A new Top 25 script enters the Scriptshadow Universe! Read on to find out how to make a simple premise Top 25 worthy.

Genre: Drama/Thriller
Premise: After a lawyer accidentally hits a man on his drive home, he tries to cover up the crime, only to realize there’s more to this man than meets the eye.
About: I have no idea where today’s screenwriters came from. All I know is that they’d previously made a couple of shorts, and then they write something that finishes on the Blood list then top 10 on the freaking Black List. That’s a life-changing moment right there. And what’s great about Bump is that it’s one of the only scripts in the top ten THAT’S ACTUALLY ORIGINAL and not another tired lazy biopic. Imagine that – writers writing original material and getting recognized for it! Seems like a dream from days past, like mint-chocolate chip ice cream. I expect this one to attach an awesome director and actors soon. Material is stronger than the bear in The Revanant.
Writers: Bump by Ori Guendelman (story by Ori Guendelman & Rob McClelland)
Details: 103 pages – 5/13/2015 draft

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Scoot McNairy for Thomas all the way!

Good scripts. Boy are they hard to come by.

I’ve been reading a lot of scripts lately and the same thought always goes through my head. “How many more pages?” “How much longer?” I just want to get to the end.

Even with the good ones, I’m still checking, because I have a consult to do, more contest scripts to read, errands to run. I love what I do but I don’t want to be working til 2am.

That may sound strange to some but it’s the same thought process the majority of people reading your scripts are going through. It’s not that they’re set on hating your script or not giving you a chance. They’re simply human beings with responsibilities, work, family. The faster they can get their reading done, the sooner they can get to everything else in their day.

“Bump” is the first script I’ve read in a long time where I checked the page count and was UPSET that there were only 20 pages left. “This is going to end??” I thought? But so much is still happening! It can’t end so soon. Threads need to be tied up! There has to be something wrong. Maybe I got a faulty draft and 10 pages are missing or something! I was genuinely upset.

So what’s so great about this script? Read on to find out, you apostrophe jackals!

Thomas does not exist in an ideal cross-section of adjectives. He’s the wimpy lawyer who never stands up for himself. We meet him with his boss, Clint, explaining the importance of this “toughness” trait, and how the only way he’s going to make partner is if he starts showing some balls.

Little does Thomas know, his balls are about to be crash-tested Lexus commercial style. On the way home from the boss-dinner, a semi-drunk Thomas hits a homeless man trying to wave him down. The man is definitely dead-o.

Thomas makes the split-second decision (one of many) to throw him in the trunk, bring him home, and start dismembering him, in hopes of covering the incident up. BUT. (FIRST MAJOR SPOILER) While dismembering the man, Thomas finds a giant bag of meth in his stomach. That’s right, the man he hit is a mule. And not only that. There’s a BLACK BEEPING DEVICE TIED TO IT.

Realizing that whoever sent this mule can now figure out where he is, Thomas hurries away to dispose of both the man and the tracker. But wouldn’t you know it. That dent on his car from the hit-and-run gets him pulled over. And this is when shit really goes bad.

I’m not going to spoil the rest for you because the genius of this script is in the ways it keeps surprising you. But suffice it to say, a lot more people get involved, and little wimpy Thomas keeps getting away by the skin of his teeth. Will he make it all the way to the finish line? Bump is one of those rare scripts where you won’t know the answer to that question until the very last page.

There’s an old saying in the movie business. If you’ve got a dead body, you’ve got a movie.

And while that may seem like a throwaway line, it’s actually true. ESPECIALLY if you’re writing outside of one of the industry-friendly genres (Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure, Horror). Those genres bring with them automatic marketable elements. If you’re just writing about people, there aren’t many ways to make the script marketable without introducing a dead body.

However, the dead-body script – particularly the ‘hide the dead body’ script – tends to run into the same problem every time. It’s the same thing we talked about yesterday, in another “hide the dead body” script. We’ve seen dead body movies before. HOW ARE YOU GOING TO EXECUTE THE SUBJECT MATTER IN A FRESH WAY?

And really, that’s what all screenwriting comes down to. Every story’s been told. Since you’re re-telling them, if you don’t find a way to give us something different, there’s no point in even writing the script. Move on.

Bump achieves this feat in a couple of ways. Guendelman and McClelland RELENTLESSLY throw obstacles at their main character. They are ruthless. Whether it be an angry wife, a distraught best friend, a local cop, two state cops, a Terminator like assassin, a major drug kingpin, his even worse assistant. They aren’t afraid to hurl major obstacles at their hero every second of this screenplay.

Also, and this is the real key to Bump working – you know those moments as a writer where you’re like, “I can’t have John find out Amy is cheating on him here because then the story is over. Therefore I have to stretch the story out and have Amy find out later?” Whenever you do that –artificially extend things – readers know. We can tell you’re deliberately pushing back reveals and plot points because your story’s over otherwise.

These guys don’t do that. When you think, “Oh, the main character is totally going to talk his way out of this cop stop here, because it’s only 40 pages in and if this cop figures him out, then the story is over!” the cop DOES figure him out. And you’re sitting there going, “Well wait a minute, I’m not used to seeing that.”

And this is a very important point so pay attention. The majority of writers will play softball with their main character because it’s easier on them to write. Think about it. Let’s say you’re writing a serial killer script and the moment presents itself that they could catch the serial killer on page 30. What will you do? You will always pick the serial killer getting away. Because it’s easier on you. Now you can continue writing the familiar blueprint of them chasing the serial killer.

But what if they actually caught the serial killer on page 30? The thing you gain when you take that less-traveled path is a reader short-circuiting: “No. This does not compute. All writers write it this other way.” It’s like you snap them out of their auto-pilot mode and from that moment on, the reader respects you, and your script gains a new superpower in the process – the power of unpredictability. Once the reader knows you can do that once, they know you can do it again, which makes the read more exciting.

I’m not going to say that Bump did anything ridiculously different. But it definitely played out all its key moments in a slightly different manner than I’m used to. And let me be clear. That’s great. BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH. Just doing it differently isn’t enough. I can have a UFO fall out of the sky and kill my serial killer and that would be “different,” but it would also be stupid. The trick – and the thing good writers do – is they not only make the unexpected choice, but THEY EXECUTE THAT CHOICE WELL.

And that’s what these two were so good at. I wish I could be more specific but the key moments I’m thinking of were twists and I don’t want to spoil those. I’d rather you read this and see it yourself. But the main point is: When you come to a familiar sequence – like a cop stopping your main character, who has a body in the trunk – the first question you need to ask yourself is, “How do I present this common scenario in a fresh way?

And you know what? You may not be able to. You may have to execute it in a normal way because that’s the way that works best for the movie. But AT LEAST YOU ASKED THE QUESTION. Bad screenwriters never ask the question, and that’s why their scripts are so derivative.

I’ll finish by emphasizing that point. Because a movie like Bump doesn’t have special effects. It doesn’t have super-high production value. It doesn’t operate in a genre that automatically pulls an audience in (horror, for example). All you have is your choices. Those are all you own to make your script stand out. So make sure you exploit that.

The harder you work, the more of a chance you’ll write a script like “Bump.”

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[X] impressive (TOP 25!!!)
[ ] genius

What I learned: One trope that audiences love is good people being forced to do bad things. That’s always interesting because those are the people who will be most in conflict with themselves. Think about that. If a bad dude kills a man, he’s not in conflict with anything. He’s like, “Eh, another job finished.” But if a GOOD MAN does the same, his whole world is turned upside-down. Thomas is a good man. But to save his life, he needs to do a lot bad things. And that’s what makes this so entertaining to read.

  • S. Douglas

    I’m so used to hearing this common whine about stories recently… “oh he’s not a likable character” which to me is such an idiotic criticism when you consider that some of the greatest stories of all time are about distinctly unlikeable characters. Nevertheless, you say Thomas is a weak lawyer who hits a homeless guy, kills him and THEN brings him home to dismember him AND he’s a good man? This script must be something if it can pull that off. I’d love to read it. And Scot McNairy is amazing. Loved him in Killing Them Softly.. another great movie chock full of “unlikable characters”.

    • Midnight Luck

      Well if you haven’t seen Halt and Catch Fire you should. Scoot is really great in it. As are the other actors. Great show.

