The other day, I was talking with someone about what sort of tattoo I’d get if I were the type to get one.* This is a topic I’ve thought of a lot in my twenty-five years, and I think I’ve figured out what I would get. As I explained to my friend, it would be a representation of the horror genre, how the various causes of horror in fiction–like demonic entities, the prospect of death, and of course human beings, among others–have a detrimental effect on us. “It’s corruption of the innocent,” I explained. “The very essence of horror.”

And then I realized something: corruption of the innocence is an essential part, if not the essence, of horror. And it can be found in every horror story, if you think about it. I knew it was part of Gothic horror, as I mentioned it in my post about what makes Gothic horror. But beyond that subgenre? Hadn’t even considered it.

I could have hit myself for not realizing that sooner. It was staring me right in the face, goddammit!

As I said above, I mentioned how corruption of the innocent is an element of Gothic fiction, and we see this in Gothic stories like The Shining. Danny sees the world go from a mostly-nice place where bad luck sometimes causes disaster for good people to a dark place where entities like The Overlook exist and kill people or drive them mad. Said entity also tries to corrupt Danny’s shine, to make that beautiful psychic power part of its own dark self.

Innocence corrupted.

However, this concept is found in other horror stories. HP Lovecraft incorporated it into his work quite often. In The Call of Cthulhu, his most famous work, the narrator starts out as being very sure that the world is a concrete place of science and rationality. However, after going through his late uncle’s effects, he realizes that there’s something awful in this world, a worldwide cult devoted to the bloody worship of an awful god that will one day rise to retake the Earth. And not only did this cult kill the narrator’s uncle, its agents will likely kill the narrator, driven close to madness with fear, before long.

Innocence corrupted.

This story is a great example of corruption of the innocent at work without being part of the Gothic genre.

And sometimes the innocence being ruined here isn’t your traditional childlike innocence. Sometimes it’s as simple as just having your worldview changed. Two early Stephen King stories, “The Mangler” and “Battleground,” revolve around hardened men discovering the world can involve the supernatural or just plain weird (in this case, a possessed dry-cleaning machine and toy soldiers that come to life to kill you). As I said, nothing dramatic. Just a shift in viewpoint.

Innocence corrupted.

Even when it’s so ubiquitous though, I don’t think corruption of the innocent is the essence of horror, as I characterized above. Or at least, the only essence of horror. After all, we can’t forget about fear, which is what horror plays on and seeks to create. Without that fear, you just don’t have a good horror story. Perhaps then, like fear or a powerful antagonist, corruption of the innocent is something necessary to writing horror. Without it, the genre would be missing something that cannot be done without.

So while not exactly the full essence of horror, corruption of the innocent is important to the genre. You could even say it’s wrapped up in the essence of horror. And I’m glad I finally realized after such a long time that it was.

Hopefully it makes writing decent horror stories easier.

What do you think of corruption of the innocent as part of horror? Do you think I’m onto something?

Do you think I should get a tattoo? Would you like to see this design of mine realized? Do you know how any artists who could help me create it?

*For the record, I’m tempted, but my religious beliefs aren’t fond of me getting one. And I’m not sure I want something so permanent on my body, anyway. Especially if I have to pay a ton of money for what I’m looking for. Still fun to think about, though.

Also, I want it on my back. Best place to get it, in my personal opinion.

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Slender Man has been one of the most talked-about fictional figures to be created in the past ten years. It seems that it was inevitable that a major film adaptation of the character would come out, though nine years after the character’s introduction and two or three years after his peak in popularity seems later than I’d expect. But since the film’s trailer came out, there’s been a lot of discussion on the film, not just whether it would be any good or if it was too late for a Slender Man film, but also if there should even be a film based on the character. I won’t touch on that last subject (that’s something for a post for another day), but I can answer the first two.

Starting with if the film is any good, I’m going to say I have the same feelings towards Slender Man as I did to The Forest: a concept with great potential, but an execution with poor payoff.

Based on the famous Internet boogeyman, Slender Man follows four teen girls who find an online video that’s supposed to summon the titular entity. Soon after, they start getting sick and having nightmares. When one disappears, the remaining three realize that something is afoot, that they are being watched and stalked by an entity alluded to in folklore and on the Internet by a variety of names. And it won’t leave them alone.

