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Rating: 2.6/5 (2 votes cast)

Zoara

Rambunctious high school kids in a sleepy 90′s Midwestern town start to uncover a mystery that places their town in a line of communities that have gone missing dating back to Biblical times.  Soon, the kids realize that only a secret from one of their pasts can save the town from destruction.

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  1. July 14, 2013, 11:10 pm
    Overall
    Concept
    Story Structure
    Character
    Dialogue
    Grammar
    Budget (1-Low / 5-High)

    Concept: I think concept is one of your script’s strongest points – I liked the parallel between Biblical events and other town disappearances. That hook elevates the idea above a more run-of-the-mill horror story. Similar to the Hilary Swank movie – The Reaping.

    Structure: For me, this is the real hole in your script. There are several structural choices that I question; for example, the non-linear timeframe for the party pp 68-72. I didn’t see how that added level of complexity added to the story. Maybe I just didn’t get it.

    I think the entire opening could be cut. We see enough of the day of Mitch’s birth through flashbacks elsewhere in the film. Without that opening, the film could pick up with Mitch the mysterious town outcast (we don’t know why) and we would be more curious to find out why.

    But, if Mitch is the ready scapegoat of the town, what’s he doing with so many friends at school? The tight knit ‘crew’ disarm a lot of Mitch’s sense as the unfairly scapegoated victim.

    Also, while it’s clear you were setting Beckman up as a villain from early on, he goes from creepy politician to borderline satanic psychopath with no intervening steps. It’s such a jarring acceleration of his involvement in the story that I felt like I had narrative whiplash – I couldn’t believe in him as a villain.

    The protagonists go from being at a party to facing the apocalypse without even pausing for breath – no doubt, no disbelief, no questions. This makes the whole ending feel unreal, even though you work all the right beats in the ending, except –

    everyone of the crew survives. Yes all the adults buy it, but not one of Mitch’s friends fails to pull through. A significant co-star death would up the tension of the final act significantly.

    Character: Mostly I think your characterisation is strong, but sometimes you dwell on it too long. I think the story would be stronger if Mitch’s crew could be reduced to perhaps one character. Many of the scenes involving the crew give the film a teen movie feel, which isn’t bad in itself, but I felt it disarmed the tension you worked so hard to set up in the other parts of the script.

    The romance with Analeigh needed a little more screen time to grow for me – but that may be a matter of personal taste.

    Dialogue: Sometimes strong, sometimes too much ‘infodumping’. There are a few times when the conversation feels like it’s taking place for the benefit of the audience. Other times it feels as if some of the conversations are missing lines – some where very hard to follow.

    Grammar: Not much wrong here. From my reading of scriptwriting manuals, the capitalising of key text isn’t done so much anymore. I don’t use it. But I know some people still do and I’m not enough of an expert to tell anyone not to. In your script though, I couldn’t always tell why you capitalised the words you did. Sometimes it made sense, other times not. Maybe a check to see if every capitalisation is absolutely necessary.

    Also, sometimes you make some minor grammar and spelling errors – eg. lightening when you mean lightning – that kind of thing.

    Budget: This could be done on a lower budget but would be way cooler with a double digit million dollar budget.

    Overall: Zoara has a good story at its core. I thought City of the Plains might have made a better title, with the town being named Zoara rather than Sterling. That way the audience wouldn’t have been waiting until halfway through act three for any information about the title. A final reveal would be fine, but we have no connection between the title and the story until ten pages from the end.

    But a pretty small town hiding secrets that ultimately lead to a reckoning of a biblical scale – that’s a classic storyline right there. Hope you stick with it and a producer picks it up for you.

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  2. LaurelP says
    May 20, 2013, 10:41 pm
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    This got my attention due to the mention of Roanoke in the log line. By page 45 I was wondering “Where’s the Roanoke connection?” But, overall, I have to say I LOVE this story. I am very much into Dean Koontz and this has flavors of his early works (think Servant of Twilight era – his most fun time frame). The main thing that distracted from the story however was the dialog. There was verbiage not set with the times (1982 – “Booya”) and being from the Midwest myself I could tell the writer was not. I read the story this morning and it is still sticking in my mind as I get ready for bed. The story itself is very solid, I think, as far as flow, concept and pacing. With just a little more work I would LOVE to see this!

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