Genre: Drama
Synopsis: A man with a dark past must exact revenge on his brother’s killer.
About: Sold for 650k against 1.1 mil. To star Leonardo DiCaprio. Ridley Scott to direct. The writer sold the script all the way from Pennsylvania. But don’t be fooled. Inglelsby spent 2 years at the prestigious American Film Institute (great school btw).
Writer: Brad Ingelsby

I’d still prefer a sequel to Titanic

No. 4 of 5 on our Top-Selling Scripts of 2008 List. Because you stingy script-horders won’t send me “The Long Run” (AHEM! AHEM!) it looks like this will be our last drama of the week. Enjoy (aka I hate you).

I was really dreading this one. I already tried to read it once and it didn’t go well. By page 13 I was actually considering watching The Bachelor instead. That’s never a good sign because I only mildly occasionally watch The Bachelor. It’s usually by accident if I’m flipping through the channels and happen to leave it on ABC at 8pm on Mondays. It’s always by chance though. Believe me, I could care less about the show. But I will say this: Jason really screwed over Melissa. I’ll leave it at that.

And I don’t think Molly is emotionally available enough for Jason and I worry how that’s going to affect Ty. Okay I’m done. I just wanted to be on the record about that.

The (S)Low Dweller was purchased when none other than Jack Dawson (known by some as the celebrity-eschewing Leonardo DiCaprio) became interested in the material. Scripts that are bought for actors are always interesting because an actor doesn’t look at the whole story when he’s looking at a script. He tends to look exclusively at the character. This is all fine and dandy but a story has to work as a whole and sometimes these vanity projects stink of Oscar bait. Check out “Seven Pounds” if you don’t believe me. But it’s a good thing for Inglesby that DiCaprio became interested. Because if he hadn’t, I’m almost certain we’d have never heard of The Low Dweller.

I don’t know how many of you watch Entourage, but The Low Dweller reminds me of those two hicks that E represents – the ones that ended up selling their script for a million dollars? This is a small town movie about small time people. We meet SLIM somewhere in rural Indiana (is there anywhere in Indiana that’s not rural?), his clothes stained with fresh blood, his mind still blank from alcohol. We find out later he’s killed a man but we don’t know who or why. After four years in jail, he’s released back into a world that’s forgotten him.

He reconnects with his brother and the rest of the people he left behind – all of whom he seems to have strained relationships with. The Low Dweller is heavy. I’m serious. There isn’t a single smile in the script. I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. When his brother is killed for skipping out on a gambling debt, Slim grabs a couple of old buddies and heads out on the road for a little revenge (if only he’d called Dan Minter!). The man he’s going after, SAM, is a really bad guy who, for some reason, likes to wear a fedora. During this time Slim tries to mend the relationships he destroyed during his “troubled” past.

The writing here is very good but the film feels like it’s lost in cliches. Small town with shady characters. Guy owes a gambling debt. Collectors are tired of waiting to get paid so they kill him. His brother (with a dark past) comes after the killer. I’m not saying you have to have a completely original idea to write a good screenplay. But it helps.

Basically The Low Dweller is a revenge movie and it takes way too long to get to the revenge part. The first 20 pages could’ve been condensed into 3. If you want to read a great movie about revenge, look no further than my Top 25 List and download The Brigands Of Rattleborge . Now that’s a revenge movie. This is Revenge Light, and I fail to see what caught DiCaprio’s interest here besides another opportunity to use a southern accent.

The script makes a late comeback (with a revenge for the revenge) but the final shot falls short. This felt like an amalgam of a few films: Fargo, No Country For Old Men, and History Of Violence. I like all of those movies but the problem with The Low Dweller is that it doesn’t do anything nearly as well as any of them. This sounds terrible but The Low Dweller is kind of like the ugly non-smiling stepchild here.

But if you liked any of those movies, you might as well check out The Low Dweller. Who knows? Maybe DiCaprio saw something in it that I didn’t and it’ll turn into a great movie. It definitely has its admirers as I think it was pretty high on The Black List. Just bring something to entertain yourself during the read – like a gameboy – cause it’s sloooooooooooo-oooooooooow.

[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from The Low Dweller: If you’re going to write a revenge movie, you have two jobs. Make sure we like the person who gets killed and inspires the revenge and make sure we detest the killer (so that we’ll want to see him killed). Fail on either of these fronts and your revenge movie doesn’t work. If you have a somewhat mean guy killing an annoying victim, where’s our incentive for the hero to get revenge?

  • Masters

    Yes, a review up! Thank the makers!!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve tried to read this script on three different occasions. Haven’t made it past about page 30. I don’t like the style of writing for a script. Less is more, get to the point, don’t use all that flowery language. None of the characters grab my interest and the dialogue is awful and cliched.

    I won’t be making a fourth attempt.

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

    If I didn’t have to read it for the site, I admit I never would’ve picked it up again.

  • http://terraling.wordpress.com/ terraling

    Hi Carson

    new reader that came across from Scott’s blog a week or two ago, enjoying the site very much.

    Have a dumbass question for you. What does “sold for x against y” mean?

    Still getting a feel for your tastes — I thought Seven Pounds was a terrific film though a huge gamble on the part of the filmakers, and presumably they will never make a film like it again, which, for me, at least, is a shame.