The problems with this movie are numerous. For one thing, this movie is excessively trope-filled. And while we horror nuts love our tropes, we like them done with a little style, or a bit of love, or even some subversion. And we never like the film to be so trope-filled that it’s hitting us over the head with them. None of that love is here, and thus the tropes ring hollow. In addition, the film fails to build an atmosphere. Watching the film, I didn’t feel creeped out or terrified as I might have with another film. I just felt neutral the whole time, even when they are trying to scare me with disturbing footage (again, in another film this might have been terrifying). When you have a horror film filled with hollow tropes and no atmosphere, that doesn’t bode well for said horror film.

On top of that, the characters are pretty flat. It’s almost like they have variations of the one generic teen girl personality. I know you only have so much time to build personalities in a film that focuses on scaring the shit out of you, but you could literally shift these girls into each other’s roles, and it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

And finally, there are plot threads that are left hanging. They just present some threads, and never wrap them up. I left the theater with a lot of questions: what happened to that one girl we last saw looking out a window? Is the character Wren a preacher’s kid? Shouldn’t that matter more to her character? What happened to that one dude? We kind of just forgot about him.

Such potential for this character. And they wasted it with his first official film outing.

So yeah, Slender Man doesn’t have that much going for it. Does it have any good points? Well, the actors are decent. They’re not given much to work with, but what they do with it is pretty good. There are a few effective jump scares. And for all its faults, the film seems to have some respect for the Slender Man character and mythology. They really tried to incorporate as much as they could of the mythology into the film, and it shows.

But other than that, this film is poorly written and overly-reliant on tropes, with uninteresting characters and a lot of plot threads that just don’t get resolved. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Slender Man a 1. If you want a horror film based off a popular folklore character, there has to be better than this.* In the meantime, I would skip this one. And hope the next time a film about a creepypasta character is made, it’s done a lot better than this.

And as for whether it was too late for a Slender Man movie, I don’t think so. There’s always an opportunity to make an old story or idea new and relevant again (look at last year’s It, for example). I just feel that Slender Man was too reliant on the character’s past popularity and thus didn’t put that much work into making a good movie. If they had, this could’ve been something awesome, rather than a pointless piece of commercial fluff trying to make a buck off of something popular. Like The Angry Birds Movie.**

*Hell, there’s a better Slender Man film out there! You see, this is the first official Slender Man film, with the permission and blessing of the copyright holders over the character (yeah, he’s not as public domain as I thought he was). There was one a few years ago made without permission, a found footage film also called Slender Man that I honestly enjoyed more than this. It wasn’t the most amazing thing, but it was a good deal better than this piece of crap. Too bad it wasn’t official, because I prefer it over this one.

**Or the Friday the 13th remake. Okay, that’s not commercial fluff, that’s just another crap film that takes a great horror character and does everything wrong with him. And until something better is produced to remove the stain, I’LL NEVER STOP HATING ON IT!!!

I’ve mentioned time and time again how I want to visit haunted locations. In the past, I managed to visit the Paris catacombs, where I saw plenty of skulls but no paranormal phenomena, and last year I visited The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast, where I caught my first paranormal evidence on video. And over this weekend, I had the opportunity to visit another one, one that’s in my home state of Ohio that I’ve been wanting to visit for a long time: The Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. And wouldn’t you know it? I saw plenty of stuff that can be considered out of the ordinary (besides me, I mean).

Some context first: for a while now, my dad’s side of the family have been planning an “Ungarfest,” where the whole family gets together and hangs out. It’s a chance for all three of the families–my dad and his family, his brother and his family, and his sister and her family–to see each other now that most of the next generation are grown and there’s a chance our lives will take us all over the place. Currently all three families still live in Ohio and Michigan, so the majority of us were able to come together and see each other. And guess where the family ended up spending the afternoon after spending the morning at a nature garden in the morning? You guessed it, the Ohio State Reformatory.

