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"Comeuppance" by John Brooke

Logline: Harlan Goodbeau is a failed husband and father. He is however a successful, driven businessman and dedicated womanizer. Then he meets Iyzebel, and all scores are settled.

Genre: Horror

Cast Size: 5

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

Contest: Deadly is the Female (Sep. 2009)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Aralis Bloise (Level 4)

I can't tell if Iyzebel is a typo and her name is Jezebel or if you mean for that to be an alias to Jezebel. If it is, it's too close, and it seems unlikely that if Harlan is so preocupied with his stalker, he wouldn't recognize this stranger coming on to him with practically the same name. And if it is a typo, well the same applies too

You change tense a lot; past, present, future. The script should be consistently in the present. Remember, what you write is what the viewer is currently looking at on the screen. There are also a few part of the action that althought they would be great in a novel, they don't work in the context of a screenplay. Remember, if the audience can't see it, don't include it in the action. You have to find a way to SHOW it. For example:
"As he passes his executive assistant’s desk she hands him a
fistful of messages. Most are from ‘Jezebel!’ He heads
straight for his favorite bar. Desperately seeking needed
bartender commiserating and alcoholic therapy."

all we are really able to see on screen is that he walks by his assistant, she hands him messages. He looks throught them and WE SEE they are mostly from Jezebel. He then walks hurriedly out the door.

We don't know what he's thinking. We just find out later that he was going to a bar, and you already have it coming out in conversation that he is a regular there and that he is friends with the bartender.

Barry Katz (Level 3)

Good effort! Before I get into the story, I just wanted to mention a typo on page 1 where Harlan says "Hello, whose calling?" It should be "who's," not "whose." In the grand scheme of things, however, this is totally minor and did not detract from the story.

I enjoyed the read and it was easy to follow. I don't know that I'd classify this as a horror or thriller, as I didn't really see or feel much tension along the way. Obviously, based on the parameters of the contest, we knew Harlan was going to be killed by a female, but I would have loved to have actually witnessed the massacre as opposed to just seeing the aftermath. Women are not inherently scary, which is what makes this contest so unique and difficult.

In the horror movies of today, everyone is trying to "outdo" one another. The thing that makes "Hostel" so freakishly disgusting is that we, the audience are forced to watch people being tortured. We don’t just hear about it or see the end result… we actually see it happen. For me, that movie REALLY pushes the envelope.

Your descriptive text was very advanced and the dialog was good. This short definitely has the potential to be produced, and if filmed, I would love to watch it.

Bill Delehanty (Level 4)

The whole sailor connection/twist could have been built up more.
It was an easy read from the most part, but still practice the "show don't tell" theory.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

At the top of page two, you cheat. Any dialogue needs to be written in proper format. The story here is pretty thin. A womanizer gets some mysterious calls from a woman, she arrives at the bar he frequents but he doesn't recognize her voice or name (despite receiving multiple calls from her that same day and the pile of messages that we know were from her apparently by some other means than her name being written on them), takes her to a hotel where she kills him. This could have been shortened considerably since nothing actually happens here until she walks in to the bar. There's no motive for this killer. Why does she want to kill him? Her m.o. isn't explained either. Is she some sort of vampire? Overall, I'd say this one needs a lot of work before it's ready to be filmed. Nice effort, but this needs a lot of attention to formatting and story.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

HIS LATEST LOVE INTEREST (V.O.) - how on earth can we know this?

Feme Fatale - is spelt Femme fatale.

again - how can we know? the doctor of his son by ex-wife number one
leaves an urgent message; “Your son is in serious difficulty,
Mr. Goodbeau, please call me as soon as possible.” Number
three divorced wife’s Lawyer demands a meeting…

IYZEBEL and jezebel - confusing. WHY?

Harlan was off the bar stool in a flash. - you keep slipping into past tense.

confab? You mean conflab.

kundalini? Don't know what this means. Had to look it up.

I'm afraid this lacked motivation. It seemed incomplete. Who WAS Jezebel? Why did she pick on Harlan? We need to know.

