Genre: Horror
Premise: A non-traditional horror tale centering around three young women at a girl’s boarding school.
About: “February” made the 2012 Blood List, but the more interesting story is who wrote it. Now I didn’t know this before I read the script (I try to research the screenplay after I read it so I don’t go in with any preconceived notions), but the script was written by Osgood Perkins. Does that name sound familiar? It should. It comes from some prime horror stock. That’s right. Osgood is the son of Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Psycho. Now before you assume he got this far through nepotism, you might want to read the script and then my review.
Writer: Osgood Perkins
Details: 111 pages – June 2012 Draft

Pumpkin carved for HalloweenHalloween Madness at Scriptshadow continues!

In the casting profession, you’ll often hear casting directors talk about going through hundreds of auditions in order to get to “the one,” that one actor who makes everyone in the room sit up and pay attention. They talk about noticing that “special something” in the actor, an indescribable secret sauce that you can’t quantify.

Every once in awhile, I’m lucky enough to have the same experience with reading screenplays. You see, the reason that having a unique voice is so often touted as the key to breaking in, is because so much of what we read as readers is the same. It’s written the same, it’s structured the same, it’s imagined the same. So if you find something that doesn’t feel like the rest, you’re immediately drawn in.

I liked Perkins’ writing here so much that I’m going to implore you to find the script and read it yourself before you read my review (plenty of people should have the script in the comments). The beauty of this script is in the way that it grows and surprises you. Reading plot points beforehand is going to take away from that experience. With that warning, let us begin.

“February” is an aptly titled script as the word is meant to convey a feeling. The cold empty air of a February morning. It’s a common practice in Perkins’ writing. February is 75% atmosphere, and the best script I’ve ever read at using atmosphere to engage the reader.

The story starts out at The Bramford School For Girls, on the week the parents are taking their kids away for the weekend. 17 year old Rose, however, informs the headmaster that she miscommunicated the day to her parents, and will therefore have to stay at the school an extra night.

We quickly find out Rose is a little con girl. She orchestrated this hole in her schedule so she could spend the night with her boyfriend. But her plans are thrown into disarray when the headmaster assigns Rose to watch over 13 year old Kat, another girl whose parents didn’t show up.

Kat is a weird kid. She’s plagued with that “something’s off” look in her eyes. You can routinely expect a 1-2 second delay in every response she gives. But Rose could care less. She’s all about hanging out with her boyfriend, and leaves Kat at the empty school to fend for herself.

In the meantime, we cut to a plane flying into Providence, and meet another strange character, the 20 year old, Joan. Joan looks even more out of it than Kat. What’s going on here? Is there some sort of virus spreading through the country making women lose their shit? We’re not sure. All we know is that Joan’s surprised to find a hospital bracelet on her wrist. How did it get there? And how come she doesn’t know?

When she lands, Joan heads out of the empty airport into the beginnings of a winter storm. A seemingly sweet married couple in their 50s spot her. When they hear she’s going to the same town they are, they offer her a ride. Unsure at first, she eventually agrees.

Back at the Girl’s School, Rose comes back from her date, only to find Kat missing. She sneaks around the campus looking for her, eventually finding her in the most unlikely of places. It is a place that will set the stage for a shocking turn of events which will bring Rose, Kat, and Joan together in a way we never could’ve expected.

16

I’ve mentioned this before, but when I really like a script, it’s hard for me to break it down. I’m so caught up in the story, I’m not paying attention to a lot of the technical aspects. This is the ideal scenario. You want your story to be so compelling that the reader never has a chance to understand why it’s working. They’re too busy flipping through the pages, wanting to find out what happens next.

This it the most atmospheric script I’ve ever read. Atmosphere is essential to horror screenplays. You don’t have the music score doing the work for you as your characters walk into danger, so it’s what you describe and how you describe it that creates the suspense and the tension to pull your reader in. Here’s an example from “February,” a quick excerpt from a scene in the cafeteria.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 9.30.15 PM

Notice the sounds and images here.  The kitchen door, whining. The man’s footsteps, crunching. The focus on how the man walks, having to pull his weight along. The sound of the refrigerator fan humming. Perkins pays attention to all the little details surrounding the moment in order to bring the moment itself to life. Now you have to be careful about this. You don’t want to overwrite. But readers will give you a little more slack when you’re great with description, as Perkins obviously is.

But what really pulled me in here was the puzzle. The screenplay is set up sort of like Pulp Fiction, where you’re bouncing around from character to character, trying to figure out how it all fits together. I mean when we jumped to Joan for the first time on the plane 40 pages into the script, I threw up my hands and was like, “Where the hell is this going?” The last thing I expected was to be leaving the boarding school, and my brain had to work overtime to figure out how those two threads were going to come together. I loved it.