      • BMCHB

        Only heard last week that it got the green light for Season 3. Made my day.

        • Midnight Luck

          So happy to hear it. I didn’t know until right now. Thanks!

    • Dan B

      It’s not always about making someone likable… but if you have a character like Thomas, then you can surround him with worse people, and just by comparison he has some sympathy. Also, he’s a regular guy thrown into a crazy situation which tests him. Like Breaking Bad for instance, Walt starts as this weak character but we build sympathy for him and as he gets worse and worse, there’s always some bad guys who are as bad or worse than he is. So even though he’s gone full 180 into a criminal we still root for him.

  • Midnight Luck

    The major example of what you are talking about is SEVEN for me.
    I believe it was one of the main reasons it was passed around Hollywood like crabs.
    The movie is 2/3 of the way over and suddenly —–SPOILERS—– the bad guy they have been trying to nail, who seemingly is impossible to catch, just turns himself in!!
    Say what?
    I remember my reaction to it at the time. I was so thrown, so baffled. I mean all the heavy shit that had gone down, all the massive disturbing things he had done, and the police had basically nothing on him, and he just gives up? Seriously WTF?
    My mind couldn’t figure out what was going on and I sat up and took notice. Sitting on the edge of my seat is a massive understatement.
    I HAD TO KNOW what was going to happen and how it was going to be resolved.
    It didn’t make sense.
    And that was brilliant. I was there 100%.

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    I read this several weeks ago. Checked out early (around p30) because parts of the script is in red font (revisions?) but mostly because of a huge oversight (a tracking device thrown out of a car window which then magically “reappears” two paragraphs later). I’m all for revisions but those List scripts are supposed to represent the best a writer can do, no?

    • garrett_h

      Yeah you might have an old version. In mine the tracking device stays gone. Also, I don’t have the Red Letter Edition.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        I got it off the Black List file posted elsewhere in this thread :) Also, the link said “Bump_Mark Stasenko”. If it was replaced, then great.
        I’m not going to read it again, though, because I thought it was preposterous and unbelievable.

  • Jason

    I was sceptical the moment a character, set up as a sackless wimp, decided to take a body home, after he’d hit and killed the guy, and dismember it.

    Leap of faith, much? Or, have I missed something?

    • Paul Schellens

      And then a tracking device on him. What are the odds? It’s so contrived, I’ll be interested to see how they overcome that and make us suspend our disbelief.

      • Jason

        Thanks. I thought it was just me.

      • Dan B

        You could probably throw in 80% of movies into the contrived bucket. There’s almost always some extraordinary coincidence that serves as an inciting incident or break into act 2 plot point.

        I’ve always heard you get one moment like this in a movie, but if you keep doing it that’s where you lose points.

        • brenkilco

          The ability to conceal, disguise and paper over coincidence and contrivance is one mark of a genuinely good writer.

          • Dan B

            Totally agree. I feel like on more viewings, or readings, you can start to tear apart good movies for their contrivances though. There’s exceptions though.

        • successor

          One of my favorite movies ever, Die Hard, has enough coincidences and contrivances to sink a battleship. So is another favorite of mine, Terminator 2.

          If the story is well-written enough like Die Hard and T2, the audience will forgive anything.

        • Eric

          I’ve always felt that coincidences that get your characters INTO trouble aren’t a big deal compared to coincidences getting them out of it. In this case a tracking device is a horrible thing that you would never want to find, so it increases the drama. Just like in Jurassic Park, Nedry shuts the power off not just when the tour is going on, but while they’re in front of the T-rex paddock. What a coincidence. If it had stopped in front of the Triceratops paddock (or almost any other place in the tour) we’d be watching a much different movie.

          And let’s not forget the biggest coincidence of all, the character arc. The idea that a character’s need should be specially suited to the story makes it one big coincidence. Chief Brody needs to learn responsibility and overcome his fear of water. “What a coincidence” that his situation serves as the perfect vehicle to accomplish that. And why did a Sheriff who’s afraid of water move to an island of all places? He has a boat as an official police vehicle for christsakes. Did he think he could get away with never using it? Is this guy aware that 90% of small towns in America DON’T have a beach? Talk about contrived.

        • Paul Schellens

          Yeah. It’s a matter of degree though. And some people are less tolerant than others. I’m particularly sensitive to characters acting out of character to serve a plot point and am generally forgiving of external coincidences.

          But others can accept a whole lot more. A friend, many years ago was watching Gremlins and at one point near the end of the film a Gremlin burst out of a TV monitor, my friend exclaimed, “Now I can’t believe that!” After every crazy thing that had happened up till that point! It was the funniest moment of the movie.

    • LostAndConfused

      I’m not a psychological expert or anything like that, but given the circumstances I’d wager the majority of people in this situation would have left the body there, given it was a homeless man with no identity on him. If they were a bit more composed, they would bury it in the forest, where he already was. A person’s first reaction to hitting and killing a guy isn’t to bring the body home and dismember it.

      • Dan B

        Yeah, but if you just got a set of those knives that can cut through cans

        • Wijnand Krabman

          Or if you are the man who won second prize Kitchen knife set from Glengarry Glen Ross.

        • klmn

          “Second prize is a set of steak knives.”

      • brenkilco

        No, you’re wrong. Being a bit lead footed myself and having dismembered lots of accident victims I…..oops.

      • Jason

        Totally. When did digging a shallow grave go out of fashion?

    • G.S.

      My thoughts exactly. I don’t regard myself as a “wimpy guy”, but the thought of dismembering a person in my house makes me a little queasy. So it strikes me as more than a little unrealistic and therefore a writer contrivance. We’ve actually discussed this on the site before as reasons why certain plots or screenplays fail to entertain – their characters don’t behave like real people, so we check out.

      Now maybe because this particular decision came so early, Carson powered through and found the rest to be so entertaining that he forgave its shaky foundation, but the moment I read this (even just from the review), I checked out. One wonders how often the reader’s reaction is basically a coin toss. Do they read on with an open mind and become pleasantly surprised, or is that initial character/action disconnect so powerful that it derails the read completely?

      • LostAndConfused

        For what it’s worth I didn’t think about this questionable plot choice until after reading this post. It kind of made sense when I didn’t put too much thought into it; he’s a guy with his whole career ahead of him so he’s going to make drastic decisions. Though a lot more has to have been going on in order for him to settle on the choice he made. The only way he could have made the conscious decision to dismember a body is that he knew of a prior scenario where someone got away with murder by dismembering a body (and it doesn’t have to be real, he could have watched a movie where this happened and arrive to that conclusion).

    • Wijnand Krabman

      No, the reasonable thing to do for the character was to leave the body where it was and run.

      • klmn

        Or just call the cops and let the process run normally. Unless the driver is DUI or racing, there likely will be no crime committed.

        For a lawyer to take the body and dismember it is unbelievable.

        • Dan B

          I think they tried to imply that he was drunk. The Valet warned him a few times, and the main character seems like a bit of a light weight. It is a bit of a stretch that he would choose dismemberment over leaving it as a hit and run.

          They set up the conflict though, if he’s drunk he has two choices: Call the cops like a responsible citizen (thought this could lead to his own demise). Or he runs away from the problem, maybe in a re-write they can address this issue, create another reason for why he must take the body rather than just run.

    • Randy Williams

      The writing in this script just absolutely effortlessly takes me down the page making this a very fast read for me. But, that speed just adds to the bother that the protagonist just quickly decides to create an abatoir in his garage without really a second thought and dismember the man.

  • Poe_Serling

    Thanks for the review, Carson! It’s always nice to see a new script edge its way into the old SS Top 25.

    This week’s featured scripts: The House, Move That Body, and Bump…

    If I had to take a guess what these projects were about based on their titles alone, I’d probably go with horror, dance, dance.

  • xseson23

    May I give this a read please

    23eagle at live dot com

  • ripleyy

    ON TOPIC:
    “Bump” was actually one of the scripts I saw but never decided to read. Might change my mind.

    “And you know what? You may not be able to. You may have to execute
    it in a normal way because that’s the way that works best for the movie.
    But AT LEAST YOU ASKED THE QUESTION. Bad screenwriters never ask the
    question, and that’s why their scripts are so derivative.”