Charles Bonet (Level 3)

This was a tough read. There just didn't seem to be any direction to this script. I was confused most of the time and when I wasn't confused, I was disinterested. The dialogue was flat and the characters never came off the page. And I didn't get the significance of the ending at all. Also, there were countless spelling and grammar typos.

The opening scene was a nice idea but needs to be cleaned up, way too much going on.

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

I thought I got through the thick woods of bad women as seductress. At least your story is showing the guy, he may not be more than a sex starved dude, but you aren't assuming we would just believe that.
Love the play on names.
I knew some guy during basic training that got pursued by a cross dressing dude that kept calling him 'soldier boy' in a husky voice.
Wow, not sure this would qualify as a horror in any sense. She kills him in the end, but no horror about it just a murder with no seeming connection to the rest of the story.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I think there is an interesting story here, but it's tough to follow.

First, you tell us things in the script that an audience would have no way of knowing. Second, there isn't a lot going on visually in this script. Lastly, I got confused in the end, and wasn't really sure why any of this was happening to Harlan.

David Birch (Level 5)

avoid using the progressive form of the verb...he' the equivalent of "he is" when you say "he's busy fielding" try using a more descriptive action verb...He juggles desk phones crying for attention...something like that...again...a couple are (should be is) talking...better, just...a couple talks...the story was okay, but more of a mystery-drama type than horror...most of the presentation was done well, things to like but much better on a rewrite...

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

I had a very very hard time getting through this entry. I really could make little sense of it.

The writing needs work, but don't fret. Only write what the audience sees in the action paragraphs. It's got to be visual, you can't say what a character thinks, or how he feels. It must be shown through action, dialogue, or both.

The story itself had little action, lots of set-up but no goal to achieve for the main character at the end. It's hard to tell because I couldn't visualize your writing.

Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)

I'm sure you'll get this a million times, but VO shouldn't be used for phone conversations. Just use (phone) or (filtered) or whatever the term d'jour is.

I have some concerns about the amount of information your giving in your narrative. "Number three wife's lawyer demands a meeting." I love narrative that pushes a story forward, but you're adding information that the VIEWING audience needs to see in the movie. That's dangerous.

Another thing to be careful of is switching into past tense. You're kind of back and forth here.

BOOM surprise vampire sighting!! That was a little abrupt for me. I was intrigued by her and this Harlan fellow, but then you turned it into a vampire/prey thing that you hadn't really set the table for at all.

I think there needs to be a little explanation throughout...does this vamp wander the world wreaking vengeance on man-sluts? Fill us in!

Erin Arbogast (Level 3)

You did a really good job of setting up Harlan's hectic life. I actually felt the stress as I was reading the script! I would like to know more about the female character - where she came from, why she's picked Harold, etc.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

I really liked the story. Here are a few comments to help you with your writing.

"As he rings off another line buzzes, he answers." Since we see that "he answers" with the next dialogue line, you can cut "he answers" from this sentence. It is not needed.

"What about the evil message." Needs a question mark.

Sometimes the descriptions seem more appropriate for a novel. Remember, SP's should be lean. Less is more! Specifically, I'm talking about this paragraph: "Her wavy black hair crowns her angelic sculpted face, with piercing cold emerald eyes. Alabaster creamy skin and lithe limbs. Evocative long fingers tipped with blood red stiletto
nails. She was the epitome of the classic femme fatale."

The writer needs to write in a more active voice. One way to do this is to review sentences that have the words IS or ARE in them or sentences that have words ending in ING. Try to rewrite them. Example: "IYZEBEL WOEMAN looks icily at the eager Harlan Goodbeau but a polite smile is playing on her luscious lips" First of all, the ending period is missing. Aside from that there is an IS and a word ending in ING. Consider the following instead: "IYZEBEL WOEMAN looks icily at the eager Harlan Goodbeau. A
polite smile plays on her luscious lips."

Geoff Willis (Level 3)

The best advice I could give you is, Only write what the director can shoot. Describing characters as "LATEST LOVE INTEREST" and "EX-WIFE NUMBER TWO" are impossible to see if watching this in a movie.