Perkins also has an amazing ability to make even the most minute moments mysterious. For example, this is how Joan was introduced: “She’s roughly 20 but looks older, some of the brilliance having gone from her eyes.” (line space) “If you asked for her name, she’d tell you it’s JOAN.” You see what I mean. Even a simple character introduction comes with a mystery! Her name is Joan. Or maybe it isn’t. How could something as simple as a name come with such uncertainty??

Now this script isn’t going to be for everyone. Some are going to find it slow. Perkins makes you read for a long time before he rewards you with any payoffs, and his focus on description and ambiance is so heavy at times that it might turn people off. I can already hear some of you, while reading it, saying, “Get to the point already.”

But I loved it. There’s something inherently suspenseful about his style, allowing even the most mundane scenes to come alive. For example, when the ultra-fragile Joan is having breakfast with Bill (the husband character who gave her a ride), we’re convinced that he’s angling for something here, that he has a possibly evil agenda. Which makes us worried for Joan. But at the same time, we haven’t figured Joan out either (what was up with that hospital bracelet??), and a part of us is wondering if she’s the one we have to worry about. I rarely feel so much energy underneath a scene that was, basically, two people talking over a meal.

But the kicker of why this horror script is so much better than everything else out there is the writer’s choices. As I like to say (or at least, am about to) “Voice is choice.” (major spoiler follows) Had you given 100 writers the premise of, “Write about a psychopathic 13 year old killer,” 99 of them would’ve written a straight-forward slasher type script following a 13 year old girl going from victim to victim. “February” is anything but that. It deftly weaves three giant puzzle pieces together into one of the more satisfying (and creepy) revelations I’ve ever come across.  Remember this always, guys.  When you come up with an idea, sit down and think about EVERY ANGLE you can tell that idea from.  Don’t just hop into the first approach that comes to mind because that’s probably the most boring approach.

“February” reminded me a lot of Wentworth Miller’s writing, but I think Perkins is even better. If I were a horror screenwriter, I would say that these two guys are the ones you want to be studying right now.  They’re the ones with the most interesting vision.  Even though I thought Interstate 5 was decent, the writing here really shows how big the gap is between average and great. You really see how good writing can elevate something.  What a script!

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: If you love writing description but you’re tired of the screenwriting Gestapo telling you that there’s no place for excessive description in screenwriting, here’s a workaround for you: Hide your description INSIDE OF ACTION. That way, the description doesn’t sit out on its own and bore the reader. For example, let’s say you want to describe the kitchen during a night scene, that it has “slivers of moonlight” that “shine off of hanging pots.” Don’t start your scene with that description. Wait until there’s some action in the scene and then squeeze the description inside of the action, like Perkins does. Here he is describing Rose in the kitchen: “She steps deeper into the dark room, guiding herself by the slivers of moonlight that shine off of hanging pots and pans and along the sharp edges of metal counter tops.”

  • Ryan Sasinowski

    Wow. Sounds good!

    • carsonreeves1

      Now let’s hope that Perkins can direct (he’s directing this as well). If he directs as well as he writes, this would be a great breakout story for the son of Anthony Perkins.

      • Linkthis83

        I first read that last line as “…the son of Anarchy Perkins.”

        (which I like as a character name)

        • Brainiac138

          There’s a Sons of Anarchy joke in there somewhere.

      • Ryan Sasinowski

        Damn right it would!!

  • ChristianSavage

    I have this one, if anyone wants it. Just email me at soulspelunker@gmail.com.

    • darren

      Hi Christian, yeah your email bounces back. Can you include me? Darren@avico.com?

      • ChristianSavage

        Hey Darren. Sorry about that. Sent a copy to you!

    • Rzwan Cabani

      Hey Christian — emailed you and don’t know if you got it — hope it’s not the same issue, but will add my email to the list if you’d be so kind: r.cabani@hotmail.com — appreciate you C

    • BSBurton

      You have the perfect Bond villain name :). Ill take the script b r o n b u r t o n @ y a h o o dot com

      • ChristianSavage

        Sent!

    • OddScience

      Got it!

      Thanks, Mr. Savage.

    • bl2d

      Yeah absolutely, bl2d21@yahoo.com Thanks a bunch.

    • Nick Morris

      Hey Christian, I’d like to check this out as well. Email sent, but I’ll add my address here too just in case: nickwriteshorror at gmail dot com
      Thanks, man!

    • Paul DeWolf

      Love it if you have the chance
      pmdewolf at gmail-
      thanks

    • Noah Baker

      Hi Christian, could you send it over? nbaker554@gmail.com

    • Ansar M. Smith

      “Me too meee too!!” I kid you. But hey Christian could you send it over – ansar.m6@hotmail.co.uk
      You’d make my day.

