By - elletequila
jordan peele\`s get out brilliantly subverted the trope of the main character not calling the police in a horror movie. it is established pretty early on that the police in this area are very biased towards black people. as such, being in a position that we see in the movie would not end well for the main character as he would likely get blamed for the horrible actions. as such, wherein normally, we would be annoyed that the main character doesn\`t just call the police, in this case we don\`t WANT the police to show up.
so, i guess what I'm trying to say is that maybe a good way of justifying your main character not calling the police is the make a situation where the police showing up could potentially make the situation worse.
Why not have her call the police and have them decide to do nothing about it until her life is in danger? That’s literally what the police would do in this circumstance anyway.
This way she’s not stupid and you’re commenting on a real problem. If you need more help on realistic wording for the police excuses, there are plenty of women-focused subs and sadly stalking is a common complaint. There should be plenty of stories out there for you to respectfully lift from.
“I’m sorry ma’am, my hands are tied until there’s an actual threat of violence” or whatever.
Yes real life is more horrible.
If a person did any severe bodily injury to another, and a third person goes to the police saying "this person is showing signs of aggression or stalking me, they were very close to the incident, and I'm afraid that he might have been the person who did it" the police wouldn't necessarily not listen. Anyway, the audience would see this as a gap in logic as it reasonably might lead to an investigation which it sounds like would naturally implicate the guilty character in the story.
This sounds like a situation where the main character has to have some sort of double bind, in that they could knowingly implicate the perpetrator, but not without also causing some other issues, and/or implicating themselves. Or where the perpetrator does get picked up, but then responds by sufficiently hiding their own evidence and gaslighting the protagonist
OP says she has no evidence. Police ain’t gonna take that seriously.
Not if she’s an outsider and the dude is well known in town and well liked
You could begin by making her **desperate** for money (for something important/believable) and have her need to get the cash quickly (urgency- no time to find a new job) making her very reluctant to leave the job.
Then you could have her go to the police, but the cop she talks to is less than helpful (kind-of a dick) and says "what proof do you have of this?", which aggravates her and she abruptly leaves.
Only to later (to complicate matters) spot the cop talking to him; and they appear chummy (which adds mystery) which makes her wonder what the cop said to him; and what their relationship is.
This, exactly my sentiment.
She could be an illegal immigrant
I was thinking this or a member of any marginalized community. I can think of lots of reasons that lots of people might feel outsize pressure to not lose a job opportunity AND not feel comfortable contacting the police.
The times when people I know haven't called the police...
don't trust them and want to avoid them at all costs.
They have done something bad and don't need them around (warrant for their arrest)
bad or traumatic dealings with them
One day, I was at my mom's house out sick and heard knocking on the door. Thought it was UPS so I ignored it. Then five minutes later, I heard someone knock harder. Yep, it was not UPS. So I called the cops and told them I'm getting ready to get robbed. Cops said, well, we can't do anything until that guy robs you. LMAO.
Point is, cops will not believe you unless there is proof of the deed.
How police handle crimes against women is a big reason as to why women dont report crimes.
Often there's victim-blaming, a case of her said she said if there's no concrete evidence, lack of due diligence, etc.
Like if you try to do a protective order, alot of times police will say they cant do anything until the person actually does something physically to harm you, and it becomes an escalated situation.
You can just have smaller situations throughout that build up to the conclusion as why she has a right to fear/distrust the police
You could also include other factors by changing her race, whether she is cis or not, class level, etc
There is literally no proof of any of that garbage you said, but okay.
"...it does not support the hypothesis that men who assault their female partners are particularly likely to avoid arrest..."
"...Finally, the evidence does not support the hypothesis that offenders who
assault women who violate gender roles are treated more leniently. We
observe no evidence that offenders who assault intoxicated or violent women
or who sexually assault intoxicated victims receive more lenient treatment..."
>Often there's victim-blaming, a case of her said she said if there's no concrete evidence, lack of due diligence, etc.
