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"A Disturbance" by Chris Keaton

Rewrite: 7/11/2009 12:00 AM

Logline: An unhappy man's inability to find peace teaches a young couple that death often imitates life.

Genre: Horror

Cast Size: 4

Production Status: Available (Please contact the author to negotiate the rights)

Contest: It's Better to Give than to Receive (Dec. 2008)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was written and paced very nicely. The story was pretty cool too and since I manage a hotel, I could visualize all of this very easily and know for a fact that it could be filmed on a very low budget, if not no budget at all. Overall, I enjoyed this one for it's dark atmosphere, solid twist ending as well as the fact that it's so filmable and familiar to me. My only questions are... who was Eric saying Good Evening to? Could he actually see the ghost of William in the hallway? And who was William talking to on the phone? Anyone? A ghost hotel operator? Minor details, but those were the only things I was wondering about when I got finished.

Calvin Peat (Level 4)

This script has very good characterisation of the main character, William.

The twist is unexpected but not that great. What is more interesting is the main character, whose grumpiness not only feels believable, but is also quite amusing. This script would have worked better as just a comic sketch with the character getting more and more annoyed.

"WILLIAM CRENZEL (58) a stuffy angry man, sits at a small table" should be "WILLIAM CRENZEL (58), a stuffy, angry man, sits at a small table".

"A happy young couple ERIC AND MARY TOZIER (late 20s) pass William laughing." should be "A happy young couple, ERIC AND MARY TOZIER (late 20s), pass William, laughing."

"William sits up in the bed" should be "William sits up the in the bed,"

"seeps through the wall" should be "seep through the wall".

"The ringing stops and so does" should be "The ringing stops and so do".

"Undeterred William" should be "Undeterred, William".

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

The descriptions of William in his room, eating dinner and so on, are very long and rambling, even though you've split up the text (which is good) I guess it's just that what he's doing is dull, so it must be difficult to write it in an exciting way. The answer...make the whole thing more interesting?

The ending, however - the twist - WAS interesting. It's a shame that it took so darned long to get to it!

It's a good storyline - your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make the lead up to the twist more attention grabbing.

CarrieAnn Lee (Level 3)

The traveling salesman in hell. Wait a minute isn't being a traveling salesman hell. Poor William, he was probably bothered by real life and his life in the afterworld. Some guys never get a break. I liked your little twist but, your opening set up and some of your other descriptions, cuased me to drift a little (attention wise). You could have set us up with a third of your intro. Just tell us what we need to know, and not what you think we need to know. "Less is more" in the script world. You are a solid writer though.

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)

Clever story but seems a bit long with all the detail of William's actions.

You do a good job of building suspense, I really wanted to see what was going on in the other room. But I think you give it away a little too soon. His last words on the call to the front desk should be simply "What?!" As soon as you say the room is empty, the reader knows what is going to happen. The reveal that a man died there should not be stated until the door swings open to see the mess - the you got us.

I thought some of the dialogue was a bit stiff, unless this is in Britain (Good evening. I can hear them quite clearly - seem a bit formal).

All-in-all this was a good job. Think with just a bit of tweeking and streamlining it moves up a notch.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

That was a very good ghost story.

I did not see the twist coming and I thought it worked very well. I especially loved how you played with sound in this story. Although, I would suggest pulling out a thesaurus and finding other ways to describe certain things, as there was a bit too much repetition.

Still, the mood here was excellent and this would make a wonderful little short film.

Very well done.

Courtney Love (Level 2)

William the Grouse! I enjoyed his gruffness as opposed to the other people's niceness. I did , however, enjoy the ending. Sure, it's "different", "twisted", and it's effective. What a twist there! Never saw it coming. I liked Sixth Sense this plays like that one. You're on the right track with this idea! Way to go!

David Birch (Level 5)

high marks for presentation and form...i felt the story was a little out of balance...too much detail in the beginning for what was given to me at the end...all that detail (the usa today, eating vegetables, didn't really add to anything at the could have used it to interject some back story through a phone call, or something like that...or show him checking in...requesting a quiet room...anyway, an easy read...well formatted...thanks for the read...

