My apologies for the unannounced schedule change.
If you’re following along in your books, you’ll see today was supposed to be William Goodrich’s Shutter Me.
As I mentioned, we’re going to be getting stricter on the synopsis thing as you need to know how to do one, and despite what Roy thinks, it makes the review easier for readers who haven’t read the script.
Since Will didn’t add one in time I decided to take a look at Brenton’s third project on our site. Mostly because he’s following along and participates actively on the site. (Refresher, he also wrote Ass Kicker and Life Sucks and then You Die.)
Albino Crows by Brent Lonkey
Logline: A small town deputy sheriff and his waitress girlfriend get their worlds turned upside down with the arrival of a leather clad, muscle car driving lunatic.
Brad was the town’s high school football star, now he’s the town’s deputy sheriff. Sindy is Brad’s longtime girlfriend. They’re high school sweethearts, but she grows tired of the small town she lives in.
Their relationship becomes even more strained once the arrival of AZ, the leader of a muscle car gang named The Albino Crows, storms into town.
For Sindy and AZ it’s love at first sight. AZ is dangerous, sarcastic, brutal and most likely a psychopath.
He and his gang stir up trouble with the locals and the law. Brad gets even more jealous of AZ once Sindy leaves him for the gearhead.
Brad gives AZ and his gang an ultimatum, leave town or get arrested. But AZ isn’t going to leave that easily. He makes plans to leave with Sindy, offering her, her longtime dream of finally going to Hollywood. Needing to think about it, AZ gives her a couple of days to come to a decision.
While Sindy is thinking it over, Brad is trying his best to move on, finding solace in a new relationship. As the deadline comes, AZ and his gang set a trap. They want to teach Brad a little lesson, beating him half to death.
A change in plans leaves Sindy upset. Now going to Mexico instead of California, she refuses to leave with AZ, forcing him to turn the car over; she gets out and walks away. Furious, AZ backs his car into reverse, running her down, killing her.
When Brad wakes from his coma, he learns of Sindy’s death and vows revenge. He hunts them down, armed with a sawedoff shotgun, killing them off one by one.
Let’s get to it.
1.) Can we visualize the description?
Now for those of you who checked out my previous review for Brenton (Life Sucks), you’ll see I gave him high marks there for this question.
Our standards have changed a bit, and not because we’re trying to be snotty (maybe Roy is), but because you really need to set a unique tone to distinguish yourself as a writer.
Think of it as being borderline cocky.
Now, Brenton’s description read fine, and minus two places where he went to 5+ lines in one block, it wasn’t bad.
The problem is that a lot of it felt very matter of fact.
An example that stood out the most from page 60:
Benjamin kicks open the door to a small decaying house.
AZ is first to walk in. The rest of the crows follow.
The place his falling apart. An old burnt couch rests on its
side, in the middle of the room.
AZ walks over to an old smashed out TV. He picks it up and
shows the guys.
As Roy has said, we’re writers, so we should feel free to express detailed images via our words so we’re not just seeing things, but feeling them.
A rotten door explodes into splinters and mold as it’s kicked open.
AZ enters to survey the gang’s new abode.
The room’s decor is the night after a college house party meets fall-out zone.
A smashed out TV catches AZ’s attention and he raises it over his head.
But again, something BETTER. And Brenton’s one of the people who can do it better, especially having reviewed three of his scripts on this site.
One bit that I thought was good, and hoped he’ll go back and carry the feel of that throughout the rest is on page 7:
They rev up their muscle cars, speed away in a fury of dust and testosterone.
That was good, and I felt like I was there, not just watching it on a screen.
5 out of 10 points.
2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?
Format was fine.
Borderline too many typos though towards the end, so a good grammar check would be worthwhile.
10 out of 10 points.
3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?
Dialogue was another problem.
Like my previous review of his work, there was a lot of talking in this script.
I don’t think it was nearly as bad in Crows as it was in Life Sucks, but the MAJOR problem here was that it lacked TENSION.
Especially between AZ and Brad. Their relationship was the biggest problem in the script.
The playful tension was there between AZ and Sindey, but other than that a lot of the dialogue just felt hollow.
What you gonna do to me?
Hold your fuckin’ horses, Old Man.
We’ll get to you in a minute.
Benjamin, get your fuckin’ ass back
Billy, why don’t you come on over
What we got goin’ on over there?
This old guy shoved a gun in AZ’s
You are so fucked, Old Man.
How we comin’ along in there,
Now I took out the description, but the dialogue felt like it was wasting time, not creating tension.
This scene is supposed to establish the Crows’ ruthless demeanor (and it does at the end) but the bit I included here was too much like filler.
The apple part should happen earlier, or a brief glimpse into something else (the other fellas pulling knives and smiling maybe), that let’s us know this old man’s in trouble. If you want to draw it out, make sure we’re enjoying it.
I actually think it’d be better if AZ didn’t talk at all, and the others could just know what he’s thinking and form up.
Bit from page 62 the captured my “hollow talk” complaint:
I’m pretty sure that girl has her
eyes set on Hollywood. What do you
think will happen when she realizes
we’re headed the opposite fuckin’
AZ gets off the couch.
Oh my god, you think too much.