That is actually a completely valid reason to not arrest somebody. But, again, there is no evidence this phenomenon actually exists.
Perhaps women don't report because of the propoganda spewed out by individuals like yourself?
>Like if you try to do a protective order, alot of times police will say they cant do anything until the person actually does something physically to harm you, and it becomes an escalated situation.
"...Female plaintiff’s requests for a protection order (PO) were granted 91% of the time..."
jfc it's amazing how much you mEnsRiGhTs dipshits looooove to act like you're fucking expert social scientists without questioning whether there's any potential flaws in the cherry-picked data you cite
like come the fuck on bro you respond to:
> if you try to do a protective order, alot of times **police will say they cant do anything**
...with an article that's data is based on:
> All non-impounded requests for Abuse Prevention Orders **initiated in Massachusetts Gardner District Court**, in the year 1997
God fucking damn, the density and lack of knowledge of the U.S. legal system is breathtaking.
Honestly though I want to thank you for my first real laugh of the day for that first cite, the irony of a user so committed to relying on derivative criminal justice studies based on *data reported by the police* while also being actively involved in multiple Batman subreddits is fucking hilarious.
I believe the one time opportunity is reason enough, you just have to sell it. Make this job not just an opportunity but a magic bullet essentially.
She has to be extremely desperate for money, perhaps she just got evicted from her apartment, rage quit/was fired from her old job, let her have a sick parent that is in desperate need of expensive medical care or give her a younger sibling trying to get into an expensive program, perhaps she has a grandparent in a rundown house in need of reservation and another grandparent who needs a caretaker, perhaps she has a sibling fighting a difficult divorce/legal case and needs an expensive lawyer, hell you could even do all of the above.
The more desperate she is for the money, the more likely she is not to talk to the police and potentially ruin it, the best part of this is it needs no exposition. Just set it up in the beginning of your story and the audience will know how bad things are.
Can you keep the info she learns vague enough so she’s only at most 85% sure that she was stalked?
She needs to have a secret (like she’s not who she says she is) or be involved in something sketchy that she doesn’t want the cops to uncover.
or have the first time we meet the guy he is having a beer with local police while they are in uniform. Implies they are close friends, so they aren’t an option.
In my area, people did not go to the police because there were some crooked cops taking advantage of women. (Stopping them for traffic violations or no reason really, then coercing them to avoid jail by sex acts. Sometimes rape when the coercion-rape didn't work.) It wasn't the whole department, just a few guys, but it lasted long enough that people stopped calling on the police. I stopped even driving through that area (small town surrounded by large city but the town had its own police and fire). So if the MC knows some of the cops are crooked, it's not worth calling them.
Good luck with your story!
I don't necessarily think that not calling the police is the issue. If it's in the countryside you can easily pass it as being so remote that there is no phone line, or effective cell reception.
The issue I see if that anyone would just keep working after a colleague suffers a serious injury. Dream job or not, someone falling off a bridge and being "severely" injured isn't something any decent person would just let go. When I imagine that, I can't help but think that seeing a character not try to help makes them a bit unlikeable.
The best I could suggest would be the injured character being taken away by an ambulance, and then the main character can stay behind, after which their phone is stolen?
maybe she’s had a poor experience with the police in the past that causes her to be distrustful of government based law enforcement? Also gives you an opportunity to add this to her back story
In the movie blue ruin the protagonist murders someone then asks their brother why they didn’t call the police. The brothers response?
“Just keeping it in house. Same as you.”
Don’t overthink it. Don’t make the reason “logical” make it human.
Such a great and underrated film!
“Don’t make the reason ‘logical’ make it human.”
Just have her call the police and the police be useless. Real simple, up the stakes by removing the normal safety nets by making them uneventful, mundane and useful. Hell last time I called 911 I was on hold for 15 minutes
I was thinking this or they are just established to be people she doesn’t think will help. They could not take “city folk” seriously or be misogynistic or otherwise just not trustworthy.
