“GENERIC THRILLER”–the choices writers make

“Generic Thriller”

The Choices Writers Make

Amos Lassen

Steven is a handsome young theater history professor who discovers that when he sits down to write a stage thriller that this is not what the characters he is writing about really wants. It was his idea to pen an old-fashioned generic thriller. He attempts to create the character who is the man of his dreams but the character, Vertigo who is named for his sixth grade teacher, just does not cooperate and Steven begins to wonder if he will ever finish his play. He does not seem to have control over the character of Vertigo and the other characters who are based upon some of his friends also do not want to cooperate.

The film is about the quest for answers. Although the film takes place on a bare stage, in actuality it takes place in Steven’s mind and there are visits from some very strange and interesting characters.

The film was shot at San Jose State University and the cast is made up of students from that school. It is a funny and satiric look at the choices that writers make.

What appears to be a light comedy is actually an exploration of the relationship between the writer and his culture. Most of us have no idea of how one writes a dramatic narrative and the film seeks to explain that. Using the techniques of dramatic construction such as demonstration, declaration and deconstruction, we get a look at what goes on in a writer’s mind. Steven tries to write a play but has no idea about what kind of play it should be. He knows he wants a thriller but the characters he writes want it to be a character study and the film then becomes an exploration into cinema and theater concentrating on the rules for dramatic writing. We view the debate between literal truth or life and the demands of the narrative or art.

Probably we feel we are going to get a thriller of a movie but this is not what we get at all. We have angry characters who give us a comedy and a movie about writing. We see that sometimes a writer will try to force a story and then build characters that fit his plot. Along the way he discovers that is not the direction he wants his play to take and he writes himself into a position from which it is difficult to come out of. The movie can be confusing so I recommend attempting to enter Steven’s head in order to fully comprehend what is happening. I had a ball with it.

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