And you don’t think at all it
seems. We cheat, we steal, we fuck
dirty hookers and now apparently we
kill. There is no room for
girlfriends in this life we set for
ourselves. I can’t believe I’m
reminding you of this.
AZ walks over to him and punches him in the mouth.
Johnny falls over on some broken boards just lying on the
I don’t need you reminding me of
anything, Johnny. I think it’s you
that has forgotten what we stand
The part right before this was actually pretty good.
The problem with this though is that the dialogue ran to long.
Keeping it shorter and punchy would have a much greater impact.
Streamlining it to something similar from pages 20-22:
It does sound good. Do you cook it
No. I just serve it.
So what would it take for you to
cook me a delicious meal?
A million bucks.
Well, you can be sure I don’t got
that. You see, I don’t believe in
You don’t? Then how were you going
to pay for that burger?
I never said I was going to pay for
If you’re thinkin’ of robbing this
place, just know I got a shotgun
under this counter with your name
I bet you look good with a shotgun.
But how does it have my name on it
when you don’t even know my name?
I know your name.
So you do remember me?
Well, here you and your shotgun are
knowing my name but me not knowing
yours. That doesn’t sound fair,
She points to her name tag.
That’s why we wear these.
The tension was built in a playful manner. I liked this, especially since the reason Sindy knows AZ’s name is because he was gawking at she and her boyfriend doing the nasty, something that most people wouldn’t appreciate. Sindy wants to be with a bad boy. (That’s subtext!)
As you can see in the above good example, FAR TOO MANY “well’s.” These need to go.
In the beginning AZ says “Old Man” in almost every sentence when talking to him. These can go also.
Lastly, with Brad’s dad actually having a decent sized part in this script, can we just name him?
4 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?
I believe Brenton was going for a throwback to old grindhouse flicks. This script definitely had that feel.
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’s like Deathproof, but with a love story. (I walked out of Deathrpoof though, so take THAT Tarantino.)
I will give Brenton credit in that he does seem to have his own style with these scripts. They could be done low budget, and I think that’s a talent a lot of studios are looking for now. This one in particular felt like El Mariachi meets DeathProof.
6 out of 10 points.
6.) Does the script have a hook?
We start out with the Crows being nasty. It was attention grabbing.
As I said, the only problem with it is if the apple bit is going to drag out, more tension needs to be built in.
12 out of 15 points.
7.) Is that hook effective?
After the apple, we’re introduced to the star crossed lovers. That’s good.
Then the crows show up in town and actually bump into these lovers with the leader wanting to steal the girl away.
Again, good, but there needs to be OPPOSING FORCES when Brad and AZ meet.
They’re two alpha males, and part of AZ being himself HAS to be that he shows his interest in Sindy there and she’s confused by it, which Brad can see.
No he sees that losing her is a very real possibility.
This is a pretty big plot point and what will drive the conflict for the rest of the story.
10 out of 15 points.
8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?
Overall the basic plot is there.
Brad vs. AZ
This HAS to be stronger, and I can’t stress that enough.
They need to bump heads at every encounter and it slowly escalating until Brad gets beat up.
Their dialogue especially should be lined with poison, even as AZ smiles and says things complimentary.
She wants to get out of town, I get that.
But having AZ just say, ‘Nope, Mexico,” was kind of cheating.
Sindy should be wondering all along if this guy’s really good for her.
This also helps your plot in what eventually happens to her.
Script of Consequences
Especially for Brad, I think there should be more of his actions that turn tragic later on.
For example, maybe he’s ready to run the plates to search for warrants, when AZ suddenly agrees to leave, only to have the semi driver killed by their driving games.
This would weigh hard on him.
When Sindy leaves maybe he can finally agree to let her go, thinking it’s best for her, only to have it end the way it does.
Him trying to be the nice guy with the results being tragic also enforces what he does at the end.
I don’t like how AZ is so untouchable.
For instance on page 16 one of the crew (Ben I think) gets in a fight with a tough biker. He’s losing, but suddenly with one arm tied behind his back he has a glass jaw.
The guy should still be tough and give the Crows trouble. Maybe he even comes after AZ.
Same thing with the guy in the cafe. AZ strong arms him like he’s a child.
Be much cooler if AZ gets punched in the face, then stands up laughing through a bloody nose. (Or perhaps the cowboy even pulls a gun on AZ while he’s busy robbing the other folks in the cafe.)
It’s a movie, and people should stand up more to tyranny.
4 out of 10
9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?
This script has potential. Strengthening the plot will help with that dramatically.
One major flaw? I didn’t know Brad was the protagonist until the end when he goes after AZ.
This is a pretty big issue and I’m not sure how to address it. Maybe take some of the focus off AZ, since he really felt like the main character we were rooting against.
Another problem I think an audience reader will have is at the end.
If Brad truly loves Sindy, he can’t spend two nights with Maggie.
One’s fine, as it brings him out of his stupor, but he has to come to the realization that he loves Sindy and will do anything for her happiness, even let her go.
Going this route makes the ending more believable and stronger.
5 out of 10 points.
Brenton wrote another good script, but it’s also one that now needs a good polish.
The dialogue needs to be better so it doesn’t feel hollow, and adds more drama.
After that, interactions between Brad and AZ should be beefed up to allow for not only a more believable story, but a stronger one.
Total 66 out of 100 points.