Herman Chow (Level 5)

I am sorry, this does not work at all. There are so many problems that I couldn't list them all out: wrong character names, too many non-visual asides, unimportant and repetitive phone calls, etc.

But mainly, is there even a story? The first three pages are mostly fillers. The Vinnie character is disposable, he didn't give anything to the story or character.

Lastly, where did that female fatale came from? She talked about knowing Cyrus and overhear that Harlan might got fired. I am actually more interested in hearing that subplot more than the actual one. Why does she even want to kill Harlan? There simply is no setup to this and the payoff is rather dull.

I am very sorry that I have nothing positive to say here. I suggest you outline your story first, gives us a setup, some complications and a proper ending. Good effort though.

Jacob Guerra (Level 4)

I'm unsure of whether or not to characterize this as horror, because the mood had more of a suspense/thriller feel, however movies like Misery are considered horror, even if reading them might make them feel like a suspense novel as well. I don't know if it was your intention to be campy, but some of the dialogue felt that way to me, and a bit unnatural, if camp was not intended. For example, the announcer at the end uses the phrase, "trussed up like a turkey" and "The knots had been expertly tied-as though by a sailor" seem a little out of place for a TV Announcer (I am assuming they are a news reporter.)The ending also felt a little tacked on to me, and kind of anticlimatic, after so much build up with the Izyebel (whose descriptions were really good). Some of your descriptions added to the visual aspect of the piece (as I mentioned, especially those regarding Izyebel) however there were some that seemed kind of unnecessary, such as stating what Harlan does for a living.

Jane Beckwith (Level 4)

Goodbeau is a funny name, good work. I was confused by the first page however. How is the person watching the movie going to know that that the voice is of his current love interest? On page 2, you have much of what should be dialogue on the page in the action line. How does the audience know it is wife number 5? I don't understand the toast. Do you meant that everything that is going to go wrong for the guy has already gone wrong? What's the deal about being fired on Monday morning? That line comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere. She knows she's going to kill him so what was accomplished? What's the sailor bit about? Is it a link to Jezebel's phoenician heritage? I'm a huge noir fan, so I sympathize with the lure of the femme fatale. If you are going to flip the genre, you've got to know it. The classic femme fatale asks for help, lure's the sucker in and then uses (perhaps even destroys) him to achieve her ends. Not every time of course, but if you use the term, you might want to play the type a bit more.... Also, Jezebel is a loaded name with a mythic history. You could tie into it more directly. I thought all the characters worked, and that the piece had a consistent dark/funny tone. I would love to read your re-write if you post one.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

Pg 4 the should be they.

Clever names.

When she goes down on him, it isn't clear as to if she is truly pleasuring him, which would be odd, or if she is starting her torture. I think that needs some clarification.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

Man, that giraffe line is classic. I really liked it.

This script had two face. I'm assuming you write short stories or novels or something, because your descriptive language and vocabulary are EXCELLENT, but you tend to write in past tense and that's something screenwriter's don't do.

Describing all the phone calls in the beginning was too cluttered. You need to clean that up. Too much was going on. I know that was the point, but the reader shouldn't have difficulties following the story, especially on the first page.

I read it a second time, and I still don't understand the sailor thing. Is that supposed to be a twist of some sort? I don't completely understand....

Very high vocabulary, and you have an art for description and dialogue, but you need to work on your story telling.

Other than that, and the few grammatical mistakes, I really enjoyed it.

Jem Rowe (Level 4)

I just loved the beginning to your script, the problem was that after that I knew with certainty what was going to happen. The combination of the title and the opening scene left no doubt, so try not to give yourself away in future. Also, Harlan talking to himself seemed silly and unrealistic, I think you could have got the message through solely with facial expression. Finally, was the carotid artery reference a vampire indication, if so I don't feel it's necessary to the story.

Despite these small flaws your piece was very well written, well done there.

Joel Davis (Level 5)

This was an odd script, and the heavily stylized writing style distracted from the storytelling for me. I think that kind of thing can work great for fiction, but I don't think it can translate to the screen.

