View Full Version : The Old Hag Phenomenon

01-23-2012, 11:54 PM
Remy's trapped in her car, driving backwards at 70 mph into on-coming traffic... Or is she?

3 Pages
3 Characters
2 Locations

01-24-2012, 12:13 PM
Sounds interesting. I hope you keep the ending a mystery, until the end. Your tagline might just give away too much.

01-25-2012, 09:09 AM
Thanks Chris! Ah.. I hope it doesn't give too much away. Looking forward to submitting, this is my first scriptfest... I hope you keep them coming!

01-25-2012, 11:36 AM
Great title, looking forward to it

01-25-2012, 09:53 PM
thanks, Tim!

02-07-2012, 05:10 PM
- Is the opening bit in the quotes spoken or written? If written use SUPER: or TITLE: and if spoken lay it out like dialog. It just makes it a little easier to understand what you want to do.
- Compress and rewrite to make your action blocks as lean as possible. The first action block could easily be tighter. Heck, "Remy, an attractive red-head, rolls her car to a stop behind an SUV...' for example.
- Literally? Of course she is, you are writing what we are seeing, so she couldn't figuratively be gasping for air.
- I'm not fond of CLOSE ON and prefer just to describe what we are seeing, but this may make it clearer.
- Describe what things look like, do say it looks like. You have a lot you can trim to replace with more active descriptions.

Wow, a sleep paralysis story! Nice choice. Your style does needs work. This could be probably a page shorter if you tightened it up and it would make for a smoother read. Busy people only read smooth scripts. If it wasn't for the car running backwards this could be easy to shoot.

I am still confused about what role the old woman played in all of this. Was she the hooded figure? Overall an interesting idea that if developed more could be killer.

02-07-2012, 06:12 PM
Good logline, good premise. That block of text on the second page could be broken up a bit to three or four lines, and if you're going to call camera shots, there had better be a reason for them being in there. I think you can get away clean by not calling them.

Out of curiousity, what was Remy trapped in? And for how long?
I am not a big fan of dreams, nightmares and hallucinations in scripts. At the very least you could have milked the terrors and fears of being trapped in a car during an accident.

Eric Boellner
02-07-2012, 06:53 PM
I'm going to be honest, I don't fully understand this script. I feel like there's something I missed, or that there's a "point" I just didn't catch. I liked that it was mostly visual, but it felt like this was an excerpt taken out of context from a much larger story, and there were a lot of characters (the woman, the dog, the cloaked figure) that I couldn't see how they were important or who they were supposed to be in relation to Remy's story (not as in, the woman being her 6th grade teacher, but as in - who is she, and why is it important that Remy's seen her or gotten a FB friend request from her?).

I know that's all a bit harsh; I'm honestly not trying to be cruel or inconsiderate. You've got a solid grasp on how to write a clear script (I could see everything perfectly in my mind, which means you did a brilliant job describing it because usually even with the best screenplays, there are entire portions which I'm not sure what exactly I'm supposed to be imagining). Ultimately, that's half the battle, but I would definitely study narrative structure, maybe read some Stephen King, or pore over a couple Steven Spielberg movies. The main thing that needs improving here is the story itself -- the way you tell it is good.


02-08-2012, 08:03 AM
I have to go along with Michael, I didn't quite get what was going on. The visuals were perfectly clear thanks to your descriptive wtiting, but it was hard to tell how the opening dream - at least I think that was what it was - tied into the figure in the room. Then the figure switches to her roommate. Why? This seemed like a string of interesting visuals strung together with no coherent storyline. Maybe you were just trying to create the true feeling of a nighmare, and if so, that worked quite well.

Not sure i've ever seen a dog with dredlocks. I know there is some weird breed that has a coat that resembles dredlocks, is that what you were going for?

A car has brakes, not breaks.

Thanks for an interesting read.

Bill Clar
02-08-2012, 09:03 AM
Keep your action paragraphs to four lines or less. It makes it easier to read.

"stare right at Remy in the car". You don't have to tell us Remy's in the car. It's been established.

This is was very difficult to read due to the overlong action sequences and paragraphs.

I don't grasp the central conflict. You have a dream, a breathing problem, a big toe, a mystery figure, and a Facebook friend request. If the mystery figure is causing Remy's
delusions, then give us an indication.

02-08-2012, 02:18 PM
This was a good read. I did think there were some parts that were a bit longer. Fine idea, nice writing and as a fan of hallucinations in film I was pleased.
Thanks for an insight in your creative mind. :)

02-08-2012, 06:24 PM
I can't say I understood this at all. On one hand I think it's a story of sleep paralysis but that doesn't explain the hallucinations(?). I just did not understand this at all.

