This year’s Blood List has named the 13 best genre scripts around town, and in its sixth year the annual screenplay contest is expanding its scope to include hot books, TV pilots, and young scribes ripe for signing. Taking top honors in 2014 is sci-fi thriller Bird Box from The Thing and Final Destination 5 scribe Eric Heisserer, an apocalyptic tale of a woman trying to lead her children to safety – all three blindfolded – after monsters descend on earth that turn people insane on sight. Universal set Heisserer to adapt the manuscript from Josh Malerman in 2013 for Mama helmer Andy Muschietti. Previous Blood List alumni include Black Swan, Stoker, Warm Bodies, and the upcoming Blumhouse thriller The Boy Next Door.
Like the Black List naming the top unproduced screenplays circulating around Hollywood, the genre-focused Blood List taps exec votes to determine each year’s best unmade horror, sci-fi, and thriller scripts. Creator/independent manager Kailey Marsh polled a total of 73 execs this year for screenplay picks from submissions dated between October 31, 2013 to October 31, 2014. This year she’s partnered with industry network Stage 32 to add the “New Blood” contest for unrepped writers, as well as new voting sections for the best genre books and TV pilots of the year. “No one focuses on pilots or books, so I figured it would be a breath of fresh air,” Marsh said. “The industry is changing and more people are starting to work in television, so it was an organic expansion. And there’s far more genre stuff happening on TV these days.” Check out the scripts that made this year’s cut:
1. BIRD BOX by Eric Heisserer
Logline: A woman tries to lead her children to safety after the world is invaded by monsters who turn you insane upon sight. The tale has echoes of Stephen King’s THE STAND and captures a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveling.
Agent(s): Rich Cook, Lindsay Dunn, Jason Spitz, & Cori Wellins (WME)
Manager(s): Julie Bloom (Art/Work Entertainment)
Status: Set up at Universal, with Bluegrass Films and Chris Morgan Productions attached to produce.
2. THE GARDENER by Alyssa Jefferson
Logline: In the 1950s, a neurotic florist’s strict routine is derailed after stumbling upon a murder and finding himself at the center of a conspiracy.
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Manager(s): Lee Stobby (Silent R)
3. TAU by Noga Landau
Logline: A woman held captive in the futuristic smart house of a serial kidnapper realizes that her only hope of escape lies in turning the house’s sentient computer against its creator.
Agent(s): Dana Harris, Ryan Feldman, Meyash Prabhu
Manager(s): Adam Marshall (Caliber)
Status: Russell Ackerman & John Schoenfelder (Addictive Pictures) are attached to produce.
4. IN THE DEEP by Tony Jaswinski
Logline: A young woman who has recently lost her mother is surfing in an isolated area when she gets stranded on a buoy, and a gigantic great white shark is between her and the shore.
Reps: David Boxerbaum, Chris Licata, Valarie Phillips (Paradigm)
Manager(s): Ashley Berns & Lawrence Mattis (Circle of Confusion)
Genre: Dark Drama
Status: Set up at Columbia pictures.
5. POSSESSION: A LOVE STORY by Jack Stanley
Logline: Edward and Bethany Martin are young, beautiful, rich, and in love. But their enviable lifestyle is upended when Bethany begins exhibiting strange and alarming behavior. As her condition worsens and doctors grow increasingly baffled, it seems as if something supernatural might be responsible. But the truth is far more shocking…and will force Edward to confront a terrifying choice in the name of love.
Genre: Psychological Horror
Agent(s): Jay Baker, Jon Cassir, John Garvey (CAA)
Manager(s): Jewerl Ross (Silent R)
Status: Jewerl Ross (Silent R), Russell Ackerman, & John Schoenfelder (Addictive Pictures) are attached to produce.
6.SCARECROW by Mike Scannell
Logline: Set at a remote lake house, revolves around a mother and her two young daughters who must fight for survival after falling into a terrifying and bizarre nightmare conceived by a psychopath.
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Agent(s): Geoff Morley (UTA)
Status: Set up at Screen Gems with Bryan Bertino & Adrienne Biddle (Unbroken) attached to produce
7.THE BRINGING by Brandon Murphy & Phillip Murphy
Logline: In the vein of THE SHINING and THE CONJURING – based on true events, a private investigator is hired to investigate a mysterious murder at a downtown Los Angeles hotel and uncovers it’s dark supernatural history.
Agent(s): Rich Cook, Solco Schuit & Theresa Kang (WME)
Manager(s): Langley Perer (Mosaic Media)
Status: Set up at Sony with Matt Tolmach & Daniela Cretu attached to produce
8. BULLIES by Michael Grebb
Logline: An outcast teenager’s revenge plot against high school bullies quickly spins out of control, blurring the lines between bully and victim as his obsession sets off a deadly chain reaction.
Genre: Revenge Thriller
Manager(s): Jeff Portnoy (Heretic Literary Management)
9.LEATHERFACE by Seth M. Sherwood
Logline: In this prequel to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” a young nurse is kidnapped by four violent teens who escape from a mental hospital and take her on a road trip from hell. Pursued by an equally deranged lawman out for revenge, one of these teens is destined for tragedy and horrors that will destroy his mind; molding him into the monster we now call Leatherface.