    Anyway, keep up the good work.

    Nigel

  • Anonymous

    terraling,

    If I’m wrong, I’m sure I’ll be corrected. I believe X against Y means that you get X amount up front for your script. Once the film gets made, you get Y.

    What I’m not sure about is this. Let’s say it’s 500 grand against 1 million. Once the script gets made, do you get a million on top of the 500 grand? Or was the total deal 1 million?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08155090772668744550 Garrett

    terraling/Anonymous,

    Once it gets made, you get the remaining $500k if it’s $500 against a million. So in essence the “total deal” would be for a cool million, with the second half being conditional upon production.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05525591991199951948 Adrian

    Completely agree with your take on this one. It was the first of the top ten blacklist scripts I read. I actually took a couple of reads of it thinking I must have missed something – if all those supper smart execs think this is good why did I think it was one of the most turgid scripts I have ever read? I then read some of the other top ten scripts and realised it wasn’t me; it was the execs who didn’t have a clue. (n.b for me Fuckbuddies, Butter and Broken City all deserve special mention for sheer shitness). Also out the top ten, Raindrops all Around Me should be singled out as a dreadful piece of shit – I actually felt embarrassed for the writer – until I realised that he had sold it for mid 6 to late 6 figures –then I didn’t feel embarrassed for him any longer.

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

    Haha. One thing I’ve learned is that everybody has their tastes. As film lovers, we are passionate people, and when we read something we feel is bad that everybody else loves, we actually get angry about it. We want to hurt people. As you will see, tomorrow’s script…I get a little passionate. Maybe the most passionate I’ve ever gotten on Scriptshadow. But really my opinion means nothing. It’s just an opinion and it’s not going to change anyone else’s opinion. Leo loved this script and I’ll give him a chance if the trailer rocks.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05525591991199951948 Adrian

    In that case roll on tomorrow.

    Great site BTW – And thanks for the nod on Source Code I read it yesterday and thought it was brilliant.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13868933997157762707 Carson

    I just love that script. I hear from people that it’s going to be made, which makes me very happy. I like to think it’s because of its status on my top 25, as before that, it was going nowhere. :)

  • Anonymous

    Source Code is excellent. What I loved – but what you didn’t mention, Carson – was the sense of sadness and injustice over how the government has used this poor young man – it was really poignant, like Robocop poignant. Johnny Got His Gun poignant. All awesome movies.

  • Anonymous

    Thought it was well-written. Story? meth. But I think it will make tons of money.

  • Stylist Mick

    Vagueness is better than beating me over the head with how much you can explain without having to show.

  • Anonymous

    This may have been slow but I liked it. I grew up in the area it takes place in and it gets the tone right. Will be curious to see how it ends up.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05688329158692962476 Wayne

    Slim??? Really? Passsss

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06872780969179149381 martinb

    Moody, dark, atmospheric, depressing, and confusing. I wish writers wouldn’t give similar names. Slim and Sam. I kept getting mixed up.

    Good antagonist, plenty of subtext. I’d say a good example of the genre, but not my cup of tea.

  • PTMaatta

    When I read about this back in March 2008, I was dying to read it. A fellow 27-year-old unknown writer sold a script. Gave me confidence, that maybe I could too.

    Then I read the script, and now I’m positive that I can write as good as this. But, now I just have to find somebody with money and connections to read the damn thing and hope that they like it, because, that’s basically what happened here.

    Brad Ingelsby must have maintained a relationship with somebody at AFI and that was his ticket inside. He got lucky that Leo loved it and BAM!

    Don’t get me wrong, the script was very well written. But I could only handle it 10-20 pages at a time. It was so fucking slow, and… When I think about it… Brad Ingelsby should be called a magician, not a writer, because he distracted Hollywood with his wordy descriptions and southern patois that people didn’t recognize that this is not a great story.

    It reads more like a short novel than a screenplay. By the end of it, I really didn’t give a shit about Slim getting his little farm going or did I even know which character I was supposed to be hating the most.

    Too many characters, too much showy writing, too much trickery. By the end, he fooled those into believing they were reading a masterpiece, but were really under the spell of a con artist.

    He sold them the monorail then skipped town, counting the money.

    At least that’s what I think.

  • Luke

    Also it’s worth noting that this sold right as “No Country For Old Men” was cleaning up at the Oscars.

  • Anonymous

    I just read this and I’m speachless. Probably the best script I’ve ever read. Best script I’ve read that’s been reviewed on this site for sure. And I also have to say that I thought ‘Briggands’ was crap. Serious crap. Nothing even happens in that script for 50+ pages! A 50 page first act? I really cannot see a single thing that poeple like about that script.

    Anyway, keep on keepin on, Carson. I’ve agreed with you on almost every other script, excpet Passengers (Keanu).

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  • Anonymous

    As BOTH the 20th anniversary of the Tiennamen Massacre AND the urgently relevant 60th anniversary of the KOREAN WAR are BOTH
    again ‘mysteriously overlooked’ —SCOTT
    seems to have endless time, money and talent
    available for pointless, routine slop
    —like this.

    $$$trange——

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