maybe the single most terrifying scene ever filmed. Great build, better payoff. The first time I saw this it was as if someone attached an electrical outlet w 10,000 watts running through it, to the base of my spin.

    • Levres de Sang

      Have to confess I’ve not seen this before so it definitely got me — twice! I guess it’s the long take coupled with minimal dialogue and the brilliant use of natural sound…

      • Poe_Serling

        Though The Exorcist III is not in the same league as the original, it still has its merits and scary moments.

        If you haven’t seen William Peter Blatty’s other directorial effort The Ninth Configuration, I recommend both as a double-bill some night as the Halloween season pushes closer.

        • Levres de Sang

          Thanks Poe! Your recommendations are always appreciated…

          I watched The Uninvited (1944) on Saturday afternoon. A great film on so many levels — and one that I know you admire — but I do wonder what Carson and the SS crowd would make of its leisurely first act with the boat trip etc.

          • Poe_Serling

            The Uninvited is one of my favorites!! And I absolutely agree that there is a bit of lightheartedness as they ease into the main thrust of
            the story.

            But once the supernatural elements kick in… it quickly becomes a four-star ghost story in my book.

          • brenkilco

            The Uninvited is really good. And one edge it has over other ghost stories is that it’s very well plotted. Not just a series of scares. The first act would never fly today. There’s no premium placed on charm in movies now.

          • Levres de Sang

            You’re right. The backstory is absolutely watertight.

            “There’s no premium placed on charm in movies now.” I couldn’t agree more. Characters just seem so angry these days.

        • brenkilco

          Have always heard ninth configuration is a one of kind movie but have never managed to catch it.

          • Poe_Serling

            Yeah, it’s a rare bird to see it on TV nowadays. Just recently I ran across this:

            Blu-ray & DVD Release Date: Nov. 4, 2014

            Price: Blu-ray/DVD $29.95
            Studio: Hen’s Tooth

            The 1980 comedy-thriller cult favorite The Ninth Configuration is written and directed by William Peter Blatty, the author of The Exorcist.

            **Perhaps the upcoming release on Blu-ray will inspire TCM or some other similar channel to give it some airtime.

    • Altius

      One of the scariest singular moments I’ve ever seen on film.

    • AstralAmerican

      Yes! Hell yes! One of my all time favorite scenes, and definitely a creepy film. But man…classic!

    • JakeMLB

      I’m honestly interested: what do you find great about this scene? Seeing it void of context didn’t really do much for me. I wonder how effective such a scene would read on the page because it could come across very cliched and survives more on the direction, sound and the positioning of the camera than the actual action. There are some nice writerly touches like the patient curtain softly swaying or the cop getting called out while the nurse enters the second room but overall, I feel like it’s more a triumph of directing than writing. So I’m curious what you enjoy about it. Questions like,”why is there a full glass of ice next to a man who’s been sleeping?” kept me from enjoying it fully. I know that sounds pedantic but to me that’s really quite hokey. Ice melts rather quickly. I’m sure in the context of the full film it would come across much stronger.

      • Erica

        Ironically that scene was only 3 lines in the script or so I heard, I don’t have the script myself.

      • davejc

        That’s true. But so much horror relies more on the director the dp, the editor and sound department than it does on the writer.

        Anyway nobody does it better than the Koreans:

        • Bifferspice

          that film shat me up! some amazing scenes in it. i didn’t understand what the hell was going on though

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey Jake-

        I definitely hear where you’re coming from. I’ll try my best to address a couple of your issues.

        “Seeing it void of context didn’t really do much for me.”

        I guess you really have to watch the entire film to appreciate how that particular scene fits into the overall story.

        A few scenes earlier, there’s a quick throwaway line by one of the hospital personnel stating that ‘one of the surgical shears seems to be missing from one of the operating rooms.”

        Which, of course, comes into play in a big way in the above scene.

        ” I feel like it’s more a triumph of directing than writing.”

        I totally agree. When I posted the scene, I wasn’t really looking at it from a ‘writerly’ standpoint… more just as an example of building suspense and the use of a jump scare.