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

Ha ha ha. Nice way to wrap it up. Took a bit long to get there, but that's alright. The visuals were tight, and you did a good job with Williams character. Good Job. I thought the title could be better however. A little blasé, too general.

Javier Torregrosa (Level 4)

That's a very good story. Well written, well thought out. A nice idea on the living dead next door who aren't actually there but good ol' thieves ransacking the place.

My only lingering thoughts is that it took a while to get to the real story. I suppose that's the build up but other than that, it was a good show.

All the best.

Joel Davis (Level 5)

Interesting take on a ghost story. I liked the characters and the set up, but the pacing felt glacially slow. I think you could have covered the first three pages in just one page, especially because the reader can anticipate the conflict given the newlyweds and the the thin walls, and given yourself more room to develop the characters and build more tension and mystery.

Still, the idea behind the story was great and it works. I'd like to have more details about the hotel and the setting. Is it cheap-o hotel with padlocks on the televisions? A fancy but claustrophobic downtown high-rise hotel? A humid tropical resort?

John Brooke (Level 5)

A haunting film script that moved me rapidly along to it's time zone like ending.

I fell for the 'disturbance' angle and could feel the frustration of William. This is a classic ghost story, and you've told very well. A gap in the time continuum should make an eerily shot film.

Jon Hill (Level 4)

I enjoyed the twist ending, maybe I'm getting old but I didn't see it coming :)

My main criticisms are your descriptive paragraphs are too wordy and that the story takes a while to get going.

Also, when you write about a body being thrown against the wall followed by a scream, I thought that William had witnessed a murder, so it was a bit confusing when he immediately rings reception to complain about the noise.

Jonah Yarden (Level 4)

so were the couple making noise or not? i don't think that point was communicated very well. i liked the man and the manager being framed in the door- it would make a chilling but stylishing ending. williams sterility was a nice touch but for the time spent dwelling on it wasnt used to any great affect, just playing to a certain european visual style. it was an empty artistic gesture, i'm weary of those.

Concept Fair-Good
Title Poor
Story Fair-Good
Characters Fair-Good
Dialogue Poor-Fair

Jose Batista (Level 5)

Great work. Good descriptions and an excellent monologue for the old man. The scenario is one that I consider unlikely because I’ve been on the ‘Eric and Mary’ side of the wall many times, in many hotels, and my wife and I never once received a complaint. That aside, I’ve not stayed in every hotel in America and probably never will, but the scene was hilarious and had me cracking up. The uptight old man was well described and his mannerisms and habits brought the character to life.

My only real complaint, and the reason I gave this script a VG instead of an Excel, is the ending. I mean, this story was going really good and then the end just fizzled out. I was expecting something unexpected, but not a ghost. Everything was going perfect until the Eric’s conversation with the Hotel keep. From there it just dies out. The ending is pretty weak, considering how awesome the script’s pace was. Let me know if you decide on rewriting that last part, as I would love to read it. Very Good work, overall. I liked it.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

I got really wrapped up in your story. You write very cleanly, with nice pacing. At no point did I feel bored with the story, even though it practically all takes place in one room! So, a really great job!

The ending is a nice ghosty twist, but once it's given away by the word "demonic" in the action line, the rest of the ending seemed predictable. I'd encourage you to take out that "demonic" part, because when we cut into the next room and see the young couple happy and asleep we've already pegged William as an otherworldly malefactor.

Your cut into the dark hotel room, which is actually the room next door, was masterful.

-The font looked crisp and clean, but maybe just slightly thinner or somehow different from what I've seen on all the other scripts.
-"grumbles a response": consider actually writing out this dialogue. William's word choice here could tell us something about his personality.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

Creepy good, and I didn't anticipate the ending.

Very good descriptives. Loved the character development. This is tight and intriguing. Good formatting. Good flow. Excellent dialogue.

Very good work.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

Not sure I got it. He was a ghost? But the room was trashed? If he was a ghost, why was he haunting the hotel room? Was it a random thing?