The most interesting bit of action was Harlan's murder, and that occurred off-screen. Having the newscaster explain this to the audience felt cliched and took away from the suspense.

The writing style, the odd names, the vaudeville dialogue, and in particular the unusual voice, was strong and confident, but I think it attempts to mask weak plot and characterizations. Don't use voice as a crutch, try putting some real people on the page instead of marionettes.

Jose Batista (Level 5)

Throughout this entire script there was not a single time that I felt any dread, suspense, thrill, etc. There were moments of slight boredom and I regret to say that the dialogue was the main cause of this. The characters speak with the most obvious phrases and there was no surprise in what was coming. Granted, the theme is that the female is the killer, but there was hardly an attempt at subtlety.

I felt you spent too much time in the beginning trying to establish the failed romances of his suffering love-life. Then you spent too much time in the bar. Then the ending came in all rushed and failed to be visually stunning, I'm guessing becaus of a lack of space.

I suggest a rewrite that focuses on establishing his unfaithfulness and struggling romances with acute brevity so thatthe major amount of space can be used to present him with the well deserved gift of a bloodsucker's love. Also, proofreading and checking for grammar and punctuation is a necessity. This script could have benefitted from better verbage. Keep at it and never give up!

Kevin Carty (Level 4)

Too much dialogue that doesn't drive the story. Too many characters 1st wife, second wife, man this is tiring to keep up with. Please limit your characters so that your message isn't muddled in a sea of personalities that don't help your story. I don't know what this is all about either it almost seems like you are trying to combine a 100 different stories. He has a divorce he has another wife he has a friend he has a doctor of his son that sends him a message. This was just a thriller and nothing else she calls, he calls, man what is the story here.

Also I can tell that you used the extra women in an attempt to trick us into thinking one was the killer but don't just take scenes that you've seen make sure they are short fast and powerful especially in a horror film.

This is the second story that ends with a guy saying oh I know who you are, you are... doesn't that sound wrong to you it sounds like something you would see on a tv show. I never got excited about this. I'm curious to know what the logline is. Only tell what's important to the story don't talk about things that are just dramatic flares and don't move the plot along story is not just about twists/macguffins. At the end it has to make sense it has to be great it has to come together.

Your dialogue is so robotic and doesn't flow cut out one of the wives and get to the story you have five pages so my suggestion is this write a simple story. Something you've heard before, and think about what would make it more entertaining and captivating. Is there something here that we don't know. There is no real closure to your script.

Over description is a real problem here. Alabaster smooth skin... epitome of a femme fatale. This is tooo much, it waste time and some of the words you use are so exotic that it makes it seems like you were trying your hardest to confuse us instead of creeping us out.

Your dialogue is also too much what you say in 4 lines, I can say in 1. Also your characters don't seem like different people from the dialogue they all sounded the same. Why are we on a cellphone for like 2 pages that's just not exciting at all, it is vital that you grab me or anyone else from the beginning or at the very least set the tone of your script. A terrifying "text message" that doesn't sound right.

Reevaluate your story, read some scripts, does the dialogue read awkwardly, use dashes or elipses for dramatic pauses. 98% of the time you can say what you have to in 1-2 lines. Occasionally, you have to say it in 3. Balance your dialogue, choose scenes from scripts not movies that make you say wow and build your story from character.

I'm not trying to be mean I'm trying to help because if I say that it doesn't need work then I'm being lazy. You can take my advice with a grain of salt but I think if you follow my suggestions this could be a much more powerful script and an even more effective writer. Look forward to your rewrite and good luck.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

p2 - "the doctor of his son by ex-wife number one" - is this the way he has this doctor on his budy list?
p2 - "This freaky familiar caller clicks off before he can answer" - Why familiar? And how will we know that he finds it familiar?
P2 - "As he passes by his eecutive assistant's desk" - you have it under GOODBEAU’S OFFICE slug.
p2 - "Desperately seeking needed bartender commiserating and alcoholic therapy" - novel-like descriptive.

Since we know the monster/killer got to be a woman this appears predictable. If I did not know it wouldn't be perhaps.

