The judges have at last come to a consensus and we’re thrilled to announce The Devil’s Footprints by Eric Jeske as the grand prize winner of the second annual ScreamCraft Horror Script Contest. The script is a skillfully written period horror that demonstrates a mastery of tone and tension in telling a story that feels at once classical and contemporary. It centers on an ensemble of 19th-century English villagers–including a just-escaped-from-the-noose convict, the brave young woman he loves, a reverend, an academic and a tortured tracker–who reluctantly band together to stop the Devil from walking the earth and consuming human souls. The characters are engaging and distinctive, and the script consistently fulfills the quintessential requirement of a horror narrative: it frightens.
We are also very excited to highlight Dogs of War–written by Timothy O’Rawe and Cathleen O’Rawe, based on the book by Steve Ruthenbeck–as our runner-up. The script is an ambitious story about a squad of battle-hardened commandoes who are tasked with recovering a supernatural box from Nazi werewolves at the tail end of World War II. The script is written with a palpable sense of style and self-awareness and features spectacularly visceral and cinematic sequences.
The other eight finalists–culled from more than 800 submissions–are also well-crafted, high-concept scripts that demonstrate considerable skill, along with a strong understanding of and passion for the genre. They are:
Ace by Andrew Ferrell & Shane McAvoy
Bucket of Blood by Jake Miller (adapted from his novel Ashes of the Dead: Bucket of Blood)
Doctor Frankenstein and Mister Hyde by Jason Jenkins, (based on characters created by Mary Shelley and Robert Louis Stevenson)
Insatiable by Michael D. Morra
Iron Dogs by Neil Chase
Slasher Squad by Stuart Campbell & Nathan Stone
The Book of Magic by Sheldon Woodbury
The Good Neighbor by Terrence Atkins
Along with the ScreenCraft team, the jury panel included Paradigm literary agent Scott Henderson, who represents James Wan and Leigh Wannell; Echo Lake manager Amotz Zakai, who represents John Carpenter; Zero Gravity manager Andrew Wilson, who represents Clive Barker; Jessica Hall, Senior Vice President at Blumhouse Productions (Paranormal Activity, The Purge, Insidious, Sinister); and Lucy Mukerjee, Vice President of Production and Development at After Dark Films.
In addition to the cash prize and ScreenCraft consultation, Eric Jeske will receive an advisory phone call with writer-director Scott Derrickson (Sinister, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Deliver Us From Evil, and Marvel’s upcoming Doctor Strange). Timothy and Cathleen O’Rawe will also receive a cash prize and a consultation with a top literary manager. All ten finalists will receive a page of development notes and a copy of Final Draft 9 screenwriting software, while all quarter-finalists will receive a full year membership to ISA Connect, courtesy of the International Screenwriters’ Association.
Congratulations to all of these horror screenwriting finalists, who crafted worthy screenplays, and thanks to everyone who submitted. Until next year, keep writing!