An excerpt from my script review for IT (2017) which will be available 09/11/17:
4.) Dialogue and Description
With horror, it’s important to build in TENSION.
More importantly, to do so while delivering the opposite outcome than what we’re expecting.
This script accomplished that in an entertaining manner.
Initially, you want to tease your reader, because they know something bad is coming, but you’re going to make them wait on it.
(Just DON’T overdo it.)
Recovering, Georgie scrambles down the steps to THE CELLAR
SHELF. Sifts through junk as fast as he can: a BROKEN
FLASHLIGHT, TURTLE WAX, a bag of colored BALLOONS.
He grabs the BOX OF PARAFFIN near the back of the shelf, and
hurries back up the stairs as we quickly track towards him,
about to pounce. The door slams in our face.
Georgie is in a creepy basement, and we’re expecting something or someone to get him…he runs up the stairs, and we’re following close behind…only to have the door shut in our face.
Nice. “We’re not there yet,” the writer’s telling you.
Behind him, the Door to the Mikveh OPENS. A darkness beyond,
seems to beckon him. Stanley steps toward. Like he might
enter. But instead —
He SLAMS the door shut. Spooked.
Another basement, and another child alone. “Stanley, don’t open the scary door!”
And he doesn’t…but don’t worry, the thought he had a second earlier will come back to haunt him.
A SMALL HAND snatches the Easter Egg from Ben. Startles the
hell out of him. He sees a BOY, 8, disappear down an aisle.
He’s carrying an Easter Egg Basket and wears a Knicker Suit,
as was the style at the beginning of last century.
Ben chases after him.
Loses him in the aisles. But a growing sense of fear as he
rounds the corners. What was that? And that?
Noises. Fade. Shadows. Creep.
Ben finds himself back at the beginning.
Like a dropped egg.
Ben looks over at the stairs. Yolk oozes down a step.
Look what I found, Benny.
From the top, the Boy takes a step down. Only his legs are
visible, the rest of him obscured by the overhang.
He takes another step. Wobbly, like he might fall. A little
more of him is revealed. No basket. So he uses the crook of
his arm for his eggs. Not the best way to transport ‘em and —
One more egg gone.
He takes another step down. Revealing his torso. And then
another step, revealing —
The Boy. Headless. Little wisps of smoke curl up into the
air, coming out of the gaping hole that used to be his neck.
He takes another step and loses the other eggs.
Ben takes off running into the aisles. Boy chases. Ben
screams, running as fast as his fat legs can take him. Until
he runs right into —
Tone and pace.
We don’t have time for everything in the novel, but the “idea” of what Pennywise can do is established in this quick scene.
Did all of that stuff actually happen to Ben? Was Pennywise the boy? Was IT Mrs. Starrett?
Hockstetter takes a couple more steps. Sound of trickling
water, faint noise of distant traffic overhead. And…
…that’s not calliope music is it? For a split second I
thought I heard… Nah, never mind.
I love that last bit.
Hochstetter, like us, will be wondering about that faint music, and this is a creative way to portray the emotion needed to an actor.
Slowly, she begins to reel the tape back in, counting down
the length as it winds back in. 16 feet… 15 feet… 14
feet… AT 13 FEET VISCOUS BLOOD COATS THE TAPE.
Maybe Beverly was just imagining the voices…oh nevermind. There’s a bunch of blood on the tape measure.
Another good examples of maximizing the tension for your audience.
They’ll want blood, but you’ll make them wait for it.
Stanley goes over and pulls out the cord.
That doesn’t do shit.
The reverse of above. We want the crazy Pennywise slide show to end, and pulling the electric cord will do that, right?
A tune begins:
All around the mulberry bush, the monkey chased the weasel,
the monkey thought it was all in good sport…
Richie looks over. Sees a JACK-IN-THE-BOX. A familiar clown
painted on the side. Its handle slowly turns and —
Richie flinches. We all do. But nothing happens. In fact, the
handle begins to turn again. Song starts over.
The clown will pop out at the end, right? Right?!
Sorry Richie, you and the audience will just have to wait for it, terror building with each lap around the mulberry bush…
Memorable description isn’t a bad thing, especially if you’re creating whitespace while doing so.
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