I liked the ending - the sailor knot. That's a nice touch.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Flashy and interesting noir. Entertaining writing style. Love the character names, Harlan Goodbeau, Iyzebel Woeman, Vinny Genco, and their descriptions.
The beginning rambles a bit. So much takes place with "phone messages, calls and text messages." It's too much. A pregnant daughter, a son with problems, lots of ex-wives -- Harlan's life is obviously a mess. Might edit some, and the contact from Iyzebel will be more prominent.
Using "Jezebel" feels awkward; maybe the notes from his executive assistant and off the toilet seat should be unsigned. Obviously, it's the same woman -- Iyzebel.
Several references in past tense; ie, "...couple are talking...They clinked glasses...Harlan looked puzzled...Iyzebel...sniffed..." Probably simple typos, as most of the story uses present tense.
Like some of the snappy dialogue. Particularly, Iyzebel addresses Harlan as "sailor boy" and he responds, "Hey, I'm not a sailor!" Funny.
Clever ending, "tying in" Iyzebel's "sailor" line. Harlan's "Playboy bikini briefs" stuffed in his mouth and "The knots...expertly tied -- as though by a sailor!"

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

"This is your ex-wife." Wouldn't she just say "This is Carol"? Or whatever her name is. He'll know her relationship to him. The dialogue felt stiff because you're trying to establish their relationship through dialogue alone. In the same way, he already knows how old his daughter is.

"She slams down her receiver". No, she doesn't. You're describing action in the action line, which evidently means we can see it, but we can't, because she was only present in the VO. Only write in the action line what we can see, or descriptions about what we're seeing.

"Can I watch?" That's a pretty good joke. By the way, "who's", not "whose".

"the doctor of his son by ex-wife number one" How does the viewer know that? Is all that info written on the note?

"He heads straight for his favorite bar." He does? The slugline hasn't changed, so we're still in GOODBEAU'S OFFICE. How do we know where he's going?

There's past tense action lines: "She was..." "He was..." Action lines should always be present tense.

The only hint to the punchline was that she called him "sailor boy", and that was a little weak for a punchline. I also don't understand why Jezebel and Iyzebel need to be spelled differently. It's quite obvious that it was the same person.

The title makes it sound like a revenge piece, but Jezebel doesn't appear to have been hired by any of the wives.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

The title is good.

On page 2 - You cram a lot of screen time into a few sentences with the phone messages and calls. Be specific about what you want your audience to see.

I've only got a few minutes to finish this, so I'm going to give you a rating and then finish the review.

Good work.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

Sorry. I didn't think this was horror at all. And I'm guessing that you're probably new to screenwriting because you gave us so much information without showing it. Screenplay writing is tricky because you can't tell us anything that we can't see on screen. You tell us who's on the phone and his relationship to these people. you tell us what he's need to show us. 100% visual.

And I didn't end up understanding this much. You spent so much time showing us he's a playboy that the horror, what there was of it, was rushed.

just keep writing. And you'll learn a lot by reading other screenplays.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

A lot of what you've written are things we can't actually see. I was willing to let the character introduction slide (others won't be as lenient), but you can't say "He heads straight for his favorite bar" if he's still in his office.

There's a lot of unnecessary and over-the-top detail in your description. For example: "Banishing the gloom, the golden aura of Harlan Goodbeau glows into the place." This would be better written as "Harlan enters." I would also argue that a lot of the description you offer of the bartender is also unnecessary.

There are also quite a few lines of action and dialogue that don't make much sense, e.g. "The are both wrong, she arrives in titillating female form" and You sometimes slip into past tense.

I didn't really understand the significance of the references to Harlan being a "sailor" and the knots at the end being expertly tied.

I'm sorry, but all in all it didn't make much sense to me.

Neha Thakker (Level 1)

The language was a little difficult to decipher in parts.
Not quite sure what to make of the ending..the reference to the sailor did'nt quite tie into anything.
I was searching for a way in which the end would connect to the beginning with the ex-wives calling, but it all seemed a little random. Although I liked the chaos of the beginning it seemed like the dialogue was doing too much of the story telling.