      • Ansar M. Smith

        Thanks Christian!

    • johnny_ironjacket

      Hi Christian, would really appreciate it if you could send to johngmlee@btinternet.com
      Thanks for being so generous with your time
      Best

    • Bugsy

      I would also like to check it out. Could you please send it to me too? Thank you so much. bugsy5446@yahoo.com

    • Javier Eliezer Otero

      Can i have it? javierotero26 at hotmail. Thanks!

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      haha it’s a full time job sending copies to people

  • rickhester

    This is so exciting! And I already got a copy.

    Thanks Christian!

  • lesbiancannibal

    Anyone flick me a copy please? prtaylorfreelance@gmail.com

    It said your email wasn’t recognised Christian, or am I missing the joke?

    • ChristianSavage

      Hi Ms. Cannibal. Other Scriptshadowers have been able to reach me at that address. No worries, though. I sent you a copy. :-)

      • lesbiancannibal

        ah, great, thanks, must have done a typo. Got it. Cheers

      • Casper Chris

        Hi Christian

        Do you mind sending me a copy too at csprchrs@gmail.com ? Thanks in advance.

        • ChristianSavage

          Sent!

          • Jarman Alexander

            If anyone would be so kind. J.Jarman.Alexander at gmail .com

          • brenkilco

            if you could send to brenkilco@gmail.com Thanks

          • ChristianSavage

            Sent!!

          • brenkilco

            Thanks

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

            Please send me one. Thanks man. adam @ alumni.vcu.edu

          • ChristianSavage

            It’s yours.

          • cjob3

            This I gotta read! cjob3(AT)Hotmail.com if you could. Thanks.

          • ChristianSavage

            You got it.

      • Randy Williams

        Thanks for the speedy response, Christian!

      • Lennox Snow

        Hi Christian –

        Would love a copy if you’d be willing to send!

        lennox.snow(at)gmail.com

        Thanks!

  • FD

    I don’t get it: If this is so well written, why is it that in this brief section…
    shape of a figure – redundant. shape or figure, but why both?
    then the figure shape is described twice as he, after which the author says it looks like a man. Huh? I think we got that after the first “he”.
    He’s 100 yards a way, but what distance has he covered? The one under the lamp? Maybe that is explained before, but in this excerpt it makes no sense.
    Rose is watching him through a window 100 yards away and hears the snow crunching under his feet?
    Then the fridges go on, but she is over at the windows in the school dining hall, probably 20 or thirty feet from the kitchen, which is behind a closed door. How does the clicking-on shock her there? That is one loud fridge all around her with stillness and moonlight all around her.
    Now maybe it’s all about the atmosphere, but well written it is not.
    I’m trying to understand what makes great screenwriting, because I realise I don’t have that X-factor, but having this praised is no help to me at all.

    • rickhester

      That is just an all too quintessential ScriptShadow comment. I’d suggest you actually READ THE SCRIPT. It’s brilliant. And yes, very, VERY atmospheric.

      • fd

        If I already stumbled so much over this little section, I’m afraid the script will not be for me, but like I say, I accept that my tastes are weird.
        I’m just saying that these kinds of errors are things that Carson cites as problems in other scripts that do not appeal to him. I am here trying to figure out how to write a script that readers will like, and I see masses of exactly the same errors here that are obviously suddenly of no importance in this script, in a tiny, representative excerpt that contains as its highlight a very derivative and cheap scare. Is the writing important or not? Or is it only important if a reader needs reasons to pass on a script that didn’t appeal to him, and he can’t think of how to otherwise say “I didn’t like it.”? That’s what I’m trying to figure out, because the things I have stated are definitely there, of that there can be no doubt, even if you love the script.

        • Casper Chris

          Carson wrote a reply for this comment in the review:

          I’ve mentioned this before, but when I really like a script, it’s hard for me to break it down. I’m so caught up in the story, I’m not paying attention to a lot of the technical aspects

        • Kane

          Writing something that someone loves, that is what is important. Do it with errors, do it without errors. Misspell words. Draw pictures in the margins. Break every rule. Do it your way. Find your voice. It doesn’t matter… if you write something that the right person loves. Write something that people like, well, now you got a bunch of problems in your script. So don’t do any of that sh!t until you know how to write something that people love.

    • Nicholas J

      I’m trying to understand what makes great screenwriting

      Then stop nitpicking syntax and pay attention to story.

