Last night I watched the movie The Rental on Netflix. The typical second act infighting drove me nuts. Have you seen it? How would you improve the second act
Okay, a prize box to the four people with the best ideas...
"Best ideas" do not include suddenly throwing zombies into the mix.
The person who set the cameras up in the cabin is revealed to be a famous author from Oregon (the location of where the movie was filmed). The whole thing -- the turmoil the people go through -- turns out to be nothing more than a test drive for certain plot aspects of a new project that the author is working on. Film would be re-titled and released as ‘Crowd seeding’.
I woullldddddd have the would be killer use the (spoiler) cheating sex video as blackmail against the two and make them do something. Maybe like, the girl has to suck off the dead dude while the brother sucks his toes. Something like that. There you go. Improved.
Weird, I can't find it on my Netflix account here in the UK. Although I believe it's also on Prime.
Popcorns are popping. Speak to you in 1h and 28min...
Second act could maybe have included more cameras being found around the cabin (maybe what happened in the shower isn’t the only secret people are trying to hide). Or maybe one -- or both -- member(s) of the cheating couple get sent a mysterious message/email that shows the clip of them being intimate which is then followed by a message threatening to upload it on the internet. This could be used by the sender -- the masked man -- to blackmail the receiver(s) into doing things that they don’t want; things that progressively get worse and worse. This could maybe be a better source of tension in the second act compared to the infighting.
They find a book bound in human flesh and a tape player down in the cabin’s basement. They play the tape, which is audio of passages from the book being read out loud, and after that shit goes sideways and gets demonic real fast.
I’ll check it out later today. Right on. Be well guys🤙🏼
For the holidays I watched the horror film, "Midsommar." Have you seen this!? I thought it was absolutely fantastic! I will take a look at "The Rental" for sure.
I watched most of it, but need to finish it. Have you seen Barbarian? Would love to hear you’re take.
They should have used maintenance coming out as a chance to have a couple of them snoop into the other house that was watching them during telescope night and try to catch the person spying. Find out who is really there. Maybe they use further maintenance calls to spoop around the other home and hear some wrestling. Is it the killer? Nope, Reggie pops out after finding some tasty jerky next to a clue. They get enough info to create a trap. Should we get Home Alone elaborate, but with tech? Use some more advanced gadgets such as Alexa or something to trick the Air B&B Butcher and take care of the murder bandit themselves instead of the 90s horror, kill all the young people off trope. Maybe a few people don't make it, but they still stop the butcher which a good tar and feathering.
I would say that the owner of this Airbnb is a serial killer. There is a slow reveal to body disposal items secreted away in different locations throughout the house. The threat of a poor review and cancelation has caused the owner to become more unhinged in communication with the renters. At the end of the second act the owner shows up at what is supposed to be the group's last night in the place. The act ends with owner standing over the bed of his potential victims in the property. The camera focuses on on the syringe in their hand with blood and some unknown substance pooling up on the needles tip.
So what is someone drove cross country and booked one for a few months and then after getting asked to leave the first AIRBNB bc of a dog then get a mini-house where they bag their shit. The first people left such an awful review of you in response to yours so your current host threatens to evict you if you violate even one rule. You've had enough. You go home 3 days before you are supposed to move in the really nice AIRBNB with the dog so you lose your deposit and guess what? Months later you find out that only 6 weeks later multiple residents were murdered in the AIRBNB.
Basically, the dog saved you bc you decided to go home for her sake.
Chuck, you should be on Twitter tweeting these small updates. There's thousands of us on there who would love to see you active on there like you are on substack
The Watcher on Netflix however was a 5 star bingewatch. The Dahmer thing 0.
Interview with a Vampire? - Probably the best depiction of a book into a series in my entire life. I read those 3 decades ago and it's come to life so vividly!!!!! I've watched every episode 3 times I can't get enough.....
Hotel Motel Holiday Inn
Just finished it after work this evening. I will definitely think this over.
Chuck talked about the infighting as “the little soap opera stuck in the centre of so many recent stories…That usual bickering power struggle eats up time and pages with lots of dialogue, but there are other options.” Loud retching. Twisted stomach. Creative writers spewing everywhere. We can do better (Ref https://chuckpalahniuk.substack.com/p/plotting-surviving-the-second-act#footnote-anchor-3).
In the same post, Chuck mentions that other options can be Challenges/Trials or the Road Trip. Or a combination of them. I’ll discard the Road Trip, because I think it could miss the point for a short horror movie set in a house. Unless we introduce a bunch of flashbacks. Backstories. Jumping back and forth. Let’s stay in the scene. Let’s stay in the house. In my suggestion, I’ll go for the Challenges/Trials option.
