Horror Screenplay Structure vs Drama by Jeffrey Reddick

Film Courage: Does horror screenplay structure differ from drama?

Jeffrey Reddick, Screenwriter: I don’t necessarily think so. I mean I think all screenplays kind of follow the basic three act kind of Save The Cat [Author Blake Snyderkind of structure.

I think the biggest taboo with horror is they do want kills pretty frequently so the standard rule is every 10 pages they want to have either a really scary scene or a kill.

In drama it’s not like you have to have a super dramatic moment every 10 minutes. You could build the drama and you can still do that in horror as well but a lot of times the formula…I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve been on where they’re like Yeah, it’s been awhile since somebody died. Nobody has died here in awhile. You may want to throw another death in there. Then you have to add in a character to kill off.

I think comedies are very close to horror because it’s always building up to a joke and horror you are building up to a kill but with comedies it’s a lot more jokes. With horror again you have more pacing with your kills. They do all follow the same general structure. Usually the joke in horror is well What is this character’s motivation? It’s like To get away from the guy with the knife. That is pretty much it with a lot of horror.

Film Courage: It seems like FRIDAY THE 13TH there are more kills but if you look at CARRIE (which I know you brought that up) she doesn’t get her revenge until the very end which it would have been nicer to see her do it sooner. With THE EXORCIST

Jeffrey: It took a long time. And THE OMEN was pretty…that’s the thing movies (and they blame it kind of on Attention Deficit Disorder now) everyone is so overtly overloaded with information that they can’t concentrate so they act like the quiet movies don’t work but then you see something like GET OUT which…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).


Bio (via IMDB):

Jeffrey Reddick is best known for creating the Final Destination (2000) film franchise. He also co-wrote the story for, and executive produced, Final Destination 2 (2003). Jeffrey lives in Los Angeles. He grew up in Eastern Kentucky and attended Berea College. Jeffrey made his first connection to the film industry at age 14, when he wrote a prequel to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and mailed it Bob Shaye, the President of New Line Cinema. Bob returned the material for being unsolicited. But the young man wrote Bob an aggressive reply, which won him over. Bob read the treatment and got back to Jeffrey. Bob, and his assistant, Joy Mann, stayed in contact with Jeffrey for over five years. When he went to The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York at age 19, Bob offered him an internship at New Line Cinema. This internship turned into an 11-year stint at the studio.

Aside from Final Destination (2000), which spawned four successful sequels, Jeffrey’s other credits include Lions Gate’s thriller, Tamara (2005) and the remake of George Romero’s classic, Day of the Dead (2008).

Jeffrey has several feature and TV projects in development and he directed his first short, Good Samaritan (2014) in 2014.




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SAWGRASS on Youtube by Jack Peterson. Jack is an American filmmaker based in Chicago. He’s been featured in the New York Times, the Daily Beast, and ABC News for his work as an activist. His first feature film, Sawgrass, is a psychedelic journey through Florida, featuring an extensive interview with the brother of the Las Vegas shooter. Sawgrass also features a performance by the Rock-afire Explosion, a vintage animatronic band created by famed inventor Aaron Fechter. Jack’s next feature film, My Perfect Everything, tells the story of a magician chasing an imaginary woman he met in 1989. My Perfect Everything is currently in the early stages of pre-production.