      • brenkilco

        Story and structure trump everything else. But it’s tough to tell a good story if you can’t describe action and character and place effectively, and clearly. There’s no point in trying to separate one from the other. Robert Bolt was a truly great screenwriter. Because the guy could really write.

        • Nicholas J

          Obviously, but this is nitpicking. Pick any screenplay in existence and there will be something to nitpick. There’s nothing wrong with the passage Carson posted. Who cares if “shape of a figure” is redundant, I clearly understand what the writer is depicting. You’ll never learn anything if that’s all you pay attention to.

          Scripts shouldn’t be read as novels they should be read as blueprints in progress.

          • brenkilco

            There’s nothing “wrong” with the passage but it could be quite a bit better. It’s the writers who should be nitpicking themselves. After they get the first version of that great story down on paper of course. And yes, most screenplays have defects of some sort. The M. Night Shyamalan ones I’ve seen suggest whatever he was typing on had no spell or grammar check. One exception. Lawrence of Arabia. The only nit you can pick with that one is that it’s over detailed. Searching for other things to carp about. Good luck.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Carson, as a reader, seems like a ‘take what he needs’ kind of guy. He doesn’t stress on every single word, he only ingests the important elements (as he sees it) in each paragraph. That’s speculation , of course.

            Other readers see every word (maybe they majored in English?) and stumble over syntax and redundancy. I’m not advocating for either approach, but if someone reads a LOT of screenplays, the first approach is more desirable.

    • brenkilco

      Good points. Two others. We see him walking in the second paragraph but don’t find out whether he’s approaching or walking away until the fourth.

      And he’s walking and pulling and shrugging and lurching forward. We already know he couldn’t be lurching backward. How about just, he lurches down the winding path as if having to struggle to haul the weight of his body.

      • Nicholas J

        It’s made clear he is walking away in the previous scene. Your confusion is only because the scene here is taken out of context.

  • fragglewriter

    You had me Carson until you compared the writing o Wentworth Miller. I watched most of the his movie “Stocker” and had to turn it off as it lacked mystery, intrigue and the supposed actions by the protagonist (killer) were just so haphazard. It also could be the vision of the director that gave me problems with the script. Maybe the script didn’t translate to screen.
    But back onto Osgood Perkins,

  • Kane

    I got so excited to read a good horror script that I stopped reading Carson’s review
    after he implored us to read the script first. Thanks for sending this my way Christian but I read the first pages and realized I’d already read it. Maybe I should have finished the review before requesting a copy. I really enjoyed this script. It stuck with me, except the title anyway, which feels a little generic to me. This script changed the way I approach sound in my horror scripts. Instead of just the BANG, focus on the steady HUM, make em wait for the BANG. Here sound was used like a totem and was a callback throughout as certain sounds built in
    importance. There are a lot of good things for horror writers to steal from… I mean learn from here. But I’m afraid of the marketing campaign on this one. They will either give away
    everything that keeps it suspenseful or package it as the latest teen freight fest and I could see either misleading or disappointing audiences.

  • Poe_Serling

    That’s a nice Halloween treat – seeing someone score an impressive with their horror
    script.

    His father, Anthony Perkins, also had a screenwriting credit for the film The Last of Sheila, which he co-wrote with composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim.

    The Last of Sheila is definitely worth checking out. I’ll let Roger fill in the details:

    http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/the-last-of-sheila-1973

    • brenkilco

      A one of kind movie. Part clever, bitchy, Hollywood satire; part Sleuth like murder game; part classic, Christie whodunit; and part Times crossword puzzle. So well thought out that even the title is an elaborate pun that provides a clue to the solution of the mystery, though there’s really no way to know that till the movie’s over.

      • filmklassik

        Agreed! SHEILA’s a good, twisty little murder mystery. Perkins and Sondheim were both puzzle fiends and their love shines through in the only script they ever wrote together.

        Perkins was a fascinating and ultimately tragic figure. A first-rate actor who became thoroughly typecast as Handsome Unhinged Guy at a very young age. (A victim of his own talent perhaps?) He was also, by most accounts, one of the smartest people in Hollywood.

        And being in the closet is never easy, but in the 50s, 60s and 70s it must have been hell on earth.

        I love the guy’s work. FYI: Check out a mini-series he did for the BBC called THE GLORY BOYS to see how terrific he could be in what was (for him) a very unusual role: The suave, tough, spy-catcher. He’s tops.

        • brenkilco

          Will check out Glory Boys. Think of him post Psycho as trapped in twitchy,neurotic roles until he finally caved in and started playing Norman Bates again. Nice to know there were some bright spots.

          • walker

            Perkins also had memorable roles in Orson Welles’ adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial (1962) and Alan Rudolph’s Remember My Name (1978).