I think this has potential but it needs some focus. Like if they find out that the hotel never rents out that room because it's haunted. And we see what William is doing but then when they open the door the room is intact, or maybe empty or used for storage. Something. You spent a lot of time showing us how neat William was and in the end I don't think it actuall added anything to the story. Why did we need to know that about him? I'd rather see something about his life. Why was he so cranky?

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

I definitely did not see that coming. Wow. Amazing. Excellent. Any other superlatives I can heap on your script? You have them all.

I thought that Eric was going to murder his wife or something like that, because of the body hitting the wall and the demonic tones. I guess you could do this script the exact opposite way round, with them as the ghosts and William as the person, but I liked it this way. It presented the ghost in a more human way, and that was really original and appealing.

I like the beginning, although it is disconcerting to see William's erratic behavior. I can sort of sympathize though, I hate hotels as well, and have similar habitual rituals that I go through. I would introduce the couple earlier, not having them actually meet William, but William watches them kissing in the hallway or something like that. This would be so the couple is introduced to the audience but they don't exchange greetings with a ghost, stretching even my boundaries of reality.

One thing that wasn't clear to me was when he set down the tray outside the room. It took me a while to realize that it was in the hallway.

Really good otherwise.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

Was that supposed to be a ghost story? That is the only explanation I can think of for it. If so, It really didn't work for me. You would have to do some foreshadowing of the ghost. And things like him calling 0 to report the noisy neighbors would have to go. I'm not sure what you intended to say with this but as it stands it's confusing.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

This is great, reminds me a little of Stephen King's 'Room 108', (think that's what it's called) but very enjoyable and I don't have much constructive criticism to offer as it's well written.

The only comment I do have is that I felt the descriptions of William's actions on the first page were a bit too detailed and went on for too long, I realise it sets the scene for the payoff but I do think they could be trimmed.

otherwise, good job.

Neal Barringer (Level 0)

I'll start by saying the title is rather bland. it doesn't really drag me into the story. after finishing page 2, I was sure hoping the story would build into something. I was tired watching/reading about all the little actions that William was taking. overall, I think you wasted alot of space on needless, detailed actions rather than getting to a suspenseful story. but, I did notice your craft was quite well.

Oliver Webb (Level 3)

I give it very good because the twist/reveal was well done. I like the way you wrote it overall. The way you started with William was solid but "plain". Give me more of the "oddness of the situation before the reveal" Your buddy stephen king does it all the time, check out room 213( or something like that). The situation can be is odd yet realistic. You're seem just realistic, what if there was a door connecting the rooms? In some hotel there a door in between room, to connect mom,dad and kids without having to go outside)Play around with him a little more. I think there's more character to william except just being a tried or angry, ghost of a business traveler. I think the answer is in "how he actually died, which i am assuming is within the room"I was waiting for William to get tried of the noise and just call the room next door, or go over there. " Here an idea" What would happen if he tried to leave the room? The second half it cool with eric and the manager is cool. Think about what I am trying to get across and then you'll have a excellent story!

Once again, thank for a gem within a huge pile of shit dude!

Olubunmi Akinsemola (Level 1)

Better than okay but can still be better. May be not enough dialogue. Should focus on shnwing and not telling.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

Since this is mostly narrative, the use of short action sentences instead of long narrative paragraphs works good. It's a fast, fluid read and looks lean. Format appears fine, only detected a few minor typos.

As I read, I was begging for a twist ending, and I suppose I got one, but I'm not sure I fully understand it...

William is dead, a rage induced heart attack, I'm guessing? Is he stuck now in some form of purgatory?

Did he really talk to someone on the phone?

Did Eric and Mary view William as a ghost?

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)

There is a decent idea in here but it takes a long time to get to it. The first few pages are slow to read and not much really happens. At that point the story feels like a well worn cliche. However it gets going on the last two pages and the twists work well.

Ron Hooker (Level 4)

This has the making for a good Twilight Zone episode. I like the twist at the end. It was unexpected. The only thing I would suggest is to make a better reference to whatever the "incident" might have been. That part sort of left me hanging. Other than that, I thought it was a pretty good read.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

While I liked the story and the ending. I think it took far to long to get to the end. This could have been accomplished in two pages. There's not much going on to keep my attention the whole time. I have read similar stories, so the ending while satisfying was not a surprise.