Now some of you may know the reformatory, or OSR for short, as the place where The Shawshank Redemption, among other famous films and a few TV shows, were filmed. However, the OSR is also famous for being something of a paranormal hotspot. Plenty of deaths have occurred there over the years, and of course stories of hauntings have popped up over the years. With that in mind, I bought my own pair of dowsing rods so I could speak to the spirits there (the ones at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast worked so well for me).

Me protesting my guilt with a cell-door on the lawn.

Me pretending to shank my stepsister for some reason.

So once we got there, we went in (two of my sisters decided not to go in because they found the whole thing too freaky), and met JD, our tour guide, who was honestly just the best tour guide we could ask for have (I’ll get into why in a bit, but for now, just know that if you get to come here for a tour, you can’t go wrong by asking for JD). He took us around for the first half of the tour, talking to us about the history of the prison and what it was like for a prisoner during the prison’s heyday.

How can one describe the prison accurately? Well, it’s big, I can say that. Metal and drywall and brick and stone are everywhere. The paint on the walls and every other surface is peeling all over the place, and you can smell the building’s age and paint everywhere. In various rooms, you’ll see original artifacts from when it was an active prison, such as the original electric chair that was used there, products made in the shops the prison ran, and much, much more.

You also got to see a lot of the locations where The Shawshank Redemption and other films used as sets. Warden Norton’s office is perfectly preserved for the most part, as well as the door that the guard broke the window in that one scene of the movie. And apparently Brooks and Red’s apartment was filmed in the prison too. It was cool to see that piece of film history on display there.

JD (left) and his fellow tour guide Michael (right) talking to us in the room where a scene from Air Force One was filmed.

Me at the foot of the stairs where Andy Dufresne and Warden Norton talked about budget issues in getting a library.

I’m at Warden Norton’s desk. There’s a bit of “blood” still on the window.

Me doing my imitation of that guard from the movie. Also, this is my new author pic.

And so was Rami

But definitely one of the best parts of the tour was JD. He was friendly, funny, and a really cool dude with a voice that reminded me of musicians I’ve seen in movies and TV (and that description is how you know I’ve been writing for a long while). I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out he was a musician, he seems like the kind of guy who would enjoy playing some guitar on the weekends. But he was also very inspiring. You see, JD was an inmate for a short time at OSR back in the 1980s. During the tour, he took us by the cell in the west block where he stayed while there, and how his experience at OSR helped him turn his life around. It was really inspiring to hear. A lot of people think of people who have gone to jail, and it isn’t usually a positive image. But JD was able to give us this personal story of how his stay affected him. Combined with his friendly and very humble personality, it really made his story all the more powerful. You couldn’t help but like him, not just as a tour guide but as a person. And on top of his personal knowledge of what it was like to be a prisoner at the Ohio State Reformatory, it just made for an excellent tour.

JD in front of his old cell, telling us how being at OSR changed his life.

If it’s not obvious, I highly recommend JD as a tour guide. On a scale of 1 to 5, a definite 5. If you get him as your tour guide, you won’t regret it.

Of course, you’re curious about the paranormal stuff I witnessed. First off, the dowsing rods had an excellent first time out. I got a lot of communication from spirits, some of which made it onto video and then onto YouTube. One of the first places we visited was solitary confinement, where the spirit of Frank Hanger, a security guard who was murdered by three inmates in that area, is said to hang out. Here’s the video of that particular encounter.

Something you should know: that question Jay threw out about the electric chair was a trick question to make sure we were actually talking to a spirit and it wasn’t random movements on the part of the rods. Turns out it wasn’t random movements: those three convicts committed suicide, so Officer Hanger’s “no” was a point for the I-was-communicating-with-spirits side.

The other major spirit I spoke to was that of James Lockhart, an inmate who killed himself by immolation. His cell is notoriously haunted. I got to speak with him as well, and learned some interesting things.

Sorry about the vertical filming. You can only do so much with your cell phone.

I also had a lot more communications, some of which I got on video. But these are the best quality, so I wanted to make sure people got to see them. You can draw your own conclusions on what happened while at OSR that day (just don’t leave vitriol-filled comments for me to read), but I like to think that I got some communication from the other side that day. And a lot of people who witnessed me using the rods, including this one family I kept seeing around the east cell block (they’re the ones asking me to ask Lockhart if he burned himself), probably believe me now (I think they took video footage of some of my communications. There may be footage of that floating around the Internet somewhere).

