|TITLE: Dark Park
SUBMITTED BY: Sally's Agent
|AUTHOR: Sally Screenwriter
SUBMITTED TO: Hollywood Producer
DATE RECEIVED: 6-25-99
READER: Joe Reader
|CIRCA: Present Day
A man gets caught in a web of intrigue when he takes a job at a amusement park owned by his ex-girlfriend.
DEREK HOPKINS, early thirties and "Jack of all trades," arrives via cab at Annie's Amusement O Rama, in Small Town, Texas. STEPHANIE WINTERS, an attractive ticket taker, takes him to meet the manager, HERB NORRIS. Derek is hired on the spot to run a secret gambling tent -- to help add a little "atmosphere." The next day, Derek is called in to meet the owner of the park who turns out to be his former girlfriend, ANNIE DUNCAN. He confronts her about selling his house, car, and valuables out from under him. She tells him he would have lost the money anyway -- gambling and drinking. Annie reassures Derek that she will not get him fired -- he can stay if they just avoid each other.
Early in the morning, Derek is awakened by yells from one of the workers, STEVIE. He rushes out of his trailer, and finds Stevie standing at the entrance to the Fun House. Inside, he finds HERB NORRIS lying face down with a large silver hair clip, identical to one of Annie's, sticking out of his neck. Later, Derek is questioned by a detective, SHERIFF GOWER. Derek does not reveal that he recognizes the murder weapon.
Over the next few days, Derek tries to settle in at the park. He even gets to know some of his fellow workers including CHASE PIERCE. After a few days, Sheriff Gower returns to confront Derek about not revealing that Annie was his ex-girlfriend, and that she stands to inherit $1.5 million dollars in life insurance because she and Herb were secretly married. Derek continues to deny knowing anything about the situation.
Before he knows it he becomes romantically involved with Stephanie. She wants to leave the park and would even love some company. They make love that night, and Derek promises to consider her offer. While they are in the throes of passion another worker is mysteriously killed as he works on fixing the ferris wheel.
In the morning, Sheriff Gower questions questions everyone in the park again -- in particular Derek. They get into a heated argument and Stephanie tactfully interferes and drags Derek off.
The next night, Derek finds a small red ribbon in his room. - a sign that he is being summoned. He visits one of the trailers, and finds Chase Pierce waiting for him. Chase explains that he and Annie fell in love, and they killed Herb Norris. They decided that if they made it look obvious that Annie had killed her husband, then the police would assume it was a set up. Suddenly, Annie steps out from one of the wardrobes -- a trap. Derek dives out the window just as Annie and Chase try to kill him.
Baxter calls Sheriff Gower and explains what happened to. The police show up and arrest Annie and Chase. Derek is able to raise money with Stephanie's help, and buys the park for himself directly from the city. He now has a fresh start and a new look on life.
Though the setting and atmosphere for "Dark Park" are well chosen, the characters are neither as interesting nor as "rich" as the soil they walk on. The main characters in this tale are generally self-serving, egocentric and unlikable. Without any redeeming qualities it is difficult to care about or root for them.
The writer tries to make Derek's character sympathetic, by creating the back story with Annie. Yet, he remains rather unlikable throughout, because he never shows any interest for other people's well-being. Derek shows no genuine love for Stephanie -- she is just a pretty girl for him to sleep with. His philosophy is "Derek first, the world last." As for the other characters, Annie had the potential to be a good "snake in the grass" villain, but is never given anything to do in the story to make her seem threatening or truly evil.
Another drawback of the story is that too much happens to Derek; i.e. he is not a man of action. Most of the story is Derek being asked to meet with this person or that person. One would like to see less happen to him, and have him do or cause more to be revealed, rather than having everything fall into his lap. Since neither he nor anyone else is actually accused of the crime there is no time pressure or reason for Derek to really solve the crime (or first murder). In the end, Derek tells Annie that he had come for his what was his but there was never any indication that he had a plan of his own of how to get it back. In other words he was just lucky Annie had decided to kill her husband when she did.
The script, as a whole, is an unengaging hackneyed, murder mystery. What the story lacks most are twists and turns that keep an "audience" guessing as to who committed the murders and why. Ultimately, the story has what would be considered a happy ending but there is not the emotional pay off one would hope for since Derek is such an unlikable character. Even though he is able to retrieve the life he lost, there is no "sweet revenge" in his victory. With work, the script might work since it has a rich setting and contains the right types of characters, mood, and pace.