Dark Matter

  Media

© 2018 by Dark Matter Media LLC

 
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Logline: A support group for Serial Killers meets regularly in Seattle.

Dark Matter Review

 

Overall Impression:

Serial Killers Anonymous deftly tiptoes the horror dramedy line, delivering solid blocks of suspense interspersed with healthy doses of chuckles.  In the right hands, with a loving rewrite, we can envision Serial Killers Anonymous doing for slasher flicks what Zombieland did for monster movies.  A lot works right in SKA, what holds it back from a 10, for us, is a lack of focus on character development and the need for an emotional goal that drives the script.

What We Found Most Effective:

 

The humor and the grossout factors were pitch perfect.  Hillary and Alex cracked us up.  The look-ins on the M.O. of each member of SKA gave us the chills.  The bowling scene was brilliant.  Somehow, you managed to make a serial killer self help group damn funny.

What We Found Least Effective

 

You've got to give us an emotional hook - some reason to root for the main character.  It's a key element and it's basically absent from the script.

Suggestions For Improvement:

Big Picture Suggestions

 

  • Who is the main character?  Professor Harrison, Detective Powers and Detective Wright each get roughly equal screen time, and more than most of the other characters.  Alex and Hillary get the next biggest tranche.  But we wouldn't describe any of them as the main character.  An ensemble cast can certainly work, but audiences these days are conditioned to root for a main character.  Our suggestion would be to pick Harrison, Powers or Wright as the main character.  From the standpoint of your most layered and complex character being the most interesting one, we'd pick Detective Wright.

  • To us, it's Wright and Powers that really drive the story.  We certainly enjoyed the looks at the SKA meetings, and appreciate the deft touch necessary to make those scenes play light and humorous.  But if Wright and Powers drive the story, then we think the gaps between their appearances are too long.  E.g., Wright isn't introduced until page 11, then doesn't appear from 21-28 (not a huge gap, but noticeable) and then there's a big gap from 42 to 61 and then another from 62 to 77.

  • Emotional ​stakes in a story of this nature are pretty tricky.  How emotionally attached can the audience get to a serial killer?  Dexter provides the exception to the rule, but typically the audience is asked to build a connection with the good guys (e.g., in Seven, the audience aligns with Detectives Mills and Somerset).  While you work to build the emotional connection with Det. Wright late in the script (through the John Wayne Gacy scene), we really need to build this connection as early in the script as possible.  The script doesn't spend much if any time on emotional goals for the supporting characters, but we think emotional goals for Harrison and Powers would also greatly benefit the script.

  • The script straddles a few genres.  At times, it feels like a comedy.  At other times we read a suspense vibe, and still others a horror script.  We like the comedy, absolutely do not get rid of that undercurrent.  We're okay with the doses of suspense and horror.  However, the way the ending is structured, we felt like this is fundamentally a drama telling Detective Wright's story.  We'd love to see you sharpen your pencil on delivering on Wright's emotional through line.

Odds & Ends

 

  • General Note: Watch the line spacing, there are a handful of spacing errors.

  • Pg. 4. Crisp intro.  We like the short, punchy action entries.

 

  • Pg. 7. Typo. Missing “Alex” above Alex’s 4th dialogue entry.

  • Pg. 8.  Haha – we like the misdirection in immediately killing off Joe, the first of the serial killers we meet.

  • Pg. 13. Typo. In the 6th dialogue entry, you have Detective Powers introducing herself to Officer Bomray.  It seems like Detective Wright should provide that intro.

 

  • Pg. 21. Okay, so on the one hand we really enjoyed Prof. Harrison’s interview with the Detectives Wright and Powers. On the other hand, he is behaving very suspiciously – too suspiciously (e.g, caressing the John Wayne Gacy painting).  Harrison is a smart guy, arrogant, yes, but clever and doesn’t want to get caught (or at least we don’t think so).  Consider making him a bit cagier in this scene.

 

  • Pg. 31. The action entry is, “Sgt. Kroll likes the fact that Suzanne shows a little spunk.”  We completely understand what you’re going for, but this writing is a little lazy.  We’d love it if you give the actor something clever to play to communicate this to the audience (otherwise the actor or director will have to invent it).  For instance, what if Sgt. Kroll pointed his finger at Detective Wright and pulled the trigger to shoot him down (okay, that example is lame, but hopefully you get the idea).

 

  • Pg. 40-41. We think the ABC Toy scene could be cut.  We get that you want to show that the detectives are working hard, following their clue, but this scene feels a little trite.

 

  • Pg. 49-50. Alex and Hillary’s love scene made us giggle.  Its cruel, but we can envision it playing to some good laughs.

 

  • Pg. 50. Is the next SKA scene taking place on a different night? We’re a little confused since Hillary was just in the previous scene, which took place at night in a different location.

 

  • Pg. 55. The girl scout scene is totally gross – love it!

 

  • Pg. 58. We’re wondering if people would know Ken, since he’s a TV weatherman?  Might be a way to make his way of meeting people funnier.

  • Pg. 60. In the right hands, this bowling scene could be magical.

  • Pg. 82. You’ve got some great suspense building in the scene where Alex is changing the front tire.

  • Pg. 90. The scene where young Conrad finds Cookie the Clown with a victim strikes us as unrealistic, albeit creepy as hell.  In our experience, while kids can be fooled due to lack of experience, they’re generally pretty easily startled.  We just have a tough time envisioning Conrad not understanding that something is wrong with the scene he walked in on.

  • Pg. 94. Great job building tension around the question of whether Detective Wright is part of SKA – we’re dying (sorry) to know!

  • Pg. 99. The lights going out at Prof. Harrison’s is a bit of a cliché.

  • Pg. 109. We like the little twist, solid ending.

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