Genre: Thriller
Premise: A psychiatrist tasked with determining if death row inmates are mentally fit for execution encounters a strange inmate who somehow knows everything about her.
About: This appears to be one of those scripts that slipped through the awareness cracks. It did finish on the Black List last year, but near the bottom. The script sold to Lionsgate in a bidding war, and ended up with a mid-six figures price tag. The writer, Hernany Perla, had been working at Lionsgate as an exec.
Writer: Hernany Perla
Details: 111 pages

tumblr_m2mnhdFpkD1qcga5ro1_500Michael Fassbender for Samuel?

Now I know what a lot of you who read the “About” section are thinking. “OF COURSE HE SOLD THE SCRIPT! HE WORKED AT THE PLACE THAT BOUGHT IT!” Oh, if it were only that easy. Because only EVERYBODY in Hollywood, whether they work at a production house, a studio, an agency, or a management company, has a script they’re hawking. And while the sell rate is definitely better if you’re inside the system, I’m betting the odds are still pretty low. I’m guessing less than 1% of those working at studios sell their scripts.

The way I see it, there are two types of writers, no matter where those writers reside. Casual ones and serious ones. The casual writers think if they write ANY-thing, success will come. The serious writers do the work. They read, they study, and they write their asses off. I don’t know Hernany Perla, but judging by the quality of this screenplay? I can make a strong argument that he’s one of the latter.

The REAL advantage of working as an executive, and why these guys have a leg up on the competition, is because they read a lot of scripts. That’s their job. But it’s not just that. They’re tasked with figuring out what’s not working, then coming up with solutions to improve the script. That trouble-shooting muscle comes in handy when one’s writing own scripts.

“Revelations” follows Dr. Kayla “Kay” Margolis, a successful psychiatrist who’s been assigned to Death Row to decide if the current crop of inmates are mentally fit for execution. Of course, when these guys are facing down death and they know their only out is to plead insanity, they all try and plead insanity. Kay’s job is to cut through the bullshit.

Then Kay meets Samuel Desmet. Shaved head, looks like one of those hare krishna guys. Which is apropos, since he once led his own cult. Samuel’s on Death Row because he blew up a group of people.

Kay’s a little thrown by Samuel’s Hannibal Lecter-like charm, but she seems to have the situation under control. That is until Samuel mentions Kay’s boyfriend, Troy. There is no possible way that Samuel could’ve known Troy, and it freaks Kay the fuck out.

But that’s just the beginning. According to Samuel, he (Samuel), is a God, being reincarnated over and over again. He’s had this conversation with Kay a countless number of times already. And he needs her on his side if they’re going to stop what’s coming. “What’s coming?” Kay wants to know. “Winter.” He says with a whisper. Just kidding. He says the current Governor, who’s also a reincarnated God, is going to set in motion a series of events that will result in nuclear war. And Samuel’s the only one who can stop him.

Kay knows this is bullshit, but over the course of the next few days, Samuel keeps telling her things that he can’t possibly know. He even sends her to a library to check out a book that was written 100 years ago. It was a book HE wrote in a previous life for this very moment, to prove to her he’s real. In it, there’s a direct message to Kay. That she can no longer trust her boyfriend Troy, who’s cheating on her.

You’d think that would be enough evidence, but there’s always one thing that puts every proclamation of Sameul’s in question. With a little digging, for example, Kay finds out this 100 year old book was placed in the library a day ago. When she questions Samuel about this, he swears it’s Governor Cayman, who’s making him look like a liar so she won’t help him.

Kay only has a few more days left to figure it out, because at the end of the week, he’ll be executed. If she saves him, is she just another victim of a persuasive cult leader? Or could it be that she truly is saving humanity?

Ever since I read that Lee Child article, I’ve been obsessed with suspense. How a story’s success boils down to setting up questions and then stringing the audience along until those questions are answered. That’s pretty much “Revelations” in a nutshell. And it’s very effective. Samuel makes a statement that something’s going to happen in a few days (i.e. a security breach at a nuclear facility) And we furiously read on to see if, indeed, the event happens.

Even better, Hernany LAYERS these suspense plotlines so we always have more than one thing to look forward to. For example, Samuel says that Kay’s boyfriend can’t be trusted. He says that there’s going to be a book he wrote 100 years ago in the library. And he says there’s going to be that security breach, all before any of these answers come yet. It’s kind of like story crack. One suspenseful storyline is good. Three is great!

Another thing I liked here was that Hernany didn’t JUST rely on plot. That can happen when you write thrillers, especially thrillers like this. Everything’s about the twists and the turns and the suspense, and you can get so wrapped up in that that you forget you’re dealing with actual people here. No matter how Hollywood you’re getting with your script, you can never totally ignore character.

