Today I want to talk about one of Lovecraft’s shortest but possibly most effective short stories, The Outsider.
The Outsider is a beautifully written short regarding a chap escaping a castle.
The story is told in first person, which was a means of story telling Lovecraft favoured to an extent. Our narrator talks about his life, focusing on how lonely and isolated he has been and ultimately how unhappy. He has no real memory of other people, or even where he is from originally. He also describes his environment, the dark and rather run-down castle that squats in an endless forest. The narrator has never even seen natural light. All his knowledge from outside world comes from books.
But despite the dark and lonely life the narrator is not completely downtrodden he has a determination to free himself. He climbs the tallest tower of the castle, but the stairs don’t reach the entire way, and so he climbs the walls until he reaches a trapdoor. When he pushes through he realises he is not up high as expected but rather at ground level in another world.
He’s rather chuffed with this.
The narrator is in a churchyard and walks through, passing through countryside until he reaches another castle. A very familiar castle. However, there are people in this castle and desperate for human contact the narrator clambers in a window. The people inside become terrified and flee from him. Though the narrator doesn’t realise its him they are running from and instead becomes afraid himself, what else must be close to him that scared all the people.
He eventually sees himself and he’s not exactly a person, he sounds more like a ghoul. The narrator tries to return to his old castle but finds the way barred. Now he is trapped in this world, still completely alone.
This story is effective for several reasons, it plays on common fears of loneliness and isolation, the feeling of being trapped. Then the hope of escape only to have that hope ripped away and finding yourself in a worse position. It plays on the fear of trying something new only to find it putting you in a worse situation with no way back.
The plot is simply structured, told from the point of view of the narrator, allowing the reader to live in the narrators head, feel what he feels and also, importantly know what he knows and nothing more.
This is of course, a classic horror story harks back to the Gothic genre, with spooky settings in the form of the old castle, themes and bone-chilling characters.
Today I want to talk to you about SCP-3300.
SCP-3300 is not a physical object or even a place, rather it is an event.
SCP-3300 takes place every year at around mid-June and lasts anywhere from six to eighteen days. During this time the entire populace of Clear Water in Montana will disappear and be replaced by a new set of citizens.
Typically, in the first 48 hours of the event, there will be light, continuous rain over the entire town, this occurs regardless of the weather in the surrounding area. Once the first 48 hours are done the rain will turn into a severe thunderstorm lasting for the remaining duration of the event.
When the event ends, all previous people living in the town will have been replaced by new iterations with completely new appearances, personalities, and memories. Though that being said some of the new people will sometimes have things in common with those they are replacing, such as sharing names, professions, certain memories, and broad personality traits. However, they will never repeat identically from those in the town prior to the storm.
The new population will have absolutely no recollection of the event and will be unaware of their anomalous nature. These are entirely new people, created by SCP-3300, there are no records of them existing prior to the event that created them.
The population behave identically to ‘normal’ human beings and are physically indistinguishable from you or I, with post-mortem examinations revealing no differences from other humans.
The people outside of the town, are also affected by SCP-3300 in so far that they seem unable to pay attention to the town, completely ignoring it unless it is brought directly to their attention and even then struggling to stay focused on it as a topic of discussion or attention.
The SCP Foundation’s response to SCP-3300 is focused on observation only at the moment as well as ensuring that the event does not spread from the affected area. Any attempts at a manned exploration of events have been suspended.
Any of the population of Clear Water that attempts to leave will be detained by the SCP Foundation. This is due to the fact that any town member will disappear several days after the event begins regardless of them being in the town or now.
This is one of my favorites from the SCP Wiki, I love the setting, the complete lack of how or why this happens, or what can be done to stop it. It works well as a horror subject due to how it robs those involved of power, in so far that anyone caught up in the event is powerless, even the foundation is powerless to do anything more than observe.
The storm is unknowable, it has no clear consciousness or motivation, it’s just a thing that happens. This also puts me in mind of how people may have felt many years ago when large scale accidents or geographical events such as earthquakes and volcanos. A big unknowable, unconscious thing, something that happens and boom, your entire town is gone. Makes me think of Pompeii or Herculaneum.
This SCP taps into a common fear we all have of our own mortality and that we effectively disappear after death, no one knows why, or what happens after death and this SCP is a microcosm of that.
I didn’t want to reproduce this here as many others have done so, and they are far more skilled than I, but there is an addendum to his SCP, a journal entry told from the perspective of one of the townsfolk, caught up in an instance of SCP-3300. It’s wonderfully written, you can feel the confusion and blind fear of the writer. I strongly suggest giving the below video a listen and you’ll see why I find this SCP to be so effective.
Today I want to talk to you about the film, Midsommer.
Midsommer is a folk horror story that was released in 2019. It was written and directed by Ari Aster, who you may remember from Hereditary. Midsommer and Hereditary are both very similar in their ability to build and hold tension as well as the sheer depth of the atmosphere.