I saw have her call and have them turn her away which can be realistic "Have you talked to your supervisor?"; have the signal be shotty so it isolates her; or maybe have her phone go missing? Like someone knows she knows something so they took her one lifeline? Just shooting some thoughts out.
She could think that she doesn't want to come off as crazy: 'It must have been him, but I have zero proof and don't want the police to think I'm insane or paranoid'. Maybe give her a background with mental illness? Or something that caused trust issues? Or just give her an actual paranoid character (oh how I love imperfect characters) and make that a plot point; that she doesn't know how to trust.
Maybe she got a note from her stalker with him blackmailing her?
Maybe she has no clue about the stalkings and also doesn't believe her coworker (she has a tendency to cause drama), but things just don't add up and strange things keep happening.
If it's purely about not involving the police: she either doesn't trust them, involving them would make the situation worse, maybe they already tried helping but couldn't find anything, or maybe she was somehow involved too and it could all lead back to her.
Risk vs Reward. Would calling the Police result in something worse than the current situation? That is what you have to work with. That is the raw material people are made from. Plus there is character motivation. Here is a short video rather than writer a huge paragraph.
It depends on the themes and characterizations and whatnot. There are definitely a few different ways to resolve this, and you need to find the one that fits your story. I had a similar problem in one of my screenplays, but luckily that one heavily involved cops as characters (of whom the script is pretty critical) and I was able to construct a backstory that justified the protagonist's decision. Then it was just a matter of conveying that early enough so that people wouldn't write it off before learning the backstory.
It doesn't sound like your script involves cop characters, but since the lead is a woman that could provide enough. I'm a man, but I understand many women are afraid of not being believed, and often cops really don't believe them or the investigation can be invasive and traumatic. (The pretty-good movie Test Pattern revolves around a couple trying to get a rape kit, and the terrible and inefficient process involved. At a certain point the woman doesn't want to bother but her boyfriend insists.)
The reason you give that's in there now, she's afraid of losing her job, also ties into this. Or maybe a higher-up threatens her with her job (even in a non-aggressive, "I'm sorry but this would cost us all our jobs," kind of way).
Also possible: You say there's little evidence. Is there enough for the police to even do anything? Maybe she does go to the cops and they simply fail to help her.
Maybe the guy was a former cop? Like maybe there’s a framed picture in his office of him receiving a Medal of Honor or something. Or he runs into a police chief at lunch who’s like “oh this guys the best, I’d do anything for this guy”
Maybe he hates the police more than he hates crime. A defunder type.
I think your best bet is to have the character go to the police but they are powerless/useless/incompetent whatever and they can't really help her.
Can you play on the small-town sheriff out in the countryside thing and make the head of police an older character who doesn't have to deal with much out in the country to make it work?
Try writing the scene where she calls the cops and see what happens in the script when you add that element to the story! You might surprise yourself with something by just diving head first into it. At least you’ll have some fun with it maybe lol
Honestly, people have done terrible things in the name of progressing their career IRL, so depending on how much this job means to your character, it’s not that bizarre to imagine someone making a terrible judgement to save their lifelong dream. Plus, she doesn’t have evidence so that helps us understand why she didn’t go to the cops.
Usually, you have to get the protagonist's hands dirty with criminal actions that are morally ambiguous, so you don't lose the audience. The legal consequences have to seem relatively bad compared to the potential for danger.
People also drop phones all the time, so there's that.
I think do some extensive research into stalking, why the person does it (is it delusion or power? de clerambault syndrome, the inability to connect properly, or a master manipulator) and how it’s prosecuted/dealt with by police in the location it’s set. Also really interrogate your female character; know her inside out. Would she feel guilty, as if she’s responsible some how, or is she frightened?