That’s why one of my favorite threads in the script was the cheating stuff. Once Samuel tells Kay that Troy is cheating on her, everything about their relationship is uncertain. When she comes home, she’s watching Troy closer. When he’s on the phone, she’s asking who he’s talking to. When they go to work functions and he talks to a woman, she’s wondering, “Could that be the one?” It added another dynamic to the story besides the ‘end of the world’ plot.

There was only one thing wrong with the script. When you started to scrutinize it, I’m not sure it all made sense. At first, Samuel wants to die, because he’ll be reincarnated more quickly than if he lives out the rest of his years in an institution. And once he’s reincarnated, he can try to stop Governor Cayman (another “God” who’s lived hundreds of lives). But if that’s the case, why is he saying all this gobbledy gook to Kay, making her think he’s crazy, if that’ll prevent the state from executing him?

Then later in the script, when it’s looking like he’ll escape death due to insanity, he goes to Kay and says he’s been conning her. Nothing he’s said to her has been true. This, she presumes, is to ensure the state kills him. So he can be reincarnated. That left me wondering, “Why the big show? Why not claim you’re a fraud right from the start if you want to be executed?” It just didn’t add up.

Usually, faulty logic like that will kill a script for me, but I was so insanely caught up in whether Samuel was telling the truth or not that I didn’t care. The genius of this script is you’re unsure about Samuel right up until the end. And that mystery dug its claws into me and never let go.

But the biggest reason I liked this script was that it was so damn FUN! It’s been awhile since I’ve had this much fun reading a script. There isn’t a slow page in the screenplay. Every single scene moves. It’s just good writing. This should’ve finished a lot higher on the Black List.

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

What I learned: Never answer a question right away in a script. Every question is an opportunity to draw the answer out (for suspense). You can draw out the answer for 10 seconds. You can draw it out until the end of the script. It’s up to you. But you definitely want to draw it out.

What I learned 2: Layering suspense – Don’t just lay down one suspense thread. Layer them on top of each other so there’s always two or three unanswered questions going on at once.

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    Despite its flaws, this sounds intriguing, if only for the suspense layering. Looking forward to reading it.

    http://scridx.com/search?q=Lord+of+Light+Revelations

    • Logic Ninja

      Thank you very kindly!

    • Scott Strybos

      Thank-you. Look forward to reading it.

    • Randy Williams

      Thanks for the link! Love a good thriller.

      Reading it, however, I see on page 11, it does what Carson has advised us not to do, remind the reader of a better movie.

      “I feel like you’re cheating on me with Hannibal Lecter”

      • Andrew Parker

        And unfortunately Hannibal Lecter is a better character from the outset because he’s a dangerous cannibal and brilliant doctor.

        I think the Samuel character, to borrow another Carson suggestion, needs to be more of a piranha. A book in a library doth not make a piranha.

    • BigDeskPictures

      Thank you for the link, ZombiGirl.

    • andyjaxfl

      Thanks for the share

    • astranger2

      Thanks for the link.

  • ChadStuart

    I read this sometime last year and it just didn’t fully work. It’s an intriguing premise, and with some work it could be an interesting movie, but in its current form it just got too repetitive. He’d make a prediction, it would come true, and then she’d debunk it, repeat, repeat, repeat. And honestly, I can’t for the life of me remember how it all played out. It just didn’t stick with me at all.

    My prediction is that it will undergo a shit-ton of “development” before it, if ever, makes it before cameras. But Kay will debunk that prediction. Then I’ll make another and she’ll debunk it. And then another…

    • Andrew Parker

      I remember liking it too, but the specifics of the story evade me. I think it was the writing style that I admired more than the story.

      NBC had one of these types of show last year called “Believe” that was swiftly cancelled. The degree of difficulty is high for this type of story.

  • brenkilco

    “There was only one thing wrong with the script. When you started to scrutinize it, I’m not sure it all made sense.”

    That’s not just one thing. It’s a helluva thing. Scripts that sacrifice logic for temporary momentum or artificial suspense, confident that audiences won’t realize or care, are one more reason so many commercial movies today are so lousy. And I’m still uncomfortable with this notion of equating suspense with unanswered questions. Apprehension about what might happen is not the same as wanting to know what happens next. And the suspense elements of this sound a little odd. It has the basic shape of an innocent man facing execution picture. Like True Crime and scads of others. Can the protagonist exonerate the inmate before they pull the switch? But in this case that really doesnt seem to matter. So the question generating the suspense becomes Is Armageddon coming? But is that threat made palpable in the script? The juxtaposition of nuclear war with a boyfriend’s infidelity sounds laughable on it’s face. But Carson feels strongly so I’ll give it a shot.

    This reminds me of the much more benign movie Kpax. The basic question was the same. Is the character human or not? And as in this, the character, a mental patient, kept providing tantalizing bits of info that got shot down so that our feelings about him seesawed. Kpax was a misfire. But the writers recognized something. That the whole movie was based on answering this single question. Is he or isn’t he? And either way it was going to be a bit of a letdown. They strived, honorably but unsuccessfully, to create a third possibility. To answer the questions but still leave doubt. Something tells me this script is just going to leave irritation.