In these blogs I usually go heavily into spoiler territory but I’m going to avoid that with this film, just because the best experience you can have with this film is when you go in blind. While the strength of this film comes from its atmosphere and its ability to build tension and keep you up there for as long as it damn well pleases, that does diminish when you know exactly what’s coming. Though that being said this isn’t a film that relies on a twist its got wonderfully crafted characters, and well thought out settings, the story is a very strong one and when you rewatch it you’ll notice all the little foreshadowing hints that you might have missed on first viewing.
Psychology student Dani is left distraught after her parents are killed by her sister in a murder suicide. When she tries to seek support and comfort from her boyfriend, Christan, he is emotionally distant and it is revealed to the audience that he was looking to end the relationship but felt that he couldn’t due to her recent tragedy.
Christian and his friends have been invited to Sweden, by their Swedish friend Pelle, and Dani kind of guilts them into taking her along as well. They go to witness a celebration that occurs only once every 90 years. However, on arrival they discover that there’s a lot more going on at the Hårga than some cute folk festival and the people/cult throwing the festival have ulterior motives and not all is as it seems.
So, this is a little difficult without going into spoiler territory but I am determined that if you’ve not seen the film then I won’t be the one who ruins your first viewing.
The pacing in this film is superb, the story advances quickly but at no point feels rushed or like things are being skipped over, nothing in my opinion felt like it lacked depth or needed to be looked into further. The pacing allowed tension to build expertly well and remain at a tolerable level for far longer than I would have expected. The film is very suspenseful, the score really helps with this.
The world building is masterful, the small settlement with the cultists feels fully developed, again with depth. This is done in many ways, one of which being the setting, the buildings and the costumes, all of which were clearly well researched. You can feel the love that Ari has for the story he was telling.
The film terrifies its audience in a number of ways, it taps into common fears with a few gross out moments as well as tapping to the fear of things such as heights, darkness etc. It taps into the fear we feel when in an alien society and the threat of that society towards outsiders. Lastly it also looks into more abstract fears, such as the fear of isolation, losing our community and support network.
Again without spoilers the ending is a mixed bag, both tragic and hopeful in the same breath.
Overall I strongly recommend this film.
Today I want to look at one of my favourite writers and an adaptation of one of their novellas. I’d like to look at the adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘The Mist’. The novella was released in 1985 in the collection ‘The skeleton Crew’, while the film came out in 2007.
In my opinion, the main things that changed when the novella got adapted were the atmosphere and tone of the story. I want to focus this blog on the elements that the director changed which I feel has effected these.
The most obvious in my opinion is the pacing, the novella, for all it is short at only 130 pages, is a slow burn. Everything in the novella takes time, the characters are introduced gently and given time to establish themselves before we get to the monsters (the first one doesn’t show up until the second third of the novella). King uses the first third of the story to foreshadow, build tension and most importantly make you care and connect with the characters.
The film jumps almost straight to the action, we get a brief introduction of our main character, his son and his neighbour all before we’re whisked away into the supermarket where the bulk of the film takes place. I understand that films will struggle with pacing compared to novels and novellas, they are a completely different medium so we struggle to spend time in our MC’s head, films also have a limited run time so it’s natural that they might cut some of the ‘fluff’ but the world and character building does suffer for it in my opinion.Continue reading “Book v Film: The Mist”
I’ve spoken before about Carmilla, now let’s take a brief look at her Author, Joseph Thomas Sheridan Le Fanu.
Joseph was an Irish writer, born on 28 August 1814 and died on 7 February 1873 of a heart attack. His three best known stories are Carmilla, Uncle Silas and The House by the Churchyard.
Joseph was born into a literary family, both his grandmother Alicia and his great-uncle Richard were playwrights his niece Rhoda was a successful novelist, and his mother was a writer.
In 1826 the family moved to Abington in Limerick, where Joseph used his father’s library to educate himself and by the age of fifteen he was already writing poetry
In 1844 Joseph married Susanna Bennett, and their first child, Eleanor, was born in 1845, followed by Emma in 1846, Thomas in 1847 and George in 1854. In 1856 Joseph’s personal life became difficult when his wife suffered from poor mental health. She had a crisis of faith and suffered from anxiety after the deaths of several close relatives, including her father. In April 1858 she suffered a “hysterical attack” and died the following day in unclear circumstances. Joseph’s diaries suggests that he felt guilt as well as loss. From then on he did not write any fiction until the death of his mother in 1861.
In 1861 he became the editor and proprietor of the Dublin University Magazine. He published The House by the Churchyard and Wylder’s Hand via this magazine. Joseph then signed a contract with his London publisher, which specified that future novels be stories “of an English subject and of modern times”, Joeseph then published Uncle Silas in 1864.