The second act in a horror movie kicks off when the main characters realise the house is haunted. In this case, the second act begins when they realise someone, allegedly the house guy, is filming them.
The second act could go something like this:
!!! Warning – Made-up spoilers ahead !!!
The dog started disappearing the night before, and all stoned and drunk, they forgot about him. When they wake up, we can have Josh dropping something lame to Charlie and Mina like, “How could you do it?” [implied: forget about the dog].
They all go looking for the dog. They split into two groups. Michelle and Josh have a chat about how Charlie tends to overlap relationships.
They walk into the creepy woods, check the rocky cliff, and found the dog stuck in danger of dropping down.
They get back and they all do drugs. The hot tub is stuck and they call the house guy. They dance, all wobbly knees and jelly arms. The TV is on. When only Mina is looking at the TV screen, it flashes footage of her and Charlie in the shower. No one sees it.
She’s high. She grabs Charlie for a chat. It can’t be true, he says. She’s probably just on drugs. Everything is fine.
In the meantime, Michelle is dancing with Josh flapping her arms in the living room. She drops a vase and a small camera and wires pop out on the floor. What-the-hell moment. When Charlie and Mina get back in the room after hearing the vase crashing they all check the creepy camera, curse at the racist, pervy house guy.
That’s when the TV flickers on shots of the different rooms in the house. But with previous guests dining, kissing, sleeping. The dog barks outside. Josh goes looking for him ready to leave right after. Mina grabs her phone and is about to call the police. And TV now shows images of murdered guests to Michelle, Mina and Charlie. Blood pouring over their hammered skulls.
Michelle has a panic attack and runs upstairs to pack her bag and get the hell our. Charlie follows her.
Mina sees the truck of the house guy just parks outside. She grabs a butcher knife from the kitchen but the house guy is nowhere to be seen.
Upstairs Michelle gets a message from Josh’s phone. It’s a video of Mina and Charlie shagging in the shower. She starts slapping Charlie in the face and runs downstairs to confront Mina. But just when she’s going full mad at her, the dog walks in covered in blood. Charlie goes into the woods looking for Josh, Michelle says she can go to hell, Mina goes to the front of the house looking for the house guy. She can go to hell too. Charlie finds Josh dead body and then gets a big hole in his head with a hammer.
Mina finds the house guy unconscious by his track. She calls the police.
Inside Michelle is sitting on the sofa, crying her eyes out, on the video images of Charlie and Mina, kissing in the hot tub, murdered guess, images of Charlie and Mina in the shower, then a video of Josh and Charlie dead in the woods. She's screaming, and then she’s not screaming anymore, because a hammer hits her straight in the head.
Mina walks in and sees Michelle dead. She holds her hand, feeling sorry, feeling guilty. Feeling really shit basically. The murder guy comes in, chases her a bit everywhere. She dies.
The murderer removes all cameras and leaves. The police come and find blood all over the house guy that is now recovering. They arrest him.
Credits with footage of cameras from different guest houses.
So what happened?
* A small tweak to avoid the infighting is not to have Mina or Charlie spotting the camera in the shower, but someone else instead.
* Introduce the woods in the second act – instead of in the third act like in the original script – helps keeping it in the back of the viewers mind and come stronger on the final act
* We do need to separate characters at some point anyway. To reveal info (Josh and Michelle, although probably not even really needed) and to have the murderer doing its job. No one enjoys a catfight between a serial killer and 4 house guests
* The shower footage is used, but just to amplify tension in the second act instead of driving it completely
* All other footages are used to increase tension. Mental torture can be more effective than a physical one.
I mean, I think. I guess. Dunno. Unless we keep the infighting in the second act and next time we just trust IMDB rating and watch “The Woman in Black” instead.
I would throw out the serial killer altogether. Just have a peeping tom messing with the group. The hot head ends up killing his brother and the girl still flings herself off a cliff.
I just want to say for the record though, I will most definitely not being using AIRBNB ever again though.........
To get rid of jet lag, I was told I Must Stay Awake. After carefully rereading Chuck's challenge about The Rental's Second Act, I realized I have to keep First Act and Third Act intact. Right?
Okay. So Jesus what a pile of crap.
Ditch the beginning and just put them at the lake house. Mostly setting up cameras and looking for good shots to use the rental to make porn. (That way it eliminates the whole who slept with who bullshit.) Turn it into a rancid incest foursome where they trade girlfriends and make porn on E so their embarrassment and anger on discovery of the cameras is turned entirely on the guy who rents the place. He’s stealing their porn and giving it away for free on Pornhub. The same plan to get rid of the body of the property manager after the brother beats him and scour the house for the footage of the murder while fighting off the assailant.
