An excerpt from Reals’ script review for Beau is Afraid which will be available 05/07/23:
What Needs Work
The Title – Like we discussed with Renfield, this title does nothing to interest me. It doesn’t catch my attention, it doesn’t give a good sense as to what the film is about, and it doesn’t even make me curious enough to find out.
That First Page – If it was not my job to review this one, I would have put the script aside from the very first page.
It is all chunky blocks of description, and read more like a novel than a screenplay.
I mean, it took me several tries to get through THE VERY FIRST PAGE of the script. That is a huge red flag for readers, and I sincerely recommend you take a look at this first page as a dire warning of WHAT NOT TO DO.
Character Descriptions – This is how we are introduced to Beau:
BEAU (40), an extremely anxious but pleasant-looking black man
What is this? This may be a bit harsh, but it feels like how a first-time screenwriter would introduce their protagonist.
Also, what is “a pleasant-looking…” about? Why do we need to know that? What does that do for our understanding of the character, his situation, or his world?
And then, the next character introduction is this:
THERAPIST (40s), handsome and charismatic
And, I have to mention it, the female characters are introduced as such:
SANDY (23), a very cute girl in a bright outfit
These are all terrible character descriptions, and you can do much better.
Strange Flashbacks – I believe these were meant for comedic purposes, but they didn’t work and weren’t funny.
Oh my God! Flavio, the guy down the hall, got bitten in the shower by a Brown Recluse.
BRIEF, VIOLENT FLASHBACK: A SHIVERING MAN, drenched in sweat and pale as death, is ushered on a gurney by TWO PARAMEDICS. The Man’s wife chases after him, weeping.
Why did we need this scene? What did it add? It wasn’t funny, it didn’t add anything to the story, and it could have been cut completely.
Beau – Beau is a bland character. He’s just an awkward scaredy-cat with no real depth. We’re supposed to care about his story and his situation, but he never does anything remotely interesting and the story is a slog as a result.
If you’re going to name your script / film after your protagonist, they had better be a pretty compelling focus character, otherwise your story will suffer.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? – It seems like this script really wanted to be a fun, quirky story like the great O Brother, Where Art Thou?
However, it is not. Beau is not fun. It’s not quirky in a humorous way. And it has no real purpose.
It’s really just a tedious journey with an unlikable main character.
Beau’s Balls – Ari Aster must’ve thought this joke was hilarious: that Beau has big testicals because he has not ever had sex.
I guess sex killed his dad… or that’s what his mom told him, so he’s afraid of sex.
The joke about Beau’s balls wasn’t funny the first time, and it’s not funny the next time we hear it, either. Or the time after that. Or the time after that.
Purpose – I think the point of this script is just to be as anxiety-inducing as possible. It’s not so much a story as an excuse to put Beau in increasingly uncomfortable situations.
Like the scene on Pages 17 – 18 when Beau is trying to pay for a drink with his credit card and the card is declined, so he has to count out some change while the cashier yells at him.
It kind of reminds me of Uncut Gems – that Adam Sandler movie that was one of the most unpleasant theater experiences I’ve ever had due to the fact that it was two hours and fifteen minutes of people yelling at each other.
This style of filmmaking might be praised by critics, but I find it irritating and lazy. You’re not telling me a story, you’re just having me sit through a shouting-match. Even worse, it’s a shouting-match I paid to watch.
The End – Yes, if you weren’t totally done with this stupid story before, we get this wonderful moment of brilliance on Page 112:
(SPOILERS, obviously, but really, I would recommend reading this, as it’s all you really need to know about the script)
Beau, paralyzed by fear, sees a BOX OF MATCHES beside him. He slowly reaches for the box, and with a shaking hand (after several awkward tries) he STRIKES A MATCH TO ILLUMINATE…
A MASSIVE, WRETCHED PENIS MONSTER. It rests on two giant testicles, and its HEAD (shaped like the head of a penis) bears a wide, FANGED MOUTH and two BEADY BLACK EYES. Jutting out from its torso (the equivalent of a penis shaft) are two GRASPING, SPIKED FORELEGS (like the raptorial legs of a PRAYING MANTIS). This might sound funny, but it looks absolutely horrifying.
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