    • Scott Strybos

      I disagree that K-Pax was a misfire. Yes, it failed at the box office but I think the script is very well paced, well structured, and it serves as a great example of how to structure a mystery–when to parcel out information…

      • brenkilco

        I think of it as a movie that paints itself into a corner and doesn’t quite manage to figure a way out. Still more intriguing than most movies and reasonable minds can disagree. Anyway worth catching.

      • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

        Did you happen to write that beat-by-beat breakdown? I would love to read it in that case.

        • Scott Strybos

          Prot arrives on Earth and immediately gets sent to Psych Ward.

          Powell gets his first look at Prot, there is an odd connection.

          Powell receives Prot’s evaluation, learns Prot claims to be an alien—Powell makes a joke.

          Powell & Prot have first meeting; he is from K-Pax and very smart—Powell unable to fault claim.

          Powell has short encounter with family, but not really “there”. Upset about trip wife booked–he didn’t commit to that yet.

          Powell has meeting with doctors about Prot; they want to drug, he wants to get to know him.

          Powell & Prot’s 2nd meeting: talk sex on K-Pax—procreation is unpleasant. Prot makes notes for report.

          Powell learns Prot has sensitivity to white light—humans cannot see white light!

          Next meeting Powell dims room like on K-Pax—no families**, government, law—no need for it.

          Powel half-at family BBQ (learn he has estranged son) asks brother-in-law help with Prot—admits very convincing.

          Blue bird subplot with Howie (he will be cured when he spots the bluebird).

          Powell chastises Prot for interfering with patients and Prot returns answers to brother-in-law’s questions.

          Brother-in-law blown-away by Prot’s answers—Prot knows things he shouldn’t know—this is no joke.

          Powell closes door on his family to continue his work.

          At observatory Prot wows astronomers with knowledge of his solar system—how could you know this?!

          Blue bird subplot: find a blue bird—all patients happy, normal behavior—Powell can’t help but smile.

          Bess, speaking for the first time in years, tells Prot she knows who he is: he is the Blue bird.

          Patient asks to go back with him but Prot says he can only take one person back with him when he goes.

          Prot tells Powell that, after a quick trip up north, he will beam back to K-Pax on July 27th at 5:51am.

          Powell disrupts/disturbs his family with night epiphany—Prot’s departure=bad event 5 years ago, has to reach him before.

          Prot invited to family 4th of July, translates dog barks (no-way!), all is going well…

          Prot & wife talk estranged son; Powell teaching Prot importance of fam (wife:think he means it?), she says family is a great thing.

          Prot pushes little girl on swing, freaks out when sprinkler turns on.

          Powell talks to Head Administrator, thinks something violent happened to Prot, need to regress him. Thinks he will become violent or hurt someone on July 27th. Figuring out is key to helping him.

          Prot disappears from hospital. Patients say he went to Greenland to finish report. But he will be back.

          Prot returns; Powell says he doesn’t think Prot is from K-Pax, will be convinced if Prot submits to hypnosis.

          Powel hypnotizes Prot: young, at funeral for friend’s father who died at work at Slaughter House/ at friend’s house (Pete) again, his friend called him like he does when bad stuff happens, Prot starts to cry.

          There will be an essay contest to see who goes to K-Pax with Prot.

          Powell regresses Prot again: Pete has problem, got a girl pregnant, so he called Prot/ move forward in time, Pete called Prot just to talk, Pete a “knocker,” lives outside of town next to a river, married pregnant girl, has daughter, Prot gets sad.

          Powell has a map of all the possible places Prot/Pete could have lived.

          Powell tears another page from his calendar… the date is getting close.

          Powell hypnos Prot to July 27th, Pete is drowning himself, something terrible happened, Prot doesn’t want to say why because then Powell will know what Pete doesn’t want to know, when Powel pushes that if he did something bad to his wife of daughter… Prot attacks him and starts sobbing uncontrollably,
          Powell wakes him up, Powell picks up items Prot dropped, including his blue pencil.

          On train home, Powel discovers blue pencil has writing on it, tracks it to Salvation Army in New Mexico area, finds newspaper about tragedy—wife and daughter murdered, suicide—Prot’s name is Robert Porter.

          Powell goes to New Mexico, speaks to Sheriff about Robert Porter, “a real smart fellow”. Takes Powell to house, drifter raped/ murdered wife, killed child, Porter killed him, Powell finds old rusted sprinkler outside where Prot washed off the blood before drowning himself, his body never found—Powell is horrified. Sheriff says if Powell does have Porter, he’d rather not know about it.

          Powell returns home, watches his daughters sleep, remembers how precious they are, apologies to wife, tells her he found what he was looking for and wishes he hadn’t.

