"ReTurners" by Paul De Vrijer ~ Third Place

Logline: A former zombie has to pass one final test of humanity at his rehabilitation clinic.

Genre: Drama - Horror

Cast Size: 10+

Production Status: Unavailable

Contest: A Thousand Words (May. 2010)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Aralis Bloise (Level 4)

Good twist on the zombie story. Sorry, turners. I really like the idea of rehabilitating zombies...something has to be done to keep going after the zombie apocalypse.
As much as I like the story I have a couple of quibbles though:
1- why do they have to use photos of a fake family? Why is not the real family good enough? Even if they are dead, there are still photos of them from when they were alive.
The only way this would make sense to me was if the photo was of the blondes with the turner, so that it would be proof of them being alive after he was turned.
2- why are the corpses just laying there still in his house? it's been 3 months. Even in the highly unlikely event that nobody has broken in to loot the house, or just to squat, the bodies would be really decomposed. I'm guessing they didn't turn because this kind of zombie can actually be killed, it's just infected people.

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Good title. Nice twist with the capital T.

I like the necrophilia quip.

This is a unique concept but the story feels flat. Given your fantastical setting of a zombie apocalypse, you have plenty of leeway. I suggest adding in more comedy, either dark or slapstick. A lot of people find humor in zombies.

I don't understand your ending. Did Tom murder his wife and son? Did he bite them when he was a zombie? Were they killed by a roaming zombie? A few flashbacks would clear things up.

Brian Howell (Level 5)

EXCELLENT! You have created a very haunting world in a very quick 5 pages. I wasn't sure where this was going until you took me there - very nice work.

The title, I think, is the weakest thing with this. It's not bad, don't get me wrong, but it also didn't really jump out at me. In fact, at first, I was thinking the title was trying to be overly clever. "ReTurners" gave me this sense that it was about a family called the Turners. Anyway, I can easily overlook a mediocre title for the excellent story, characters and script.

Fabulous job!

Brian Mark Churchill (Level 3)

Well, the plot is nicely written, and the picture has an intimate relation with the story. It was a horror reading the stuff, but I guess the author's intention was to create a horror scene. Nicely written story.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

Written, formatted and paced very well. I enjoyed this unique perspective on the zombie genre.

I don't have a whole lot of criticism for this one. Fresh, creative, cool, dark. Nice work.

I'm not sure that Owen was a necessary character. All of his parts could have just as easily been Dr. Robbe and that'd be 1 less person to cast. A little too much VO for my taste, but not to the point where it became a nuisance.

Overall, I think you did a really good job on this one. One of my favorites so far and I'm about a third of the way through the reviews.

Write on!

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

I'm not quite sure which programme you use but it doesn't work well on my netbook!

Very well done. A great, thoughtful story.

Misses an arm? Do you mean he has an arm missing?

Kneeled - do you mean kneeling?

it's an mental process - it's a mental process

it's hinges - its hinges

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Awesome script. A great fresh take on the zombie genre (not easy to do).

I love the documentary style - it feels very natural and works well here. I also love the intercutting at the end.

Great character and the twist is perfect.

Excellent craft and script.

David Birch (Level 5)

...pg. 2 - i thing you want to say, "it's a mental process too."...drop the "n"...had the feel of a much bigger piece...probably not for someone that's a "zombie-head"...so some of the nuances (if there is such a thing with zombies) are lost on me...the whole hand thing...why a hand and not a foot?...why not an eye...see what i mean?...you can't expect all of us to get "the ground rules" of zombie-ism...but other than that, and it's just a page count thing, i think you did a good job pulling off a story within the guidelines of contest (i.e. the pictures were an integral part of the story)...nice job...

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

In my opinion, the writer uses too many words that end in ING. Rewrite some of these, and your writing will be more active.

Page 2: “It’s not just the antidote that cures them, it’s an mental process too.” Should be “A mental process.”

The CONT’Ds for dialogue are not needed in a spec script. If you are using Final Draft, this feature can be turned off.