    This. Excellent tip (and a boost of moral!)

    OFF TOPIC:
    Regarding writing “crossovers”, are they allowed as long as you don’t intentionally go out to sell it? And are “crossovers” a good way of getting exposure?

  • Wijnand Krabman

    Do not agree totally. I’ve read it, easy read, a little surprising. It has a little ‘no country for old man atmosphere’. If he gets caught by the police while covering up things he actually gets away with it, otherwise the story would have been over as you say. But overcoming this problem is not his merit which makes it not so strong and that’s the beginning of things get sloppy. I think the writers could have done a better job by extending the story a little and seek for an other solution. don’t know to say this without spoilering?

  • Ana

    humm…this script reminds me soooo much of a korean movie I saw from 2014 called a Hard Day. There’s an old spanish expression that goes something like ‘when you’re going I’m coming from there. And sometimes I think that applies to korean movies. Lately they are always one step ahead…

    “Detective Go Geon-soo is having a hard day, and the following events happen to him in less than 24 hours: He receives a divorce notice from his wife. His mother passes away. He and his coworkers are investigated by police inspectors over alleged embezzlement. Then on his way to his mother’s funeral, he drives recklessly and commits a fatal hit and run. He tries to cover-up the accident by hiding the man’s corpse in his deceased mother’s coffin. But someone has been watching all along, and Geon-soo gets a mysterious call from a person claiming that he was the sole witness to the crime, who now begins to threaten him.”

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3697626/

    • Scott Crawford

      Third script in a row which sounds like another movie. Still, top 25!

      • Ana

        Hummm..what about second season of Fargo?

    • Emotionoid

      I was about to share the same about a hard day but you beat me to it.

    • Dimitri

      Great movie!

      Anybody have other great Korean movie tips?
      I loved Old-boy (ofcourse), The Host and I saw the devil.

      • RayFinkleLacesOut

        If you enjoy martial arts I’d highly recommend The Man From Nowhere. Great Taken-style martial arts film.

      • Emotionoid

        I would recommend the directors and their movies so that it’s easy for you to watch as many as you can. They are all worth watching especially the revenge trilogy by Park Chan-woo which includes Oldboy, also films by Kim ki duk. One of the best revenge films by kim jee-woon, “I saw the devil” is being remade in US by Adam winged and Simon Barett. You should check out his other films as well.

      • Citizen M

        20 30 40 (2004) is Taiwanese, not Korean. It’s an Altmanesque intertwining of the lives of three women in Seoul, a florist, an air hostess, and an aspirant pop singer. It’s a sweet movie. I saw it years ago and really enjoyed it.

  • Scott Crawford
  • BMCHB

    It’s not bad at all. Can see it turn a tidy profit on a reasonable budget.

    However, and this may be following on from the Queen/Crash scene which did feel a little too contrived, am I alone in reading this as a Black Comedy rather than a Drama/Thriller?

    • Eric

      There’s definitely a dark humor aspect. A lot of it really only makes sense if you play it in your head as a comedy. To that extent it could’ve been funnier, with Thomas’ “boy-scout” qualities being played up more to exaggerate the conflict between his personality and the situation. In this draft he’s too close to normal, even though we’re told by other characters that he’s a goody two-shoes.

  • romer6

    This review reminds me of “Out of Time” with Denzel Washington. That´s a movie I like a lot especially because it takes chances and never gives the main character a break. The main character is a police officer who is forced to do something bad in order to save the woman he loves and things get out of control really fast. I saw it at the theater and I was at the edge of my seat throughtout the whole movie. I always thought about doing something like that, that´s the blueprint to every script I try to write: a story that never gives the main character a break. I think this is a great way to keep the story moving, as long as you know from the start where you want to get.

  • LostAndConfused

    Only 20 pages into this, and if I’m to be nitpicky, the wife’s (over)reaction to finding out what happened is totally on the nose.

    “OMG. What’s going on? Are you cheating on me? (insert 2 pages of information backdrop to sum up their relationship)”.

    • Wijnand Krabman

      give the woman a break, she was just shagging his collegue wo still was in the house when he arrived without a notice.

      • LostAndConfused

        Didn’t get to that part when I wrote this post lol

  • DannYY

    Reading right now.. First pages got me hooked. Did anyone else read Clint’s dialogue with Bryan Cranston’s voice?

    Interesting thing you mention it being in the top 10 of the black list… I skimmed through all the log lines and this story never caught my attention and yet it’s the most original of the lot.

    • Magga

      I read it as Matthew McConaughey’s character in Wolf of Wall Street

  • suminator

    Easy and fun read, loved the first half and after that it got too lazy and predictable. As this being a second draft it is understandable.

    This got high on list because of the concept, for sure it will get into rewrite mode.

    Loved the opening image with meat preparation and the following dialogue between Clint and Tom, but I expected this script would go darker and with more character dilemmas and bit heavier on the drama, but it got into the action mode instead.

    Never liked those song choices, way too obvious and on the nose.

    Someone here mentioned is this a dark comedy and that is a good thing to consider when someone jumps into directors seat on this one. As a thriller this needs more meat on the character development and to be a bit longer, it is just too lazy now.

    I can see why Carson likes it, because it is a concept nobody explored as I know, and it could be done on a small budget and possibly recoup few times that…

    Script is very visual and feels like film, so it is a big plus, but to get into Top 25 – no, no…

    Writers did a good job on the concept, their writing is visual, characters are a bit on the cliche side but everything works and feels as a lean budgeted flick that could do well, congrats to them and I am sure they can do even better stuff. I liked this read a lot and looking forward to the discussion here :)

  • suminator

    Carson: When you think, “Oh, the main character is totally going to talk his
    way out of this cop stop here, because it’s only 40 pages in and if this
    cop figures him out, then the story is over!” the cop DOES figure him
    out. And you’re sitting there going, “Well wait a minute, I’m not used
    to seeing that.”

    Yeah, it is a kinda big obstacle but again to me it was obvious that the gangsters were going to mix in, and it happened, so I am asking – was this too easy on the character?

  • suminator

    Is it just me or the end seems to easy on Thomas? DEA comes in and hey – we’re cool, you can go home, we’ll clean it up for you????

    And Rick the Prick got staged… No, no…!

    What I learned:
    Now when I look at this, it seems you can have so much flaws lying around and get on BList if you nail the concept, think lean budget and execute it in the visual way and get people to read it… Yeah, that easy, I just need to write my own :(

    • Eric

      I think the ending can work in theory because at that point Thomas didn’t want to get away with it anymore. He kind of seemed to want it off his conscience and instead he’s given a document to sign and told to keep it hushed up. In the end, he gets everything he wants precisely at the point he doesn’t want it anymore, which is a cleaver way of being even harder on him.

      My problem is I never really bought his arc to that point. At what point did he decide he made a huge mistake? It wasn’t when he chopped up a dead body, or shot someone in the head, or saw a cop die. If I’m correct the turning point happens in a conversation with a violent drug lord. I never really bought it, but if you can get him there convincingly, I think the ending can work fine (Maybe have him lose something personal. No matter how much he was trying to save himself, nothing that happened ever really felt personal to him, or seemed to effect him in any way other than fear).

  • fragglewriter

    I’m surprised that you rated this script high as most Dark Comedies don’t appeal to you.

    Thanks

  • Dimitri

    I was just reading it and a question popped in my head.

    I’ve been coming here for 3 years or something, mainly just reading the articles and the comments, I rarely post anything. I’m a director / camera operator for a living, mainly for music videos, events and sometimes commercials. The reason I visit Scriptshadow is because eventually, I want to make films (did two shorts). The problem is that I’m not a writer. That’s what I want to teach myself.
    Now I was reading this and for me it felt off. Not the way it was written or formatted (I’m flying through the pages, so that’s a good thing). But if I read a screenplay I’m automatically thinking what the shot should look like, could it be in one take, does the camera need movement, how the actors are suppose to act, etc.
    And I noticed that alot of those scenes in Bump felt corny (for me at least). Ofcourse It’s my imaginary set, etc, so partly I’m to blame ;). But for example, Thomas’s boss,the monologue he does at the end of their dinner feels out of place (you have to be a great actor to pull that off and make it believable), when that same monologue “cuts through the night” when Thomas is stowing the body in the back of his car, the overly dramatic reaction his wife has when he comes home.
    I’m going to keep reading, but is it just me? Or can other people relate to what I’m saying?