        Why I think it is a great scene? I loved how Blatty had the confidence to let what seemed like a mundane hallway scene play out for sooo very long. I felt it really kept me on the edge of my seat… waiting… waiting…

        Then Pow! – the ultra creepy nun with cutting shears coming out of nowhere.

        What can I say – it just worked for me and scared the crap out of me. ;-)

        • JakeMLB

          Thanks for your thoughts Poe! Yeah the nun with shears definitely came unexpected and a scene like this needs to be watched in the context of the full film or else you’re missing that creepy, unsettling vibe not to mention the setup with the shears! What I found interesting about it was not only how long the scene plays out, and the odd unwavering camera angle, but also that the nurse wasn’t alone in the ward (several cops, a patient, etc.). Nowadays, there is absolutely no way that a scene like this would play out without the nurse being physically alone on the ward.

          • Poe_Serling

            “Nowadays, there is absolutely no way that a scene like this would play out without the nurse being physically alone on the ward.”

            So true.

            Personally, I think that’s another reason I enjoyed the Exorcist III scene so much… there’s people everywhere on that floor and yet the Nurse still gets killed.

          • Bifferspice

            love the idea that the setup hokey line about the shears being missing would heighten your understanding of that scene. :-D

            i think the changes in the number of other people in the ward really heightens the scene, changing the feel in a way that couldn’t happen if she were on her own the whole time. it’s interesting that i had never considered that. at the beginning when the others start disappearing, it makes it feel creepier to me, like i wouldn’t want to be in her position, in a way that if it just came to the scene with nobody in it but her, i might not consider that. it was a darkening of the mood, rather than starting already dark. and then when that security guard came back, it felt like an element of relief, like she’d survived that scare, and now normality was resumed. and then the second shock was more of a “rug swept out from under your feet” moment, because a) the guard was around, and b) she had checked the room and then LOCKED THE DAMN DOOR! and still she died, cos the guard fucked off, and scary motherfuckers with shears can seemingly walk through locked doors. i do think the cut to the headless statue fucks the whole scene in the ass though, undoing all the good work. bloody sensors.

  • scriptfeels

    Keanu and puppies with guns and stuff. I’m in!

  • ElectricDreamer

    SHANE BLACK speaks about Pause Scenes in action films…

    “I see a lot of movies these days that have a bunch of scenes that
    concern the plot and a bunch of separate scenes that feature the action.
    But you could lift all the action scenes out wholesale and it would
    make no difference to the meaning of the film. The action should always
    go hand in hand with the story so it’s all invisibly interconnected.”

    Scenes must MULTITASK to keep readers engaged and your story fluid.
    The Terminator gives you buckets of exposition during a friggin car chase.
    Layer character beats and big REVEALS around your action.

    A classic example… The PUBLIC MEETING.
    Good and evil are face to face. The pot’s boiling…
    Something HAPPENS that upsets your protag, they make an emotional DECISION.
    That decision COMPLICATES their ultimate GOAL and then let the bullets fly.

    I treat my scripts like they’re — SHARKS. My story must keep swimming, or it just dies.

  • Erica

    I’m sorry, I stopped reading after “Star Wars”…

  • Linkthis83

    Didn’t know King had been doing this with his short stories.

    1) Dollar Babies can only be adapted from pre-approved short stories; novels are not available.
    2) They cannot be “for profit.”
    3) They can only be exhibited at film festivals, as student projects, or for demo reels.
    4) A contract must be completed before a film can be produced.

  • LV426

    Scary witches and Vin Diesel?

    I’d set it in the Riddickverse as the fourth film in the franchise. Riddick is pursued across the galaxy by some angry necromonger witches. The scare factor comes by way of the witches genetically modifying their bodies with alien DNA and weird nanotech.

  • klmn

    From the reviews I’ve read, it looks like Annabelle is a prequel to 2013’s The Conjuring. That’s why it got made.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      It’s a spin-off more than a prequel :) It’s the 10-minute (?) introduction of THE CONJURING stretched into feature length. And the whole thing, from “FADE IN” to BO numbers, took a year. If the movie isn’t that scary or even that good, it’s not a surprise to me…

  • klmn

    Keanu’s working with a beagle. They’re stupid dogs. I don’t think you can train ‘em to do anything but hunt rabbits and howl incessantly.

    But I bet it will upstage Keanu.