          Prot’s going away party: patients are handing in their essays, one the guards hands in an essay too.

          ­Powell debates telling Prot truth, Prot says Powell should invite son for Christmas, enough life on Earth for fifty planets, life is full of connections, Prot glances at yearbook on Powell’s desk as he gets up, needs to finish report but misplaced pencil (leave it on purpose?), Powell shows him yearbook photo of Robert Porter—him—Prot says he will admit possibility he is Robert Porter if Powel admits possibility he is from K-Pax. “Now that you found Robert, please take good care of him.”

          Powel eats with his wife in his office (has reconnected with wife), waiting for Prot to leave.

          Powell dreams of K-Pax, wakes up just in time to see Prot leave, leaving behind Robert’s body. Patients agree that is not Prot. Prot is gone. With patient Bess.

          Powell looks after Robert who is comatose.

          Prot’s parting words: when the Universe collapses and expands again everything will be the same; you will re-live every mistake, so make this life a good one.

          • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

            Thanks!

    • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

      You seem to be describing the problems I have rewatching Star Wars lately. There are so many gigantic, Olympics-worthy leaps of logic that my nitpicky brain is feeling overloaded.

      …and yet, it’s a fun movie. And I did have fun in the journey so long as I lived by the rules of the universe.

      I’m also having fun reading this script right now. We’ll see how I feel by the end when I get to the point that Carson had an issue with.

      But that’s the winning point right there.

      Whatever else happens…I feel motivated an interested enough to read the story. Maybe I’ll feel conned in the end, I don’t know. But it’s not like I get to read an engaging story like this every day, so hell, I’ll take the plunge.

    • filmklassik

      “And I’m still uncomfortable with this notion of equating suspense with unanswered questions.”

      Me too. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and also, I think, to generate suspense. JAWS doesn’t work this way, does it? ALIEN doesn’t work this way. BODY HEAT doesn’t work this way.

      Hitchcock’s REBECCA most definitely *does* work this way, and so does VERTIGO. REAR WINDOW does, too, in places. But PSYCHO certainly does not. And neither does THE BIRDS.

      • Casper Chris

        I’m in bed now and half asleep, but aren’t we asking questions like “omg, are they going to survive?!” in JAWS and ALIEN and isn’t that a big part of the suspense?

      • brenkilco

        A lot of movies combine mystery and suspense. Like Rebecca or Vertigo. Sort of a combo of wanting answers and fearing what those answers will mean for the characters. But something like Murder on the Orient Express, a pure mystery, poses lots of questions and is about as suspenseful as a church raffle.

        • filmklassik

          Ha! Agree with you about ORIENT EXPRESS and Christie-style whodunnits in general. They’re boring.

          But that’s endemic to the form. If you dig those kinds of puzzles, those movies can be terrific. If you don’t, well, the idea of a 60-minute Act Two consisting solely of interview after interview after interview after interview before the Endearingly Eccentric Sleuth assembles all the main suspects in the drawing room (or wherever) is little better than a cure for insomnia.

          One notable exception: DEATH ON THE NILE, which is lively, witty and ingenious.

          • brenkilco

            Nile was Anthony Shaffer slumming. Guess, it’s lucky he got those Christie writing gigs since it seems he only had one good play in him.

  • Montana Gillis

    AGUSTIN “CULEBRA” SOL, Mexican death row inmate, watches DR. KAYLA “KAY” MARGOLIS (30’s, striking) across the table as she jots something on a notepad.

    Not a lot of character description here, but first what’s up with the inmate’s name? Is his nickname pronounced “Cool Bra” or “Coolie bra? I couldn’t decide so I stumbled over it every time I read it. Either way, it comes out as a boob holder – one is an Awesome boob holder that everyone wants to get their hands on and the other is a boob holder for coolies (typically Chinese railroad workers in the late 1800’s. (probably just me). First name = Agustin… Good name, sounds Roman. Nickname = Culebra… sounds made up and is a bit of a stumbler – for me anyway. Last name = Sol. Finally, something Spanish (doesn’t it mean “Sun” in Spanish?). So his name doesn’t really flow or make any sense. IS this a clue as to his character? He’s an Italian-ish boob holder that is really bright? Have no idea how young or old he is – just that he is on death row — which is not an indication of guilt or character and doesn’t give any indication or clue on who he really is — just that he wound up there. Way to sparse. As for the “30’s, striking” doctor — well, now I know what she is ALL about! Not. C’mon, a double worth the read? How did anyone get past this first description?

    • Casper Chris

      COO-LAE-BRARH

      LAE = pronounced like ‘lay’, but without the y. Cut off.
      Stress on second syllable.

      Anyway, that’s my guess. I think it’s Spanish,

    • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

      “Culebra” is Spanish. It’s another word for “snake.”

