Sorry we have been quiet in the past week! Thank you for checking out this week's Feedback Friday review. This week, Lanny Helton shares the first 10 pages of his screenplay Case #3756.
Case #3756 by Lanny Helton.
Reviewed by Erman Baradi
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Logline: An unlikely pair of seasoned cops are caught in a serial killer’s diabolical scheme to humiliate their department and kidnap the object of his affection.
Thank you for submitting your screenplay for review. It is not very often I get a chance to read a psychological thriller so it was a breath of fresh air to get one. Sometimes they can get a little convoluted and confusing, but the first 10 pages of Case was definitely an enjoyable read.
Remember to throw in a cover page so that we remember who the reader is and what we are reading! Looking at your logline, what catches my attention is that the two leads are “unlikely” partners, meaning that even though they share a common goal (catching a serial killer) we can expect their personalities to clash, increasing the drama that can cost the entire department. Also, the antagonist has two different problems for the police? Which one will the department care more about: their reputation or the damsel in distress?
I like how we are immediately introduced to the villain in the first scene after painting the seediness of the story’s setting. The character himself has this Patrick Bateman-esque quality to him in that he comes across as a normal guy before surprising us with a few quirks that make us suspicious. He seems like an everyman at first, which is more effective in this instance than a masked lunatic who hides in the shadows. He is out in the open and among us. Here, he has a rendezvous with a prostitute at a motel, which is nothing out of the ordinary until the camera comes into play. He’s not there for sex, instead recording their conversation. Things get odd here and we know things won’t end well for the prostitute! You provide the killer with a sense of voyeurism, relevant to today’s obsession with iPhones, Vine videos, web chats, and this can definitely work in evoking paranoia amongst the audience. The dialogue between the killer, Billy, and the clueless prostitute is pitch perfect as we are sensing a danger that the victim does not, and the payoff is a sudden, violent rage that is contradicted by Billy’s cool manner after the murder. He is the perfect murderer! I suggest extending the dialogue a bit more so we get insight into the way Billy functions –his mannerisms, quips, and especially what makes him reach his breaking point to finally go in for the kill.
By the way, I noticed this in Billy’s character introduction as well as for the other characters. To really sell a role to an actor you can have witty descriptions in a sentence or less. For example, instead of just mentioning Billy’s name and age you can name drop a memorable pop culture icon such as Christian Bale’s Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, some type of reference to go by.
We are then introduced to one of the cops who cannot sleep, troubled by a case similar to the opening scene. He watches a VHS tape in which a killer captures a murder on tape. This is apparently now a theme for the story and I would like to see how it is handled in terms of paralleling the modern technology-driven world. We capture moments big and small and immediately share them to the world. In some cases we are anonymous. By the way, I didn’t quite catch this but is the story set in the 90’s or in the present? I noticed the tape watched by Officer Johnson in this scene was filmed in 1991, but I wasn’t sure if he was watching an old case. And maybe the killer himself is an old school VHS aficionado?
The next few pages introduce more characters. We have Special Agent Corbet (Andrea), the other half of the unlikely duo. It’s always refreshing to see co-ed cop duos. As Officer Johnson (Kevin) is thrown into this partnership, we immediately get that Andrea is a strong-willed woman who is probably married to her job and wears the pants in the partnership. In the way we met Officer Johnson (Kevin), I would like to see Andrea with more depth. We had a glimpse into Kevin’s troubled personal life, and here it feels like Andrea simply shows up on screen. My favorite movie characters are the ones you think you know in the first few seconds. Think Lethal Weapon when we are introduced to Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs. He is drinking, holding a gun while looking at a picture of his (presumably) dead wife. He says nothing in the entire scene but the expression on his recognizably depressed face paints his backstory for us. So far, Andrea is just a hot agent with a rack…and apparently she has a mouth on her. Still, I look forward to seeing how the new partners interact. Maybe teaming up will affect their egos, especially the older and seemingly burned out Kevin? We also meet Wendy who is trying to find her big break in the newsroom. Hmm, could she be the possible object of Billy’s affection?
I like how we see Billy trying to get an upgrade on his camera. He is insistent on having a good quality camera, which I find to be a nice little quirk for a maniac! Showing him interacting with society has that Ariel Castro effect. The killer can be anyone.
Lanny, I enjoyed the first 10 pages of your script. Page 11 has evident formatting errors that can easily be fixed, but I’m sure you tossed it in there in order for the reader to understand the plot point in which Kevin’s old partner is reassigned. Depending on how the whole voyeurism angle is played, I believe you have a serial killer significant to the times. I hope to read more!
If anyone is interested in reading the first ten pages of Case #3756, please email me at Erman.Baradi@gmail.com!