Synopsis: A couple of UFO crashes cause a stir in a small town.
About: I picked this one out of the pile cause I was in the mood for some sci-fi. Christensen is repped over at ICM and apparently has produced credits, like the recent action flick “Passengers”. This is beyond shocking to me, as you’ll see from my reaction to the script.
Writer: Ronnie Christensen
One day I’d like to write an alien invasion film. I love the idea of aliens visiting us. What would they be like? What would they do? What would we do? How would we react? I don’t think any movie or TV show has captured the essence of these questions yet. You had “V” (which they’re doing an update of), but that invasion always felt hokey. You had the recent “War Of The Worlds”, but that was more B-Movie fun than the way things would really go down. The closest I’ve found to someone actually nailing the feel is a short film by Neil Bloomkamp, called Alive In Joburg. Lucky for me (and you), he’s adapted it into a full length feature that’s coming out this summer. But I digress.
The main problem that writers run into with this subject matter is, once the aliens arrive, what then? Your options are pretty limited because the big hook, the mystery of who the aliens are, is gone. They can wreak havoc, killing everyone in sight. Or they can integrate themselves into society. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers takes advantage of this premise and is one of the more inventive “invasion” films because of it. And Signs showed us an invasion from a very specific point of view with mixed results. There are a few others that have a fresh angle. Still, I feel like there’s the potential for so much more. Does Rift solve the riddle?
No. Not in the least. In fact, Rift is so amateur and juvenile, I’m actually angry I read it.
SETH is a 30 year old private on duty in Iraq (who the hell isn’t these days!!!??? – no more characters coming back from Iraq people!!). He can’t wait to get back to his wife and 4 year old son. When Seth almost dies in battle however, he’s diagnosed with PTSD and sent back to the states. We pick up on the story a year later when Seth inexplicably hasn’t spoken to his wife or child since his return.
The story begins when Seth decides to spend a weekend with his son. He picks him up, they head out to the forest, spot a crashing ship, inspect it, and some sort of alien creature snatches Seth’s son and runs off. I’ll be the first to admit that this probably isn’t exactly how it happened. I was so bored out of my mind while reading this that focusing became a chore. Let this be a lesson to writers. When you receive coverage (from agents/producers) that get all the details about your script wrong, it isn’t their fault, it’s yours. If you can’t keep their attention, they’re not going to care if they get the details right. They just want to get the read over with as soon as possible. Such was my experience with Rift.
Well the government moves in, quarantines the area, sends everyone from the nearby town away. But Seth grabs his wife and the two go on a hunt to find their child. This story element is flawed because we only met Noah, the son, for one scene. And to be frank, I barely remembered him. Just because he’s someone’s son doesn’t mean I have to like him. You have to distinguish him in some way so that I care whether they find him or not. But I didn’t care. Needless to say, this made the rest of the story pretty pointless.
Whoever these aliens are, their thing appears to be a particular kind of blood, that of which Noah (and Seth) have. As the “mystery” deepens, the final “big idea” is revealed (where these aliens are from – I’ll give you a hint: It’s not from another world. Think our world. Think not now. Think….way way far ahead), and well, it’s sorta interesting, but not really. Because again, you could care less whether Seth finds his kid.
Seth finally offers himself to the aliens to get his son back. He’s shipped to their “world” and proceeds to clumsily look for his son. Everything just kinda happens. Someone runs into him and says, “Oh, I know where your son is.” I can’t even handle discussing this anymore. I’m so disappointed. The ending is just…bad. Everything about this script is bad. This should give hope to any below average writer hoping to break in. This is proof that it can be done.
[ ] barely readable
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from Rift: This was actually the first revelation I had while reading in awhile. There’s a point about midway through where Seth and his wife get into it. It’s a fight about responsibility, about family, about fear. It’s basically “the big argument” between the two main characters where their weaknesses are revealed. And I sat there wondering why this felt wrong. Why didn’t any of it ring true? And I realized it was because the argument was 30 pages too early. You have to wait until the end of the second act for that fight. Because after it’s over, most of the tension between the two characters disappears. They’ve already gotten it out. So what’s left?