Patrick Sweeney (Level 4)

FADE IN: goes on left side of page (Final Draft puts it on right, but it's wrong). How can the audience watching this film know who's on the phone or their relationship to Harlan? Don't write anything we can't see or hear on screen. Don't put dialogue in action text. Needs edit pass for capitalization, punctuation, verb tenses. Write everything in present tense. Story seems to have no point - womanizer is stalked and murdered by mysterious woman.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

The introduction and his passive attitude towards Jezzie's threats indicate a comedy, but it's abit too confusing. Especially from a viewer's perspective; how do they know there are different ex-wives? Just from the voices? Would the pronounciation of Woe-man be apparent when she says it the first time? Because she says it out loud? The format and the sentences are all good, but the story is missing something. Somehow the last lines 'Like a Sailor' don't really ring a bell with me. Sure she called HIM a sailor, but is there a past that I overlooked, really want to know what wen on there, perhaps you could say something about it in the comments. Also the script changes tone quite a bit, from offbeat to more thriller like.

BEST MOMENT: I don't know if this was intended, but when Harlan reads the red lipstick message in his private bathroom, he still goes for the toilet. I'd be freaking out and it provide a nice good laugh. It fits with the opening randomness, but doesn't clay so much with the rest of the script.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

You have a good start, but for a five page script, there is far too much unessential set-up with very little and unsatisfactory pay-off. There's many unanswered plot questions and holes that need to be addressed as well.

The best advice I can give:

Read other spec scripts on this site that have placed in contests throughout the months, determine what their common denominators are, and incorporate that into your future screenwriting.

Never stop writing! Good luck!

Rob Dianora (Level 4)

This is a good story. I think what hurt the script the most was your details and descriptions. It was just a little too much distraction. It's almost like you're narrarating the story like a novel and that's not necessary. Keep it in the present tense, you don't need to say he desperatley needs alcohol therapy. Let the story tell that. Other than that I think you have a good start to a great script.

Robbie Comeau (Level 3)

This felt like a novel, with the way you descripted everything. I guess that's your style, so, so be it.

A lot going on, but the story flowed smoothly.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I think the key to a good screenplay is simplicity in writing and dialogue and story. This one has an interesting story of a man who everyone hates, and we expect something awful to happen to him, and it does. But the thing is, it's so confusing, why is Izyebel (hard to spell this) so intent on killing him? I don't understand part of the story, why she is out to get him and what her motive is.

I also think you write in a way that I had to read over it a couple of times, to make sense of what was happening.

I like your title, he sure did meet a bad end.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

Hmmm, a vampire story. But, unfortunately, we didn't find out until the bottom of Page 5. And even then, we didn't see it, we were told by a TV announcer. In voiceover.

This is all set-up with hardly any payoff. And you have W-A-Y too much going on. You spend way too much time establishing Harlan's personality with all his ex-wives and ex-girlfriends and pregnant teen-aged daughters, and problems at work, etc., etc., etc. Okay, we get it -- he's a cad! On with the story. Then W-A-Y too much time establishing Vinnie and his bar. Just tell us Harlan's in a sleazy bar, and call Vinnie the BARTENDER. On with the story!

Your antagonist, IYZEBEL, starts off kinda mysterious, which could be a good thing, but then she just becomes kind of a head scratcher. Why is she leaving Harlan these w-e-i-r-d messages? And the messages don't make any sense. If you're going to feature all these messages, they really ought to drive the story along somehow. Help build up the suspense. But they don't -- they're just weird.

There are a few screenwriting problems. Your narrative falls into the past tense in a couple places. Some examples: Page 3, "Vinnie was beaming," and "They clinked glasses..." Page 4, "She was the epitome of the classic femme fatale," and "Harlan was off the stool in a flash." Page 5, "Iyzebel slowly sniffed her brandy," and "The place was rapidly filling with the noisy TGIF crowd." There are lots more examples throughout. Best to keep it all in the present tense.

