Genre: Thriller
Synopsis: Two women are held hostage in a prison-like farmhouse.
About: On the 2008 Black List with 14 votes
Writer: Misha Green

This will be less a review and more a stamp of approval since I actually read Sunflower a long time ago. I don’t know why it slipped my mind when I was making my top 10, but when I expanded to 25, I spotted it and was like, “Why the hell didn’t I include Sunflower?” It’s probably for the same reason that’s in the back of your minds right now: The title fucking sucks! When I was reading all the 2008 Black List scripts, I kept burying Sunflower every time I’d come to it because seriously, who the hell wants to read a script called “Sunflower?” Finally, when it was down to that and some script about a midget trying to come to terms with his South African descent, I threw up my hands and screamed, “Fine! I’ll read Sunflower!” Thank the Gods of screenwriting that I did.

This is from memory so I apologize if I get the details wrong. Basically, Sunflower is about a guy keeping a girl hostage in a farm house out in the middle of nowhere. He’s rigged the place with Level 16 super high tech security so that when he leaves for work (he’s a professor) there’s no way for her to escape. What sets Sunflower apart from other films like it is that the professor then kidnaps a second girl who he imprisons along with the first. He makes it quite obvious that only one of these girls is staying for the longhaul. Then, instead of it being about a girl trying to escape her captor, it becomes about two girls fighting each other for their lives. Green milks this conflict for everything it’s got and the result is so relentless you keep saying to yourself, “There’s no way she can keep this up. There’s no way she can keep this up.” But the story never slows down. It’s awesome.

If there’s a knock against the script, it’s the controversial “twist” ending that had many crying foul. And I admit it doesn’t entirely work. But to me the script is so technically sound, not going with the twist and playing it safe would still result in a great film. Or you can pull a Hollywood and just shoot four different endings and see which one tests best. The ending didn’t bother me but I can understand how it would others. Decide for yourself…

[ ] trash
[ ] barely readable
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from Sunflower: Sunflower is the perfect example of why it’s so important to throw a new twist into a tired genre. When I started reading the script, I thought I knew exactly where it was going. Guy holds girl hostage, girl plans to escape, guy catches her mid-plan, guy makes it more difficult for girl to escape, girl comes up with second plan…etc., etc. We’ve seen it a thousand times before. But the second he brought in the second girl, I realized I had no idea where the script was going. And I was so…excited. Because a reader reads so much derivative material, it’s rare that he come across something that actually surprises him. Find an inventive twist on a tried-and-true genre to give Hollywood (and the audience) something they’ve never seen before.

  • http://www.hotmail.com SAM

    thanks for posting up links to your top 25!

    You got me curious about Sunflower too, so I’ll give that whirl

  • http://openid.aol.com/hollienoverton HOLLIENOVERTON

    I had to read this script after your review. And I almost hated the end because I thought she was going to let John continue to dominate her but it ended up surprising me. Will be interested to see if it gets made, who they cast. Good parts for leading ladies! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08439555051697115476 Carson Reeves

    It is, it’s a great couple of parts for two women. They will definitely make this movie. Great concept and cheap to make.

  • Ryan (Biohazard)

    I still haven’t made my way through this script. Hate all the characters. They are as flat as pancakes. Nothing exciting until the midpoint. Dialogue is weak. It’s a pretty cool idea, it’s just not written well. I guess I’ll muscle through it to the end.

  • http://www.michaelbrownlee.blogspot.com Michael

    It’s a very cool concept. A nice twist on the kidnapper/serial killer story. And there is some great suspense, but I have to agree with Ryan that the characters aren’t all that great. Though, I suppose if they’re just going for in-your-face, non-stop suspense and action, they won’t really worry about it.

    While I liked the ending, I didn’t like the way the Grace/Eve story finished. Felt like it was just another twist for twist’s sake and it was unsupported.

  • Anonymous

    This script is the biggest piece of garbbage I have ever read. Misha Green just stop writting, stop wasting ou time.

  • http://www.tanglewoodfilms.com Dave

    I wouldn’t go so far as to call it garbage but, I did feel it left me wanting more out of the John character. Just when I thought he was getting really interesting and complex he became a standard bogey-man.

    [spoiler alert]

    And, I have to say I thought the ending blew (meaning when Grace kills Eve). That just came out of nowhere and I DID NOT buy it.

  • Anonymous

    what is with these scripts making the rounds? this would make a horrible movie, it will totally bomb. Yuck. Not only that but it’s horseshit, couldn’t make it past the first five. In terms of genre, it’s trying to be SAW or CAPTIVITY or half-a-dozen others. Thankfully the tortureporn trend is ending.
    What happened to actually writing movies that matter?
    This chick’s a sell out.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, bit iffy on the ending in relation to Grace killing Eve, not sure I buy that, but the very end is okay, it works fine; a reversal on the abused female now taking control. Perhaps that abused aspect of Grace needs to be fleshed out more in the first act for her to change at the end (for the worst).

    And it’s not badly written: it flows nicely, and is exciting to read. Good stuff.

