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Horror Screenplay Writing: Pros and Cons

If you’re a millennial or, at the very least, aware of the current outlook on films, in that case, you more than likely are aware of the popularity associated with the horror genre. There’s a reason why a specific genre can be shot into the mainstream, and right now, that genre is horror.

Obviously, the more popular a genre is, the more difficult it might be to breakthrough since there’s such an abundance of films in the genre already. On the other hand, some studios might be only looking for horror scripts since it’s what might be selling at the moment.

There’s a multitude of pros and cons associated with selling a script to a studio, as well as writing the script itself. With the genre of horror in mind, many people nowadays have a love for the genre, and if done right, it can lead to numerous sequels and other matters.

Still, there’s room for concern if someone should dive into the heavily saturated market of horror screenplay writing. It’s always complicated to say what route a screenwriter should do, and it truly depends on their personal preferences.

Nevertheless, let’s discuss a few key pros and cons tied to horror screenplays. By the end of it, you’ll get a brighter idea of whether or not this is the route you should go down. Either scenario will be knowledgeable for you moving forward, let’s get started!

Still from 'Us'. Photo credit: Bloody Disgusting


1. Attractive to Studios Since They’re Cheap to Make

First and foremost, it’s vital to know what studios are looking for at all times. For the most part, studios enjoy hearing a horror script since they’re incredibly cheap to make and usually don’t require an A-list cast to create.

Of course, selling to any studio is extremely difficult to do. Still, from a selling perspective, a film that’s cheaper to make tends to be slightly more attractive for studios. It’s always crucial to know how much your film or television might cost and if it’s worth moving forward.

2. You Can Get Creative with Antagonists and Protagonists

The significant element of the story tied to the horror genre is how creative and wacky you can get with your antagonists and protagonists. For example, in Mandy starring Nicolas Cage, the antagonists are a group of demon drug-fueled cult members.

With this in mind, get creative with it and have fun. You can be as crazy as you want with the horror genre as long as it doesn’t cross-over into the comedy world. Some horror-scripts implement comedy but try not to cross your moods too much to start.

3. Great Way to Break into The Industry

Since horror scripts are very cheap to make and usually attractive toward studios, it’s a great way to break into the industry as a writer. Even if you’re not totally evoked by the horror genre, it can propel you into the foundation of your writing career.

Basically, whatever you can do to get into the industry is always ideal, as long as you’re not trying to cheat your way in. If you’re not into or interested in horror, then don’t write a horror script. Only do it if it’s something you’re passionate about.


1. Horror Genre is Heavily Saturated

With the horror genre being as popular as it is, it means that it’s extraordinarily saturated and filled with script offers and ideas. As a beginner, you’re going to have a troubling time trying to break through and get your foot in the door.

As great as it is for a specific genre to be popular, it’s only a matter of time before studios have too many offerings. This isn’t to say to not waste your time in the matter, but realize the difficulty you might face after completing your script.

2. Difficult to be Unique

Horror scripts are fantastic for the fact you can be whacky and creative with it, but for the most part, they tend to exceedingly difficult to be unique. If you think about it, almost every horror story has been told by now, which means you’ll need to think of something new.

For example, in recent times, we’ve seen the emergence of The Purge franchise, and this is mostly in part because of how compelling and different the franchise is. Opinions aside, the simple idea behind the Purge was never done before, which is why the script sold and took off.

3. No One Wants a Horror Script Before and During the Summer

On top of horror scripts selling well and being popular, entertainment in the horror genre typically only sell or gets put out around spookier months of Halloween. Obviously, this doesn’t mean a studio will only buy your script in October.

Still, it means after Halloween, most studios will be tired of all of the horror-based scripts they’ve received throughout the year. If you can manage to find the sweet spot of when to submit a horror-script, you’ll be golden.


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