    • Poe_Serling

      The famous W.C. Fields’ quote: “Never work with Children or Animals.” They’re classic scene stealers.

    • Sebastian Cornet

      The beagle will probably take up most of the poster, with one half of Keanu’s face off to the side,

  • jw

    I’m not pushing 20/20 hindsight, which wasn’t even a part of this conversation, so what IS ridiculous is changing the subject. The subject is getting AWAY from the mindset of “this won’t work” when the evidence points to the contrary. I wasn’t saying “I can predict box office” I’m talking about looking at the numbers the way they are presented, getting out of the way of our own biases and actually taking reality for what it is, which is the fact that ALL of the films Carson cited actually didn’t fair too badly at the box office, and some were outright runaway successes. So, while we’re here complaining that Annabelle “didn’t work” according to our formulas and mentality, the people who put their money where their mouth is don’t really give a shit what we think because their car cost more than our house. It isn’t called Film Business because people reward you with gold stars and Sour Patch Kids.

  • Ambrose*

    I didn’t care for Seth MacFarlane’s movie, ‘Six Million Ways To Die In The West’, but then again, I didn’t think the screenplay was funny or interesting. I went to see the movie to find out if it turned out to be a better movie than reading experience.
    Sometimes that’s the case, especially with a writer-director because it’s not all on the page. The full details and nuances are in the writer-director’s mind and only reveal themselves when the script is produced.
    Sadly, that wasn’t the case here.
    I had the same feeling when reading MacFarlane’s script for ‘Ted’.
    I wasn’t blown away by that movie, but the movie clearly did resonate with audiences, and I think it’s now the highest grossing (no pun intended) R-rated film in history. Hence, ‘Ted 2′.
    MacFarlane’s appearance didn’t bug me, Carson. But some of the things that he included, such as the scenes at the fair (e.g., the couple becoming engulfed in flames while getting their photograph taken, the man run over by the charging bull) were just meant to be funny sight gags as the (courting) scene takes place. The gags turned out to be not so funny.
    I agree, if those scenes revealed something important and were actually funny to boot, audiences might not have been as disappointed as you were.
    So we have ‘Six Million Ways To Die In The West’, Tarantino’s upcoming, ‘The Hateful Eight’, Adam Sandler’s upcoming-maybe western, ‘The Ridiculous Six’, and the remake (oh, god, please no) of one of my favorite movies of all time, ‘The Magnificent Seven’, itself a westernized, ‘Seven Samurai’.
    So if you’re writing a western maybe put a number in the title. Or not.

  • Brainiac138

    He was just pointing out a structural issue with the film. Just based on my experience watching the film in the theater and seeing people get up and leave because the film took so long to get to the premise, I have to say, I agree with Carson.

  • dawriter67

    I want to jump in here and talk about what makes a scene scary – to me the best example would be from the Conjuring. It was just fucking brilliant. I’ll call it the clap sequence. If you haven’t seen the Conjuring then stop reading while I carry on.

    The Conjuring opens up with the girls playing Hide and Seek. They clap to hear where they are hiding and call out the other kids. (I can’t play that game because I’m fucking deaf)

    Anyways, there is a 2nd sequence where they play again but the mother says to stop it.

    Then the third sequence kicks into over drive. It’s in DAYLIGHT – nothing SCARY is supposed to happen in daylight but the director defied that – a ghostly giggle is heard and the mother goes to investigate.

    And the director proceeds to break another rule – in horror movies YOU”RE NOT SUPPOSED TO GO INTO THE BASEMENT! She does anyways.

    Down she goes and she has her lamp/flashlight – as she’s looking around the demon reaches into the light and claps.

    Fuck off!

    That made me jump.

    That’s a good scare – it would not have worked if the clap sequence was not introduced at the start.

    • klmn

      Yeah, getting the clap is scary.

      So I’m told…

      • Erica

        Well played…

  • E.C. Henry

    Carson, wanna see a good movie? Go see Robert Morton Downey Jr. and Robert Duvall’s “The Judge”. I saw this last night and I’m now convinced it’s the best movie of 2014. So go see it so at least two of us can agree on that!