Agent(s): Charles Ferraro & Peter Dodd (UTA)
Manager(s): Kailey Marsh (Kailey Marsh Management)
Status: Set up at Millennium Films. Carl Mazzocone and Les Weldon are attached to produce. Christa Campbell and Lati Grobman will serve as Executive Producers. Beth Brucker is co-producer.
10. DEAD ANIMALS by Sawyer Perry
Logline: When a young woman’s estranged uncle comes back into her hometown, she finds herself strangely attracted to him while at the same time suspicious that he might be involved with a series of grisly murders.
Manager(s): Sarah Smith (Fake Dare Productions)
Status: Ross Putman is attached to produce.
11. UNSETTLED by Jesse Wheeler
Logline: Cole Tanner, one of the millions buried in debt they’ll never be able to pay off, is used to harassment by collection agencies. But nothing has prepared Cole for his new debt collector, Ray Loomis, a man dead set on getting what he’s owed – one way or another.
Manager(s): Marc Manus (Manus Entertainment)
12. A MAN CALLED DEATH by Matthew Kennedy
Logline: A reclusive author is visited to a stranded motorist, only to find the two are world renown killers, seeking revenge from each other.
Genre: Contained thriller
Agent(s): Solco Schuit (WME)
Manager(s): Brooklyn Weaver (Energy Entertainment)
Status: Russell Ackerman & John Schoenfelder (Addictive Pictures) are attached to produce.
13. THE WILDNESS by Evan Dickson
Logline: A hard partying ski instructor finally gets his dream job in Aspen only to find the town threatened by a malevolent force that must be tamed.
NEW BLOOD CONTEST – TOP 6
1. THE WRECKAGE by Glenn Forbes
Logline: After they crash their car and trailer, a young couple struggles to locate their missing son while fending off an aggressive pack of otherworldly creatures.
2. THE DEVIL’S SOLDIERS: Story by Frank Ponce & John Patton Ford – Written by Chad Law & Frank Ponce
Logline: During an apocalypse of vicious mutants in a Southern gothic quarantine, a battered veteran attempts to rescue his son.
3. THE OSTRICH FARM by Tyler Tice
Logline: ‘Rot’ was the hottest drug on the street. Everybody was doing it and everybody was getting it from Raymond Roper. Then the side effects became much worse than anyone could have ever imagined.
4. Darken Ship by Dee Chilton
Logline: When she is trapped aboard a damaged warship, a ‘by the book’ Naval Officer becomes the target of a vindictive crewman’s ‘get even’ game that leaves her fighting against him for her sanity and her life.
5. Xodus by A.Z. Ocoza
Logline: A marine biologist, trapped in her laboratory aboard a research vessel at sea, has hours to find a cure for the blood-drinking parasites that have taken over her crew before the ship runs aground and unleashes the deadly contagion upon her hometown of New Orleans.
6. Immaculate Deception by Bryan Holm
Logline: A distrustful sheriff must confront his dark past and loss of faith to join forces with a hard-nosed priest and defeat a vengeful, demonic entity preying upon his town.
1. THE TROOP by Nick Cutter:
Logline: The Lord of the Flies meets The Ruins, when a clinical trial for a new diet drug goes disastrously out of hand and a group of young boys camping on a remote island are left to deal with the consequences.
Lit Agent: Kirby Kim (Janklow & Nesbit)
Film / TV: Ashley Fox (WME)
2. HALF BAD by Sally Green
Mini Synopsis: Half Bad is set in modern-day England. Witches and Humans live together. There are the Black Witches and the White Witches. The 16-year-old protagonist, Nathan is half-white and half-black. His mother is dead, and his father is the most powerful and the cruelest Black Witch in the world. Trapped in a cage and abused, Nathan has to escape before his seventeenth birthday, when he will receive three gifts from his father and his magical ability. Otherwise, he will die.
Publisher: Puffin Books (UK) Viking Press (US)
Status: Set up at Fox 2000 with Karen Rosenfelt set to produce. CAA handled deal.
3. REVIVAL by Stephen King
Mini Synopsis: In a small New England town, over half a century ago, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs. Jacobs; the women and girls feel the same about Reverend Jacobs—including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister, Claire. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond based on a secret obsession. When tragedy strikes the Jacobs family, this charismatic preacher curses God, mocks all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town…
Agent(s): Rand Holston & Andy Patman (Paradigm)
4. AFTERWORLD by Lynnette Lounsbury
Mini Synopsis: Dom is the youngest person ever to arrive in the Necropolis, the ‘waiting place’ between death and what comes after. And it isn’t long before he catches the attention of Satarial, a cruel Nephilim from the beginning of time, who has grim plans to use Dom as entertainment in his vicious gladiatorial games. When Dom’s
still-living sister, Kaide, appears in the Necropolis too, Satarial has the leverage he needs, and the stage is set for the biggest shake-up the afterlife has seen in centuries. Dom’s only option is to compete in the Trials and attempt to win the chance to enter the Maze. In his favour he has an enigmatic young Guide, Eva, and a Guardian, Eduardo, who may not be what he seems. But will they be enough?