  • Tschween

    I remember reading this when the Black List came out. I couldn’t get behind the faulty logic you mentioned. I think I only read half of it. It just didn’t make sense why he would want to affect her life if all he wanted to do was die.

  • Magga

    The only way a script like this isn’t garbage is if the answer to the mystery is mindblowing. Is it? I won’t read if it doesn’t have a great conclusion.

    • Randy Williams

      It’s far from garbage, great screenwriting, I thought. Ending solved no mysteries for me, however, just brought it all back to full circle which is the whole point of the story and its lesson, I guess.

  • Buddy

    I met Hernany, years ago. very nice guy. congrats !

    • cfeagins

      I also know Hernany, and he is a very cool, down-to-earth guy and an extremely talented writer as well as a producer. And btw, he used to work for Lionsgate years ago, but works with Ombra Films, one of its owners being the very talented director, Jaume Collet-Serra (NON-STOP, UNKNOWN, ORPHAN).

  • SendHimtoBelize

    Not all mysteries are born equal and unfortunately this one is a complete dud. Is a deathrow inmate actually a god who is trying prevent nuclear war? Is my neighbour secretly a unicorn trying to prevent the goblin apocalypse? This is WTF territory right here. Reincarnation is an idea that has intrigued men since time immemorial but im not sure there is a convincing way to stage it as the core mystery of feature. It would be too contrived and therefore unbelievable. This movie will go straight to DVD if that.

    • brenkilco

      Ever see The Reincarnation of Peter Proud? Don’t bother. Rotten movie. But still the most successful reincarnation thriller I can think of. And yes, there are at least a couple of others.

      • Randy Williams

        I liked the reincarnation thriller, “Audrey Rose”. A younger Anthony Hopkins burns up the screen. It’s directed by Robert Wise, who also did “The Sound Of Music” ..talk about stretching one’s talent.

        • Poe_Serling

          One of my favorite reincarnation pics – Dead Again with Kenneth Branagh starring and directing. Screenplay by Scott Frank.

          • peisley

            Heaven Can Wait.

          • klmn

            Also remade with Warren Beaty.

          • brenkilco

            Yeah, the Beatty Heaven Can Wait was a remake. But not a remake of Heaven Can Wait. A remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan. There was an old Heaven Can Wait but it was a different movie. I think.

          • brenkilco

            Actually Dead Again isn’t bad. And Emma Thompson is awfully good in it.

          • Poe_Serling

            There’s also a ’30 flick with Carole Lombard and Randolph Scott called Supernatural – ‘it’s about a woman on Death Row who upon her execution transfers her personality to an innocent victim.’

            I’ve heard it’s a bit dated, of course, but still a solid thriller for its time.

            I’m still waiting patiently for it to show up on TCM or some other similar channel.

          • filmklassik

            “I know there is some old forties movie where the star comes back as a dog. I think to solve his murder.”

            The movie OH HEAVENLY DOG, starring Chevy Chase, had a similar premise. Never seen it, though.

            The little-seen FLUKE uses it too — to spectacular effect — and features a revelation at the end that is both surprising and heart wrenching and will leave even the most jaded viewer blubbering like a baby.

          • brenkilco

            I googled around and the movie I was thinking of was called You Never Can Tell. But apparently I got the plot backwards. A murdered guy doesn’t come back as a dog. A murdered dog comes back as a human private eye. Ah, Hollywood.

    • LV426

      Watch out for those garden gnomes man. I got this feeling they are up to no good.

    • brenkilco

      Unicorn. Goblin Apocalypse. So you get the Michael Bay crowd and the Harry Potter crowd and even the my little pony crowd. Better get cracking before somebody steals the idea.

  • charliesb

    Off topic. But Soderbergh posted a music only edit of Raiders to examine the staging. And it’s pretty amazing (regardless of your thoughts on the soundtrack). :)

    It looks so good in B&W (he said I say that) and is also a good exercise to examine story telling as well. Take a look.

    http://extension765.com/sdr/18-raiders

  • klmn

    Couldn’t a god escape from prison? Being all powerful and stuff?

    I say execute him just to find out.

    • Poe_Serling

      Along the same lines… from Star Trek V:

      Kirk:
      What does God need with a starship?

  • scriptfeels

    glad I held onto the 2013 blacklist scripts… time to check this out!

  • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

    This is a GREAT concept. I’d pay to see this movie. It sounds like it would be a real nail biter. Hats off to Hernany Perla. Glad to read you got a real big check!

  • jw

    What I Learned: You don’t draw people in with requisite responses. The responses the audience is expecting isn’t the response they want – most of the time. Page 1 and I already wish this woman had more personality. There’s such an opportunity here when he asks about the recording to really, really, really show who she is as a person, how long she’s been doing this, how intelligent or savvy she is, and the writer chooses the easy way out — straight up explanation (that definitely feels like exposition) to a question she had to have a million times before and for whatever reason never came up with a better one? I’ll continue reading, but this is a huge thing for me. Take advantage of these moments to not only show us true character, but to create conflict.