    The only other screenplay that I’ve read that also had some corny moments (in a whole different way though) but turned out to be amazing was The Matrix.

    • suminator

      I feel as this being a second draft it couldn’t have more elaborate characters, situations etc. This is just a selling pitch vehicle meant for further rewriting, and how Carson rated it as Impressive is beyond me… It is maybe a “The Force Awakens lets’ lower our criteria halo effect”…?

      I gravitate towards directing myself, but need to get this scriptwriting craft under my belt…

      I read this script as dark comedy/action flick. Thriller it isn’t as it stands now with all those obvious solutions, and few people here had noticed it too. I don’t know for sure what the writers intentions were regarding the genre.

      • Randy Williams

        The speed in which he dismembers the man, coupled with the “other man” hiding under the bed upstairs and the coyote story, I got a dark comedy feel to it. Carson’s review made it sound like more of a thriller.

        • suminator

          Yeah, agree. Also the “easy” solutions like neighbor Phill who comes with his own silly troubles just when Thomas tries to flee. So – lazy writing or comedy element, still not sure but Carson lowered his guard on this one – Impressive – NO.

          • Randy Williams

            I’m going to finish it. I trust Carson’s instincts that this will be good. But another thing is, when I start to read a script and it reminds me of another movie, I’m usually not all in. It’s a little thing, but the protagonist’s boss eating his steak reminds me of Mrs. Castevets in Rosemary’s Baby as she’s scarfing down chunks of dessert cake as they dine with Rosemary and her husband. At that point, I’m thinking, okay this is a horror story. Later, the smoke outside the restaurant kind of reinforces this. Then it gets into that dark comedy mode.

          • suminator

            Go ahead, it is a fun read. Just I think Carson gave it Impressive because he wishes that scripts like that fall into his lap for trying to put it into producing more than he thinks that it is Impressive material and don’t mind me saying this.

        • Wijnand Krabman

          it’s defintly a comedy, SPOILER think about the mexican who did take the effort to catch a coyote, run it over because, he couldn’t shoot it, and put it on a dog collar. I mean I’ve been thinking about that all day!

    • brenkilco

      For corny I’d substitute unbelievable. Instead of leaving the scene of a hit and run the protag decides to steal the corpse, exponentially increasing the danger of his situation, spewing forensic evidence about his car and home, trying his darndest to make negligent homicide look like premeditated murder. Not buying it.

      A responsible, corporate lawyer screams drunkenly about blood and wolves.

      A wife sees her husband covered with blood and starts going on about her diet and therapist.

      A next door neighbor just happens to let slip that he’s thinking about murdering his girlfriend.

      A traffic cop sees a dent in a bumper and immediately assumes the protag has kiled someone.

      A drug hitman can blow a cop’s head off from a hundred yards away but can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn when he starts shooting at the protag

      A weirdly benevolent drug instantly buys the protag’s preposterous story, forgives the death of his two employees and generously offers to clean up his mess for him. He even delivers life lessons at considerable length.

      An undercover DEA spontaneously spills his guts to the thoroughly unreliable protag and claims he’s been blown despite the fact that none of the drug guys seem to suspect him of anything,

      A weirdly unscrupulous DEA administrator agrees to forgive and forget the protag’s part in the deaths of at least a dozen people including a couple of cops and seems to smugly believe he can keep everything under wraps.

      As a straight thriller think this fails completely. As deadpan black comedy it might get by.

      • Bfied

        This.

        Most importantly to me, the way in which the protagonist gets himself into the trouble of the situation isn’t believable.

        There’s no way a character like this, in a drunk hit and run, would grab the body and decide to go chop it up in his garage. There’s just no way.

        You’d be shitting yourself with fear and drive off. And you’re probably more likely to get away with it since it’s a dark back road and nobody’s on it.

        If you NEED the character to take the body to escalate the situation, it needs to be set up and be made believable.

        If, for instance, when the character is panicking after he hit the guy and then sees a couple of headlights in the distance coming towards him, then maybe he can’t move it off the road quick enough and the car is coming and he needs to do *something* with it, so then he throws it in the trunk just before the headlights of the oncoming car reach his vehicle and then stop and ask him if everything’s okay.

        After a few nervous exchanges, the protagonist, wanting to escape this situation, assures the other motorist he’s fine and drives off.

        For now, it’s at least a bit more believable that he’d bring the body home, realizing he now needs to do something with it.

        • brenkilco

          Or if he had started off driving the injured guy to a hospital but the victim had died en route But anyway you slice it- pardon the expression- the dismemberment is pretty much a deal killer.

          • Bfied

            Well done listing the other issues plaguing this script, too. Couldn’t agree more.

      • SteveAltes

        I thought the script had kind of an “After Hours” (1985) vibe with the hapless schlub getting involved in an escalating series of dark predicaments overnight. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLHM-wPecz0

      • Orange Pop

        There were definitley some logic issues in it, and the writing style did fall a bit after first 15 pages. However, this was still the best script I read from last year. The entertainment alone, and curiosity to want to know what would happen next made you forget about a lot of the things that were a bit of a stretch. There’s so few good scripts on the Black List and this one was one of the few great ones.

        • brenkilco

          Great? Well, maybe in a Frosted Flakes kind of way. I mean compared to plain corn flakes I guess they’re great. If I were convinced this was intended as an out and out comedy I might cut it more slack. If the protag did a single, clever thing to extricate himself from his predicament I might cut it more slack. The writer knows how to move things along. But it’s not a smooth or believable ride.

      • Dimitri

        Reading Bump as a dark comedy really helps.

        Seriously, how could Carson flag this under: Drama/Thriller? Is that what it was under on the Blacklist?

        • Stephjones

          My response exactly.

        • garrett_h

          Honestly i thought it was a Black Comedy the whole way lol. Maybe it’s just my twisted sense of humor…

        • klmn

          Dark comedies don’t have happy endings. At least the good ones don’t. See Dr. Strangelove or Full Metal Jacket.

      • Sean Reardon

        “As a straight thriller think this fails completely. As deadpan black comedy it might get by”. Although the premise s different,and based on some of the comments I have read,i it reminds me of ” The Ax” by Donald Westlake.

        • brenkilco

          I believe in The Ax, like the similarly themed book and film A shock to The system, the protag is much more calculatedly murderous than the hapless main character of this script.

      • garrett_h

        You bring up some great points. Couple of them were on my mind as well.

        One you didn’t though – and this really bugged me – was when he deadbolted the garage door from inside the garage. Maybe it’s just me and my dwellings, but our garages lock from inside the house. You know, to keep intruders and such OUT of the HOUSE. Not keep me from going inside my own garage and getting into my own car.

        And couldn’t his wife just grab the key and unlock the garage anyway? If she REALLY wanted to know what he was doing? By chance whoever built the house put the door on backwards, of course.

        That really bothered me…

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      I have a theory that things read cornier than they sound. So often you read really on-the-nose dialogue–“Now that we’ve killed the monster we have to find the exit or we’re all going to DIE!”–and think, geez, give me a break, no one would say that.

      But when a good actor says it, it doesn’t sound corny–it’s a clear articulation of what’s happened and where the characters need to go. When you hear it in a movie, it’s helpful, and rings a loud bell.

      Too often I want to write the line to sound “real”–which is, more complex, less articulate, probably more disorganized–but then my version doesn’t properly signify to the audience. The response is “what did he say? Where are we going next?”

      Read through the Blacklist scripts — if that’s what Hollywood wants, they want square on the nose dialogue, blatant Save the Cat structure and familiar resolutions. Something you’ve seen before tweaked 6%.

      • Stephjones

        I’ve been noticing that a lot lately in some newish comedies. Blatant, on the nose dialogue which, even though it’s delivered okay is ridiculously expository. Like in Spy when MM and MH are in the bar and we get the backstory on MM’s character and why she’s held back from becoming a field agent. The ” well behaved women” line.
        Also the use of VO to deliver backstory. I utilized it WCL despite always being told it was lazy writing because, why not? When the focus seems to be on expediting the set-up so we get into the thick of things quicker how could we not use it?
        I have a trusted writer friend who is a master at subtext. He gives me shit( mostly justifiably) for OTN dialogue saying I don’t give the audience enough credit. But I wonder, especially for comedy, if I shouldn’t get carte Blanche to deliver the joke the best way I know how.