If you use a number in dialogue, write out the word, unless it is a date. Page 3: 6 would then be six.

If you can say the same thing with less words then do so. Remember, less is usually more. Example: “Tom shakes the hand of Dr. Robbe.” Consider instead: “Tom shakes Dr. Robbe’s hand.”

Be careful when you use pronouns. Page 4: “Grabs him by the shoulders, locks eyes.” Who grabs who? Can’t tell as written.

Also on page 4: “He sits down on the bed holding an unseen photograph.” Is “he” Dr. Robbe or the patient. Can’t tell as written.

The word pictureframe should be two words: picture frame.

Herman Chow (Level 5)

Although this is my second consecutive script about zombies, this is actually very captivating and original. A rehab for zombies, fantastic. You instantly set the tone with the hand in power blender.

The scenes flow very nicely. The criss-cross between Tom and the institution didn't confuse me. Even though they are mostly scenes that introduce us to the rehab center. Putting us in the shoes of the interviewer, seeing all these for the first time.

It's very interesting. It works the way it is, and the only minor thing is there isn't too much conflict going on. But since you chose to tell your story this way, I can't fault you for that.

Writing is very visual and format is top-notch.


Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

Tom seems very much in control when he's speaking, but the description of him earlier, makes me think he's still not all there. Maybe if he stutters a bit or just pauses having trouble finding words.

Owen said one sniff of blood and they keep coming at you, but didn't they give them blood when they gave them the slushy drink with a chopped hand in it?

6 months or longer - Shouldn't it say 9 months since that's how long a pregnancy is?

Sad ending, caught me off guard.

Jose Batista (Level 5)

Wow!!! That ending was completely unexpected. Well done.
The story was a refreshing take on the zombie theme and I can say I completely enjoyed the uniqueness of the story. Documentary style mixed with a straight up story - both blended well together visually. The only thing that took me out of the story was the dialogue, specifically Owen's and Robbe's. Tom's voice was on the spot, but the two men working in the facility were not as convincing. The two men both said things that to me were expected and predictable. There was subtext, but their words were not ringing right in my head, maybe its just me. Overall, you had clear and crisp visuals with a powerful story. Very Good work.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

This is great! May I congratulate you upfront!

So I was on page 3 when I thought - I wonder if this well written stuff going to be about something...

A great take on zombies. I wrote one for this contest with zombies in it but decided to swap for another.
Again, it's (the very end) should be its.

Packed with emotion too. I gave one excellent but think yours is better. Pitty excellent is the highest of them...

The VO on page 2 - why to format it as a voice over. I think it could be "talking to us", formatted the way you did "the talking to an interviewer".

Hopefully yours will come first!

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Not a fan of "zombie-fare" but well-written is well-written. It's really visual, yuck. That hand in the blender, the "red slush," all the carnage at the end. Especially impressed by the effectiveness of Owen with his documentary-style delivery; may be the best ever seen. It's so much better than a voiceover and fits seamlessly. Used just enough to provide exposition but not overused. The picture of the Blond Woman and Blond Girl is a terrific gimmick in the story. Real picky -- probably could omit the reference, "both radiating perfection." Those "pats" by Doctor Robbe are a great way to inject personality into the doctor; paints a paternal and affectionate portrayal of him. Dialog is really good. Tom's heartfelt reveal that "this place helped turn me back into a human" and Doctor Robbe's genuine admonition, "Go home, don't get bitten again." Excellent.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

The documentary style works really well for this backwards-zombie rehabilitation script. There are some pretty obvious things that wouldn't work at all, such as that the corpses of his family are still there after all that time (and not be horridly disfigured, bloated, smelly, nasty, decomposed, etc.), that Tom remains unsupervised during his final "test", and so forth.

But the flow throughout the piece is very well timed and executed, and the sight gags come across nicely (everyone gets the same picture of their "family": nice touch). Very Good!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

I love this. I love the concept and the presentation and the characters. I really love the opening image...

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

Way to grab me with your first line of action.

