Hi all.

Another week come and gone. Before you hit that “honey do” list, let’s spend some time talking ZOMBIES!

99 Pages of Zombies by TheKyleShow

Logline: After a series of strange lights are spotted above town, a virus breaks out an a Father must race across town to save his Son and estranged wife.

Let’s get to it.

1.) Can we visualize the description?

Alright, taking a first glance, you’ll know it’s too long on the description.

Huge blocks of text everywhere.

Kyle admitted such over at Reddit. I’ll be taking points off of course, as A LOT of fat needs trimmed, but there’s also some cool nuggets in the script that stood out.

These should be broken up, and a similar style used throughout the entire draft. It’ll be an instant HUGE improvement.

Page 5:

The snow is falling hard now. It’s almost a blizzard, and dead silent. You can almost hear the snow flakes hit the ground. The front door slowly cracks open and a beam of
light strikes out the front door, followed by a flashlight, a shot gun, and Rick.

I liked these images a lot, but again it should be broken down and kept much shorter.

Snow flakes hit the ground with a heavy silence.

The front door opens a crack.

A sliver of light.

Out peeks the barrel of a shotgun…

then a flashlight…

and finally Rick.

Something like this (hopefully better), but as I said it takes two great images but adds a bit of drama to it.

(One thing to watch is you don’t need to tell us it’s snowing as we enter each scene. Say it’s snowing, then only tell us when it stops, or incorporate the snow into the story. Avoid saying “it’s snowing” at the beginning of each scene.)

Page 32:

The MECHANICAL BUZZ from before has returned with a menacing vengence.

Another good one, but shorten:

The MECHANICAL BUZZ returns with a vengeance.The Man is gaining speed. 15 feet away. 10 feet.
BANG!

Break it up, and add some more:

The Man is gaining speed.

15 feet away.

10 feet away.

Ricks scrambles to get his rifle off his shoulder.

5 feet away.

BANG!

Even the way it was originally written, I could see that, and it was really good. (That’s why I made a note.)

Overall though, there’s a lot of dialogue that needs to be cut out. Never say “we see” or “us” in the description, always what the characters see, as WE’LL be living through THEM.

After you trim it down, look for other places to add or break up for dramatic effect. It’s a zombie movie and we should be startled pretty often, so write those moments in.

5 out of 10 points.

2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?

The actual format was pretty good.

I’d say 99 pages for a zombie story is pretty bang on.

One thing I took note of format wise, was the transitions. Fade to and the like can be left out. Just stick to scene headings.

(Did I ever mention I paid for notes a LONGGGG time ago, from a guy who won an academy award for a documentary, and he told me I should have “fade out” at the end of every scene? The guy was a goof, as he also tried to get ME to PAY HIM to produce it.)

The biggest problem here though were the typos. Lot’s of ’em.

I believe Kyle said it was a rough draft, but there were times I was curious if he had spell-check turned off.

Pyjamas should be pajamas.
To instead of too.
Eluminates instead of illuminates.

Just a lot of bad spelling, but also grammar mistakes that need to be edited out. Now I won’t take full points off even though there were a lot of mistakes, but remember this is THE EASIEST thing to fix in a script.

4 out of 10 points.

3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?

There wasn’t a lot of exposition, other than Rick’s family troubles.

Some of the stuff felt hokey but not horrible. Nothing really stood out either, though.

As this is a rough draft, I think leave the dialogue alone for right now.

Since it wasn’t bad, but wasn’t great either…

7 out of 10 points.

4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium chosen in which to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?

As I said, the description that stood out was easily stuff for the big screen. A lot of the zombie stuff played rather well.

Did a trailer easily form in my mind? Sure.

10 out of 10 points.

5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s ideas, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?

It was a zombie story, and one that was cool because it incorporated a bit of a UFO type twist, but I think there still needs to be more sudden scares to stand out.

The UFO angle was never fully worked out, so I’m confused if Kyle knew exactly how to handle his own story.

5 out of 10 points.

6.) Does the script have a hook?

The logline is good. Tells us exactly what to expect.

The opening is decent, but I wondered what happened to the deer. I assume Rick shot it, but we go right to the bunker. If it was just to give us a pretty scene it needs to go, and just open with the bunker.

We don’t need so much detail about the house (at least not all at once) and there should be more of an earlier sign of Rick’s drinking.

