Premise: Following the model of ‘Jaws’ and other monster movies, ‘Carp’ is a competently written horror/thriller about creatures terrorizing the locals near a dangerous body of water. Greg is the unlikely hero, a tugboat captain caught up in a situation presumably over his head and Kirsten is the brilliant scientific mind anxious to identify the deadly fish and come up with a plan of attack. Together they are like Brody and Hooper from ‘Jaws’. There’s even the scene where the leads try and fail to convince the Mayor to call off the St. Patrick’s Day Parade so people aren’t attacked near the Chicago River (close to the scene where Hooper and Brody try and fail to convince their Mayor to close down the beaches on the 4th of the July to keep locals alive). Again, the writer follows the formula closely and the end result provides some scares as well as laughs (some intentional, some not – more below). There is a huge body count and a giant set piece ending involving the destruction of one of the city’s landmarks. The dialogue is one of the stronger elements right now as it helps set-up the characters and provide much of the comic relief (witty banter, sharp one-liners, etc.). Last, the tone is a combination of light (escapism) and dark (countless deaths) but the balance works within this genre. Unfortunately, even with the positive elements discussed above the reader still gives ‘Carp’ a pass for both writer and script (though it was close) because of a series of problems that are plaguing the material and preventing it from reaching its true potential. From killer fish that feel too limited (ridiculous at times), to a forced romance, to plot holes, to an ending that felt underwhelming, the reader will provide detailed notes below and then offer possible solutions to implement in future drafts of the script. If the writer is willing to take the time to give these notes some thought and address the different troubled zones then ‘Carp’ will take a big step towards improved grades on the scoring chart above as well as possible consideration down the line. First Twenty Pages: The writer’s job in the first act of any script is threefold. First, the protagonist has to be introduced. In this case it’s Greg, check. Second, the writer needs to give us some background and insight into this character so we know what kind of a person he or she is. In ‘Carp’ we learn that Greg is divorced from his angry wife but still fights to find time with his son, Kyle. Check. Last, but definitely not least, the
writer must set up a MAIN WANT for this protagonist. What is our lead’s main goal above all else? The quest to achieve this goal will make up the spine of our story. It will run through the second act and be resolved in the third. This is our central narrative and it gives the script focus and direction. For example, in ‘Jaws’ Sheriff Brody’s main goal was to kill the shark and keep the island of Amityville safe. That was his quest and the main storyline in the movie. In ‘Carp’ Greg and his son watch killer carps attack and slaughter a whole group of people. They quickly spread the word and involve the authorities and the stakes are established. From this point on our protagonist wants to help take down the carps threatening the locals. This is his main goal and the script’s central narrative and it arrives in a clear and timely manner. Solid work in the opening act.