ENTER FROM ABOVE: Screenplay Review
In Juliano Angeliano’s feature script, Enter From Above, the devil’s daughter weaves in and out of time and space engaging in self-sabotage as a means to reach her otherwise disengaged, abusive father, the devil. It’s a stylized approach to telling an abuse and trauma story.
It’s hard to pinpoint the genre of this script, but the closest definition feels like magical realism. It’s the fantasy world of hell meets the grounded reality of different time periods on Earth. The magical element of Enter From Above—i.e. the presence of Hell—feels like a punishment, as magic so often does in magical realism. The protagonist, Rooster keeps escaping hell for life on earth in different, outlandish identities such as business woman or porn star. Inevitably, in each new reality she tries, hell hasn’t left her externally or internally.
Each new reality Rooster enters never seems to last, and she is back in the underworld once more. Something goes south—abuse, addiction—are motifs throughout. There is a codependence between Rooster and the devil which is interesting. Rooster has sociopathic tendencies she appears to have developed from her father who is an emotional and implied sexual abuser. Rooster takes that abuse a step further by killing her brother at the top of the story. Rooster sees her move as a way to rile her father, but it doesn’t keep him from continuing to invade her life.
The tone was frenetic. Like Clockwork Orange it was very sexually charged, visceral, and gestalt. It’s adult-only material, and it isn’t afraid to push all boundaries.
Because there were so many realities, it was difficult to keep track of what sincerely impacted Rooster as a character. It felt as though she was onto the next thing quickly without much consequence. While wanting to escape in an interesting initial goal, it is also a reaction, and it would have been interesting to explore what Rooster wanted on a deeper level. It felt like what she wanted could be acceptance from her father, despite how little he may/may not care about her.
Structurally, It felt like Rooster killing her brother could have been a midpoint turning point to shake up the family business of devilish deceit. It felt like Rooster could have been more active in the main relationship with her father, could have taken more steps to either go for or against him, decisions that could be her own ultimately leading to one surprising, but inevitable ending.
The ending was interesting in that it did feel like Rooster made a lasting decision on her own that finally ended with a consequence, it just felt like she could have made clearer, more defined tactics to get to that ending.
The dialogue is snarky and playful albeit very raunchy. The characters often relied on sex or sexual assault jokes which might be triggering for some readers. There was also sexual assault featured in the script.
Though the characters of Enter From Above felt often loathsome, characters don’t always have to be moral to be interesting. There is an emotional core to Enter From Above and a concept and style to this script that is interesting, especially if the character arcs and plot had even stronger turning points.