An excerpt from my script review for Cabin Fever 2 (2009) which will be available 05/11/20:
1.) Marketability of the Idea
Right off the bat, know nothing about this script aside from the Cap’n suggesting I read the script to the sequel over the original.
But that lends a lot to this section in that it was a sequel, to a decently profitable first film.
Judging by the brief research I did into the original, it captured the idea that we’re trying to drive home during most of these quarantine reviews…
Low budget. Horror. Thriller.
The reason being twofold.
First, horror is generally in demand regardless of current trends. Second, and may be especially important should we end up going the recession route after this quarantine, shooting for “low budget” widens the potential customer base you can sell a project to.
This second installment of the franchise, and we’ll get to the numbers shortly, was more “low budget” than “contained”.
What’s the difference?
“Contained” generally refers to a single location or two, and keeps those locations simple.
For instance, take the logline of the original film:
Five college graduates rent a cabin in the woods and begin to fall victim to a horrifying flesh-eating virus, which attracts the unwanted attention of the homicidal locals.
That’s a single location hence a “contained” horror thriller.
(Full disclosure, I have not read the original script nor seen the original film so unsure if they stick to that single cabin.)
Compare that to sequel.
A remote wooded road. A spring water bottling facility. A high school. Several residential houses. A diner. And finally a strip club.
None of these are “exotic” locations, and mostly easy to come by in the various towns across the western world, but there are more than a single location or two.
So it’s important to understand the difference, especially when pitching the project.
Similar to writing characters, can you eliminate any unnecessary locations in your script, or combine some?
If you’re already in a diner, do we need a scene in a high school cafeteria? If there’s a group of students at one person’s house and they go to pick up another student elsewhere, can we just set everything in one of the houses?
This sort of revising makes your script stronger, story certainly, but where you can generalize and limit locations you also reduce the cost of production. When done properly both aspects are appealing.
And it’s understood how reducing/combining strengthens your story, right?
The whole “show us, don’t tell us” only works if your characters are experiencing things that build your plot and add conflict. Having us just following the cast around Anytown, USA isn’t story so much as a boring field trip.
(Looks like it was a cold reception for this straight to video release.)
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