How to write a good horror screenplay

It’s Friday the 13th today and I thought it would be to watch a good horror movie to celebrate the day. Why don’t we start with the original slasher Friday the 13th by Sean Cunningham and written by Victor Miller.

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One might ask, how do the writers scribe a good horror movies that would make a hit when released to theaters near you.

In you want the answer, the late screenwriter guru Syd Field gives us the standard recipe for a good movie screenplay : it’s a very simple blueprint.

The Hook.

Start with a bang. Step right into a suspense scene. (“Scream” opens with a terrifying sequence with Drew Barrymore on the phone with a killer)

The Flaw.

Introduce your hero. Give him a flaw. Before you can put your hero in jeopardy we must care for him. We must want our hero to succeed. So make him human. (In “Signs” Mel Gibson plays a priest who has lost his faith after his wife died)

The Fear. (or the Phobia) 

A variant of The Flaw. The hero has a fear. Maybe a fear of heights, or claustrophobia. (In “Jaws” Roy Scheider has a fear of water. At the end he has to conquer his fear by going out onto the ocean to kill the shark)

No Escape.

Have your hero at an isolated location where he can’t escape the horror. (Like the hotel in “The Shining”)

Foreplay.

Tease the audience. Make them jump at scenes that appear scary — but turn out to be completely normal. (Like the cat jumping out of the closet) Give them some more foreplay before bringing in the real monster.

Evil Attacks.

A couple of times during the middle of the script show how evil the monster can be — as it attacks its victims.

Investigation.

The hero investigates, and finds out the truth behind the horror.

Showdown.

The final confrontation. The hero has to face both his fear and the monster. The hero uses his brain, rather than muscles, to outsmart the monster. (At the end of “The Village” the blind girl tricks the monster to fall into the hole in the ground)

Aftermath.

Everything’s back to the way it was from the beginning — but the hero has changed for the better or for the worse. (At the end of “Signs” Mel Gibson puts on his clerical collar again — he got his faith back)

Evil Lurks.

We see evidence that the monster may return somewhere..somehow..in the future..(Almost all “Friday The 13’th”-movies end with Jason showing signs of returning for another sequel)

Good Luck And Happy Friday The 13th

Sofiane MEROUANI

Author: Sofiane Madani Merouani

Up in the air. Pop Corn Lover and a Dreamer - Avid Reader, Writer and Retro Gaming Collector.

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