Last Woman

by Sandra Jerome


A young female scientist at a security company suffers from a consuming fear of being alone due to a harrowing assault she endured ten years prior. When she tests a new device that transports her to a world free of people and fears, she discovers that every time she does -- she grows further and further away from her own reality.


Last Woman is a suspense thriller that opens with a young college coed rehearsing for a play. Humiliated by the director, she stays afterward to practice her lines. The director finds her alone and turns a violent scene in the play into a night of terror for Danielle.

Time has passed and although she survived, married and had a darling daughter – she is terrified of being alone. She is a top-level executive for a bio-security firm – the one place she truly feels safe. When she learns that her firm is developing the ultimate personal security device, she accidentally uses it and is transported to a parallel universe. Frightened and alone, she is terrified until she returns back to the laboratory. Although the company owner wants the top-level executives to continue testing it, Danielle refuses. After a frightening experience that night, she talks to her therapist who convinces Danielle that she is not afraid of being alone; rather she’s afraid of being powerless. Danielle agrees and finds that with the device she finally feels safe. She clicks it once and an electromagnetic pulse moves her into a parallel universe that is identical to the one she left – other than the fact that nobody else is there.

There are four interwoven stories: The Device Story: For a woman who was terrified of being alone, Danielle loves this new “between” world – she can move around freely and spend some time alone. When she clicks it again and returns, she is home. But after a few trips, Danielle notices that each time she returns the world has actually changed slightly while she was gone. Her terror starts to build as she realizes that not only did some things change – but it’s as if other events had never happened.
Danielle and her family: Danielle loves her husband and desperately needed him to help her avoid being alone. When she starts using the device, Danielle thinks that Bryan resents her new freedom – almost to a point that he starts making her think she’s going crazy. Danielle’s daughter is getting old enough to realize that her mother is a little different. Danielle cannot explain the source of her fears but her daughter means the world to her and she wants to be more in control.

Danielle and Justin: Justin is the brilliant scientist who developed the device and has given Danielle the power to be safe again, but it seems like he is always holding back information.
Danielle and the rapist: Her college professor, Carson, was sent to prison for the brutal rape so many years ago, but Danielle has scars on her neck to remind her of his attack. In one of the worlds she visits, she goes to her daughter’s theater group rehearsal and she finds that he is the new director and denies that the rape ever happened. Danielle’s external scars are gone.

These four stories come together when she discovers that instead of returning to the same world each time she uses the device, she was actually moving to another parallel universe that differs only by the major events that happened through the years. Each time she uses the device, she moves further from the reality she once knew. Unable to return to the world that she knew, she is forced to use the device one final time and realizes that the scars are gone from that terrible night so long ago – and the rape is now in her future. Her husband and daughter are no longer a part of her life. She must now choose between a world without her husband and daughter – where a rapist awaits her – or living the rest of her life alone.

Review – From Screencraft 2023 Screenwriting Fellowship

Strengths The reader thoroughly enjoyed LAST WOMAN which held their attention cover to cover through two successive reads. There is a lot to like about this script which effectively mixes the thriller genre with imaginative Sci-Fi. Danielle is a strong female lead and as a result should attract some potential name brand talent to this project.

While Sci-Fi is generally a male oriented demographic, that bodes well for the prospects of this project as the target demographic should significantly expand as a result. That’s important to a project’s success with commercials and sponsors assuming a greater presence on the streaming platforms with their current two-tiered (with and without commercials) strategy to curb their current losses. Sometimes Sci-Fi themed thrillers soar over the heads of the audience, but the theory of parallel universes driving this plot is one that the vast majority of viewers will grasp and remain engaged for the entire ride.

Supporting characters are on point as well with the changes to each in every parallel universe being just subtle enough to keep the audience guessing where Danielle is in her journey. Structurally, the reader saw that Danielle’s universe would eventually change to one in which. her assailant from college would emerge and do an about-face.

Circling back to the character who created her fear of being alone and resultant PTSD was rock solid. While that could have been a bittersweet ending to the story, the writer wisely took it a few steps further to have Danielle end up in a parallel universe where her husband Bryan and daughter Chandra were close to enough to the originals that Danielle would live happily ever after with them.

This is a very clever script that is intelligently crafted for an industry where Sci-Fi is a perennial staple, but recent budgetary constraints have priced them out of the market. Just ask JJ Abrams who had the plug pulled on his Sci-Fi series DEMIMONDE at HBO. LAST WOMAN on the other doesn’t need to rely on big-budget VFX in order to tell a story, in fact the daily call sheet with be particularly lean for many of the parallel universes which make continual use of the same sets with only minor alterations to the set dressing and props. This is intelligent screenwriting in an era where “less is more” and “price does matter!” Great job!

Opportunities for Revision

Accolades aside the reader does have a number of minor suggestions for the writer to consider that may further enhance the prospects for this solid project. The plot and characters are rock solid as is the dialogue, but at 109 pages the script is a bit heavy for a cost-conscious market where the studios are hemorrhaging money on their streaming platforms and production costs have risen up to 50% as a direct result of the pandemic. This script would be better positioned at approximately 90 pages which would give it a quicker pace but also reduce the budget proportionately.

Features are now being developed with estimated running times of 90 minutes or less in order for them to meet the standards set for a theatrical release if warranted as a result of focus group feedback, but also more importantly to conform it to a curated two-hour ad supported time slot. While every feature writer envisions their movie being shown commercial free that’s simply not reality anymore. Commercials aren’t going to disappear and the streamers are also aligning their libraries with options for FAST and AVOD. A tightening of the dialogue after a table read would the next logical step before paring down this script. This script doesn’t need a major revision but simply a polish before it can be shopped for a potential deal. With a lean principle cast, several low-impact recurring locations and reasonable VFX, this project also has the potential to attract interest of indie producers who may have a relationship with SYFY channel which would be a good option. Why? SYFY is under the NBC/Universal banner which is owned by Comcast that also owns PeacockTV, Xumo and Telemundo. That entity may see the upside of a modestly budgeted Sci-Fi thriller that could have multiple revenue windows and potentially spawn a sequel or a series featuring Danielle and her adventures over multiple parallel universes. That’s just food for thought. In closing, the reader trusts that the observations prove to be beneficial. All are actionable with a writer who displays an excellent skill set for the craft and a true affinity for the genre. Keep up the great work! All the best to you with this project and your future screenwriting endeavors!


drama, female lead, parallel universe, sci fi, thriller

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