Oh, one more thing I want to mention. This isn’t so much explicitly paranormal as it is weird, but it’s worth a mention. You remember that photo of me at Warden Norton’s desk? Well, this may have just been an issue in the transition from my camera to Instagram, but it’s still weird and kind of freaky.

I have no idea what happened here. The photo of me at the foot of those stairs seems to have been overlaid with me at Warden Norton’s desk. Not sure how that happened, but it is pretty cool. Even if it isn’t exactly supernatural.

All in all, the Ohio State Reformatory was an amazing experience. It is a beautiful building, filled to the brim with history, pieces of culture, and a few spirits. I’m so glad I got to go, as well as to test out my dowsing rods in such a great venue. And now that I have my driver’s license, I may be able to go up again someday very soon and perhaps get some more proof of the paranormal. In fact, you should bet on that happening (Zak Bagans, call me). Until then, definitely consider making a trip to the Reformatory and seeing the history and hauntings yourself. Guaranteed you won’t regret it.

And thanks to JD and the folks at OSR for hosting my family this weekend. We enjoyed ourselves immensely while there. I hope you’ll see us (or maybe just me) again soon.

The Ungar clan, AKA 40% of the reason I’m as messed up as I am.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you enjoyed my little travelogue. I’ll be seeing you all again very soon. Until then, pleasant nightmares!

Well, today has turned out eventful. Not only is it the seventh anniversary of this blog’s creation today, but I finished writing another story. And let me tell you, it turned out a lot longer than I expected, just under eleven-thousand words, making it a novelette. I have no idea if I’ll have to trim it down some later on, but I have a feeling that I’ll be doing a lot of editing before this story can be considered ready for publication.

Mother of the King, as this story is called, was born from my recent interest in the legend of King Arthur. I even downloaded a whole lecture course onto my phone to listen to and find out more about this legendary figure. The result not only surprised me (read my post The Weird Truth about King Arthur to have your own mind blown), but inspired a story that I decided to write after I sent Rose back to the publisher. You know how some of the Arthur stories out there say that one day Arthur will return when England needs him the most? This idea deals with that aspect of the legend, as well as the historical Arthur figure. It’s part historical fiction, part science-fiction, part my way to play around with a famous fantasy canon and even do some teaching as well.

It would make for a great TV show on HBO or Netflix. At least, I think it would.

And the cool thing about Arthurian literature is you can literally write any story about Arthur and his knights, and it’s automatically part of Arthurian canon. Doesn’t mean that it’ll be a good addition to the canon,* but it’ll be an addition anyway. Hopefully Mother of the King, should I ever get it published, will make a decent addition to Arthurian literature.

So what happens now? Well, I had my eye on submitting this story to an anthology Castrum will be putting together in the near future, but perhaps the length of it might turn them off. In any event, I’ll probably have a few people look at it and give me feedback. I’ll use that to edit the story, and after that see about getting it published.

In the meantime, while Rose is still being looked over at Castrum, I’ll be working on finishing up a few unfinished novelettes. With any luck, I can get them done before I get the fifth draft back and have to dive back into doing edits.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. It is very late for me, and I’ve got work in the morning. I’ll be seeing you again soon. Until then, pleasant nightmares, one and all!

*Looking at you, 2004’s King Arthur and 2017’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. You both aimed big, but in the end failed miserably. Also, Friday the 13th remake, you suck. You’re not Arthurian literature at all, but it’s been a while since I’ve mentioned how much I hate you. You stupid, pornographic excuse of a Michael Bay film.

Happy birthday to the blog,
Happy birthday to the blog.
Happy birthday to Rami Ungar the Writer,
Happy birthday to the blog.

An entire year has gone by for this blog. And it feels like so much longer for some reason. Has that ever happened to any of you? And now this blog is seven years old. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for about seven years now. This blog, along with the people I get to interact with on it, has become so apart of my life, I can’t remember what life was like before I had it and all of you. This blog is a way to share my thoughts and feel like some people are cheering me on as I work on my career.