After he blended the hand, I began to realise it was about zombie rehab. I really like how you don't see the word 'zombie' until page 4. It makes the script more interesting and real, giving the reader a sense of discovery that I like.

You built to the climax really well. I wasn't expecting that sort of emotional devastation. It was a great twist. The only hesitation I would have is how the documentary-style interview footage would fit with the rest, but that does depend mostly on how it's filmed and edited.

There's no real reason that only part of it has to be in documentary style. You could either make Tom and his recovery part of the documentary (one of the interns is making it for posterity perhaps) or have the early part not be an interview. Maybe he's showing someone new around and has to explain their technique. As part of this explanation Doctor Robbe could use Tom as an example, the newcomer asking probing questions up until Doctor Robbe has to explain the purpose of the picture. Just a thought. The mix here could still work on screen though.

One thing bugged me: "The door off it's hinges" should be "its".

Very good.

Matias Caruso (Level 5)

Your script has what 99% of Zombie scripts lack: originality. Instead of focusing on the usual (and boring) brain-eating, you focused on the rehabilitation angle, which I've never seen before.

Loved the twist (the photo being a fake) and how it tied with the theme.

The writing is pretty good too (this must be Paul's).


Matthew Fettig (Level 5)

I think title is interesting and well suited to the script.

I think you did a very good job with this. I liked that the action cut back and forth between the scenes. It seemed to keep the momentum moving especially since the primary location was a depressing facility.

What I liked about the story was that is didn't focus on the typical zombie concept, although the intro scene was pretty gruesome. One comment there is that we wouldn't be able to see that the blue liquid is foul. Focusing on these infected people and working (successfully?) to heal them was a nice change of pace for this genre.

I think you made good use of the pictures for the story.

One issue I had with the overall concept was the fact that the dead bodies were left in the houses. I find it hard to imagine that this process would be in any way appropriate, so it felt a bit too contrived and used mainly to show us at the end what had happened.

Overall I thought it was very good.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

I thought that was a very good take on the zombie thing. I like how the realization it's about zombies doesn't happen until we are part way into the script. It kept me reading until I was hooked but I not sure it's accurately what we will see on the screen. We will know right away that we are dealing with zombies - we just will. So in a way the script is being disingenuous.

That aside, I think you captured the concept nicely.

I'm not so certain about the ending because it seems a bit unbelievable that the corpses of his wife and child would be undisturbed for that long.

Narrative ***
Dialogue ****
Character ****
Story ***

3.5 * out of 5 *

Mike Dominguez (Level 3)

I liked the overall idea of rehabilitating zombies, and enjoyed most of the script. The hand in the blender was a nice touch. I wasn't really enthusiastic about the ending. Seems like the implication of everything being deserted is that it's safe for Tom to return home, but they're still getting fresh patients in the hospital and the doctor is serious about him not getting bitten. Maybe have the doctor say "Go home, don't get bitten again" jokingly, and then have the medial room scenes after that as flashbacks showing when Tom first arrived.

Millar Prescott (Level 3)

Okay, I liked it, BUT - I had problem with the logic at the end. Tom, upon entering his house calls out for Madeline and Christy. However, he's supposed to be 'cured'. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just ask, wouldn't he know already?

Other than that, I thought it was well written. Great story. Concept is good. Characters are well drawn. Some tension and conflict. Kept my interest all the way through. Very entertaining. Well done.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I was originally going to say, "Oh, another zombie story," but I think you put a pretty cool angle on this, showing more of the aftermath than trying to avoid zombies in the first place. I really like your theme here, also.

Your screenwriting is good, but you like your adjectives, metaphors, and similes, creating more bulk to the writing than needed. There's also a lot of fragmented sentences that I feel could be combined, making for a more fluid read.

Format appears in order. There are a few minor typos throughout.

Rich Keel (Level 4)

Very good story. The only issue I had is I wished some of your Scene headings had some time. I get it at the end but in the beginning I didn;t know what was going on with Tom and the Professor guy from a Time standpoint. But that was minor compared to the overall script. I think will be at least an honorable mention if not a top 3 finish.

