Did I get a bad reader and should I shell out $50 more for another read? This comment is killing me: " People searching for an intelligent film won't be interested in werewolf-cowboys." I'm interested in werewolf cowboys and I want something with some subtext. I got an average grade on exactly one aspect of my script, the dialogue, and even then, the part of the evaluation that made me laugh the most was this: "It's too absurd having werewolves speak in near Shakespearean dialogue."
I'm not going to argue the notes I got. If it's problematic for a reader it's a script problem. I can explain here what I was going for and if you care to tell me if this is a good idea, please do share. I wanted the dialogue to actually be era-authentic and I threw myself into a decent amount of research into what people and what buildings were populating L.A. and southern California in the late 1890s. I used a lot of fictionalized versions of real peopleand I tried to have them interacting with people that they would actually have interacted with. So the near Shakespearean dialogue is a nod to the more upper-crust folks of that time, not an attempt to write in iambic pentameter. I smudged a few truths and I threw in a lot of details that I think are cool that maybe don't have anything to do with telling a good story. Fair enough.
I wanted the whole thing to be an allegory with a more or less New Deal-style progressive bent. All of the rich people are werewolves. Get it? Is that a dumb idea? Perhaps so. Apparently so. The protagonist, Joshua, is beat at every step he takes. He was supposed to get trampled by the corporate machinery seeding his homeland but he didn't get killed so he has an offer: join us and become a monster like the rest of us. Forget about what's hurt you and just become another provider for pain. Well, he isn't going to do that so he tries to kill the man he sees as the puppetmaster of his own misfortune. The tragedy of it is that even if he kills Collis Huntington, there is no end to the amount of murderers in charge and there is no cap on the power and destruction they can wield. To top it off, the woman he loves, the only reason he didn't kill himself already, is actually the monster that destoryed his family. Joshua doesn't ever learn that and I didn't go out of the way to do more than allude to her as the killer but that's the conceit I was working with. So, maybe it's too high-minded for a werewolf-cowboy movie but I don't think that's really the issue or even a possibility. You can wedge an issue in anywhere you damn well please. Horror stories are even conducive to that sort of thing (witness Godzilla, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Aliens, et al) because you're playing on the audience's worries. If I didn't get to that place it's an issue of hackery and slovenliness. So, I'm done with that.
I've talked myself into getting another read. Hopefully I get a little more detail but I'm thinking that this story just might not work. Which is sad. I'm a step closer to bailing entirely on screenwriting. Goodbye, you piece of shit degree. Thanks for literally nothing.