  • Paul Clarke

    I find Carson’s love for this one intriguing as it is the anti-GSU.

    For me I decided to stop about page 30. Couldn’t work out why I wasn’t getting the same excitement as Carson. But then I realized I don’t really watch horror movies. Maybe my atmosphere was ruined because February where I am is the middle of summer.

    • BSBurton

      Horror isn’t my cup of tea either

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      By page 30 it still wasn’t reading like a horror script… and I still didn’t know what the story was about… I’m where we cut to the girl on the plane when I got bored.

      And it seems overly written to me… a little too novelistic.

  • Randy Williams

    I’m starting to read this. Really love it so far. Creepy, atmospheric is what I enjoy writing myself. Glad to hear Carson likes that stuff.

    Question, though. What does the (then) slipped between lines of dialogue exactly mean?

    • ChristianSavage

      (then) is used the same way as (beat). It’s basically a pause the author adds into the dialogue.

      • Randy Williams

        Thanks. I thought it was similar, just hadn’t seen it used before.

        I finished the script. It gave me the feeling i’ve gotten from watching Spanish horror movies. I wish that it was performed in Spanish and directed by a Spanish director. The parochial, Catholicism, family ties. I really think that a Spanierd film would really capture what the writer intends here.

        It really is a visual and auditory feast. The writer certainly has a thing for telephone rings. Have old phone ring sounds become so rare that they startle us now? Even the iphone in the script has an old phone ring tone.

        oh my god, that scene where the mother in the car speaks to Joan and you wonder if this is going to take another turn, that they know who she is, heartstopping.

        I didn’t like the exorcism, thought it was not at all organic to the story. Thought the ending would not satisfy a broad audience.

        totally nailed the genre. Thanks again to Christian for sharing!!

  • Altius

    Looking forward to reading this one. I went to a McKee seminar ages ago when I was just out of high school, and Oz Perkins was sitting two rows in front of me. Good to see him on the board with a fresh and impressive script!

  • mulesandmud

    Damned fascinating script, and a fascinating reaction from Carson.

    The structure, the characters, the language, all very deliberate and often praiseworthy. I can’t help feeling that some of it starts to unravel by the end, but then again, so does the character we’re with, so it’s almost of a piece. Anyway, some brilliance here, some ugliness; some real thoughts, some half thoughts; some admirable restrain, and some gratuitous free-for-all.

    The horror premise of two teens left alone at a girls’ school on break is classic stuff (in a good way), but the writer definitely goes his own way with it. Or his father’s way, maybe.

    The apple’s gotta fall somewhere, they say.

    • Randy Williams

      His mother died as a passenger on a plane that hit the Twin Towers on 9/11.

      Certainly some darkness to imbibe from.

      • brenkilco

        Didnt know that. But did know his father died from AIDS a decade earlier. Guess it makes sense he wouldn’t be writing romcoms.

  • Poe_Serling

    OT but still a chills and thrills topic.

    There’s a awesome triple bill on Turner Classic Movies tomorrow night. The channel’s lineup for their Halloween-themed Ghost Story Thursday include:

    >>The Innocents (1961)
    >>The Uninvited (1944)
    >>Women in White (1948) **

    ** You don’t see this one showing up on TV very often. It’s a “classic mystery about the adventures of a young tutor sent to a ghostly country estate.” It will be my first time watching it.

    • klmn

      Thanks. I’ll try to catch at least one of these.

    • brenkilco

      The woman in white is based on a seminal mystery novel by Wilkie Collins, the guy credited with inventing the mystery novel. Have not seen the movie but believe it has gothic atmosphere and weird characters but no ghosts.

    • ThomasBrownen

      I’ve seen The Innocents (with Debbie Kerr, no?) and thought it was creepy and weird, but The Uninvited is sort of the original haunted house film, I thought. I remember it having a rather slow portion, and the logic of the ghost(s?) is a tad confusing, but I thought it was definitely worth watching. There was something really unsettling about that séance scene, and anytime I hear someone talk about the smell of mimosa, I think of that movie!

      • Poe_Serling

        “…The Innocents (with Debbie Kerr, no?)”

        Yes, with Deborah Kerr. Based on the novella The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

        Ten years later or so… Brando and company starred in the somewhat interesting film entitled The Nightcomers:

        “Prequel to the Henry James classic “Turn of the Screw” about the events
        leading up to the deaths of Peter Quint and Ms. Jessel, and the the slow
        corruption of the children in their care.”

        Directed by Michael ‘Deathwish” Winner.

        • ThomasBrownen

          Interesting. Thanks for the tip! I’ll be sure to keep my eyes open for The Nightcomers.

