An excerpt from my script review for Shut In which will be available 02/14/22:

2.) Plot Stability

As I mentioned above, this script was an excellent example of a contained horror thriller.

In fact, what the writer did really well was make the situations and reactions realistic.

(Or as realistic as you can in a movie.)

For instance, one of the things that bugs us in horror movies is that characters make some of the most asinine decisions for the simple reason of they are in a movie and need to do so to move the story forward.

Here, I was led to believe we were taking that route (on more than one occasions), only to have Jessica react in a completely rational way that I was almost proud of.

She’s still a lady boarded up in a pantry, which makes her desperate sure, but she’s thinking on the fly by doing things that make sense, not flaking out and putting herself, or her children, in more danger.

One of the other tricks employed in a contained setting is making each and every detail you cite early on tie-in as a later problem (or solution) for the character.

This script does exactly that, with each of the things we see in the intro playing a part later in the story.

A hole in the front porch…

The leak under the upstairs bathtub…

Nana’s Bible that Jessica ignores for most of the story…

And this is important, because when you’re truly writing in a contained environment you’re not going to have the freedom of plot devices to work with you would in a wide open setting.

(Which is why you should entertain writing a contained script, if only as an exercise to improve your overall writing.)

What made this a “horror” for me wasn’t Jessica being stuck in the pantry, but the fact that by her being in there her four-year-old daughter is now responsible for taking care of her baby boy.

And we’ve seen how she treats her dolls.

(Okay, this one takes a bit of suspended disbelief.)

Being a parent, I can only imagine each and every sound playing into my paranoia, which is a good thing because your audience will empathize with her.

My single, minor criticism of the script is that I felt it took its time getting to the “problem” when only a 98 page script.

After 10 pages in I began to wonder if the writer wasn’t stalling, knowing Jessica couldn’t be in the pantry for too long without running out of things to do and boring the audience.

Luckily a page or two later things start to get going.

I’m going to jump into some spoiler territory here in a few, so I urge you to stop here.

As a type of script we consistently urge you to write, this is worth taking a look at.

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