Try and think of a way to condense this. Even in this five page competition you can still write less pages and I think it would be way more effective.

I could visually see the scenes in my minds eye, so that is kudos to your writing style. Just snap it up a bit.. don't linger.. Some things are just too ordinary day to day stuff that can be eliminated. For instance, the attention to his OCD (apparent). What did that add to the story? It was a set up that was never paid back.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

Whew! William has anger problems! (Had, I mean.) This one really took me by surprise. It was really slow going at first, and that should be fixed. The first two pages are just him doing a lot of REALLY boring things. We don't really care that "William carefully places his dirty laundry into a plastic bag that sits next to his luggage." We've all spent the night in hotels. We get it. On with the story! And this is a really good story, once it gets going. William does seem to have anger problems. I (personally) might have toned down his ranting a little bit (he behaves like a rock star), but the pay-off was great. Ghosts! Poltergeists! I never saw it coming. Great job!

Simon J. James (Level 2)

A well crafted script but the reveal was a little clumsy and could've concentrated on the couple rather than the 'Ghost'. That would give better emotional response to the gruesome goings on.

Stephen Brown (Level 5)

This was a nice creepy ghost story. I really didn't see the end coming.

I saw a little too many gramatical mistakes. I think you should either reread more or better still get a friend to proofread for you. You also have a few words that aren't needed like 'and' quite often. You could shave a page off this easily.

This script took quite a while to get going. I think if you had hinted a little at the general theme of this story earlier on it would have improved it.

A pet peeve of mine is repetitive words. I spotted one here that was 'locking all the locks'. I'm sure it's just me but I always try to avoid repetition of the same word. Fastening all the locks or something like that.

Tighten this up and then extend it to ten pages or so and I think you have an excellent script. I think you should have had more fun with William as a character too. Like the story, he took a while to get going.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

Was it really necessary to describe every single detail that William performs as he gets ready for bed? A lot of your descriptions in general seemed unnecessary. The story started off rather slow, and I'm iffy on the twist at the end. Why didn't William just go outside and knock on their door? Who was he talking to on the phone?

Tim Westland (Moderator)

I liked this a lot, even though I (and probably everyone else) knew what the room would look like when they opened the door.

It's well written, his frustration is well characterized, his dialogue is spot on.

A few small points:

1 - Would you go with the manager to the room of someone making a lot of noise? I wouldn't. Neither would Eric.

2. When you switch to Eric and Mary's room, you need to make the scene heading clearer.

And as a suggestion for the ending... perhaps (if Eric is still with the Manager), when they open the door, they see William dying on the floor... but are unable to enter the room until he breaths his last breath and finally disappears.

I know... that's "the bad idea", but at least it's different.

Great job, though. Enjoyed it a lot.

VerLynn Kneifl (Level 1)

The writing is fairly good, but unfortunately I seem to have missed the point. Is the adjoining room occupied by the ghost of a man who recently died there?

Vicki Davis (Level 3)

I have mixed feelings about this script. In the end I think you won me over, it was like a double twist, first I thought it was some type of haunting against William, but then the fact that he wasn’t there at all had a big payoff. In an early scene you describe the sound of a body hitting the wall, this took me out of the story, first because we would have no idea what the sound was, or if it was a body at all unless we were in that room, and second because throwing a body at the wall immediately makes me think of murder or violence, not a couple having sex next door. So I thought that description was a little too much at the point of the script where it was used. Perhaps later when Williams anger is so exasperated you might say, sounded like a body, since again he wouldn’t know. Also I was confused about the beginning, are we to believe in the end that Eric actually saw the ghost of William when he was walking by his room. It seems odd to me he would be able to see him at the beginning, but then later the room is trashed but there is nothing there. I really loved the scene where the couple wake up and the wife tells Eric to be nice, that is a great transition and juxtaposition into the end twist of your story. Overall good job.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

Great promise here to be an outstanding short, love the idea as a complete work.