      • brenkilco

        It has a somewhat slow opening, certainly by modern standards, but the mystery of the ghost’s motivations is a lot of what separates it from lesser ghost stories.

    • https://thebarkbitesback.wordpress.com/ Jim

      The Innocents is probably one of my favorite ghost stories, it’s so brilliantly suggestive, something I talk about here here along with narrative blurring (and a couple of other “ghostly” stories that fly under the radar).

      • Poe_Serling

        Enjoyed your write-up. Nice to see Robert Mulligan’s The Other and Dark Night of the Scarecrow getting some quality article time.

        • https://thebarkbitesback.wordpress.com/ Jim

          Thanks! Yeah, they’re two films you don’t really see much discussion on so I thought I’d throw them in there since they’re both good examples.

          • brenkilco

            Haven’t seen The Other in years but I recall it failed because the director tried to play fair with the audience. Never showing the “twins” in the same shot and contriving to have one of them off screen whenever a third person showed up. The gimmick quickly became glaring. It’s sort of the anti-fight club

  • gazrow

    I agree the writing itself is “impressive.” I honestly don’t believe its a great script. It’s very good but the story lacks something – it’s fairly riveting until the final reveal. However, I was left with a slight feeling of “is that it?” But what really lets the script down in my humble opinion is the huge coincidence regarding Joan and the parents of Rose – it just felt too contrived.

    Great writing though.

  • HRV

    I’d like a copy too please. websleuth@hotmail.com
    Thanks. H.

  • mulesandmud

    Rose’s death carves out a particularly harsh niche of horror movie puritanism: she’s being punished not just for sexual activity, but for contemplating abortion. The script is definitely surfing the genre full speed here.

    As for the Kat/Joan recognition issue, I balked at this at first, too. However, the story quickly narrows the Joan mystery down to one question – is she Kat, or is she Rose? – so it seemed like the obvious (though unwritten) solution would be that Kat and Rose look very much the same, and the film should cast all three key characters with similar-looking actresses.

    Thinking bigger, maybe the whole school has a very Stepford quality to it, like a little debutante clone army, and all the girls look similar. That adds a layer of eeriness, and maybe even a hint of commentary about the air-brushed uniformity of so many teen actors these days.

    One small question I had: what the hell happened to Kat’s parents? It doesn’t seem like she killed them. Did they really just miss their plane, and that’s that?

    And one big question: what exactly is the story trying to accomplish by ending where it does? I have more tolerance for a deranged protagonist than you do, but I still need to understand the shape of the journey they’ve taken. So why is Kat crying in that final scene? Because her demon friend was exorcised, and now she’s lonely? Or is she just crying out of generalized looniness? Or possibly guilt? I like some ambiguity there, but the moment felt so vague that it threatened to mean nothing at all.

    • J_Stuart

      Just saw that the script is in pre-production, retitled THE GIRL IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS, Ex Produced by Wes Craven, Directed by Nick Simon.

    • Cfrancis1

      I got the impression they died in an accident. It’s implied when the nuns get the phone call that makes them and the father upset.

  • Bluedust

    I’d love a copy of this. risingseeker@yahoo.com
    Thanks.

  • Zadora

    Finished it and I can’t say I was as impressed as Carson. Not bad, but absolutely nothing new here. Nothing I haven’t seen many times before. Even the exorcism….

    I’m surprised at his vote actually.

    I liked the one in the morgue better. Can’t remember the title right now, but I enjoyed that one more.

    • walker

      The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Black List 2013.

      • Zadora

        Yes! Thank you! :)

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey Carson-

    As your week of ‘Halloween Madness’ rolls on… Is there any chance of getting a heads up on what amateur script will be featured in the Friday slot?

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

    I read it. I totally agree, this was mostly atmosphere and it worked. It’s a great screenplay that would make an OK movie. (OK being better than 99% of horror right now)

    At the base of every horror picture is the horror of the unknowable (not the unknown). Once we feel we can define it – it loses its terror.

    SPOILERS

    I’d say that the only downfall is its definition of Kat. I got some great moments from Rose – hiding her secret from her parents, planning a secret abortion, gossip about the nurses. I got almost nothing from Kat – she was just crazy, not “crazy?” just “crazy”. This leaves me, the reader, with a boring character. There’s no question of duality, I’m completely closed off.

    I’m left with a question at the end “Why did she go back?”. This becomes a logical question, not an emotional question. It should be (and I feel the screenplay tries) an emotional question, but I didn’t get it. She knew her parents weren’t coming, why is she going back? To cry? To try to be possessed again? Ah, this is an interesting question. Was she so lonely that she wanted to be possessed again? But I didn’t feel this coming through.

