Friday, November 08, 2013

(Rookie) Screenplay Review: Sequoia

"I’m thinking about Dad. Remember how disappointed he was when I told him I was working at a factory?" "He just wanted something better for you."

Premise: Teague, a high school dropout (now factory worker), sacrifices everything to provide for his little sister. One night she tells Teague that she was raped at a party, and instead of alerting the authorities, Teague sets out to deal with it on his own.

Written by: Christopher Marsh (Story by Kevin Patrick Murray & Christopher Marsh & Josh Brown)

Technical: 87 pages

"Sequoia" script link here

"Sequoia" contains some pretty bad dialogue ("Ariel, I can’t sweep this under the rug. I can’t erase this. I’d sell my left arm if I thought I could undo it, but I can’t.") Some of it reads like an overripe soap opera ("You should have stayed home, Dillon." "Ariel, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do this." "Too late now.") But as poor as some of the dialogue is, other parts are pretty authentic (like Teague and Dan's conversation starting on page 37.) The interaction between the guys (Teague, Dan, Wes) is a fair, accurate portrayal of young men, buddies, who are scared and just want the best for themselves and each other. The writer knows what he's talking about (it shows) when it comes to the young adult culture. He knows high school kids, the slang, their behaviour, their psyche. The writing is clean, nicely short and sweet. But too much was left to the reader's imagination. I think that more detail (about the people, the settings, the town) would improve the script.

Ariel has zero personality (other than being a selfish insane brat, and a burden to Teague) whereas Teague is fraught with personality. Still, they both need major definition. I think the writer should do the following: scrape Ariel's current character. Make her really likable. Then, instead of her lying about the rape, make it less black and white, and more blurred. Maybe Ariel was extremely intoxicated, and she doesn't know whether she wanted it or not. Put things in the gray area, and not made so clear cut. Also, don't make Will such an aggressive jerk, referring to Ariel as a bitch all the time, etc. Maybe make him as confused as she is. Maybe the reason that he acts so unrepentant, is because he is just really scared?

It was quickly evident that Ariel was lying about the rape. Or at the very least, I was immediately suspicious of her story. Also, Teague putting his gold watch in the locker is too obviously a set-up. This needs to be way more subtle (why not just describe him as wearing it, when first introducing him; then, later, he can find the watch missing?) And the flashback that reveals what happened to Teague's parents is hammy as hell. I would tell the writer to cut it, and leave their fate to the imagination. (Overall, there are way too many unnecessary flashbacks.) The scene when Stacy is at Teague's house, and they sleep together... it's just bad. Everything with Stacy is bad. I don't know if it needs to be cut, or reworked. But right now Stacy is crap. And the ending is terrible.

"Sequoia" has potential, but needs heavy reworking. I wanted to like this one, but the script is half-baked.

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