Premise: When a discarded top secret military weapon resurfaces on a research ship, the crew must fight for their lives to survive the bizarre technology.
About: Cary and Chad Hayes have become Hollywood’s go-to A-List Horror writers, scripting both The Conjuring and The Conjuring 2. But that success didn’t come overnight. The brothers wrote in television for a dozen years before getting their first shot at the feature world (2005’s House of Wax) and then went almost an entire decade before they had their first major breakout hit in The Conjuring.
Writers: Cary and Chad Hayes
Details: 104 pages – 2011 draft
I’ve always wondered, how do you make a blob scary? It’s a blob, the goofiest monster ever. It doesn’t even have a personality. It’s a blob.
I like reading these scripts, though, because I’m always curious what writers pitched to win these “no-win” assignments.
For those of you who will be lucky enough to break into this business, you’ll be asked to pitch no-win takes on assignments all the time. You could say that the writers who last the longest in Hollywood are the ones who consistently come up with solid takes on bad ideas.
Remember, it was Charlie Kaufman who, tasked with adapting a book about flowers, came out the other end with Adaptation.
I personally don’t believe it’s possible to write a good Blob movie. But I’m ready to be proven wrong. Let’s see if the Hayes brothers pulled it off.
Shannon Cole is a member of a research team on the high-tech vessel, “Indigo.” Besides researching ocean life, Shannon also likes researching her hot Navy boyfriend, Colin Hawthorn, who she’s constantly trying to sneak Skype sessions with whenever possible. The two discuss how it’s only a matter of time before they can be together, sans ocean in the way.
And then a plane crashes next to the Indigo. And not just any plane, but a military plane. Members of Shannon’s team are able to save the sole survivor, a dude named Steve Walker, but they sense something is off right from the start. Especially when Steve hightails it off the ship. As in, he leaps off and starts swimming away. What in the world would cause a man to swim into an endless ocean as opposed to stay on a ship?
Answers start coming in the form of the NAVY, who radio Indigo to tell them to watch out for this Walker fellow. Oh, and to avoid any gelatinous masses that happen to have snuck on the ship. Oops, too late for that. The secret weapon that Walker stole, and which was responsible for the crash, has made its way onto the Indigo.
Once Shannon and her crew spot this thing, they begin attacking it. But it’s pointless. There’s no way to actually destroy gelatin. It just eats up their bullets, their weapons, and eventually, their bodies.
Shannon calls for help from her nearby NAVY boyfriend, but he tells her this call is above his pay grade. The military is so terrified of this blob weapon that they’re going to let it do its damage and, hopefully, disappear forever afterwards. That means Shannon and her crew will have to figure out how to defeat this thing on their own. A task they’re realizing may be impossible.
Okay, let’s approach The Blob the way any screenwriter tasked with adapting this idea would. You’ve only been given one quota: A “blob.” You can do anything you want with that, as long as there’s a blob. What do you do?
The Hayes’ brothers opted to place the blob on a ship. On the plus side, you’ve created a classic horror scenario. A monster. A contained location. A bunch of people stuck in that location.
But the first thing I asked was, “Is a research ship really the most interesting location for this concept?” Not really. You’re limited, pretty much, to your blob squirming around the hallways of a ship. I’m not sure if you’re getting the most out of the idea there. Had the Indigo been researching something that could’ve conflicted with the blob in some way, that might’ve been cool. But it didn’t. In fact, I was never clear on what this ship was researching.
Specificity guys. You have to think in terms of specifics, not generalities. Because there was nothing unique on this ship, nearly every scene was identical. People hiding in rooms. The blob banging on the door. Sometimes getting in. A battle would occur, they’d go to another room. Variety isn’t only the spice of life. It’s the spice of screenwriting. You have to differentiate your scenes. And because all the elements here were so generic, there wan’t much opportunity to change things up.
Also, the one advantage you have with a villain as unique as a blob is that you can look for things that only this specific “monster” can do, and play around with that. Take Freddy Kruger. He can haunt your dreams. So you can write a lot of cool scenes where Freddy is stalking you in your dreams, where you’re not sure if you’re asleep or awake, where he’s luring you to sleep – the kind of things that ONLY THAT CHARACTER offers to the story. That’s part of the fun of screenwriting, is finding those unique avenues that only your specific concept can provide.
But the blob never gave me that. There was one moment early where a character gets swallowed up by the blob and we watch him see the world through his POV as he’s being digested. But that was pretty much it. Otherwise it was just a blob banging away on doors and eating folks. Any monster can do that.
The best opportunity for a memorable scene came when the crew gets stuck in the shark lab. A tank full of sharks? A blob. Your team can’t leave the lab? The possibilities are endless, right? What if the blob keeps banging on the door and the shark tank starts cracking. Bang. Crack. Bang. Crack. The group realizes that either they stay in here and get eaten by sharks or they take their chances with the blob.
OR maybe the blob eats the sharks, which are swimming around in its gelatinous mass, some of their shark heads sticking out, chomping like crazy to get away, and our team now not only has to deal with a killer blob, but a killer blob of crazed sharks!
No, we don’t get any of that. Our team simply looks up after a moment and notices that all the sharks are gone. The blob has eaten them. And that’s the end of our shark lab scene.
I don’t think you can write a blob movie that isn’t a comedy. This is something you have to build a goofy premise around and then really have fun with it. I could see, for example, a group of people getting caught inside a 50s movie universe. They come to some deserted town, where they’re attacked by things like the Fog and the Blob. And you just get goofy. I could see the Blob swallowing people up, but then releasing them out later, and they become these slime-soaked blob marionette zombie things that do the blob’s bidding. Shit like that.
Trying to turn a blob into a serious action movie? I don’t see any audiences being interested in that. Feel free to offer your own blob takes in the comments section. I’m curious if anyone can actually pitch a good idea off of this.
[ ] What the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned: I learned that if you have a weird starting point – like a blob – you need to embrace that weirdness and get weird with it. To try and take a weird concept like this into straight territory is a bad idea.