        • Stephjones

          BTW, I took your advice and am going with a more straightforward structure on the story. I’m also making some other major changes based on my time in the barrel here so thanks to the SS nation for all the great feedback on Weep, Crave, Loathe!

          • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

            Same here! Lurkers (now spelled like that) is a very different script thanks to SS, the story of a “nice” person looking for her sister who ends up besieged by monsters. And yeah, now she finds her, too!

            **Thanks Scriptshadow!!**

        • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

          “He gives me shit( mostly justifiably) for OTN dialogue saying I don’t give the audience enough credit.”

          My read of the Blacklist scripts tells me it’s a mistake to write for anyone other than dummies. Almost across the Board, the scripts seem too simplistic, and on the nose to me. I can only assume I’m wrong.

  • brenkilco

    Sub B material teetering uneasily between nightmare thriller and black comic farce, with unbelievable characters and situations and enough multiple dei ex machina to stock a Greek theater. The protag is mostly passive and ineffectual though this may be part of the joke. Cast it with a comic actor gifted and playing bug eyed and frantic and it might make a fast, painless ninety minute Netflix sit. But genius?

  • Magga

    Only on page 15 so far, but I have a question. Characters talking to themselves. Is it OK? I’d like to do a scene where the lead does that (and they do so in many great movies, including Back to the Future) and someone walks in on them, realize they’re talking to themselves and start to worry, revealing that no, the fourth wall has not been broken, and our character is actually narrating his life.

    But in something like Spielberg’s Duel, where there is only one lead, they use internal monologue. This seems to be frowned upon generally, unless the V.O is used to narrate backstory and so on, but isn’t it less distracting somehow? This isn’t a criticism of the script, which I look forward to reading, I’m just wondering if others don’t find this devise as meta as someone talking directly to the lens.

    • Sean Reardon

      That is a great observation. IMO people do no talk to themselves like that in real life. Sure, they will yell out an expletive or something like that. I recently read “The Commuter” which was reviewed on SS. I like this, but the MC is constantly talking to himself and it seemed so unrealistic that it was a major distraction. I think doing this is one of the worst methods of exposition.

      • BMCHB

        Yeah, on your own I would say you’re only going to use:

        An Expletive: Fcuk, sh1t, etc…OR
        An Imploration: ‘Come on’, What the fcuk?’, etc..

        • Randy Williams

          I have a friend who talks to himself a lot. But it’s always in a relaxed state of mind, like sitting and staring at something, or walking along slowly at an even pace. The protagonist in this is in a hyper state of mind, constantly moving. I don’t think it works so well in that state.
          Personally, the longest thing I ever mutter out loud to myself and often is
          “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

          • Eric

            Plenty of people talk to themselves at length, but they generally do it at their most guarded moments, so you’re not likely to overhear it unless you’re going to great lengths to listen in on someone privately. The problem is that it’s awkward as hell being the “third wheel” when you find yourself in a room with someone talking to themselves. That’s why it feels off in movies. People talking to themselves is not what’s unusual. You being there to hear it is.

          • Levres de Sang

            You’re absolutely right. I also think the idea of eavesdropping on someone who talks to themself would make a terrific premise in itself.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Like the very final moments in the docu, THE JINX. Involuntary eavesdropping but man, that was brilliant!!

          • Levres de Sang

            Not heard of this one at all, but I will look out for it… :)

    • Randy Williams

      The first time the protagonist does this, kind of presented a bump for me in an otherwise wonderfully smooth presentation. I guess he goes on to talk to himself some more? I haven’t finished it.
      What I might have done in that first instance and maybe for later is give the protagonist a pet dog. The dog presents just another obstacle for him. Underfoot there, trying to lick away at the blood on the protagonist. The dog senses something’s wrong, grows anxious, barks like crazy. To get the dog to shut up, he let’s him follow him to the garage, etc. The protagonist can express his thoughts out loud to the dog. Seems more natural to me. Maybe even toss the dog a bone?

  • Matthew Garry

    I found “Bump” to be a masterclass in escalating the narrative momentum. From the second the inciting incident derails the protagonist’s life, hardly a scene is wasted with not making his situation worse.

    That, combined with a tragical/comical protagonist you can identify with simply due to circumstance, definitely made it worth the read for me.

    The third act is not bad but a little muddled, but the momentum build up in the beginning and middle still manages to push it over the finish line reasonably well.

    Narrative momentum really is a one-size-fits-all fix for all that ails a screenplay. If you don’t give your audience the opportunity to ponder, chances are they won’t.

    • Randy Williams

      I totally agree with the “narrative momentum” but not so much that this is a protagonist I can identify with. I wonder if in that early scene at the restaurant if he had secretly slipped that harangued waiter a hefty tip, I might have been more
      sympathetic to him even if he does absurdly quickly dismembers someone?

      • Matthew Garry

        Making him tip the waiter would definitely add something positive to the character, but here I feel it might be the easy choice, since the character doesn’t have to start out likable; he just has to be average enough not to be disliked instantaneously to fulfill his role in the plot.

        And since the protagonist starts out as an average maybe-not-100%-morally-upright guy, and he makes a bad decision, an audience wants to see him have some come-uppance for that.

        Then the writer gives the audience that satisfaction, but he keeps going, and heaps it on, and heaps it on, up to the point where the audience says “Alright, he’s suffered enough, give the guy a break already!”

        It’s a way of creating sympathy for a character that is morally ambivalent, or not sympathetic right away. It’s an emotional reversal in an audiences attitude towards the protagonist, even though in reality the protagonist themselves haven’t changed much.

        This heaping up of misery would, of course, work even more effectively at eliciting sympathy for an upstanding character, but you’d miss out on that emotional reversal and you’d have to probably have to save a cat in the beginning, which is something you might choose to avoid if you don’t really need it.

        • Randy Williams

          Good points.

      • Eric

        My problem is the character is introduced as a “boy-scout” but never actually does anything to demonstrate this. It’s a classic case of the audience being told through exposition who a character is rather than showing them through the character’s actions. It kept me from really buying into the character because everything he showed me was not what I was told.

    • brenkilco

      Momentum can conceal a multitude of narrative sins. But I still prefer the scripts that don’t need to.

  • Sean Reardon

    This sounds very intriguing. Going to give it a read. My first thought was ” oh brother, another dead body in the trunk” which has been done a million times, but when the stomach full of meth and the tracker were introduced, that hooked me.

  • Jai Brandon

    I haven’t read this script in a while, back around the time when The Bloodlist was made available, but I remember having many issues with the characters and their decisions/choices not feeling rooted in reality. I was sure that if I had submitted this same draft to AOW, it would’ve been ripped to shreds. I’d probably give it a “worth the read,” because it was an entertaining (though far-fetched) story, but I couldn’t argue against a “wasn’t for me.”

  • Sean Reardon

    Speaking of a stomach full of drugs, I highly recommend “The Mule”.

    • suminator

      I’d put Lucy in the mix as it was big fun – loved the scene when she telekinetically lifted the bad boys up in that lobby, it was hilarious.

    • Wijnand Krabman

      ‘normally’ they swallow little amounts drugs in condoms packed balls. He did one bag and a transmitting device in one gulp!

  • Bfied

    How in the world did this make your top 25, Carson?

    Not only is this something we’ve seen a million times before, but the decisions the writers make that you claim make it “fresh” still aren’t really that fresh.

    This character is a bumbling idiot (which is fine in this situation) who has his situation solved by a couple of lame coincidences late into the script. And it’s just when things are getting interesting and we’re watching him squirm and we’re wondering how the hell he’s going to get out of this mess all by himself.

    The answer? He doesn’t.

    Once Angel and the Mexican drug cartel take the hero late to the mansion late into the second act, our troubles and dramatic tension are basically gone. They’re going to dispose of the body and we even learn Angel is working undercover to bust the head honcho of the cartel.