And this past year was especially awesome, writing and blogging-wise. I not only finished a third draft of Rose, but a fourth and a fifth, the last one changing a lot of elements in the story (for the better, I like to think). Plus I somehow managed to find a publisher for Rose, which means it’ll hopefully be published before it starts to get cold again (no promises, though). I managed to write and edit some more stories, and I even got Car Chasers accepted for publication (and I may have news on another short story very soon, fingers crossed). And I was able to gain, keep, and surpass a thousand followers on this blog. These are all things I hoped would happen in my anniversary post last year, and they all happened.

Not to mention the things that happened in my personal life, which I don’t talk about that much on this blog anymore but are still worth mentioning at any rate. Work has been busy, but I’ve accomplished a lot that’s been set before me, including traveling and attending important trainings for work, and even coordinating programs that are meant to improve my organization; I saw three ballets live and one on video, leading to the discovery of my obsession with the art form (I also saw a couple of Broadway plays, and that was pretty cool); I joined the Horror Writers Association, and have been reaping the benefits since; I finally got my driver’s license, after nearly ten years of on-and-off driving practice; and so much more. It’s incredible how much I’ve been able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.

Oh, that’s why this year felt longer. I’ve been doing so much, it felt like it went on longer than it was.

But anyway, a huge reason why I’ve been able to do so much is because of you, my Followers of Fear. You’re always there, rooting for and supporting me. I’m honestly amazed sometimes at how much this blog has grown, and the friendships I’ve been able to strike up through the interactions here. I say this a lot during these posts, but there was a time when I only got a few views every couple of days, and hardly any interaction from readers. It really means a lot to me that you’re all here, reading what I have to say and responding to it. You are all so totally amazing and I can’t thank you enough for that.

So what’s going to happen in the next year? Well, I hope to keep putting out quality material on this blog. I want to get Rose out on the market so you all can read it (and maybe give me reviews for feedback?). I want to get a car, now that I finally have a license. I plan to get more stories written, edited and maybe even published. Perhaps I’ll even start a new novel. And so much more. We’ll have to check back and see what I managed to do a year from now.

In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming up, including a trip to the Ohio State Reformatory for a spooky haunted tour (that’s Sunday! Here’s hoping I get some paranormal evidence on video again). I’ll make sure to update you all on that as soon as I can. So until next time, my Followers of Fear, pleasant nightmares. Lots and lots of pleasant nightmares.

My friend Kat Impossible of Life and Other Disasters tagged me (and anyone with an interest) for this Harry Potter-themed tag. Seeing as Harry Potter is the reason I became a writer, and Harry’s 38th birthday is today (that’s right, he’d be 38 years old if he were a real person. Let that sink in for a moment), I figured it only made sense to do it and spread the word. Thus, here we are.

So Alohamora, on we go. Let’s get this thing started.

What is your blood status?

On the one hand, I get why this question is here. But on the other hand, it feels so wrong to ask a question based on how “pure” your blood is. We all know that pure-blood families just destroy all records of the members who intermarry. And how are they so sure none of their relatives intermarried with Muggles prior to blood-status becoming such a thing (Salazaar Slytherin was considered an outlier in his day, after all)?

Anyway, Kat had two tests to determine this (click here and here to try them out). I got pure-blood on the first one and half-blood on the second. I flipped a coin, and got heads, which is pure-blood. I guess my theory that my mother’s side of the family is related to Moaning Myrtle wasn’t so spot on after all (yeah, that’s a thing).

What wand chose you?

According to Pottermore, my wand is ten and three-fourth inches, laurel wood, unicorn core, and very flexible and swishy. According to the site, that means my wand’s magical performance is consistent and decent, hates laziness, and very adaptable to my needs. I have to say, I kind of like that.

Did you take a cat, an owl or a toad with you?

Cat, of course. As cool as owls are, I’m not very fond of birds, and besides, the school has plenty of owls. And we all know that toads are boring and that only losers get them. So obviously, we go for cats…which in the Wizarding World, tend to be more intelligent and great judges of characters than other cats, so I guess that works very well for me.

Now what to name my magical kitty? A difficult question if ever I’ve heard one. I guess it depends on what kitty I get.

Where did the Sorting Hat put you?

