Thursday, May 17, 2012

Slim Pickin's

Greetings, parishioners! As you have no doubt noticed, there hasn't been much going on around these parts lately. I could give a lot of reasons for it with varying degrees of truthiness attached to each one, but in the interest of simplicity let's just chalk it up to that famous 3-and-a-half-year blogging lull. I've been taking some time off to recharge the batteries, rewatch some favorite flicks without the pressure of writing the review in my head the whole time, and generally just trying to re-locate my Joybaloo.

Don't worry, though. I've been thinking of new directions I might take things here, new projects I might throw myself into, new subjects I might explore under the auspices of the MAD. Your patience during this period is appreciated.

I do not come to you with simply an empty-calorie post about non-posting, however: I come bearing gifts in the form of my latest discoveries/obsessions--which, while not "movies" exactly, are certainly of interest to horror-loving folks such as those that erstwhile have tenanted the halls of the Vicarage and Duchy.

1. YouTube Madness!

I know many of you already find a lot of spooky joy on YouTube, but for some reason I've never given the video site much attention in that regard. That changed recently when I discovered a few real gems that got me digging for more.

Daywalt Fear Factory

I often hear horror fans complain that they are unable to find a movie that really scares them--movies that don't just jump out and scream "Boo!" while clashing garbage can lids together like a demented wind-up monkey, but that really get under their skin and raise the gooseflesh. For this hardened horror fan, Daywalt Fear Factory's short films fill that niche. The channel is a treasure-trove of well-constructed, good-looking horror shorts that strike with the nightmare immediacy of a good campfire tale  and get out before you can analyze yourself out of your shivers. Like anything, some of the stories are hits and some are misses, but with Daywalt, the hits just keep coming. Turn down the lights, turn up the volume, and enjoy.

Here's one of my favorites so far, that does more in a little over two minutes than most horror films do in as many hours: "Bedfellows."

Daywalt Fear Factory's YouTube Channel

2. The Slender Man

What began as a "make up your own urban legend" contest on the forums has taken on a vibrant life of its own in the Tubes of You, and his name is The Slender Man--"Slendy" to his friends. A supernatural childnapper, otherdimensional overlord, harbinger of doom, and mind-fuckler extraordinaire, the Slender Man has inspired art, literature, and some of the more imaginative web-series/ARGs it's been my pleasure to partake of. Here are a couple of my favorite series currently active in the burgeoning "Slenderverse."

Marble Hornets

After his film-school friend Alex abandons his latest project and mysteriously disappears, fellow filmmaker Jay goes through the stockpile of unmarked DV tapes his friend left behind, only to discover some disturbing and inexplicable things, including recurring images of a tall, faceless man. Posting his findings online (usually in 3-7 minute chunks), Jay gets pulled more and more into whatever drove his friend to obsession and perhaps madness, and becomes a target of  the Slender Man himself. The series uses various platforms to tell the same story--multiple YouTube accounts, Twitter, image sharking sites and others--creating an immersive experience. Part vlog, part X-Files, part code-cracking game and part cliffhanger serial, Marble Hornets is more than just webseries--it's a new type of storytelling.

Exciting, spooky stuff, and just beginning its third and final story arc. Check it out from the beginning; use the fan-maintained wiki to keep yourself straight, and don't miss the reply videos from the enigmatic "totheark."

Marble Hornets YouTube Channel
Marble Hornets Wiki


There are many other Slender Man-related youtube channels out there, many riffing on/ripping off the success of Marble Hornets, but TribeTwelve managed to take MH as a springboard and make the story its own. When Florida twentysomething Noah learns his troubled cousin Milo has died, he sets up a YouTube channel to honor his memory with videos of their last visit together. As he does so, he starts to notice strange images in frame, and realizes his cousin was not only troubled but haunted, and perhaps hunted. While investigating, Noah is contacted by a shadowy group known as the Collective, who may or may not be of this world, and of course is terrorized by the Slender Man as well.

Though the acting and framing of TribeTwelve does not seem as assured as that in Marble Hornets, Noah and company make up for it with compelling plotting, earned scares, and some pretty good special effects for a no-budget web series. Recommended.

TribeTwelve YouTube Channel
TribeTwelve Wiki

3. Correspondence: or, It Came from Reddit

Another fascinating find that falls under the ARG banner, "Correspondence" is a serial story being told mostly in the /r/nosleep subforum of massive link-assembling site Reddit. I say "mostly" because as in Marble Hornets and TribeTwelve, the author of this tale--known by the username "bloodstains"--uses YouTube, Google, imgur, functional character email addresses, and most intriguingly, the "comments" section of each chapter's post to further the story and blur the lines between reality and fiction.

Reddit user bloodstains begins to post what appear to be chat logs, stolen texts, phone call transcriptions, and diary entries from a group of teenagers who ill-advisedly visited "Hell House"--a real (or is it?) haunted house somewhere in Toronto, Ontario--and fall prey to the spirit of an evil old woman who possesses, torments, and finally kills them. But there's more going on than meets the eye, as the possession seems to spread to other Reddit users through the comments section, and the evil goes viral in the worst possible way. Gripping, unsettling stuff--check it if you dare!

"Correspondence" on Reddit
Bloodstains Wiki

And that's all I've got for now. Hope you enjoy--let me know what you think!

 Keep watching the skies, enjoy the archives, and stay tuned, Parishioners! I'll be back. :)

The Vicar

Pee-Ess: For those of you who have sold your souls to Mark Zuckerberg in exchange for friends' baby pictures and updates about who's eating what--I've been posting random thoughts and periodic short reviews on my facebook page for movies I wanted to say something, but not too much about. If that sounds like something you can't live without, friend me here, and may God have mercy on your souls.


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