The part with James is good, as it quickly establishes what’s going on there.

Overall it was decent as we learn Rick lives alone and is paranoid (bunker). He’s also separated from his wife (phone call), now all that’s missing is the bit to show us he’s an alcoholic (insert empty beer cans).

9 out of 15 points.

7.) Is that hook effective?

Here’s the problem.

With a short script (and again I argue that it needs to stay that way) we need to get to the zombies a lot faster.

The deer part is good, especially as it sets Rick and James apart, but they need to get into town sooner.

Personally, I think you’d save time keeping James with Rick. Maybe Shannon calls and is too sick to pick him up. This way we jump right into town the scene after they both spend the night in the bunker (at least they’d both be in there following this idea).

You lose the smoke signals (which could be incorporated in some other way, or maybe James uses the knife to reflect the light in some sort of signal later on). The way things were left on the phone I thought for sure James was dead, then found it completely convenient that he was alive and okay, with Shannon not yet a full zombie.

Main idea here, get to the goods faster while setting up tension between James and Rick.

8 out of 15 points.

8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?

Sort of, plot-wise, but we need to remember this is a ZOMBIE MOVIE.

I can remember my first entertainment brush with zombies. It wasn’t a movie. It was playing Resident Evil 2 that a friend let me borrow. (Dead Space is a more recent example.)

The entire time I was playing, I kept looking over my shoulder. Then there were the moments that made me JUMP in my seat as a zombie grabbed me from nowhere and the game played a stinger note.

That’s what’s missing from this script.

Rick and company have guns, so zombies need to pop out from around corners, right in front of the flashlights in the stairwell, ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE constantly challenging the characters.

Instead of scenes like Page 53:

Rick creeps up the stairs with his flashlight tucked
under the rifle he aims infront of him.

Rick comes up to floor 14, his beam is cast upon a MAN
smashing his body against the Floor 14 door. The MAN
turns to face Rick – BAM – A hole is blown out of the
middle of the Man who flies backwards.

POUNDING suddenly pours from the door at Floor 14.

How about:

Rick creeps up the stairs with his flashlight tucked
under the rifle he aims in front of him.

Rick comes up to floor 14, his beam is cast upon a MAN
smashing his body against the Floor 14 door.

The MAN turns to face Rick –

BAM.

A hole is blown out of the middle of the Man who flies backwards.

Silence.

Charles and James continue up the stairs–

SCREAM.

HAND grabs James’ ankle. He struggles against it and falls.

Rick turns the beam of the flashlight to see a Lipless Woman.

She HISSES at the light.

Her head EXPLODES and Rick turns the beam on Charles, gun barrel smoking.

Charles
You’re welcome.

James sighs as Rick dusts him off.

They continue their ascent.

Again, this doesn’t have to be it exactly (as always one thing I know is our readers are superior to myself), but we need more of these “out of nowhere” moments that will scare us as readers and translate to scares for the audience. People like scary stories because in some deranged part of our minds we love to be scared…in safety.

James vs. Rick

Another reason I’m a fan of James staying with Rick is because there needs to be more of an arc in their relationship.

James is 8 and his parents are split up. Rick is the reason he doesn’t have a happy family, and more importantly it was his alcoholism that did it. HE’S STILL DRINKING. I like this idea, but it should be a HUGE problem between he and his son.

Rick should man up when this crisis hits, but still struggle with wanting to drink. James should convince Rick that they need to go save Shannon, and in fact JAMES should retell the story of how Rick met her to convince his father to save his mother. “You’ve always saved mom.”

Then some of the shit they see in town, and getting to the convenience store, Rick should really want a drink, and struggles with that urge.

Also at this point, I like Charles and what happens to him, but he should take more convincing to leave. He goes from, “I’m waiting this out,” to, “Sure, I’ll abandon the safety of this store,” too quickly.

Rick needs to get the point across that he’s a dead duck if he stays put.

Lastly, the group needs to be in more danger. There’s snow on the ground so that should play more into it. It’d be slippery, and especially when driving fast (like Rick does getting out of town). Having Rick side swipe some zombies would be a nice touch, maybe as he takes a corner too quickly.

Also running to and from the truck in the apartment building, they need to be attacked, and rather than having them blast their way out, there should be some sort of clever plot twists where they outsmart the zombies, since they’re zombies after all.