As for the writing, the action blocks were way too thick. No need for the thickness. There were some confusing sentences here and there and an error or two. Remy's description didn't contribute anything.

I'm not quite sure what the opening quote means to the story considering that the old hag didn't even do anything. I don't know. This was just very confusing. The whole story.

02-08-2012, 10:56 PM
This is my favorite story so far. The only problem is, it's too much like a short story and too little like a screenplay. Way too much black in your action lines. You need to shorten them and break them up.

You have talent, you gave me images I could see and that's good. I think it just needs to be written more like a screenplay.

For example:

"The sedan SPEEDS BACKWARDS. Remy SCREAMS. She slams on the
breaks, but nothing. She continues to jam on the breaks to no
avail, as her eyes scan all of the windows. She’s not being
moved by an exterior force - but all of the other cars around
her are immobile as she flies passed them."


She SLAMS on the brakes, NOTHING. She JAMS them again, and
the car speeds up.

She looks outside. NOTHING is there. NOTHING is pushing her. She
flies BACKWARDS past the other cars like they're frozen in time."

Well, it's clumsy, but something like that.

Good luck.

02-08-2012, 11:12 PM
Nice work Derek. Some very creepy imagery.

A few things:

There is a LOT of ink on these pages. I understand that this is a very visual short script, and that you can get away with some things that you wouldn’t try in a feature. But just be aware of it. Long paragraphs of action, no matter how well they’re written, bog readers down.
I feel like this story needs a SOUL. At the moment, it’s a nightmare sequence. Remy is frozen stiff and completely out of control and seeing creepy people in her room. These are all CLASSIC nightmares that we’ve all had (SCARY AS HELL, but not NEW, you know?). The thing that separates a nightmare from a story is that at the end of a nightmare we sigh deeply and shrug it off as something inconsequential and meaningless…but a STORY leaves us with a character that we’ve seen encounter something horrific and OVERCOME it (or be overcome BY it). Remy didn’t engage with anything in this sequence, she was simply at the mercy of it. Now this could make for an intensely visceral cult legend acid-trip movie, or it could be a forgettable short…but now you’ve passed the responsibility of making a good film into the hands of the director. SIEZE it! Let Remy engage and let us engage with HER. It will be more fun for everyone, I think.
I just didn’t feel the introduction of Abby at the end. Maybe because I didn’t fully understand what had happened to Remy…I wasn’t ready to deal with Abby…I don’t know.

I know this review probably feels pretty negative, Derek, and that's NOT how I'm feeling right now, I want you to know. Here’s something to hold tight to: you are good at writing action. That’s not a small deal. People whose specialty is action get JOBS! Keep it focused and add some white space and keep going!. Good luck!

02-09-2012, 10:55 AM
I must be the only person here (besides you, obviously), who has actually heard of the old hag phenomena before, so I probably understood what you were getting at here a little more than most. However, I think you have to bear in mind when you're writing things like that, that not everybody knows about the things you do, so perhaps instead of putting a, to be honest, slightly pointless quote at the start of the script, you could have put something at the end about the phenomena, to explain what just happened to those who wouldn't otherwise understand. Kind of like at the end of some films where they give you a little more information on the screen after the film ends, like "the treasure was never found" or "they divorced three years later".

I agree with what everybody else has said about the writing style as well, it seemed far more like prose tha script to me. You overly descirbed things- we don't need to be told that the reason we know her room mats name is Abby is because she has it written above her bed. For a start, Remy actually calls out her name, which makes it obvious, but as well as this, if you tell us that the word Abby is on the wall by a sleeping girl's bed, we're going to make the connection, we're not stupid.

Writing for a script is a hard transition to make, especially if you're used to prose, which I'm guessing you are (just an assumption of course, I may be wrong). I find it easier to focus on keeping my sentences as short as possible. One sentence per action, and as little fluff as possible. Not only does it make it easier to read, but if it was being shot, it makes the directors job a lot easier when it comes to breaking up the shots and storyboarding.

It's a good concept, and it could have been a BRILLIANT script, it just needed a little more attention and refining. I find sometimes it helps to write the script, and then leave it for at least a week before even looking at it again. If you've just written something, you're a bit attached to it. Give it a week and you're much more objective about what you've written, which makes it much easier to trim and change.

Hope that helps!

02-09-2012, 11:22 AM

Overall: 4
Plot: 3
Characters: 4
Dialogue: 6
Structure: 7
Originality: 4
Style/Quality of Writing: 6
Entertainment Value: 4
Cinematic Quality: 4

Synopsis: A girl has a dream meeting an old etcher while in her car. The car goes crazy and races backwards for miles.
The girl awakes, possibly from a dream? There is a ghost in here room. She is pinned in bed. The ghost
appears on her belly then disappears and she is no longer pinned. She then notices the ghost on her friend.

