*******************************The REVIEWS are in on The PUZZLE MAKER*************************
“I love this whole concept you have crafted here. I love how it starts with this gothic horror intro and we go into a contemporary cybersecurity thriller. The whole thing reads like Insidious meets Mr. Robot. I was surprised I finished it in one sitting because I thought my attention span would be challenged with a 2 hour script. Paul was a very likable character, he is easy to empathize with and root for. I was actually worried about what was going to happen to him once he started to get set up. The dialogue reads like natural conversations and your action lines are direct yet visually stimulating. I do IT and at first I thought it was going to be not that well thought out, but the actual details of the case/Paul's job is logical and realistic. There was not too much technobabble that would confuse people. You got to the point and it felt like a real conference room. I liked how you handled Gwen a lot, she didn't feel like a weak character at all. A wife and a mother in these types of films usually are just side characters, but despite not being privy to the supernatural and the technological, Gwen is a strong character in each of her scenes.
The horror elements are written extremely well. No junk, just what is needed to tell the story. The use of the home security system/notifications was well done, those notifications about someone being at the front door were terrifying. The climax was visually striking, and I love the intersection of the occult and virtual reality. I liked how it was brought back to the castle and felt full circle to the prologue. Molly was well written, being on the spectrum did not feel gimmicky. The script is professionally done, but most importantly, it isn't boring.
Thank you for the chance to read this. I can't wait to see it one day in theaters or streaming and go, "Hey, I got to read that."”
“I am immediately hooked. The first page is excellently written and entertaining.
I love the character descriptions. The description of Edvard is visceral and interesting. I can see him clearly in my head.
I enjoyed the lightning throughout when referencing the puzzle maker. It is a cool motif that would look visually impressive on screen.
The transitions between scenes are really creative and well written. I really like the transition on page 23 between the courier's body and the plane. It inspires a sense of doom that is really well done.
The NSA scene on page 27 feels quite realistic. The way everyone talks feels like it would actually take place in the top-secret government agency and I also feel the pressure that is clearly on them from the protestors outside.
I like the scene on page 43 with the radio transmission. It is really interesting and creepy.
The characters are well-connected. Von Donnikan and Paul both have lives that revolve around puzzles and it comes across really well in the script.
I love how the puzzle is like a character itself. The faces of Olivia and the Countess changing based on what is happening in the story is really cool and it helps connect the past to the present.
The scene on page 63 that connects Molly's health to the puzzle is really cool and I think it would play out really incredibly on the big screen.
Page 75 is really well-written. It is scary and I think the lack of dialogue in this scene emphasizes the emotions and really strengthens the scene as a whole. I can imagine it being truly scary and gory which is really cool. The shadowy figure is a familiar villain, and I think of Candyman when I think of him except the hook is replaced with a jigsaw.
The puzzle piece scene on page 89 is really cool. I like how the virtual reality aspect combines with the puzzle. It is also cool how this address was discovered by using a cipher in the first place, so it is all connected by various puzzles.
The reveal on page 101 was surprising and a great twist.. I was shocked... The ending contains a great reveal and I think it was really well-done throughout because it is both realistic while also being totally unexpected.
The long speech works well on page 104. I can imagine it as the big villain speech nearing the end of the film and it is both frightening and ties in the entire plot.
The switching between real life and the metaverse is interesting and I haven't really seen it before in a horror film. I think it is a very cool visual and new take on a horror concept. The virtual world is not as serious and the stakes do not feel as high as the real world, but it is quite interesting.
Overall, the concept is solid and the villain is cool. I think it would look really interesting on screen. I also think the settings are quite creative and there are some cool locations throughout that would be really interesting during filming. I like how all the characters are connected. The main characters are all purposeful and relate back to the puzzlemaker from the beginning.”
“I was drawn to read your script because of the concept. It’s intriguing, puzzles within the context of the horror genre. Your script has a lot going on in it, weaving the supernatural horror elements with complex, real world ideas, like surveillance (and the goings on at the NSA), cryptography, NFT’s, virtual reality/the metaverse, and cyber forensics. I enjoyed the dichotomy of magic versus science and how they blend really well together. I thought the ciphers and code breaking are interesting, too. The lore of the Von Donnikans and their talents, art and puzzle-making, is fascinating and worked into the overall story skillfully.
I think your strongest element is your plot. There is so much going on and it moves at a break-neck speed, jumping from one locale and focus to another, but all woven together nicely. You do not provide any down time, lulls in the pace, which I personally enjoy. Once I got past the second setup, the introduction of Paul and his family and work life, and things started unfolding, I was happily engaged with the story.
You provide some very effective moments of tension and dread, especially when it comes to the supernatural interactions with the daughter, Molly. Her obsession with the puzzle is palpable and the middle of the night visits from the murderous ghost in the house were written in a way that they are both reminiscent of preceding films in the genre but also have a new spin on the supernatural intruder trope. Of all the characters in the story, I felt the most emotion when reading about Molly and seeing the danger she is in. The ghostly killer is sufficiently scary and you write him in a visual way that adds to atmosphere of the piece. One of my favorite sequences is when Paul starts to tear apart the puzzle but at the same time Molly’s vitals begin to crash in the hospital and then when the puzzle is reassembled, Molly starts to get better.
The reveal of the real villain was surprising but also made sense. The climax happening both in the real world and in the metaverse was creative and unique.”
BREFNI O'ROURKE is a New York based screenwriter actively marketing all of his materials for possible sale or option. He is the author of more than 50 original feature-length spec screenplays, primarily within the action, suspense-thriller, and horror genres. The "cinematic Brefniverse" includes:
"The Awning", a supernatural thriller, was a quarterfinalist in the 2023 WeScreenplay Feature contests. It was named a finalist in the 2022 Story Pros International Screenplay Contest and has been awarded a Coverfly badge of - Top 6% of discoverable projects. In March of 2023 it made the Red List as the # 8 ranked thriller screenplay.
"Wake", a psychological thriller, was recognized as a semifinalist in the 2022 Creative World Awards. It was recognized as a quarterfinalist in the Final Draft/Big Break Contest (top 10% of entries) and the American Zoetrope contest. It has been awarded a Coverfly badge of being among the top 22% of discoverable projects.
"Descendancy", an action-thriller, was recognized as a Quarterfinalist in the Script Lab - TSL Free Screenplay Contest 2022 and has been awarded a Coverfly badge of - Top 18% of discoverable projects.
"Moving Day", a supernatural thriller, was recognized as a quarterfinalist in the 2015 Final Draft/Big Break Contest. It has been awarded a Coverfly badge of being among the top 34% of discoverable projects.
"Panopticon", an action-thriller, was selected as a "Notable Project" by Amazon Studios (one of only 50 projects recognized as such).
"God's Work", a supernatural action thriller was optioned by The Ferla Consulting Group.
"Threshold", a horror-thriller (cowritten with Elizabeth Rowin and Greg DeRochie) was optioned by Contribution Films. (http://www.contributionfilms.com/threshold.html).