In a horror movie NO ONE EVER does things unchallenged.

The basic framework is almost all there, now it’s time to flush it out and beef it up.

4 out of 10

9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?

Zombie movies do well, especially if we’re spending an hour or more running from them.

The one thing that’ll piss a reader/audience off is the ending. Rick just gives up. He can’t do that without a good excuse.

A SIMPLE way to fix that is he takes off the mask. Then coughs. Those last few times he wakes to check on James and Shannon he coughs harder. This way when they come for him at the end it doesn’t matter since he’ll be a zombie anyway, then they’re together forever as the perfect undead family. (Something to think about and a unique twist on the genre since most people kill themselves rather than turning into undead minions.)

That wasn’t even my biggest problem though.

I kind of liked that the zombies were linked to the UFO lights, but were they? The mist that was odd down in the town seemed like it could have been responsible for it.

Then at the end, this wasn’t even explained other than a quick note in an army tent. The UFO/Zombie connection needs to be developed more, or the UFO angle dropped entirely, since there’s no pay off and a lot of set up with the lights and the ground shaking. Audiences will be FURIOUS about this.

Small things

Rick knows Charles is sick, but NO FATHER would leave their son with him. Sure you trust Charles, but when he turns, he’s not Charles anymore. That part really bugged me.

The other minor thing was the pond scene at the end. Didn’t the ice just melt the night before? It would take more than a day to make ice thick enough that only bullets will crack it. Another toss up between having a good scene and making it believable that the bright lights burn things (cause if they’re burning trees then they’re definitely melting ice).

5 out of 10 points.

Conclusion

Kyle mentioned in his comment on the script links that this was the first draft and his first script.

That’s really good, as this is an excellent rough draft, especially for an early attempt at screenwriting.

Easy things to fix will be breaking up description, correcting grammar, and those few other format mistakes, but the story still has some work that needs done.

We need the characters to be in constant danger, while also dealing with drama between themselves. Rick needs to beat alcohol, James needs to accept his dad, and Charles needs to be more torn up about his wife and then finally deal with her.

Get all those things done (which is doable with work), put in a few more stinger scares, and this story will be an excellent piece to query.

Total 57 out of 100 points.

6 COMMENTS

  1. one thing you might really want to think about changing is the main character’s name from Rick to really anything else. if you’re set in a zombie apocalypse and your main character’s name is Rick and he’s accompanied by an 8 year old kid. people are just going to say, oh yeah, like in The Walking Dead.

    or i guess you could pitch it to The Asylum as another mockbuster, calling it The Walking of the Dead. actually, that’s not that bad…

    • Oh, this brings up a good point.

      DISCLAIMER – I’ve never watched the Walking Dead. (Meant to but the wife hates scary shows, so never got around to this one.)

  2. Thanks a lot for the review! This is going to help tremendously with the upcoming rewrite. You certainly touched on a lot of issues I wanted to address I just wasn’t sure how to address them. This certainly points me in the right direction.

    With the name thing; I am debating changing the name Rick because of the obvious walking dead thing. This was the first thing my friend said to me when I was telling him about the main character. In a lot of stories I have developed I seem to alternate between names I really like. For instance I have used the name Charles in two other pieces I am in the midst of plotting out.

    All feedback is certainly appreciated. If anyone wants to contact me for any reason my email is kyleladwig@gmail.com or you can find me on twitter @TheKyleShow

    Again, thanks a lot for taking the time to look at my script!

  3. @Walker

    I’m depressed you didn’t give me any props for this tweet:

    99 pages of zombies in a script, 99 pages of ZOMBIES. Needs more scares, but framework is there, 99 pages of zombies.

  4. Not to mention the laughs people are gonna have over two character named Rick and James. Get it? Rick James.

    Personally I hate it when characters have lazily pedestrian names. I remember when Tom Cruise played two Jacks in one year: Jack Reacher in the eponymous film, and Jack Harper in Oblivion. Insert eye roll and weary grunt.

    What I like to do (and this may sound a little odd) is browse through baby name websites. I like to use original names which aren’t too alien, so I usually scroll down to the bottom of top 100 or 1000 lists. I do this because I can only ever start writing once I have the right name for each character from the get go. Hope this helps people with similar naming problems.

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