    • jw

      And, realistically this continues for the first 10 pages. The death row guys aren’t that interesting. I want them to be speaking like McConaughey giving his Oscar speech and rambling like a motherfucker, but they seem completely lucid, and even Mr. Lord of Light intros with, I AM THE LORD OF LIGHT. Okay, great. But, let’s transition that a bit smoother, no? Where’s the lead-in? Where’s the explanation? Where’s the chase? And, then obviously, rather than having him just say it, it’s more powerful if the question comes from her — “If you’re not Samuel, who are you?” This is tough to read because around every corner there are these scenes that have been set up just begging for brilliance, but the execution falls flat against the expectation. Tough.

      • jw

        And… by 55 I’m out because she’s supposed to psycho analyze people and yet she’s not even smart enough to have a “creative” conversation with her husband to catch him in a lie. Why anyone would feel this script should be higher on the Blacklist is beyond me because it’s honestly not that well written.
        What I Learned 2.0: your characters shouldn’t tell the audience who your other characters are, they should represent that themselves. Kay, as a main character, is basically a throw-away. There’s literally nothing here. She’s tasked with creatively speaking with psychos to figure out if they are in fact competent when of all ironies the larger question is who in the hell allowed her into this profession when SHE SUCKS AT IT!? I mean, come on people, this is bad. Really, really bad. Maybe a Lifetime network movie? She makes no creative or clever attempts during the first 55 to even remotely get quality info from these guys. Basically they just always offer it up. Wow… no dice. Bye-bye! There isn’t a twist in the world that could save this script.

  • Franchise Blueprints

    I haven’t read the script but the plot sounds like The Dead Zone with Christopher Walken. Instead of the president starting a nuclear war its the governor. Which makes me wonder did he make choose the governor due to the popularity of The Walking Dead, Governor. Because I don’t see how any governor has any capacity to wage WAR other than call the national guard. Either this script asks you to accept certain conceits or its a tightly woven story.

    • klmn

      Along with that, I don’t buy the eleventh hour insanity plea. IIRC, that plea has to be made at the trial. To get off death row, an appeals court has to find that the client didn’t receive a fair trial.

      But maybe that’s good enough for Hollywood. In Fried Green Tomatoes someone is arrested and tried in one state for a murder in another state.

      • Franchise Blueprints

        FGT is a stretch but it’s not inconceivable. If you think you can’t get a fair trial in your home state or trying to avoid a state with the death penalty.

    • LV426

      I’m also reminded of The Dead Zone here. A bit of Terminator 2 as well with the supposedly crazy inmate claiming to have knowledge of some coming apocalypse.

      It also reminds me of Highlander a little. There is a hidden race of immortals living amongst us. In this case they are immortal in the sense their soul and memories transfer from one life to the next.

      This seems like it could be some mythology-heavy franchise like The Matrix. Except in this case, it was boiled down to a mystery-thriller. Which of course isn’t wrong, but just a different approach to the idea of reincarnation.

      What I learned: high concept ideas can sometimes be put on the page using various genres and story structures. Part of the process isn’t just coming up with a cool idea, it’s also finding the proper genre vessel for that idea. I would have likely written this kind of story as a century hopping lore-heavy sci-fi/action epic ala The Matrix or Edge of Tomorrow. The writer of this script was able to use the “nail-biting” thriller model to build the story on. I’d say neither approach is wrong, just different.

      • Franchise Blueprints

        I also got that Highlander vibe. The only thing is these kind of people would avoid being on the bottom rungs of society. I think the movie was called Jumpers with Sam Jackson. The people who had the ability to Jump lived upper middle class lifestyles to avoid detection and live in comfort.
        I’m also reminded of the movie Fallen with Denzel Washington. The executed convict that was really a vengeful spirit.

        • Linkthis83

          (singing) “Time, is on my side…yes it is.”

          • LV426

            Save the cat, or become the cat?

        • LV426

          Yeah, I see some of Fallen in this.

          Denzel made some crazy thrillers during the 90s. Fallen, Ricochet, and Viruosity.

    • Randy Williams

      It also asks you to accept that China would wage war over a slight against Myanmar. I think the writer ran with the least likely scenario to give credence and astonishment to the fact that the inmate predicted it.

  • brenkilco

    As a pulp B picture this might just get by. But the central premise is terribly confused and like a time travel movie, which this resembles, features a lot of contradictory temporal conundrums. Just for starts, we have a character who can see the future and his place in it since he’s constantly getting reincarnated. But he has the potential to change the future so how can he see what by the rules of this thing may not happen. In order for him to see the future right down to the point that he can plant weapons and lines in books decades or centuries earlier and be certain that they will be useful, not to mention dodge bullets and cars, the future would have to be fixed wouldn’t it? But that’s not all. It appears since time is just one big loop the protag can also repeat a present life and change that too. Which suggests he can also change the past. Are we having fun yet? And we’re just getting started. The protag’s nemesis also has all these abilities and that raises a question. How could either of these two ever get the drop on the other when by rights each should always know what the other is going to do.