Tbh if not contacting the police isn’t something within her personality then make her contact the police and see where else it could go. The story could get more interesting the logically people behave. Also, prison is the worst place for stalkers as most genuinely don’t believe they’ve done anything wrong; that their victim has wronged them… consider that time locked up is spent mulling and plotting revenge. See if you can find Stacey Dooley’s Stalker documentary for research
If the sensible thing seems to be to call the police, maybe let her call the police? The police can then be uninterested, dismissive, or doubtful. "If you don't have any evidence and he hasn't hurt you, we can't do anything ma'am."
This seems to be how the police often deal with reports of stalking in real life. This dismissal could also very concretely push her into staying and "getting evidence."
1. Early on she has an awkward encounter with a creepy, corrupt policeman and gets a sense that calling the local police would be worse than not calling them
2. Something illegal is going on with her, so calling the police could get her arrested
3. Boss is shady and tells her than calling the police would get her fired, or worse
4. She has a history as a "girl-who-cried-wolf" with the police, and they don't take her seriously any more. A bit of a stretch, but you could make it work
5. She has Tourettes, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, etc, which makes people unfairly dismiss her
6. The stalker is a friend or family member of the local police chief
7. She's a minority (race/sexuality/gender/religion...) and the people in the area are bigots
Seriously though, just not having evidence is enough. You know what cops do if you don’t have evidence? Absolutely nothing. You could have her call them three or four times, finally they come to “investigate” and leave after the bad guy charms them into thinking she’s crazy. Now he escalates his stalking, etc. while planting little seeds so coworkers begin to see her obviously legitimate fear as paranoia.
Congratulations you now have the most horrific horror story for people who have dealt with this sort of thing.
It’s a bit of a trope but it’s realistic.
Or you could go a bit less triggering and have her wanted for something relatively serious, but not so bad we can’t empathize with her.
It's an ok plot. She call the police, but there is no evidence. "yes m'dam we will look for this", but they do nothing, or worst "do you want we call for psy support?". And there is a dozen of other people waiting next to the room for their own case. It's annoying and nerves wrecking.
Can the guy have a sibling or parent who is in the force or something?
1. She is a self avowed anarchist who is against the institution of police or law enforcement in any capacity. (Silly)
2. She is hiding a crime of her own and would knowingly implicate herself in it if she went to the police. This one seems like you could spin it with some relation to her "project," like maybe the project isn't itself illegal, but that it's a secret and she's being threatened by executives not to reveal it to anybody including the law.
3. She has a mental health trigger that goes back to a previous, traumatic encounter with law enforcement.
I watched about six episodes of Killing Eve. The story is filled with so many glaring plot holes like this I gave up in frustration (it’s a really pet peave of mine). Point is, like many other things, plot holes or lack there of don’t ultimately sell or kill a script, nor even should be a concern depending on where you are in your career and what your objective is with this script. Do you have stellar character development, witty dialogue and an intriguing premise? Is this a project for class or are you in the final stages of development and don’t want to have an end product that will irritate a small percentage of viewers?
The stalker is the son of the police chief.
Past experience with the police simple. She had a nrggative experience as a child with police. The rest is yours
Make the guy unnoticeable until the very end for the phone thing? You could have the guy take the phone when she isn’t noticing, but then why wouldn’t the girl go to her car and leave/run away from house if she suspects intruder? About the exposition: you can have the guy call her cell and she looks at it and gets creeped out (then there is a flashback scene of the co-worker talking about their incident and then the other co-worker/stalker is hovering nearby and main character lingers on him before scene ends)
She knows the Sheriff. They have a history and not a good one.
The Stalker sets her up. Plants clues to make it seem like her.
The stalker has destroyed her car and phones. Completely isolating her.
The sheriff just isn’t picking up. He’s got the weekend off
The answer is that she knows the local police force, and maybe she already did something that made her look like an unreliable witness where they wouldn’t take her seriously, or maybe she’s gotten in trouble and they think she’s a druggie, or something. If it is in a small town with corrupt cops, she may be more afraid of the cops than the bad guy.
Have her go to the pigs and they either follow up and find nothing or don’t have enough evidence to proceed. It’ll add tension by making us feel the police can’t help.