There's too much dialogue, and a lot of it is kinda silly and detracts from your script. For example, just look at the scene where Iyzebel enters the bar. This ought to be a very key moment and full of suspense and menace. Instead, Harlan starts off with a weird veni, vidi, vici remark, which adds absolutely nothing to the scene. Then they have a goofy conversation about why she calls him "sailor boy", then there's an exchange with the bartender (who should be almost invisible in this scene, anyway) about "I don't have no high priced Cognac." That's all dead time. It stops the flow of the story -- just when it ought to be picking up on its way to an exciting and spooky climax. (And just what is a kundalini tremor, anyway?)

Overall, in my opinion, you should spend more time crafting the real story -- why is a vampire stalking Harlan? -- and less time on the set-up. Then, less dialogue and more story.

My score: FAIR.

Shane Shearer (Level 4)

Voice overs, in this case (v.o.), should be offscreen, or (O.S.) since it's not technically a voiceover but a voice from the phone receiver, therefore the person saying it is OFF SCREEN.
Feme Fatale is FEMME FATALE.

Not sure I really comprehend this piece. In fact, I don't see that much horror to it at all. However, it was pretty good and I'll give you credit for that.

Shawn Cottrill (Level 4)

I didnt really like it. I'm not sure what happened. I think the president of the country had him waked but i'm just guessing. There were a few cleverly crafted lines but other than that the story really just fell through.

Shyama Kant Misra (Level 3)

Your English is good. I, however, feel that Comeuppance must be among your first scripts.

Experts on screenwriting advice very little use of the present progressive forms, such as ‘is’/'are', which appear in your descriptions quite frequently. You should also remember not to use any past tence in your action scenes.

All your new characters – ex-wives and all - should have been introduced properly in the descriptions either before they begin to speak their first lines or immediately after.

You’ve taken lots of pains to observe the formatting rules meticulously(except, perhaps, forgetting to place the FADE IN at top left. None the less, a fairly good job.

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

While I'm always up for a tale of revenge, this story left much to be desired.

Sorry, all the telephone conversation on page one didn't help with the set-up since most of the characters on the phone were irrelevant and didn't help me relate to Harlan, even as a low-life. Phone conversations are typically a weak character development device. Lose the stuff about the pregnant daughter & other irrelevancies; stay focused on Harlan's anxiety and make me care about what happens to him even if he is a jerk.

I suggest starting this in the bar, and making both Harlan & the conversation more interesting, ie Harlan can tell Vinne he thinks he has a stalker. Vinne can say he's not surprised considering how many ex-wives & girlfriends who's hearts he's broken.

Then when the woman shows up, I'd add more suspense and make Harlan cautious. He also remembers her too late - I'd twist this into a "happy reunion" at the bar. Play up the seduction, let her trick him into relaxing his guard and set-up the kill. I have no idea why this was a comeuppance or what he did to the woman that she wanted revenge. Were they in the Navy together? I might have missed something or gotten confused.

There were also flaws in the exposition, for example "He never could resist a beautiful woman’s invitation" is editorial. Maybe have him say it out loud, like I should know better but...

Thomas W. Brown (Level 4)

Comeuppance is a funny word - just thought I'd throw that out there:)

I have to say that your story did not really strike my fancy. The classic "femme fatal" has potential here for comedy, but I feel the build to the inevitable conclusion was underdeveloped. Harlan, a womanizer and generally terrible person keeps receiving weird sexy messages from an unknown seductress with no connection to him whatsoever. Then she kills him. I know the humour is supposed to stream from Harlan being completely oblivious to the situation. I think that if you want the laughs to hit home, you need to build the impending danger to Harlan in less and less subtle ways. Reworking the bar scene may also help increase the pace of the script overall. One note on form. I think that some of your description could be tightened up a bit, leaving the script with a crisper feel. Cheers!

Comments Made After the Contest

John Brooke (Level 5) ~ 11/1/2009 10:24 AM

Thank you all for your incredible energy and insights in reviewing my attempt at screenwriting. I will certainly review and take into consideration, all your contributions as I rewrite this script.

Jane Beckwith (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2009 10:43 AM

John -

I will look forward to reading your re-write!

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