Slytherin, according to Pottermore. I was shocked when I first found out, but I guess it makes sense. I mean, one of my nicknames is the Pale Dark Lord, and I have to be at least a little bit evil and ambitious to write horror like I do. Of course, when I told my mom, who is a huge Potterhead, she nearly disowned me right there and then over the phone. And my sisters were almost afraid to associate with me. But they’ve come around since then. My mom even bought me a Slytherin shirt when she went to Harry Potter World in Florida a few years ago. It’s one of my favorite shirts ever. And last year in Boston, I bought a Slytherin tie from an HP-themed shop. I love wearing it to work and when people there notice it.

What house did you want to be put in?

Gryffindor, I think. Everyone wants to be in Harry’s house, after all. And if not that, Ravenclaw, because I read a lot and like to think of myself as intelligent. However, I’m glad I went to Slytherin in the end. Like I said, it makes a whole ton of sense. And besides, I do a great Draco Malfoy impression when I take off my glasses.

What are your favorite and least favorite lessons?

 

Ooh, tough choices considering I’ve only heard Harry’s experiences with his classes to judge by. Though if I had to guess, I probably would enjoy Potions the most. Unlike Chemistry, where you had to understand how molecules and acids and bases interact, Potions is very much like cooking, except without food. And to use a bad joke, I can be a wizard in the kitchen sometimes (my friend and colleague Joleene Naylor can attest to that). So I think I’d excel at that. I might even take up potion-making as a hobby.

As for least favorite, I’d have to go with Arithmancy. Math-based magic does not sound like a lot of fun, and math has never been my favorite subject to begin with. I’m actually surprised that Hermione likes it, as in both real life and in the Wizarding World, it’s used to predict the future. Then again, numbers and patterns are used by economists and college professors all the time to predict economic trends and presidential elections, so I guess Hermione likes it because it actually produces results, unlike standard Divination.

What is your Patronus?

I’m a dolphin, apparently (which also means that’s what I’d turn into if I were an Animagus). Makes sense, as I’m a very fun-loving and excitable person. Though I’m not very fond of swimming, truth be told.

What does your boggart look like?

Rejection by people I love. I have this ongoing anxiety that something I say or do might cause people to hate me and not want to associate with me. A boggart turning into people I know saying they want nothing more to do with me and pointing out all my flaws would be a nightmare. As for what I’d turn it into, I think I’d have it turn into a performance the musical The Book of Mormon. That musical is hysterical, and forcing the boggart to become that would be such fun (see this video from the Tonys a few years ago just to get an idea of how funny this boggart would be).

Either that, or Tom Ellis playing Lucifer, because I can’t be scared of that devil. I’d just melt into his arms…

I’m sorry, I was drooling for a second. What were we talking about?

Do you partake in any magical hobbies or school sports?

Probably. As I said earlier, I’d probably enjoy making Potions, so I would definitely be part of the Potions Club. I’m not much of a sports player, so I don’t think I’d be on a Quidditch team, but I might enjoy flying for fun (in fact, is there a club for that?). Surprisingly, I don’t know if I would be a writer if I were a wizard. Except for the Tales of Beedle the Bard, a comic book about a mad Muggle, and everything by Gilderoy Lockhart (burn!), there’s not much evidence of fiction existing in the Wizarding World. There are plenty of non-fiction books mentioned in the series, but very little fiction.

Perhaps I might still be a writer, though. I’d just adjust my stories to be horror stories set in the Wizarding World, possibly dealing with entities that ordinary wizards can’t handle or Dark Wizards. But again, I don’t know. I guess it would depend on what forces shape my life while I’m at Hogwarts and then what happens afterward.

Where would you spend your spare time?

The library or the Slytherin common room. I love books, after all, and the library is a great place to read and study. And who doesn’t hang out in a common room? Oh, and wherever I could go to brew a potion. I have a feeling I’ll be using my cauldron quite a bit, so I’ll need a place where I can work without having to worry about the smell of cooking magic liquids.

What would you most likely get detention for?

Given what I got detention for in high school, either having late homework assignments or being too talkative. That last one has gotten me into trouble more than once in the past, though I’m better at controlling it nowadays.

What career do you want after graduating Hogwarts?