Genre: Supernatural / YA
Manager(s): Keith Sweitzer
5. SECURITY by Gina Wohlsdorf
Mini synopsis: Overseeing the grand opening of a gleaming, still-empty, all-white luxury hotel, beautiful Tessa is initially unaware that a knife-wielding professional assassin – directed by a mastermind “Thinker” who watches via security cameras from the hotel’s top floor – is killing off her staff one by one. When the killer and the Thinker
come after her, Tessa and a new lover/former foster brother fight him to the death.
Manager(s): Joel Gotler (Intellectual Property Group)
6. AS RED AS BLOOD BY Salla Simukka Owen Witesman (Translator)
Mini Synopsis: In the midst of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson walks into her school’s dark room and finds a stash of wet, crimson-colored money. Thousands of Euros left to dry—splattered with someone’s blood. Lumikki lives alone in a studio apartment far from her parents and the past she left behind. She transferred into a prestigious art school, and she’s singularly focused on studying and graduating. Lumikki ignores the cliques, the gossip, and the parties held by the school’s most popular and beautiful boys and girls. But finding the blood-stained money changes everything. Suddenly, Lumikki is swept into a whirlpool of events as she finds herself helping to trace the origins of the money. Events turn even more deadly when evidence points to dirty cops and a notorious drug kingpin best known for the brutality with which he runs his business.
Genre: Horror / YA
Status: Part 1 of the Trilogy that has just been announced. Larry Kirshbaum at Amazon
Children’s Publishing/Skyscape acquired U.S. rights; U.K. and Commonwealth rights were sold to Hot Key Books.
Agent(s): Elina Ahlbäck (Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency)
Top 6 Pilots
1. MONSTER by Alan Mcelroy
Logline: What if a killer like Michael Myers from “Halloween” had been shot, fell into a coma, and survived? He wakes up with no memory, is incarcerated in a mental institution, and twelve years later, is pronounced cured and released back into the community that hates and vilifies him.
Agent(s): Bob Hohman & Bayard Maybank (Gersh)
Manager(s): Noah Rosen (Circle of Confusion)
Status: Set up at Sonar Entertainment.
2. ZERO by Ales Kot
Logline: Edward Zero was the best spy the Agency had – and then he realized he was working for the wrong side.
Genre: Psychological thriller
Agent(s): Ryan Draizin, Roger Green & Philip d’ Amecourt (WME)
Manager(s): Ari Lubet (3 Arts)
Status: Being packaged by WME with Russell Ackerman & John Schoenfelder are attached to produce (Addictive Pictures)
3. AFTERMATH by Ryan Belenzon & Jeff Gelber
Logline: After a pandemic wipes out 1% of the world’s population, a foreign traveler is discovered dead in his motel room with a new virus strain. A scientist whose been discredited publicly for making controversial accusations about the U.S. government is being quietly enlisted to help save us from this latest threat. Only he is about to discover that his previous claims of a larger conspiracy are about to be substantiated.
Manager(s): Jeff Silver (Grandview)
Agent(s): Craig Brody, Joe Cohen, Andrew Miller & Ida Ziniti (CAA)
Status: Color Force is attached to produce.
4. THE DISAPPEARANCE by Nick Antosca
Logline: Alice Grimson is overjoyed when her teenage son Josh shows up seven years after being kidnapped. She and her husband Tom set aside long-simmering tensions in their marriage to help Josh in his struggle to resume a normal life. But when she connects his return to a series of horrific local murders, Alice begins to wonder if Josh knows something he’s not telling them. Determined to protect her son, she digs deeper into what really happened to him while he was missing — and she enters a nightmare that threatens her life and everything she holds dear.
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Agent(s): Blake Fronstin, Simon Faber, Matt Solo, Lauren Whitney – WME
Manager(s): Britton Rizzio & Greg Shephard (Circle of Confusion)
Status: Set up at Starz with Amblin Entertainment attached to produce.
5.MODERN SCIENCE by Anthony Pucillo
Logline: A young woman finds herself trapped in a dangerous kaleidoscope of her own memory.
Agent(s): Jon Cassir, Jacqueline Sacerio, Chelsea Reed (CAA)
Manager(s): Mike Dill & Lowell Shapiro (Black Box Management)
6. LOVECRAFT by Andrew Jacobson & Adam Epstein
Logline: A contemporary take on the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft, with the famed author now living with his family in modern day Arkham. When his daughter goes missing, his search for her brings him face to face with supernatural horrors that drive him to the brink of madness.
Genre: Supernatural / Thriller
Agent(s): Jason Burns, Max Michael & Tim Phillips (UTA)
Status: Set up at Syfy with Amblin Entertainment attached to produce.