As we did last year, we’re celebrating our Horror Award with articles about our favorite films and TV shows in horror. Find out what scares us the most… and what we’re looking for from a horror script! First up: A QUIET PLACE…
There are many things to like about 2018’s A QUIET PLACE, which was co-written, directed by, and starred John Krasinski – but to us, as screenwriters and fans of the horror genre, it’s the premise that really makes the film work.
Firstly, it’s just a great concept: a family tries to survive in a post-apocalyptic world overrun by blind alien creatures that can hear but not see you, a world where silence means survival and sound means death.
Producers are always looking for a unique selling point – a premise unlike any other, something fresh and new that audiences haven’t seen before and will, therefore, be interested in – and there’s no doubt that A QUIET PLACE has one. The concept immediately piques our interest!
And that’s half the battle in screenwriting. How do you get someone, let alone a busy producer, to invest their time into reading your script? The answer is by having a premise that no-one else has ever come up with before.
The second thing that really impresses us about the concept is how well it understands the horror genre. While there’s no reductive phrase that summarizes how horror works, an important part of it is the concept of “tension and release”.
A lot of horror scripts throw tension out the window, simply intent on racking up the body count in as gruesome a way as possible – but, as a result, we become numb and often even bored to all the death, dismemberments, and other awful things being thrown at us. Tension is necessary before the release (i.e. the death) if it’s to have any impact.
But silence is an extremely effective way of creating tension, and similarly, sound is an effective way of creating release. They’re the cornerstone of the “jump scare” tactic a lot of horror films use, whether appropriately or cheaply.
Because silence and sound are part of the fabric of the film, A QUIET PLACE inevitably works well. Tension and release are an inherent part of it. It cannot fail to be scary.
And that, fundamentally, is the genius concept of A QUIET PLACE. It has a premise that grabs our attention and gives it a unique selling point, and which shows a fantastic understanding of the horror genre. It’s the kind of premise we hope to see from you guys for our Horror Award!
If you’ve got a horror script that you think can rival A QUIET PLACE, submit now to our Horror Award 2020! The winner receives script development and guaranteed pitching to industry, and all submissions receive FREE, automatic entry to our Fall 2020 Screenwriting Contest – and the chance to win the Grand Prize of $3500!