I've not seen The Rental so cannot in any capacity bring good practical ideas to the table to improve the second act. Or the third act as it happens. There's a third act right? But because I'm in that devil may care frame of mind, I'm going to fly blind.
Ideas for improvement:
- No one dies in the end. (presuming someone dies right?)
- Someone cutting up Carolina Reapers for Chilli Con Carne accidentally touches their right eye and become increasingly disturbed by the blurred watery vision and high scoville pain that will not subside. They were warned by their partner to go milder. The Carolina Reapers are going to play a bit part in the finale.
- The couples (are there couples?) play the social deduction game One Night Ultimate Werewolf where they have to lie about who's a werewolf and who's a villager. One of the roles in the game is that of a Tanner - the Tanner's role is lose and therefore win the game. They not only realise their partners are exceptional liars in the process of playing but we also realise that one of the characters is a 'Tanner' character in real life. Someone who wants to lose.
- One of the characters is obsessed with Sloths.
- One of them has OCD and has to shut a door four times before leaving a room, even when being pursued.
- All the characters are women.
- It's a blind date.
- One of the characters is a famous singer songwriter who's lost their muse and needs ideas
Any of these help?
The couples have to leave the first place because you are allowed to book a dog through AIRBNB as a guest and arrive to find the dog is not welcome. They contact AIRBNB and get a refund and new rental but since they left a bad review for, they first host left a review that said they broke rules that you didnt break and the second place threatens to evict you if the dog or any of you break a single rule. So one of you leaves with the dog even though you now have a third place and cuts the trip short only to arrive home to find out that everyone was murdered the night they arrived. I love when the pets survive in movies because everyone expects them to die.
But I also like my other story about the lone female traveler that is absolutely in no way based on a real life scenario.......................
Ok the end of it, the Slasher saw got sick of all the infighting and instead of killing the couples, he decided to go kill Elon Musk because he adores Kathy Griffin.
P.S. Guess I don't have to create that Twitter account after all!
P.P.S. I forgot to buy Powerball tickets.
I feel like the problem is the first act - everyone sucks and is stupid - so I don't care about anything else that happened afterward. I think writing at least one of these characters - better if more - to be someone we even remotely give a shit about instead of these flimsy excuses for people, the conflicts would build themselves and we'd actually care to see at least someone succeed by the end, allowing the second act to matter.
I've been thinking about this all week. The creepiest moment of the movie was when we saw the killer lurking behind the group. My partial rewrite is as follows:. When the two characters went on the long walk in the woods, they should have come upon increasing disturbing items. First, they get a bit lost and are off-trail. They come upon a bone. Is that an animal bone? Or a human bone? Then an animal dying in a trap. They try to rescue it and fail. Then finally, upon a camping site with not much there but what is there is a little weird. A skinned animal and maybe what might be a human bone and a half eaten - is that a dog's leg?
Meanwhile, back at the rental, the characters come upon an entertainment unit with DVDs. Every single one is a slasher movie: ones that seem familiar but are not actually studio releases And they are all copies with hand written movie names, i.e. illegal copies. The characters are loopy on drugs and decide to put in a movie. While half-watching there is a brief splice of the two characters having sex. They all see it but are not sure what they saw.. The slasher scenes are too realistic. Long drawn out scenes where characters are just - dying, without much action. The characters get upset and start fast forwarding, frantically changeing DVDs. More of the same. Then they come upon scenes where it looks like scenes of them being killed. They are not sure and they are high but they are freaked out and panicked. (These wind up being glimpses of what actually happens to them). Third act.
The film falls apart when it transpires that the pieces set up at the start are never going to materialise. The homeowner brother we never see, the object of the telescope, the comments of the cookie-cutter ‘redneck racist’, even the lock on the basement door.
I’d propose some initial character work to help escalate the plot. A more arrogant older brother, a slightly wilder younger brother – emphasise their differences for natural conflict. I’d make the host the sole homeowner and have him as an overbearing, overly-accommodating and seemingly well-meaning lonely man. Every minor grievance is ‘coincidentally’ resolved a little too promptly. This makes the older brother suspicious. When he learns his affair has been caught on camera, this instigates the second act where he convinces his fellow adulterer that they can locate and destroy the footage without alerting their partners.
That locked door to the basement now needs a code, while the telescope can be used to see across to the host’s cabin. While the innocent hikers are offsite, we see the host drive off in his truck. Here’s an opportunity to see what the sick fuck’s really up to…
I would have the two female characters get into a fight. And after everything all is forgiven