Sunday, August 21, 2005

Red-Eye: Quick Note

Liked the film a lot, but I'm probably not the most objective person in matters of Wes Craven thrillers.

Regardless, I thought the second act was a little bit of genius, and something it would be worthwhile for all writers to see since they managed to generate so much tension, and so many emotional story beats, out of two people sitting next to each other on a plane.

One thing I've always believed is that there are two ways to up the stakes in entertainment and find new ways to wow an audience:

  1. Blast people with more spectacle and larger scope.
  2. Move in tight and focus on something small, but make it intensely important to the people involved.

Too much of either and you'll eventually start losing audience; perhaps that's part of the reason The Island and Stealth had problems this summer, even though films of similar quality have done well in the past.

Red-Eye (and, actually, War of the Worlds) does the latter and I think they both benefitted.

In my writing I like to mix both in the same screenplay -- offset large, gory action set pieces with tight, minimalist suspense beats.


Anonymous said...

was Red Eye really Die Hard on a plane? The idea of it sounds great

Steve Peterson said...

Not at all -- much more Hitchcockian, especially the second act plane stuff. And a lot of the suspense built with dialogue and pure acting beats.

Thanks for dropping by!

Grubber said...

It's interesting, I saw a commercial for it down here the other day, and I don't know if it was local editing of the commercial, but I was not interested at all. I was sleepy at time so might not have properly taken it in, but the basics of what I got was:

Man next to girl on plane, she finds out he is going to kill her father?????? and yet there is nothing done about it even though security on planes nowadays is high.

Next she is in house calling police, and still in did she get there, can't recall much now,....but it seemed so far fetched from what I saw on the commercial, that I had written this one off.

However, after reading your comments....and I agree the posters you have up here do look great, I will be giving it a decent go.

I wonder if it was poor editing...

Steve Peterson said...

Hola Dave, thanks for dropping by.

I think I've seen that ad too and yeah, it rather sucks and makes me wonder if it's by the same ad company that did the posters.

Anyway, the action-y scenes are from the third act and, honestly, I think the first and third acts aren't as interesting as the second act. One thing I've noticed about screenwriting though is that as long as a film includes some interesting elements or sequences, it's a valuable experience.

Regarding the Ad Again: I'm wondering if it's something they put together for the second week, figuring the first week's draw will largely be suspense and Wes Craven fans, and they want to try to emphasize the action elements after the opening in order to expand the audience. Slate ran an interesting article on ad campaign life cycles here:

explaining why early VW ads were cool and later VW ads were mundane.

The Awful Writer said...


I really like your 'two ways to up the stakes'. I'm going to have to remember those. Thanks.

Babs said...

You're absolutely right. One of the best poster I've ever seen. You're also a movie super fan? *pointing to my own self* 2 then. Nice blog, nice post.

Grubber said...

My pleasure Steve, had fun reading your old posts. Your mate Dan's blog isn't bad fun either. He will get stick for bringing back an accent. Will cost him at least first two shouts at the pub. ;-)

Congrats on your movie as well...I hope it is resurrected, and best of luck for any future work!

Steve Peterson said...

Thanks Jim and Babs!

Dan had a fairly light accent to begin with, but he did teach me fangin', boggan, and "a few roos loose in the top forty" -- all of which I'm trying to fit into various screenplays...

He also told me that I should try Victoria Bitter -- but the rotten pubs here in the states, even pubs with scores of different kinds of beer, don't carry it.

Grubber said...

LOL being a Mexican he would suggest VB. Being a Toad myself I have to by state loyalty say it is crap(and then drink it when I go south ;-) )

Has he explained the mexican and toad terms? There is also cockroach, sandgroper, taswegian, and croweater or just crow. We're a polite mob!