Script Doctor: Patient Zero

As a fan of genre films, I am fascinated by the challenge of extending these storyworlds into sequels. When a seemingly one-off picture becomes a success, studios often find themselves scrambling to produce followups that justify extending a premise or storyworld. As much as I revere these movies, I sometimes wish their scripts had another polish. So I’ve decided to hire myself as an unsolicited script doctor to some of my favorite genre sequels. My intent is not to disparage the original creators but to recontextualize their work outside the pressure and timeframes in which it was created.

My plan is to approach each film as if I were hired by the producers to punch up scripts shortly before they are filmed. I’ll be identifying what I perceive to be weaknesses with the story structure and character arcs, then I will follow up with a revised story treatment that addresses these concerns. I will not be addressing casting decisions, actor availability, soundtracks or location choices. I consider these elements “locked in.” I will also try to keep my revisions within the final film’s budget.

For my process, I will be reviewing the theatrically released versions; I acknowledge this incorporates a level of foresight as many films contain reshot material that would not be represented in a pre-production script. When available, I will also familiarize myself with alternate cuts, novelizations and ancillary material to help create a total problem-solving draft.

I’ll be breaking the work into two columns. The first week I will be identifying my concerns with the script in an examination. In the second week I will be prescribing a treatment that corrects my concerns.

The point of this is to have fun and to play in the sandbox of my favorite franchises. It is more or less fan fiction and a problem solving exercise on my own part. If you do not agree with my suggestions, I have fantastic news; the original films aren’t going anywhere.

The Script Doctor's first patient? Halloween II (1981).