    Well, it seems the characters are as clueless or as clairvoyant as necessary to keep the story going. Seems to me, if I knew everything that was going to happen and my whole life was dedicated to killing one person, and I had years to prepare I’d have to be an awful dumbass to get myself arrested. Hell, I could clean up in Vegas and in the stock market and hire myself a thousand hitmen. And I could certainly come up with a plan that didn’t involve me dying for the umpteenth time and getting my eternal companion confined to Chino for twenty years.

    Last point. If, as the script vaguely suggests, Samuel can repeat his life why is he so bent out of shape at the prospect of armageddon. So he takes his mulligan and gets his man next time? This kind of story needs to be nailed down tight. And despite the professional finish this script isn’t there yet

    • Kirk Diggler

      “Last, last point. The governor wouldn’t want Samuel dead. That means he’ll be gunning for him again in a few years in a new body. What the governor should have done was commute the sentence to life.”

      You just tore this script a new binder hole.

  • lesbiancannibal

    it stops comparing it to silence of the lambs or it gets the hose again

  • klmn

    Supposedly he’s already had a trial.

  • Montana Gillis

    Written in english by an American in California and Cuba-libre’s (getting thirsty here) name is just to obscure for a main stream US audience. His name should lead us into his character or give us a hint. That said, the introductory description of these two characters is way to thin and wouldn’t pass the average reader… Unless you are already someone in the industry.

  • filmklassik

    “Now the script cheats here in that it actually shows the event. Its not just Samuel talking, it gives a visual to us the audience as if it really happened. So we can’t trust the screenwriter at this moment anymore.”

    Which neatly sums up my problem with THE USUAL SUSPECTS.

    What are your thoughts on that one?

  • Nicholas J

    You’ve lost me. How is showing the Ghengis Khan scene a cheat? It’s simply a visual to go along with this guy’s story. You’re saying if he simply tells us the story it is not a cheat, but if we have a visual to go along with it that makes it a cheat. Why? What orifice did you pull that rule out of? The information is the same whether we see the scene or not.

    It’s called an unreliable narrator and is used constantly in all forms of storytelling. You are free to believe his story or not, that’s the whole point. That doesn’t make it bad writing or cheating.

    Usual Suspects, American Psycho, Fight Club, Memento, even RASHOMON! They all use similar devices.

    • brenkilco

      The unreliable narrator is an acceptable device in a novel, i.e. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, where you’re only getting a character’s version of events. Much trickier in film. If what you’re seeing on screen is treated objectively the audience will take it as fact, unless cued otherwise. Hitchcock regretted to his dying day the lying flashback in Stage Fright. And most of the time it is a massive and massively irritating cheat. I don’t recall an unreliable narrator in Psycho or Memento. Simply stories and direction that withheld information. And since Rashomon presents multiple versions of the same event it’s clear they can’t all be true. But Fight Club really pisses me off. It’s view of events is neither Norton’s subjective view of reality since he would only be seeing Tyler, nor an objective view since he and Tyler appear in the same shots. It’s a visual lie, no matter how you cut it, designed exclusively for the sake of the big twist.

      • Nicholas J

        American Psycho.

        And yes it’s in Memento. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but one example is the story of Sammy Jankis and Lenny’s own past with his wife are mixed together. Lenny tells the story about Sammy Jankis’s wife killing herself, when it’s really Lenny’s story, though he doesn’t realize it. We see the story play out on screen, as if it happened to Sammy Jankis, even though it never did, and after we get the reveal that it happened to Lenny and not Sammy, the actor in the scene even changes from Stephen Tobolowsky to Guy Pearce. But this is also all according to Teddy, who may not be telling the truth either.

        • brenkilco

          It’s been a few years since I last watched Memento, and to be honest I’d either missed or completely forgotten the suggestion that the Jankis story might be a delusion.

  • Franchise Blueprints

    Don’t use Quentin Tarantino as an escape goat.

    • klmn

      Escape goat?

      • Franchise Blueprints

        Just because QT can’t spell or format his scripts to FD9 standards, or has a 60 / 40 dialogue to action doesn’t mean you can do it too.

  • Midnight Luck

    I’ve always had trouble with the idea that someone “believes” or considers themselves God or some sort of God in so many scripts and stories.

    It ends up stretching the credibility.