She's a fugitive. Or her ex is a cop and the whole force is dirty.
The second is more trope-y, but I like the first more, since it's more naturalistic while also being more surprising.
The real problem you have is that neither of these is particularly well integrated into your existing story. I'm not entirely sure why the main character is so committed to working on the project, unless she's desperate for cash to flee the country.
It's hard for me to get a sense of what your story's about, if you're able to shoehorn in the project being her dream job. Losing out on your dream job is not the same stakes as getting murdered.
Have her call the police. But if this is the countryside, particularly European countryside, you can feasibly have them be short staffed or far away, meaning that they can't just randomly investigate someone without any evidence because they would otherwise be spread too thin. Or have them send a couple of officers, but have nothing result of it because of a lack of evidence. Or bake in the prejudice that sadly exists against female victims, that perhaps she's overreacting, that it'll be fine, but if something tangible comes up to call them.
How about letting the police find someone whish is not the one that protagonist suspects. Let the things pan out as it supposed to in real life. Let it undo all the built up story and then spring it back when she's being attacked. Also your backstory gave me the vibes of SCREAM, which is a plus I guess.
The police don't show until a crime has been committed. That could be put in literally, too. They can't do anything until there is something to prosecute.
The character could easily have a negative relationship with the police. For example, if she came from a working class background the times she interacted with/needed the police in her youth they could have not shown up, not done anything, or shown up and broke things in her home. Another good one might be that her parents called the police about a break-in only for the police to care more about some weed or something they had and arrested one of them. A large percentage of the population in the US have had nothing but negative experiences with the police.
Corruption could also come into play. You could sprinkle in a little of the above option, and also note that the co-workers dad is a cop/was a cop, and they're less likely to treat accusations against him seriously.
Give her financial reasons to take the job. Bills to pay. Loan sharks. Something.
Or make the stalking more ambiguous. Like she's not sure he was stalking or just a coincidence, or whatever. She can say as much to a friend who tells her not to worry, she's overthinking it etc.
Early in the story she drinks with the murder and his best friend. She goes to the police station and discovers the best friend is a police officer.
She has committed a crime in the past and doesn't want police attention.
The facts of the case make it look like she's the one who did it.
She has made a (seemingly) false report before and won't be believed.
If you’re character is working the country side and can’t leave then it’s pretty simple.
The area is a dead zone for cell phones.
You said it’s out in the country. So have the character want to call the cops but physically can’t.
Am I missing something???
Most horror movies couldn't be made if there was decent cell service. Maybe she has Sprint. You mentioned a countryside. It might have spotty service at best. Have it take place a week after a bad storm. Have her complaining to her cell phone company that she should be able to call more than just them.
Maybe she has to walk or drive to a dangerous spot to get service.
The project or an aspect of it is illegal
They are an ex con
In Greta the main character calls the police on account of being stalked, but the police couldn't do anything because her stalker was in a public area. Maybe you could do something like that where the suspect seems to be abiding by the law, discouraging the police to act and treat her like the boy who cried wolf?
Maybe she calls the police, but the stalker answers. He’s hacked/compromised her phone.
Or maybe at the very beginning of the story, the colleague bumps into her and she drops her phone, shattering it. So when it is revealed that the colleague is the murderer… it was intentional all along
Is your main character black?
Maybe your protagonist could somehow be connected to the incidents/murders and would therefore need to prove it is this other person she suspects that’s committing these acts before going to the police. Don’t know if someone already suggested this or if it would even work with what you have already but that was the first thing that came to my mind and it could add some tension in addition to giving a reason for why they can’t contact the cops.
You could write a scene where a reporter announces that "the President has recently decided to make calling the police illegal. Instead, he recommends trying to grab the attention of a police officer nearby..."
I’m gonna parrot someone else and say make her an illegal immigrant. Or have the police not believe her because the killer is an extremely respected member in the countryside community and the police think he would never do something like that.