The setup (first 1/2 page) could be a bit tighter, quicker images, staying away from, "is this". It's good, but we don't need to know what's in the suitcase -- I'd use some of that space to comment on a story in the paper, something he can shake his head at and prove that he is an angry, stuffy man rather than telling us.

The knocking on the wall to the room next door is not new, but with the ending, it's good, very good. I do feel though that there has to be a bit of foreshadowing -- maybe when he dials down to the front desk, screaming about the couple, you could go down to the manager, showing him saying hello into the phone, confused, before hanging up.

Again, I really like the idea and think if explored more, would be a fantastic script.

William Dunbar (Level 5)

This was very clever. I think it still needs to be cleaned up a little. Just by using the sound effects, you could make it more clear what kind of "incident" it was, which would help a lot. It just comes across as random noise as is. You use too much description for my liking, especially in the beginning. Overall good job.

Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/1/2009 12:18 AM

I really liked this a lot and I hope we get to read more of your stories in the future.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2009 1:26 AM

"I really liked this a lot and I hope we get to read more of your stories in the future."
Chris M. I'm sure you say that to all the writers.

What I learned from and about these reviews.

1. My intro is too long and wordy.
2. Only a couple of you got I was painting William as an obsessive angry man with a set routine.
3. I screwed up by having Eric and Mary see William.
4. Some of you are sharp, some of you are not. :)
5. I lost a couple readers with the first page.
6. The body slamming and demonic sounds needs to be cut.
7. A few of you appreciated hearing the ghost's side of the story.

Thanks a lot guys. I have a clear idea of what needs to be fixed. I can't say that I'll do many more ghosts stories. The only thing I dislike more than ghosts are zombies.

Thanks again everyone and Chris M.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/3/2009 6:36 AM

Hey, I just posted a rewrite. I trimmed and tweaked a few things.Tell me if this helped.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 2/5/2009 5:05 AM

Nice job. The only difference I noted was the couple ignoring him on the way past so I'm guessing the other trimming and tweaks were all pretty minor touch ups. I still like it a lot. Like I mentioned above, I manage a hotel and can envision this very clearly.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/5/2009 6:40 AM

Well, Brian, since you manage a Hotel maybe you want to film this. I imagine it would be cheap, :)

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 2/5/2009 4:50 PM

It'd be incredibly cheap. I could probably do it on a budget of a case of beer for the actors. :)

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/5/2009 5:13 PM

And pretzels, you can't forget the pretzels. You can also rope them in by telling them I'm a huge famous writer working under a pen name and the director is working under a pen face.

Bur seriously, next to 'A Boy's Fear' this is the lowest budget short I've written. Adn this one would be seriously easy to film, I think.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 2/5/2009 6:51 PM

Yep, you're right. Easy as pie to film. 4 actors, 1 location (that I already have access to) and probably just a couple hours of filming, at the most. I'd like to film it, I just don't feel like I can commit to anything at the moment due to the fact that I already have 1 project lined up (but I can't shoot that one until spring.) If I have a weekend off, it's slow at the hotel and I can round up a couple actors though, I'd be willing to shoot it if you'd let me in exchange for copy & credit. Like I said, I can't really commit at this point, but if time allows, it'd be cool to know I could just get right to it.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/5/2009 7:48 PM

When you get the time give me a buzz.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 2/6/2009 8:15 PM

I sent you an email about this.

Rod Thompson (Level 4) ~ 2/9/2009 1:24 PM

I totally dug this. I am a little unclear as to whether William is a ghost the entire time, or if there is a room in between his and the couple's that is haunted. I would assume that William was the ghost, but if so, and the couple was getting it on and laughing the way we heard it, why would they be made at William for making noise? Maybe I need to reread. Overall an enjoying read though.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/9/2009 1:37 PM

You see William was just reliving the night he died and actually was just disturbing the couple next door. I just thought we never see the ghost's side of the story.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5) ~ 2/13/2009 8:45 PM

Hmmm... the ending was not what I expected. Nice characterization with William.

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