    And then once the other patrol cops or detectives show up, a giant shootout ensues with the hero being taken into custody.

    Oh, so how’s he going to get out of this now?

    He doesn’t. The DEA just lets him go for being accidentally involved in one of their larger operations. And then our hero goes to the office where he’s praised with a party for his promotion.

    ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

    • Randy Williams

      Yesterday’s script, Move That Body also involved the hiding of a body and the protagonists accidentally involving themselves in a police operation and getting off the hook.
      I see a trend.

      • brenkilco

        How far back does this gotta hide the body stuff go? At least as far as the gangster farce A Slight Case of Murder in 1938. And probably farther than that. Arsenic and Old Lace, The Trouble With Harry etc. . The movies have played endless variations on this idea.

        • Poe_Serling

          Hey bren-

          Since it’s a rainy day in my neck of the woods, I thought it might be a good time to spring this ? on you.

          It’s obvious that you know your way around the back roads of both classic films and older titles…

          I’ve always wanted to ask what are some of your personal favorites… let’s say from the late ’60s and back.

          **I was going to say the late ’80s and back, but I was afraid you might eat up all your time praising Breakin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo with Shabba Doo. ;-)

          • brenkilco

            I’m a Roller Boogie guy myself. Well, let’s see, if you’re not going to allow me the seventies, here’s a quick ten leaving aside foreign films: North by Northwest, The Wild Bunch, Sweet Smell of Success, The Big Sleep, Notorious, Touch of Evil, Giant, Only Angels Have Wings, Once Upon A Time In The West and Lawrence of Arabia. And you?

          • Poe_Serling

            As a die-hard movie buff, it’s really hard to pick this batch or that… Here are the handful of films that I find myself always revisiting for a host of different reasons:

            On the horror /sci-fi side of things: Night of the Demon, The Thing From Another World, Dead of Night, The Uninvited, Them!, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Village of the Damned, The Innocents, Planet of the Apes, and The Haunting.

            Bonus one: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

            In general: Shadow of a Doubt, Night of the Hunter, Cape Fear, Once Upon A Time in the West, Dirty Dozen, Rebecca, Bad Day at Black Rock, The Wizard of Oz, and Sunset Blvd.

            Bonus one: It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad… World.

          • klmn

            Sticking with the sixties, I’d add Bonnie and Clyde, Bullitt, The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, The Dirty Dozen, the James Bond movies of the sixties, and the Matt Helm movies. Also Take The Money and Run.

          • brenkilco

            The Helm movies are sort of an acquired taste.

          • klmn

            I’ll add one more. The Killers, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and Ronald Reagan.

          • brenkilco

            “Lady, I don’t have the time.”

          • brenkilco

            And while we’re in the sixties I’ll mention a childhood fave. Where Eagles Dare. Clint Eastwood with a machine gun in each hand. Plus the most absurdly complicated plot for a WWII action movie ever. Can’t beat it.

    • suminator

      Weird… It got 21 vote and is under Working Title Films prod co…

      • Bfied

        And?

        We’re screenwriters, not producers or development executives.

        We’re judging the quality of the script and only that; not how many votes it recieved, not if it was purchased, not what it’s projected to make opening weekend.

        • suminator

          Yeah, I guess they know what to do.

    • Wijnand Krabman

      “I’ve been reading a lot of scripts lately and the same thought always goes through my head. “How many more pages?” “How much longer?” I just want to get to the end.”

      And than think back about the dead coyote in the trunk of the car, imagine how it got there. The writers didn’t have to write it, the director doesn’t have to shoot it and it still does something to the audience. I think that’s great writing!

      • Bfied

        That is a cool little moment but this script has other cool moments, too.

        It’s the parts working together as a whole that matters to me and whether or not that’s effective.

        Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this script terrible, I just don’t think it’s great or really even that good.

        On the Carson scale I’d probably give it a “Wasn’t for me.” But top 25? With the other great scripts in there? I don’t know about that.

        • Wijnand Krabman

          I agree it has it’s moments, would be better if the invented a reason to dismember the dead body.
          I love the idea; what if he comes home finding the corps in his garage or in his bed? Giving him a reason to act.

    • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

      I see where you’re coming from. But him getting out of situations without his involvement is the payoff to the whole story. The beginning speech is basically saying a whole lot of things are going to happen to you that you’ll have no control over, but in the end when he tries to take control, it’s yanked from him.

      • Matthew Garry

        The theme monster strikes again :)

      • Bfied

        I see where you’re coming from as well.

        I think where I differ slightly is that I think it seems a little too convenient for the character, for us to chalk the ending up to theme and call it a day as he’s let out of this predicament — especially when what’s driving the movie is the question, “How is our character going to get out of this?”

        Nor is it enough, for me, to excuse the script from mediocre storytelling or decisions made on the writer’s behalf. It needs to be right for what it’s all about AND satisfying as an ending.

        In concert with the theme explicitly stated or not, I think you still need an ending that’s right for what’s been driving the movie and one that fits, but still surprises, the audience’s possible expectations for how it should end.

        And I guess for me, this wasn’t it.

        • Eric

          “especially when what’s driving the movie is the question, “How is our character going to get out of this?””

          For me, that wasn’t really what was driving the movie. I’m not sure I could tell you what was, but from the moment he’s pulled over I thought, “They’ve got his car and plates on camera. He’s completely screwed and there’s no avoiding it.” And even though he does get off without being arrested or killed, I could see the writer was trying to be hard on him right up to the end. He doesn’t exactly seem happy about any of the things he’s “won”. He seems kind of miserable about it, actually.

          I didn’t really buy how he got there, but I could see the ending was attempting a “be careful what you wish for” summation.

        • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

          Absolutely. We agree that it’s not the best story or the strongest plot.

          Maybe he should have died and his wife opens the trunk, and there’s the coyote with the collar…Fade to Black.

          Any thoughts on a better ending for this?

      • Eric

        It reminded me of Burn After Reading where the guy closes the file and says, “So what have we learned?”

        Not a damned thing.

  • jmscriptwriter

    Looking forward to reading it. My main comment, just from the synopsis, is that Thomas doesn’t seem like the type to grab a body and dismember it. That’s no small thing. If it had something to do with his personal transformation of growing a pair, or it involved his boss–the boss hit the guy and passed it off on Thomas, then I could more easily hop for the ride.

  • suminator

    Guys, does anybody feel this script has to have quite a few rewrites to get it done? Or maybe I just can’t see it as a proper thriller the way it says in the Carson’s review?

  • Lucid Walk

    Please, can somebody send me a copy of this script? Thank you
    seames120@gmail.com

  • 95Forty Productions

    I thought this script was a lot of fun. I think an important thing for all of us to remember is that even if you don’t like the script, you should probably read it and see what aspects of it you can use in your own scripts. Keep in mind, this finished really high on the Black List. And that’s a list voted on by the people we writers are trying to sell scripts to. People who we want to rep us. Instead of hating on it, clearly there’s something in it that appeals to the people we are looking to do business with. Maybe there’s something in this script that can help you/us get to that next level.

    Just saying.

    • suminator

      Yeah, that is why I am confused… This review should all be about WHY it charted so high on BL…

      • 95Forty Productions

        I think Carson did a pretty good job of telling us that. Especially if you’ve read the script. More than anything, the script constantly ups the stakes and throws obstacles at the protagonist. That and it has a really great pace with a nice amount of suspense and tension.

        • suminator

          Got that, the problem is that it was all too obvious and I do not feel I’d write it that way. Shouldn’t we all push the obstacles and scenes from the obvious territory, to challenge ourselves?

          If this script wasn’t on BL, Carson would bash it for being too easy and on the nose!

          That is what I had in mind when I said tell us WHY it landed high on BL.

          • 95Forty Productions

            “…the problem is that it was all too obvious and I do not feel I’d write it that way.”

            That might be your problem. You may be reading it with the wrong mindset. I don’t know you personally, but that statement suggests that if something isn’t done the way you would do it, you might have something against it. At the end of the day, we would all write something differently. I wouldn’t have written it that way either, but that doesn’t mean that my way would have been better. My way may have been much worse. I may have written the New Star Wars movie much differently, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sit down and love the heck out of that film.