    I was confused, not perplexed. Was she haunted by this evil force or enticed? (Stoker, and Dracula explore this) Was she jealous that Rose’s parents came? Why did she laugh when Rose’s dad mentioned her? I’m not left with any complicated motive so I’m forced to dismiss her as crazy – I don’t want to and I don’t think the author wants me to, but I needed something more.

    “Evil.” is not scary.
    “Evil?” is scary.
    (to me at least)

    • rickhester

      Only thing I’d disagree with is that, to me anyway, in the beginning, Kat wasn’t ‘scary’ or ‘crazy’, she was just a scared, vulnerable 13 year old. The message she left her parents on pg 17 – and her reaction to Rose planning on going out that night, ‘Mr Gordon said you’re supposed to stay with me’ – really established that for me. It wasn’t until the furnace scene that her behavior began to change.

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

        Agreed. Taking that into account I think I had a problem that she did a 180. From completely vulnerable to completely crazy. I found her most interesting the moment she made a threat to Rose. I didn’t know what to make of her. I began to wonder if she was passive-aggressive all along or was some outside force influencing her. After that great moment, the script started coloring inside the lines with Kat but doing a great job with everything else.

        • rickhester

          I think the furnace room is where she was possessed, which changes her. The problem is we don’t actually see it happen, so it leads to confusion. Hopefully the’ve fixed that in subsequent drafts.

  • https://thebarkbitesback.wordpress.com/ Jim

    Why is everyone mentioning Carson’s taste in this script when it was reviewed by Christopher Pendegraft? Unless….oh my God! Someone call an exorcist!

    • Mike.H

      Can anyone clue me in as to the b.g. of Christopher Pandegraft? I guess I’m dense and not well read. Thanks.

      • https://thebarkbitesback.wordpress.com/ Jim

        Carson said he had some password issues when upgrading to Apple’s Yosemite and is logging in as his programmer.

  • Linkthis83

    “Let’s think about this rationally.

    Fire, brimstone, and eternal agony – that’s what’s meant to be in Hell.

    God runs the entire universe, except one place, which is run by the Devil.

    The Devil is his biggest enemy, and they don’t get along.

    If you act bad, you go to hell.

    You’ve lied, you’ve stolen, you’ve been a prick your entire life…

    Why would the Devil punish you? You’re one of his boys, he’s going to fuckin’ dig you!”

    -comedian Jim Jefferies

  • brenkilco

    Found the script curious. The writing and construction were accomplished. Really too accomplished for the story being told. Radical, concealed time shifts; repeated scenes with altered POV to layer information, aural portents galore, a cornucopia of moody visuals. And for what? The open ended tale of a possibly possessed but anyway psychotic teen killer. Like hiring Frank Loyd Wright to design a doghouse. Sure the result is impressive. But what’s the point? Then again maybe I’m not a horror guy. Maybe dressing up the old one two in designer originals, adding a little fresh creep and quease, is all that’s needed.

    Two specific points. Apparently a charge of novelistic writing can be easily avoided, no matter how detailed your prose, if you leave every third line blank. And i assume the display of Rose’s photo and the realization that the Rose and Joan stories are not contemporaneous is intended as a big reveal. For some reason I sort of saw it coming. And it’s a moment that should have had more oomph. And how would this work on screen? I guess cars haven’t changed much in seven years but how do you cast Kat/Joan? Different actresses would feel like a cheat. But the same one could hardly pull off thirteen and twenty. This sort of timeframe sleight of hand actually works better on the page. Celebrated novelist William Goldman used the device to great effect in his novel Control, a book that, while typically cinematic, could never have been turned into a screenplay.

  • Matthew Garry

    Cons:
    – no real drama
    – little conflict (apart from Kat getting slapped once, and Bill’s wife freaking out in the car for no reason)
    – not a lot suspense (other than cutting away in serial style)
    – continuous directing and unfilmables

    Pros:
    – if you misread “bowing” as “bowling” on page 29, it’s pretty funny.
    – pretty bold scene headers
    -“(SCREAMING) HAIL SATAN!”

    This was pretty hard to read through. For me it’s only saving grace came at the end: a young woman, once possessed, tries to fill the void her exorcised demon left behind. There’s something appealing about that concept, and could make for an interesting story, but this, for me, wasn’t it. Maybe the disjointed storylines could work, but I felt they relied too much on sleight of hand of the writer on the page to keep a reader in the dark.

    I guess if this works for a reader, it could be impressive. But if it doesn’t for some reason, it’s very hard for a reader to latch on to something else to keep it going, quickly turning it into a slow and tiring read.

