An excerpt from my script review for Those Who Walk Away which will be available 02/22/22:
The Cinema of the Unsettling.
Part of me wanted to cut right to Gabe’s video.
However, following the pacing of this project, it’s better to start the clip from the beginning, as it better displays my criticism of the script.
(A lot of talking up front, then we cut to disjointed shocking visuals until the end.)
What I read was essentially a story written by Gabe Lewis.
This review from Rotten Tomatoes summed it up best:
“Just because a character mentions writing a paper about Ursula K. LeGuin’s classic short story “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” doesn’t mean that this self-serious horror movie carries the same level of philosophical insight.” – Josh Bell, Crooked Marquee
The storytelling felt like it was trying to elevate itself without the writers putting in the required effort.
Having said that, it wasn’t for me, but may be for other fans of the genre.
There was a story, Phillip and Avery tricking Max into taking Phillip’s place with the It Follows version in this story being Rotcreep.
But once we get to the “horror” parts, the story falls apart and turns into a series of unsettling and creepy visuals that are presented simply for shock value.
To further “cheat” their way forward, the writers cite other works inside the piece…
For instance, twice is mentioned Luis Buñuel and his Un Chien Andalou, a 1929 French-Spanish surrealist film.
Listen, you can cite whatever you like in your script, it’s your piece of art.
However, I tend to argue against including these types of comparisons (even modern day ones) as it takes your reader out of the story and directly compares you to a produced project that you may not live up to.
In this case I had zero clue what was being referenced, which most of the time I simply ignore and move on, but here it was almost as if the writers were blatantly ridiculing me.
By including this specific film reference you have two outcomes, either the reader will know the reference and judge your work against it, or you’ll alienate the reader and come off trying to sound superior.
Think about that second outcome for a moment…
When has the insult,”Oh my gosh, you don’t know X,” ever won someone over to your side.
That’s like arguing politics and religion at Thanksgiving.
But I looked it up, and for this specific instance, Max uses a conveniently placed razor blade to slit one of his eyes…why?
Well because he’s pulling a Un Chien Andalou moment, of course!
Employing techniques like this don’t build a good story, and there’s more creative ways to honor your industry role models.
The other portion that came off as rather “elitist” was the continuous shot directions.
Listen, this isn’t 1917 by any means, so if you as the writer-director, want to make the stylistic choice of a continuous shot, by all means go ahead.
Just don’t beat your reader over the head with it.
Lastly, don’t try to be something you’re not in regards to your writing.
As I read, this script seemed to be more concerned with establishing visuals a la Guillermo del Toro (if shot by Martin Scorsese) than it did about creating a world and narrative that I want to be invested in.
At the end of the day, just write a compelling and engaging story.
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