  • JakeMLB

    I’m interested why you think that repeat scene in Chef is a misstep, Carson? I haven’t seen the film or read the script but it sounds like a pretty classic setup and payoff (protagonist squares up against antagonist early in the story and fails, then meets him again later, after sufficient training and overcoming inner conflict and defeats him). Many films explore this dynamic. Karate Kid comes to mind. And in this case the payoff sounds like a nice little reversal. Audiences would expect him to succeed on this second go but to have him fail again could make for nice comedy or thematic relevance.

  • Montana Gillis

    Deisel and witches, hmmmm… I saw the “Nick Cage and witches” movie a few years back and I’m sure there’s more than one reason I can’t remember the title.

    • Poe_Serling

      Yeah, I remember that one too. It was called Season of the Witch. The writer, Bragi Schut, was a 2003 Nicholl Fellowship winner for that particular script.

      • Montana Gillis

        Wish I could read that script — There’s a pretty good chance it’s better than what wound up on the screen. Not sure this was a good part for Cage to play… IMHO

  • Poe_Serling

    Sounds like a winning idea to me. Plus, Carson has just opened up the Monday slot for this type of thing.

    From this week’s newsletter

    “… I may need some help getting posts up on Mondays… a review of a script or a movie… Or, if you want to pitch me some other totally unique Monday post idea, go ahead.”

  • Paul Clarke

    With regards to Favereu going for a different structure just to make the story unpredictable –

    If you’re going to break a story convention. You better know exactly why that convention exists. And go to the necessary lengths to fulfill the necessary requirements, the purpose of the convention you are avoiding. Because they exist for a reason.

    As screenwriters, we are the architects of the movie just as an architect designs a building. So it’s like the architect designing a new house and deciding Front Doors are so cliche. Like everyone has one, and I want to be different. If they just ignore the reason for having a front door (to gain entry) then the entire house is ruined. So they can either work really hard coming up with an original way to get into the house, or they can simple realize that a front door is the cliche because it’s the simplest and most practical way to do it. And they could then focus their efforts on creating a really kick-ass front door.

    If you insist on breaking the conventions then you have to work really hard to make the script still work. I find I end up with a convoluted story full of stuff that exists purely to make the other stuff make sense.

  • NajlaAnn

    “Annabelle wins the prize…” I guess I’ll pass on this one and save my money.

  • mc bob

    office, in hindsight, does tell us a lot about Chef. In my city, Portland OR,
    this movie hung around all summer, quietly making its however few million a
    week, for like 7 or 8 weeks. A few of the
    bigger multiplexes still had it showing on their small screens 7 weeks after its
    release. This can only be attributed to
    good word of mouth and its great reviews.
    To me, Chef was this summer’s little indie movie that could. There’s plenty to be learned – in hindsight –
    from that. Is there not?

  • peisley

    I think you kinda answered your own question re. McFarland and Theron. Like, how much time would you want to spend with her?

  • AlanWilder

    Speaking of scary witches, maybe this will turn things around? The first issue was certainly creepy enough.

  • kenglo



    No broomsticks. No pointy hats. These things are a separate
    SPECIES. Akin to man but horribly different: Limbs long and
    ribbony…alabaster flesh…slithering claws. CREEPY.

    Should pop it open Carson – it’s not half bad.

  • The_Shadow_Knows

    I saw Anabelle (or as I like to call it, “Insidious VI” – I guess that Ouija board movie I saw advertised before Anabelle is “Insidious VII”) this weekend. Not even a single good jump scare in the entire film. Definitely the weakest one from those guys so far.

  • LV426


    Reeves’ Pieces

    Keanu Kat

  • Kev Kango

    You seem to be the master at refuting things that nobody has claimed, grendl. Did I say I know what people would flock to? No–but hey, you sound super authoritative when you tell me what I don’t know. You’re great at debates.

    My point, and also jw’s I believe is this: You have zero proof that Annabelle was “not scary”. At the very least we have the fact that people looking for a scary movie are going to see Annabelle in droves(hence the box office numbers). I also added that the crowd I went with freaked out in a big way during much of the movie.

    So far you’ve put nothing on the table other than vitriol. Then you claim everyone’s being stupid.

    I know it’s tough figuring out how logic works, but you’ll get the hang of it. Keep trying.