Good luck this month.

Rob Centros (Level 3)

Well written. Good pacing, good mood, definitely drew me in. Ending was a bit anti-climatic. I also found myself wondering how Tom, who couldn't write very well (his intelligence never really came back all the way) seemed to to be so articulate. It didn't quite match. But that's a relatively small complaint. Interesting idea.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

Wow this was really a deep dark script. I thought it was well written, but it was so sad and gory and yuck that I can't say I enjoyed it.

Your characters especially Tom are well fleshed out. Dialogue is great, action lines fast paced and you've got a great reveal at the end.

I felt really sorry for Tom as he got back to his house, looking forward to seeing his blond wife and daughter, only to have reality bite (no pun intended).

Well written story, weird and dark and I am sure that many MP's will love this.

Very good!

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

Really good. Very patient writing. You took your time revealing what the clinic was all about. I finally got it on Page 3, when Owen says, "But one sniff of blood and they'll keep coming at you," even though there were very clear hints from the very beginning. (Why else would they be conducting "aversion therapy" with a severed hand?)

Then, a very nice twist at the end when you revealed the false goal, followed by the final reveal, the picture of the dead wife and son (and then the bodies).

Nicely done.

I do have one small comment, though. A lot of screenwriters make a point of avoiding "-ing" words, because (I guess) they're not active enough. In my opinion, you can carry that idea too far. For example, look at Page 1. You say, "Misses an arm." What does that mean? Wouldn't it be better to just go with the "-ing" word, and say, "Missing an arm"? Likewise, a little further down the page, "Kneeled, he points to the pictured woman." Maybe it's just me, but that sounds awkward. Wouldn't "Kneeling, he points..." sound better? Anyway, it's a small thing.

I really enjoyed the script.

My score: EXCELLENT.

Sean Chipman (Level 4)

This one was great. A really good story and albeit, predictable, the proper ending. There's really not a whole lot of say. I thought it was really good and there hardly any flaws I found. You created your own zombie--Turner rules and you brought them back to being normal. In the end, the story goes full-circle but I did have one question. Why would it take six months longer with women? You'd think, psychologically, that women would recover faster overall than men would. Who knows? Your rules.

Stephen Brown (Level 5)

This was really good and quite an original take on the Zombie genre.

A clinic set-up to re-humanize Zombies. I don't think that stands up medically to my understanding of what a Zombie is but I guess artistic license and all that allows you to make up your own rules. I would have liked a little more of the science behind the recovery. Maybe that would need the script to be extended to 10+ pages, I don't know.

What would make the ending even darker would be this...

Tom is still a zombie, right? Still addicted to human flesh and blood but he's like a recovering junkie. When he sees his wife's body, what if he couldn't resist feeding? I think that would be a brutal way to end it and the way I took your premise would be how Tom would react.

Very good with this though, best of luck.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

I thought this was really well written. But the story seemed to be reaching further than what it really was. Are we supposed to be surprised that a zombie (Tom) killed or ate people? I thought that's what zombies do. And it just seems awkward that they'd just release a rehabilitated zombie into a deserted, post-apocalyptic world. What's the point in that? I also think it's silly that the Doc wouldn't tell Tom the truth before letting him leave. Why make him learn the truth on his own through seeing his dead family? Almost sadistic and very nonsensical. Thus, the ending with the Doc's psuedo-deep comments about humanity just didn't ring true for me at all... Just contrived.

Teo Gonzalez (Level 4)

Very interesting concept, but I think it needs more.

There's a couple of unanswered questions that fly around in my head. One of them regards the corpses of Nicole and Mason. Why are they still there? My guess is that the world is turned upside down in such a way that the authorities don't even care. Another question regards Tom's arm. What's up with that? How did he lose it? For a while, I thought it could be the hand the male nurse blend at the beginning -on this note, I don't think a hand can be dismembered unless you cut the fingers off it. I mean, the hand itself is the member... of a body - but I was wrong. And, yet another question, what is with the infection? You say these people are not zombies, but zombies seem to exist in this world. I don't think an expalnation is quite crucial, but I think that it would help the cause.