          • suminator

            Just saying choices in the script were too easy, writers haven’t challenged themselves the way they could/should. It is well written and I know they are capable of putting it in the fifth gear. I am not hating it, just curious on why these safe solutions got them on BL and high fived, that’s all…

            My best guess is that it fits the desired profile and that it can be geared up through few polishing rewrites.

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    Can I just say the underlining in this script makes me want to stab myself in the eye.

    • klmn

      That reminds me of the movie, THEY CALL HER ONE EYE. Check it out if you haven’t seen it.

      • Stephjones

        Which reminds me of the joke: ” Would I? Would I? Hair lip. Hair lip.”

        • klmn

          I almost hate to mention it, but it’s spelled, “harelip.” Just a little trivia I picked up in my readings on teratology.

  • Orange Pop

    This script was probably my favorite from last year.

    Having read almost every script from the Black List. Bump, Carnival, and Boomtown have been the only ones I have liked. Bump was an easy top ten for me.

    • 95Forty Productions

      I totally agree!

  • Magga

    My example of Deus ex Machina is always a character in an impossible situation being saved by some off-screen person putting a bullet in the villains brain at the last minute. It happened TWICE in this script

  • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

    BUMP, BEEFY, FARGO and the Weasel Protagonist:

    We hate these characters but don’t mistake them for weak. Oftentimes, they are misused in stories about “overcoming a flaw”. No. These Weasel Protagonist don’t overcome flaws – if it seems they’ve grown they’re too late (BUMP) or they find they’ve hopped out of the frying pan and into the fire (BEEFY) or jailed for the rest of their lives (FARGO).

    These stories are about our detest for our own cowardice – an underestimation or overestimation of free-will. The only thing left to these characters is FATE. They’ve lacked control or tried to control to much and are doomed to be at the mercy of other people’s choices.

    They are strong characters if you keep them on theme. But beware if you try to redeem them – it’s very hard to do.

  • Eric

    As I said in another post, I don’t have a problem with coincidences that make things worse for the protagonist. That’s just shit luck and, done right, can be a delightful way to put the put the screws to your main character. But the characters themselves need to maintain a certain amount of consistent internal logic. So even if it doesn’t ‘make sense’ objectively, it should still make sense for the character. In this case a wimpy lawyer set-up as being a “boy scout” dismembers a dead body. It’s too much of a stretch, especially when you consider the fact that his wife is home and he knows about it.

    (SPOILER for Fargo season 2)

    Compare this to Fargo, the wife hits someone with her car and brings the body home because that’s who she is. She’s constantly dumping problems at her husband’s feet, evading responsibility and acting in generally flighty ways. We buy it from her because she’s a kooky housewife rather than a talented and upstanding lawyer. Furthermore, when her wimpy husband sets out to dismember the body, we buy it because she’s goaded him into it. We also except the dismemberment angle because he’s a butcher. Chopping up human-sized animals and grinding them down to nothing is his established skill set. It’s what he does all day and wants to do with his life, so it’s not nearly as implausible for THIS wimpy man to dismember a body as it is for the one in BUMP to.

    In the case of Bump, it’s pretty clear that the dismemberment mostly exists so that the protagonist can find the drugs with the tracking device. I don’t have a problem with the tracking device being there, but the way the character finds it is inconsistent with how he’s set-up. He basically goes from zero to ten in an instant when he had better options.

    If I were reworking that part, I’d have Thomas hide the body on the side of the road, go home to get a shovel, have the encounters with his wife and neighbor that he needs to, then return to the sight of the body only to discover a bear (or coyote) eating the remains. After shooing the animal away, that’s when he can discover the drugs among the torn open shreds. Then everything can resume on the track it was, with Thomas collecting the bits and pieces left behind and driving somewhere more remote to bury them.

  • kent

    A fast pro read. But I share many of the concerns listed here. SPOILERS:

    Why did the homeless man/Dea agent wave him down in the first place? Why did the truck driver not say anything and just walk like a terminator, then shoot wildly? The cop taking one in the head was lazy. (It was done much better in Blue Ruin — where we had met the OS assassin earlier but forgotten about him.) There is no way the character I met in the beginning would saw a body to pieces in his garage — comedy or not. My big, huge, insurmountable problem was with expectations. Clint’s speech at the beginning about this being the night Tommy needed to grow a pair made me think that he was behind all this as a test of Tommy. Some big setup like the movie The Game. So when the body count escalated I kept wondering how Clint could be behind it. Then it all just fell apart at the end in the interrogation room. Then… when we got to the office conference room at the end, I thought aha, this is where the genius writer has Clint say he was behind it all and explain the test. How could he when so many people died and it all seemed so haphazard? This writer must be really special because he has to or the whole story is just a series of bumbling events. He couldn’t, he didn’t, and I was really pissed off. PS: If you want to see a movie that pulls off a night in hell that makes this look like a picnic, rent 11:14 — it’s genius!

    • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

      The way Clint was talking made me expect The Game too.

      • kent

        Clint was way too strong of a character to just bookend the thing. And completely unnecessary. I bet they drop him in rewrites and start the whole thing off in the car with Tommy hitting the bum while drunk texting his wife about the promotion.

        • Citizen M

          I think you need a strong Clint to kick-start Thomas’s transformation, and serve as a model for him.

          Thinking about it now, what I’d like to see is Thomas making a conscious effort to channel Clint in his interactions after he leaves the dinner, maybe driving crazy, flipping other motorists the bird, whatever, just doing stuff he wouldn’t ordinarily do, but clumsily, without full conviction. Until he finally cracks a true Clint-like move, and just as he’s high-fiving himself for pulling off a truly badass bit of behavior, BAM! that’s when he hits the hobo.

          Also, his promotion seems undeserved. His actions need to somehow sway the board to vote for him over Rick. Maybe we could see Rick give a really polished presentation why he should get promotion, then Thomas walks in all fucked up and grungy, and proceeds to trash every point Rick made, based on his experience of street reality.

          • Dan B

            I like that idea — it would actually add some comedic elements, watching Thomas drunkenly try to pull a “Clint.”

        • Dan B

          The conversation with Clint sets up the entire THEME. The obstacles he faces and the actions he takes defines whether he’ll be a wolf, or get chewed up and spit out.

  • Citizen M

    Just finished it and I agree with Carson. This is a superior script.

    There are plenty of implausibilities, but you forgive them because the pace is relentless and the hapless hero keeps getting deeper into the shit. Sometimes he rescues himself, mostly he is rescued by a fortunate turn of events, but the thing is, he keeps taking action even though he is eyeballs-deep in the doo-doo.

    When you analyse the story, it’s a fairly routine example of the “do the wrong thing and bad karma is going to get you” genre. The thing that really elevates the script is the excellent writing. The powerful, punchy descriptions mean you can picture each scene clearly and feel the tension.

    If you want to be picky, you can point to quoting song lyrics, giving camera directions, deus ex machina escapes from peril, etc etc, but at the end of the day it is damned entertaining and like Carson I wanted it to be longer.

    • Malibo Jackk

      People need to lighten up.
      It’s a movie… not a documentary.

      • Poe_Serling

        Yeah, with movies, more often than not, you just need to kick back and go with the flow.

        The Longest Yard (’74 version)

        The classic crowd-pleaser. Prison guards vs. hardened criminals in an all-out brawl of a football game.

        If you think about it, it’s hard to imagine this ever happening in real life**.

        But the scenario played out on the big screen is highly entertaining.

        **Though the idea behind the film was supposedly inspired a true event from WW 2.

        • Citizen M

          Victory aka Escape To Victory (1981) The true story of Allied POWs who played soccer against a German team during WWII. With Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pelé, and Bobby Moore.

          • Poe_Serling

            I’ve seen that one too. With Stallone as the goalkeeper!!

            I think it was inspired by same event from WW 2.

          • klmn

            Of course Stallone also appeared as Machine Gun Viterbo in the best movie about hit and run driving.

        • Kirk Diggler

          And it’s got Bond villain Richard Kiel aka ‘Jaws’ in it as a bonus!

    • 95Forty Productions

      Couldn’t agree more! The point of a script is to make an entertaining movie, and I honestly think this would be a great flick to watch and have a beer with. Sure it’s not perfect, but I kept wanting to turn the page and I kept thinking.. “how is he going to get out of this.”