***I love the title and like the "based on true events" line Yeah right. :) I love a showman.
Pg 1
Late in the nigh…
***Is this superimposed or VO?
***Holy cow that is some name!
***I miss something?
Pg 2
Remy tenses up, tries to move but her joints stiffen as she
R.E.M. poster.
***no clue what this means
Pull back from her eyes
***camera direction
***A dream? I hate these.
roommate, ABBY, we know
She stares it down
***I don't understand staring at her big toe?
if that’s even possible and her vocal chords pulsate and strain.
Pg 3
Remy blinks a number of times, confused.
***Not as confused as I am. :)
***Back on the toe thing again? I'm really lost.
***The figure "sits" on her belly? So a ghost indian style?
Pg 4
we pan away
***camera direction
***One of the reasons I write synopsis is to show the writer what I thought happened in the story. it may or may not be right.
Sorry - you lost me with this one. So tell me - did this happen to you or someone you know? Weird dreams.
I also didn't get trapped, even given the car scene so I lowered my overall one.

02-09-2012, 02:30 PM
The little quotes at the start, this can be so awesome when its really something creepy and lyrical but this rythme is just a bit simple (like the rabbit hole!?) its just the first impression but see as this is a hag in the title, it just made me go hmmm rather than oooh that sounds creepy (like it should in a kinda fairytale way!) So deffo maybe consider tweaking that part!

Whooooah okay right so we bump into this lady with a funny looking dog - and WHAAAAAM SCREECH we're in a car flying all over the place - all kindsa crazy s*it - we don't know why yet - but raargh there we have it. And remember - the director/producer is reading this going right - holy shit im gonna have to somehow film this - but its gonna be important, its gonna be worth it because....

WHAM were in a college dorm room interior! and her room mate ain't even naked... no instead we have Remy in bed, powerless to move when this little freaked out hag comes a stumbling towards her (and a friend request to Mrs Wlaksowloski) at which point she kinda manages to ninja kick the hag (after a bucketful of FX and make up for this hag changing into all manner of shapes etc)

Then it ends of course with her mate staring at the... but what the heck!? So who was the teacher? What was the deal here? What the fuuuuuu....

So this just seemed a bit like a kinda bewildering - so tell me, explain it to me - what is the deal for Remy here?

02-10-2012, 04:53 AM
Hi Derek,

Thanks for the read.

It is based on a true story as I used to have those paralysed dream/wakes moments when I was younger. T'was horrible. But no Hag though.
It's not a bad idea for a short and is pretty creepy.

Not so Good:
Needs work in certain areas to make it less confusing. It seems to jump around a little. E.g. the dream, and transition out of the dream was hard to understand at first and it took a few re-reads.
You need to break your action blocks up to make it more understandable andd create a pace.

Overall, a good idea. It just needs some work on structure to make it flow better and rfemove some confusions. Well done.

Sarah Daly
02-10-2012, 09:36 AM
Yep this needs to be made simpler and clearer. I like the concept it's based on but as others have said, the story was very hard to follow and the structure was over-complicated. Confusing, trippy nightmare sequences like this can work as scenes in a longer film but I'm not sure it works as a short film. I'd suggest you simplify the idea to it's core, creepiest bits and focus on getting those down. The paralysis, the black shadow, that stuff's great - it's the details like the friend request and Abby that just muddy the waters in my opinion.

And yep even just simplifying and spacing out your action lines would be a big help! My poor ol muttonhead was having trouble keeping up with what was going on! :)

Nice idea and some great imagery though!

Rustom Irani
02-14-2012, 01:33 PM
Ah, guilt! Childhood, teen or otherwise, guilt is a powerful deal.

The car bit was obviously a dream, I think, and Remy being caught smoking is probably Remy having done some drug currently with Abby, with the guilt causing her sleep paralysis and compounded by the friend request from an old school teacher she probably feared.

You end with Abby going through the same guilt induced sleep paralysis having experimented with weed or smokes for the first time, I guess.

Of course, I might be waaaay off the mark too.

Essentially, you have left it a bit abstract and your viewing audience won't give it a few more chances and do expect to "get" everything in one viewing, so you will have to let Remy figure things out and get out of this conflict in a simpler way.

Great homage to "Kill Bill" with the toe, if it is a homage. :)

I'll echo what you've probably heard the others say, about needing more white space and keeping it lean. However, you do have a great sense of visual description and timing of action, which are great assets to have in writing and can't say I was bored or felt too disconnected.

This is very original and works well for the theme, so nice job there.

Do re-write this and enter it in other contests as it has potential.

02-20-2012, 02:21 PM
I was confused yet intrigued at the same time. I may have missed something. I thought she was on drugs but maybe that's not the case. It took me for a ride so that's good.