All of the above tells me that, for me, this story needs more space; perhaps not much more, but I think I can see it being ten pages long. I'd certainly like to see what you could do if you didn't use internal dialogue.

Good luck.

Tim Ratcliffe (Level 4)

A pretty good story, well written. I'm not really a fan of zombie stories so this script is not going to be my favourite of the bunch but it is better than a lot of others I've read. So if I understand the ending correctly, Tom killed his family when he was infected? I'm giving it a Very Good.

Wes Worthing (Level 5)

One typo: ...it's 'an' mental process..."

This has to be one of the most clever zombie stories ever. The writing is intelligent, colorful, and brief, and it all just flows at a great pace. Formatting was spot-on as well. You did a great job weaving the last few pages without giving the reveal away too soon - perfectly executed. I would be shocked if this doesn't place top-3; it deserves honorable mention at the very least.

Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 7/1/2010 12:08 AM

Congratulations on Third Place. I loved this. Definitely one of my favorites this month and maybe one of my all-time favorites.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2010 12:16 AM

Not first?!
Such a clever entertaining script.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2010 12:32 AM

Congrats Paul! One of my favorites this month!

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 7/1/2010 1:03 AM

You said mine was similar, and of course this is one that i didn't get to. :( I'll read it eventually. I can't do it now.

Wes Worthing (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2010 1:21 AM

Paul I loved this one! Congrats buddy!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2010 8:42 AM

Congratulations, PJ. Nicely done.

Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2010 11:25 AM

Nice writing. Very pro. Glad to see you on the podium. :)

Brian Howell (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2010 11:53 AM

One of my 4 excellents last month, and one of my favorites. Truly wonderful and entertaining. An excellent example of a good twist! Congrats on placing.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2010 3:25 PM

Thanks guys for the wonderful words. I also feel I got a pretty consistent reaction from everybody. Glad many people liked it.

Really makes my day that you guys gave a comment afterwards.

Rich Keel (Level 4) ~ 7/1/2010 4:32 PM

nice placing...I called it! :)

Herman Chow (Level 5) ~ 7/3/2010 8:00 PM

Congrats! I knew this would place.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5) ~ 7/4/2010 10:31 PM

Paul, I have to agree with Matias above. Your writing has always struck me as particularly professional. There's a very good reason that you always seem to be on or near the podium hereabouts. Cheers!

Katie Adair (Level 1) ~ 7/16/2010 10:28 AM

It's pretty gruesome. I'd lighten up on the needles and all. Maybe, you know, not as graphic? But it did have a nice twist.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5) ~ 7/16/2010 10:44 AM

Rich - You called it yeah, could you call First Place next time? ;)
Herman - Glad this is one of your favorites again, thanks for the support.
Matias & Kyle - Thanks guys, your work here is legendary and you've both placed First multiple times, so it means a lot coming from you guys. Thanks still aiming for that First place though.
Katie - I'll try to make a less graphic entry next time, I always seem to lean towards that. Welcome to moviepoet by the way, you going to submit things too Katie, show us how we can be less graphic?

Also, thanks for all the favorites guys, really helps keeping me motivated!

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 8/4/2010 5:46 PM

Um.. Paul, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE THIS?! I loved it! Please, please make this into a film. Oh my goodness. This is one of my top 5's. Hands down. I always do love your style of writing and your content is similar to mine, so of course I love that too.

Excellent script. I wish I got to it sooner.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 5/20/2011 7:28 PM

What a great, original script! Love it.

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The following members have selected this script as one of their favorites:

Chris Messineo ~ Khamanna Iskandarova ~ Matias Caruso ~ Brian Howell ~ Herman Chow ~ Maxim Stollenwerk ~ JeanPierre Chapoteau ~ Hitaish Sharma ~ Basil Sunshine