Screenplay Review: The Death of Jeremy
The Death of Jeremy is a dramatic screenplay written by David A. Seader. The story follows Kyle Shaw, a twenty-three year old, as he recounts his time at an obscure gifted school called Pacifica where he and his 11 year old classmates literally code and craft the 1990s.
Set in California during 1989 on the cusp of the encroaching decade, Kyle and his classmates discover that some individuals are more selfishly motivated than others when it comes to what is in store for the future. Notably Ryan Roberts, a cruel student, wants to go a step further than creation. He desires mind control and a seat of power. He uses an innocent individual, Chris Gerry, as his lab rat. He ends up ruining Chris and himself in the process. Another adult, Mr. Sobb, one of the leaders on the project and father of 11 year old Lynn, is also in it for greed and money. Lynn, being the daughter, is complicit in her father’s desires. By the end, the students shut him and the project down leaving the future no longer in hands of the corrupt, but the rite of the people. The “Death of Jeremy” a painting by Jacques-Louis David is the key metaphor for the programming of the internet-spread revolution led through this school experiment.
This script has a wild, imaginative concept akin to FX’s Devs. It explores predeterminism, but a kind of predeterminism specifically led by those who have their own selfish motivations like Greek polytheism. In Greek polytheism the Gods are selfishly motivated by sex, greed, and the threat of eternal damnation. The idea that the future could also be programmed explores current scientific speculation that humanity could be living in a simulation of sorts. The concept even goes as far as to say God was invented.
The characters are both varied in the sense that there are several children followed in the story, however, they come together with a similar goal. They seem to represent the different perspectives coming out of the decade. Each character adds their argument on how to expand, but also learn from past failures. For example, they argue for a balance between the 80s, marked as being the age of greed, and the 60s, which is marked by disorganized revolution in the United States.
Sprinkled throughout the script are lots of funny references to the 1990s like gameboys, grunge, and Gates. The references dive even further, and head into the 2000s with the proposition of ideas like emo culture. The dialogue is also incredibly detail-oriented when it comes to the methodology of coding. Though it is often abstract and not always strictly character-motivated, the dialogue-heavy script does discuss interesting philosophy and ideology.
The script has a compelling beginning and ending built into the structure. It’s satisfying to see the greedy characters receive justice. Though it is not heavy in plot, its pontification on society is thought-provoking. It leaves the reader thinking about how a greater power not only determines what will go well, but determines what will go badly, what will fail, and what will incite revolution. This script is a cautionary tale with a provocative concept. It has the potential to leave audiences debating their own morality and belief systems, and may even incite a desire to take action when necessary.