    Not of the incarcerated person, but of the Psychiatrist in this story. If she takes him seriously, she is just as crazy as him, and should be locked away. Yes he may know this or that, yes he can surprise with interesting information. The issues are: First, as scientists have shown and proven over and over, any wild, crazy, outlandish idea if put to the Occam’s Razor problem solving test, shows that; everything being equal, The Simplest answer is pretty much Always the answer. Secondly, if this person ends up being a God in reality (odds are pretty much 100% against this being a truth) then why would they need a lowly human’s Help to get out of prison, or to solve ANY various problems on Earth? The basic idea of a God is that they wield ultimate power. So these “problems” aren’t actual problems for them.

    To me, this breaks down any drama, or problems that might arise in the telling of the story.

    That all being said, it still might make for a fun and interesting movie.
    All dependent on how it is done, and who plays the parts.

    Oh, and I should probably read it now.
    All these comments are just based on Carson’s coverage.

    • Franchise Blueprints

      If you scroll through the comments you’ll see how much this script reminds people of other movies. So it also has that going against it.

    • charliesb

      I suppose it depends on the definition of a “God” and what that “power” entails. The power of reincarnation (or knowing what is going to happen) during the right stage in history can have evaluated him to “God” status in the eyes of those around him and himself. If in trying to understand this ability he has (if he really has it) he may have decided he was a God, despite his inability, to wield any awesome powers.

      Of course I haven’t read it yet either. :)

  • Nicholas J

    Relevant or not, I think you need to put that rule back where you found it. It’s a device used in many great works, and one you employed yourself in your own script. Just sayin’.

    (And I like you best when you’re angry.)

  • brenkilco

    If any character at any time says “Let’s get out of here” the script sucks. Also sucks if it features amnesia, evil twins, slow acting poison, robots with feelings, or dystopian futures unless written by George Miller or the Wachowskis back when they were brothers.

    • Franchise Blueprints

      “You just don’t get it?” or any variation of it.

    • LV426

      No dystopian futures at all?

      That takes care of nearly the entire sci-fi genre outside of Star Trek and some superhero stuff (Superman, Iron Man, etc. are technically sci-fi to some degree). We kinda sorta live in somewhat of a dystopia now. I suppose with these new laws, I’ll have to stop writing in general. Especially since I’m working on some tech-noir/cyberpunk stuff.

      There’s always fan fiction I guess.

      • brenkilco

        Being a bit facetious, but honestly if I never see another movie set in a post apoc wasteland with grungy characters wearing fetish gear or an urban dystopia where the privileged live isolated from the struggling masses I can live with it. Obviously any sci fi world is going to have it’s problems.

        • LV426

          I see what you mean. Just today I was watching the latest trailer for Jupiter Ascending, thinking about how not only have they got the well-worn trope of “ancient aliens seeded the Earth thousands of years ago” mixed with the “chosen one will save us” hero plot.

          Sometimes we get burned out on certain things. It happens to me with certain types of films, books, food, etc.

  • Kirk Diggler

    The ‘your boyfriend Troy is cheating’ ploy that Samuel uses with Kay was done to better effect in The Devil’s Advocate. Not the same circumstances of course, one is the Devil once claims to be a god, but it’s not entirely original.

  • Franchise Blueprints

    DON’T OUTLINE EVER. Always go with the flow.

    • filmklassik

      Interesting advice from someone with your handle. “Going with the flow” may result in a SWINGERS or a NASHVILLE, but it will never get you a CHINATOWN.

      And we can all be glad BACK TO THE FUTURE wasn’t written that way.

  • NajlaAnn

    Just completed the read. It’s a pretty good story. Has an interesting twist that I didn’t see coming. It should make into a pretty good movie.

  • lesbiancannibal

    I had high hopes for this but man by the end it sucked balls.

    It just doesn’t make any sense and here’s why.

    In the final act there’s an exchange on page 100 where Kay asks ‘has this all happened before’ and Samuel nods and says “But Cayman wasn’t here last time and I didn’t get very far. I was actually killed right around here by your good friend Nolan. Get down.”

    So, wait, hold on, are these guys reincarnated as different people and also live the same lives again with different outcomes?

    So they go the whole way around the time clock and then live countless lives and then come back to this one and do it again but this time move one step to the left to dodge a bullet.

    It was a great premise for Edge of Tomorrow for one day but wtf?

    This had some great elements – I liked the whole idea of people battling through different lives over centuries, sort of a Rolling Stones “he rode a tank in the general’s rank as the blitzkrieg raged…etc”

    Like Highlander but with reincarnation.

    Loved the idea of Jesus retired in Wisconsin fishing.

    But it just unraveled into a big B movie in the final act. Felt very rushed.

    Still has potential though, you look at the first drafts of Se7en and it ends in a church with Mills dying and then the wife at his funeral.

    They re-wrote that into, for my money, the best structured thriller of all time.

    But comparing this to Silence of the Lambs, as Carson did on Twitter, is total sacrilege.

    There’s no character depth, no arcs really, nothing personal, no real examination of humanity.

    Saying that, it’s decent in so far as I read all the way to the end.

    Pass.