  • Ryan Sasinowski

    I like what Carson said in the What I Learned section: Wait until there’s some action in the scene before describing the details of the surroundings. I think that’s probably the best advice I’ve read on this site in quite awhile. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to give a location some atmosphere, but it felt like it was impeding on the reader.

    I think this advice should be used in tandem with some knowledge gained from Carson’s review of “Bone Tomahawk” a while back: how that long bit of description did more than just set the scene, it told a story. The top comment on that thread did a terrific analysis of that paragraph and it really made me think of the advice given today.

    This is a prime example of why I love this site.

  • Bifferspice

    wow, i don’t get the love for this at all. so many cliched moments and a pretty poor story that offers nothing new whatsoever. i rolled my eyes at quite a lot of it. this would be no more than average as a horror film. he also tells you things that he can’t show on screen. more proof (though it isn’t needed) that reviewing scripts, whether it be carson or a studio/competition reader, is so frustratingly subjective.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Would be cool to read this.

    malibujackk at gmail dot com

    • 3waystopsign

      sent it in case you did not get it yet

      • august4

        Would love a copy too if you can…. thx!

        jonnryder at yahoo dot com

  • 3waystopsign

    sent it over in case no one else has yet

    • jgrey

      Any chance you can send me a copy too?
      jgrey888 [at] yahoo [dot] com
      Thanks!

    • yeebarr

      Hi 3waystopsign – would you be able to send a copy to yeebarr@gmail dot com? It would be greatly appreciated.

  • ChadStuart

    I think you’re being too kind, Grendl. It’s a pretty large conceit that the parents wouldn’t recognize the murderer of their own child. I’d say it’s really central to enjoying the story. If you can’t really but into that, then the whole thing unravels.

    For me, it unraveled pretty hard. My waning interest started when Rose sees a man running away from the building shortly after walking by the door and doesn’t think that’s important to tell anybody until she barely mentions it to Ms. Prescott because a red herring needed to be placed. But, it still wasn’t hard to see where this was all going after Kat was worshiping the furnace.

    The nail in the coffin was the unlikely coincidence that she’d run into Rose’s parents and they wouldn’t recognize her, and was compounded by the fact a violent mental patient was only kept in check by one guard outside the rec room.

    What did Carson say the other day about producers not buying the premise being the kiss of death? That’s what happened here.

  • HRV

    Spoiler alert! If you haven’t read it yet.
    Headline: “Possessed School Girl Kills Six.”
    This story just didn’t do it for me, and I like good horror. Flowery, repetitive prose simply doesn’t make up for lack of substance. The time bouncing was a bit of a distraction since it wasn’t labeled. Started off slow, seemed to be missing a number of plot points, unexplained elements – like the mystery man (the Devil incarnate), no closure. It was one of those weird head-case stories. Kat/Joan meeting Rose’s parents was way too coincidental and then saying God arranged it… Why would Kat have been institutionalized in Florida, rather than a local state institution? Is Bill supposed to come across as creepy? Because he did.

  • johnny_ironjacket

    Salute to Christian for sending February out to so many of us. A real screenwriting trouper. Thanks

    • ChristianSavage

      Thanks, Johnny. Much appreciated. :-)

      • august4

        Hey Christian… You probably don’t have it anymore, but I’m trying to track down the script “The F Word” by Elan Mastai. If you still have it, can you please send it to… jonnryder@yahoo.com? Thanks!

      • Eddie Panta

        Hey Savage,
        Do you still have a pdf of this script: February?
        If so, please send to theordorefremd g mail when you get a chance
        thanks

        • ChristianSavage

          Hey Eddie, I tried emailing February to you, but it bounced back to me. If you still need that script, can you email me at soulspelunker@gmail.com?

  • yeebarr

    B@lls.

    Always happens when I go on holi’s for a week. Anyone still around to send the script to yeebarr@gmail .com?

    Thanks!

  • Stevetmp

    Thank you Carson for prompting me to read this (and thanks Christian for facilitating)! A really gripping and inspiring read.

  • Cfrancis1

    I’m all for atmosphere creepy atmospheric movies. Love Argento. But judging this script purely from a story telling perspective, it’s pretty lean. I never really understood why Kat was possessed. Her parents die in a car crash and then she’s possessed. Then she kills a bunch of people. Then she goes into an institution, get exorcised (but doesn’t seem to take), escapes, conveniently (or on purpose?) bumps into the parents of the girl she killed, kills them, end of story. When you boil it down, it doesn’t add up to much. Having said that… a good director could make a super creepy movie out of this that I would really enjoy, thin plot and all.

  • Lucid Walk

    Send to sde91@hotmail.com if anyone has a copy. Many thanks

  • Vivek Krishnan

    Sorry that I’m really late but can I get a copy too?