      And with some of his decisions I was like “No, don’t do that!”

      In short, it had a great pace, a fun story, and I was engaged.

  • Stephjones

    I read the first ten. I loved the opening imagery, loved the over the top, outrageousness of the boss…but then Jason Bateman popped into my head as the protagonist and it became too much like Horrible Bosses 1. I don’t think I’ll be able to read it as a straight drama thriller now. That boss was just too funny.

    • Dan B

      The process of the bloody meat turning into steak was great. I felt like it really creates the tone, sort of symbolizing the carnal instincts that Clint was explaining to Thomas.

      The thing I struggle with most is coming up with a great theme for the movie. I feel like a lot of great scripts have a good theme attached. It’s not always the case, for instance Die Hard. I don’t really see much of a theme, but it’s still a solid story and exciting movie. Some would argue the theme was 80’s Excess, but I think that is a stretch.

  • Scott Chamberlain

    The problem is Thomas doesn’t transform and so the ending fizzles. Great writing makes it an easy read, but that won’t make it fun to watch.

    All the problems he creates during the story are solved for him – cop shot in head by assassin; assassin shot in head by accident; Angel shot from behind; drug dealers end Rick Stevens; Government cover up makes a dead coyote with a collar materialise in his boot and everything else vanish.

    And all the problems he had at the start of the story remain at the end – he’s still living someone else’s definition of success, he’s still with a wife who was having an affair while six month’s pregnant, he’s never actually ruthlessly pursued his own goals, we don’t see him become a wolf, and live life on his own terms, like Vincent. Nothing irrevocable has changed during the story.

    By the end, either he should be the alpha male of his wolf pack of partners, or he should be happy to tell them all to shove it and pursue his real passion. All his problems should be gone or tamed, by his own hand: The law firm; Clint; the cheating wife (telling that I can’t remember her name); Rick Stevens.

    I’d do three things in a re-write:

    1.Consider giving him a strangled passion, something repressed by the compromises he’s made to keep a trophy wife happy and rise to near-partner. Pursuing that passion becomes the act that lets us see him winning by not living other people’s definition of success.

    2. From mid-point on he should be consciously, ruthlessly pursuing his own goals. He would howl at the moon and get his wolf on to extract himself from the mess. Nothing of benefit to Thomas should happen after the mid-point unless Thomas has made it happen.

    3. In the final act he should use what he has learned so that he emerges ruthless-but-seemingly-nice, and with everything in his life bent to suit his will. He’s gone from impotent to potent, from prey to predator, from sheep to wolf and on to that even more dangerous creature, the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    And if the title is Bump, I’d begin with an even smaller “bump”. A tiny bump leading to a road rage chase leading to a DEA/hobo being run over…

    • suminator

      Hey Scriptshadow – what the hell happened to “You need to write a really great script to get you through the door”?

      We need to learn to write great stuff first, and then unlearn and create something like Bump I guess.

      I don’t want to trash Bump, but its choices were too easy and not something you’d write in an attempt to write your best stuff or am I wrong here?

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    We can only hope it’s as great as Trainwreck, wait–

  • garrett_h

    This is a perfect script for…

    THE SCRIPTSHADOW GAUNTLET

    Not sure if this was mentioned yet (haven’t read all the comments), but there are two scripts this year with vehicular manslaughter coverups as the inciting incident:

    BUMP – After an accidental hit and run, a young lawyer’s entire life unravels over the span of one night as he attempts to dispose of a corpse that turns out to be much more than an innocent victim.

    GREAT FALLS – After negligently killing a hunter with their patrol car, an alcoholic Sheriff’s Deputy and her superior officer must decide what to do with the only witness to their crime – a death row inmate only days from execution.

    Turns out I’ve read them both. Which one is better? GREAT FALLS gets my vote!

    First of all, both scripts were really good. “But they’re on the BL, of course they are!” Well, I’ve read my share of duds over the years, and even a couple this year. These were genuinely good screenplays, so it kinda sucks to say one was “better”… BUT THIS IS THE GAUNTLET!!! TWO SCRIPTS ENTER, ONE SCRIPT LEAVE!!!

    Starting with BUMP, I really enjoyed it. IMO, it’s like what Cormac McCarthy wanted to do with COUNSELOR. Or maybe it’s just how I wished it would’ve turned out. But you’ve got a lawyer getting in wayyyy over his head. Mixed up in the law, drugs, etc. BUMP delivered. It was fun and action packed and a fast read.

    But I could see the twists and turns in BUMP coming a mile away, unlike our protag! And Carson may have been caught off guard by the cop scene (and would’ve hit that bum/mule to boot), but I wasn’t. Yeah, this cop was probably worse than other “pull over someone in peril” cops are. And they get points for that. But I knew what the resolution of that sequence would be as soon as the cop showed up. Matter of fact, I knew he’d be getting pulled over at some point. It was just a matter of time.

    GREAT FALLS, on the other hand, truly had me guessing. Sure, there were the scenes where I knew “here comes X” but I guess after reading so many scripts there’s no chance I’ll be completely surprised ever again. But things were up in the air. There was no neat little bow to put on the situations. Also, the characters were a lot more alive in GREAT FALLS for me. They built an entire world in GREAT FALLS. With BUMP, it’s more of a chase flick with no real world or truly memorable characters other than Thomas, and Clint who only has a couple scenes.

    Also, the endings. I won’t spoil them, but I prefer GREAT FALLS in that department as well.

    All in all, two good reads. Check out both if you get the chance!

    If anyone else has read both (or just GF) feel free to chime in, I wanna know which you think is better!

    • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

      Was debating checking out Great Falls, now I will.

  • brenkilco

    Secret Beyond The Door. Now there’s an obscure one. Even for Lang lovers. Atmospheric but like the leading man more than a little crazy.Lang’s equally obscure quasi-swashbuckler Moonfleet is also good. And though in general I’m not a fan of William Wyler it’s tough to beat the opening scene of The Letter. Diablolique has been imitated, remade and ripped off so often over the years that I don’t suppose it can have a fraction the impact for audiences today that it had back when.

    • Levres de Sang

      All your points here are right on the money. I’ve got a soft spot for Secret Beyond the Door, though, despite the slightly ‘off’ ending and critical brickbats it’s endured over the years. (Not seen Moonfleet, I’m afraid.)

      It’s true that Diabolique loses something on repeat viewings — and Clouzot clearly anticipated as much when he put that “Don’t be a fiend…” notice in the end credits.

  • Poe_Serling

    All list worthy films indeed! Suddenly, Last Summer and Double Indemnity are always near the top of my own personal picks.

    Also, it’s great to see someone give Curse of the Cat People the nod over Cat People.

    If you’re a fan of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, I recommend checking out (if you haven’t already):

    Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte

    “A wealthy southern spinster fights to keep her family”s secrets hidden.”

    Directed by Robert Aldrich. Starring Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, Olivia De Havilland, and a slew of memorable character actors.

    • Levres de Sang

      I really must see Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte! I’ve been meaning to for years, but keep forgetting about it for some reason… In fact, there’s so much I still need to check out. It’s both exciting and daunting in equal measure! :)

  • HRV

    It is an easy read but believability suffers because of technical issues.
    All trunk seams are sealed to prevent exhaust from entering, so no blood would leak out.
    With Thomas in front of him the cop would not be close enough to have his foot under the car for blood to drip on.
    The cop car would be in the way so the truck would have to angle in to hit the car, hitting the quarter panel and probably jamming the back wheel, rendering the car undriveable. The back end would be totally destroyed with the trunk lid folded in half and popped open. The car would most likely end up in the right hand ditch rather than the other side of the road. There are numerous Youtube videos showing these types of collisions.
    Apparently Thomas never gets a chance to change clothes or wash off, so he’s sitting in the diner covered in blood from two victims, with the smashed blood covered car outside and nobody notices — a .50 cal slug would take off the cop’s head, splattering gore all over the car.
    The Spanish in the script needs work.
    If the car is parked just outside of the gate, how does it suddenly ram it at full speed? And the goon doesn’t see it coming and jump out of the way?
    The cops would have shot Vincent when he directed his attention to Angel.
    I realize movies are full of inconsistencies, but hey…