Well, if there is a Wizarding tradition of fiction, I could see myself going into that. Though seeing as writing probably doesn’t make that much money, even in the Wizarding World, I could see myself becoming either a Ministry official, or a Potioneer. Both of those would probably suit me very well.

I TAG…

Anyone who wants to do this tag! I mean, it is a lot of fun, so why shouldn’t you? Just make sure to link back to me when you do.

Well, that’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I hope you had as much fun reading this as I did writing this. Until next time, pleasant nightmares and GO SLYTHERIN!!!

Well, here we are. The latest Five Nights at Freddy’s novel, The Fourth Closet, was released late last month. I’ve spent the past week reading it, wondering if this is the last novel, if this book contains answers to the events of the previous books and the franchise’s lore as a whole, and wondering just how this volume compares to the previous two books. Since I finished it yesterday, I’ve been dying to share my thoughts on it (and all without being shoved into an animatronic suit, I might add). So now that we’re here, let’s dive into what is likely the last FNAF novel (thought considering this novel was co-written by franchise creator Scott Cawthon, who knows if it’s truly the last?).

So for those of you who don’t know, Five Nights at Freddy’s is a video game franchise about security guards having to deal with haunted animatronics that try to kill you during your shift at a pizza place (or in the case of the fourth game, someone’s bedroom). Yeah, I know it sounds ridiculous, but it has proven immensely successful, spawning several sequels and spin-offs, three novels, a movie in development at Blumhouse Productions (which I wish would go into production already), and thousands of fan-made tribute games. Some of the reasons for the game’s success is its simple yet intense gameplay, as well as its deep and mysterious lore (supposedly the events of the game were caused by a serial killer and the ghosts of his victims, but figuring out what exactly went down and when is a challenge).

I’ve reviewed the first two books, The Silver Eyes and The Twisted Ones, and while I wouldn’t count them among my favorite horror novels, I have found them intriguing enough and similar to slasher movies in book form. And I found Twisted Ones to have improved and fixed many of the issues of Silver Eyes, making for a better novel, so I hoped The Fourth Closet would also improve. Did it? Let’s see.

Fourth Closet takes place about six months after the events of Twisted Ones, and tells the story mainly from the POV of the other main characters, especially series’ protagonist Charlie’s love interest John. At the end of Twisted Ones, Charlie had seemingly died, but in this new volume, we see Charlie returned alive two days later. Or did she? While everyone else is convinced this Charlie is their Charlie, John isn’t so sure. And when kids start disappearing in town again, like they did during the tenure of the original Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria, John must gather the gang together again to investigate. But will searching for the truth lead to answers, or will it lead to horrors that the characters never anticipated?

So to start, this novel does show improvement over the previous two. The story and mystery is well-told, and the violence, which there is plenty of, is written to be easy to picture in our heads. I also found a number of surprises in the course of the story that were really surprises, rather than predictable twists, and elevated the story. And of course, we got to see a number of famous animatronics from the franchise, including a few of my favorites. I never mind seeing those guys. And finally, the story ends in a way that I can be satisfied with, especially if Cawthon is intending on writing a trilogy.

Of course, this novel does have some issues, as the others did. For one, the main cast is still flat as boards. Yeah, we get some insight into their thought processes in this book, but it doesn’t really allow us to get to know them as characters. That, and there’s a big reveal about Charlie that isn’t as well-written as it could have been. So while I kind of understand what the reveal is, I’m also a little confused and could use some more information to explain things. I know, Cawthon likes to let fans guess and spin theories with this franchise, but doing the same thing in a novel can seriously backfire on you (believe me, I learned that during one of the drafts of Rose). And trust me, it backfired here.

But on the whole this novel is a decent story, and shows its writers’ desire to learn from past mistakes in order to make sure any addition to the franchise is worth it. On the whole, I’m giving Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Fourth Closet a 3.4 on a scale of 1 to 5. If you recall, I gave the first and second books ratings of 2.6 and 3, respectively, for an average of 3 out of 5 for the trilogy. Average as a whole, but considering the source material  is a video game franchise and that the creator isn’t used to writing prose fiction, average is great. After all, under other creators, it could very well turn into the literary equivalent of the Super Mario Bros. movie. And nobody wants that!