Wednesday, August 22, 2012

TODAY'S NUGGET: Magic (1978) - Art of Blurring

[Quick Summary:  A timid ventriloquist just might be possessed by his bawdy dummy...or not.]

Bad news: Psychological horror/thrillers are hard to write.

Good news: There's a high demand.

Bad news: Most psychological horror/thriller spec scripts don't know how to blur the line between reality and the bizarre/fantasy.

Good news: Magic does blurring very well. 

So how did Goldman do it?

#1 - The script takes time to establish:

- Who Corky is (awkward ventriloquist, loyal, fears success)
- What he wants (to be with Peg, his childhood fantasy girl)

#2 - The script makes Fats (the dummy) a crutch in Corky's world.  

ex. Fats expresses Corky's deepest, unspoken feelings.
ex. Fats is the reason Corky gets jobs.

Weird becomes "normal" for Corky.

#3 - To be with Peg (goal), Corky must break up with Fats (face his demons).

The psychological horror/thrill comes from the fact that it's darned near impossible now to tell where the demons are coming from:

- Is Fats is real?
- Or has an evil dummy possessed Corky?
- Or is it all in Corky's mind?

The torment is that Corky has melded to his crutch/demon.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED:  To blur reality vs. non-reality, justify both sides.

ex. Reality = Peg
Non-reality = Fats
Corky wants both but can only have one, so he vacillates.

Magic (1978)
by William Goldman (from his novel)

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