    It does feel a little like a cross between a low-budget british film called MUM AND DAD and WOLF CREEK; although lets be honest, there’s nothing wholly original out there at all, everything is bits of ideas and stories stitched together.

    If the previous postee said they couldn’t make it past the first five (pages?) then how can they make any critical comments on the script; and don’t go calling struggling new writers as sell-outs, that’s just rude and totally ignorant regarding the business of screenwriting.

    Not everybody has to write movies that ‘matter'; instead of bitching, why don’t you go write some movies that matter, balance things out a little, and leave the smart, entertaining films to writers like this.

  • Anonymous

    I really liked it, especially Misha Greens style of writing. I started to read it and couldn’t stop and that doesn’t happen often.
    But I disagree here:
    “Then, instead of it being about a girl trying to escape her captor, it becomes about two girls fighting each other for their lives.”
    ýes, in the middle part there’s some bitching between them, but in the end they work together and try to escape John, while the scene with the tractor was a bit over the top.
    And the twist in the end (the victim turns into the “killer”) is nothing really new, the korean movie “Say Yes” pops in my mind there, but I think that concept was used much more often. Anyway, I think overall this script was pretty well done.
    By the way, I’m not sure why, but for some reason I did imagine Stellan Skarsgard (John), Megan Fox (Eve) and Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Grace) to play this.

  • Anonymous

    I liked the script. Read it in one sitting, and my face was glued to my monitor. Although I do agree that John needs a little more to his character, the interaction between Grace and Eve is amazing though. The fighting the bickering, the holy shit moment where you can’t believe Grace just did that, and then there’s the ending:

    *SPOILERS*
    I liked it. I clapped and smiled, and was surprised, but there’s something wrong with it, and maybe I’m just reading into it to much, but if Grace were to let one of these guys into the house, it wouldn’t last long. She’d be easily overpowered, or she’d just never let them come in the house, which is what I would imagine.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/DeafEars DeafEars

    I read this a few weeks ago and was knocked out by it. I still love it but my misgivings about it are a bit clearer now….

    Dialog is mostly good but it’s a little on the nose in places, and the characters could use more distinctive voices.

    John is sort of run-of-the-mill as a psycho.

    However, the script has so much energy that I think those problems are minor – it could be better, but it would still work like gangbusters if shot as is.

    Except for the ending. I like the basic reversal, but like Anonymous, I’m not convinced by how it plays out at this point.

    “Yeah, bit iffy on the ending in relation to Grace killing Eve, not sure I buy that, but the very end is okay, it works fine; a reversal on the abused female now taking control. Perhaps that abused aspect of Grace needs to be fleshed out more in the first act for her to change at the end (for the worst).”

    I think fleshing out the abused aspect is a great idea – it would also help to establish that Grace is a little unhinged even before she gets kidnapped. She could also be a latent adrenaline junkie – while she’s going through hell, she’s also getting a little turned on by it in spite of herself. And discovers that there’s no greater high than what she’s been through – so she has to recreate it. Also, Grace and Eve should fuck each over even more than they do, so there’s more existing bad feeling at the end.

    Still, a pretty amazing script overall. Can’t wait to see the movie!

  • Anonymous

    I was hooked from page one and though I expected a twist, I didn’t expect that twist.

    BRAVO!!!! Someone film it!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05408214011758642852 Dan

    *SPOILERS*

    When I first started reading it, I thought that the twist would be that Eve was carrying on a sick sado-masochistic relationship with John, and that Grace was captured to add to their fantasy role-playing. Eve’s acquiescence at various points in the beginning of the script made me think that she was playing along with John’s “game,” and merely pretending to be his submissive, captured prey. Making Grace the wild-card struck me as arbitrary and desperate.

    My other big problem with the twist is that it trivializes domestic violence by promoting the retrograde theory that women in abusive relationships are necessarily weak and powerless. Even more dangerous is the notion that a battered woman can be “empowered” and “liberated” by being subjected to insane amounts of violence by a sadistic prick. (Incidentally, the final ten pages made me think of the twist at the end of another female-centered horror thriller, High Tension, which equated lesbianism with psychosis).

    Obviously, Green probably isn’t intending to promote violence against women, but writers should be acutely aware that they can’t police their audience’s reactions.

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    French director Pascal Laugier now signed on to direct !

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  • Anonymous

    does anyone know where i could read this script?

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  • Anonymous

    I was wondering if someone could send me the script or the link to it please. My e-mail address is twilightlady191285@yahoo.com

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  • http://arashap.wordpress.com/ arashap69

    I thought the first half or so was incredibly tense; there was just enough to let us know that John was psychopathic, but without presenting us with mindless violence (a trap most films in this genre fall into). The twist ending was an interesting choice, one that I can understand, but it seemed unfounded from Grace’s previous character development. Looking forward to the production.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12140498912080884384 Paul

    I’d appreciate it if someone could send me the scipt: psunvincent@gmail.com

  • Anonymous

    What an awful ending. Not generic, but it’s about choice 2 or 3 in the how to end a thriller book.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16462731960952385169 twilightlady191285

    I was wondering if someone could please send me a copy of this script, I have been wanting to read it for some time now! My email address is twilightlady191285@yahoo.com

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