Posts Tagged ‘ideas’

Last week I read an article where Adam Winguard, the director of the disaster that is Netflix’s adaptation of the Death Note franchise, had to quit Twitter because he was receiving so much hate mail and even death threats over his adaptation. And yesterday, the admins of a YouTube channel dedicated to reviewing and discussing anime and manga received death threats for posting a positive review of the movie.

Let that sink in for a moment. A whole bunch of people are sending people hate mail and threatening to kill them over the Internet for either making or liking what many consider a bad movie. And I’d bet one of my anime figurines the majority of these angry people are fans of the Death Note anime and manga who are incensed that the director cast white actors in the movie and the numerous changes from the source material, as well as just making a really bad film, or that anyone would like the film.

Now, all three complaints are legitimate: the casting of white actors as what were originally non-white characters is a serious problem that Hollywood and the public are continuing to grapple with even now. The many changes from the source material were not only unnecessary, but actually made the film more of a mess than a wonder. And it was a really bad film (check my review here for my own thoughts on the subject).

But there is absolutely no excuse or reason–ABSOLUTELY NO EXCUSE OR REASON–to send hate mail or threaten someone’s life. Especially not for their creative work, no matter what decisions they make or the quality of it. And those who think nothing of doing it have some serious issues that need addressing.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time fans of a franchise or a character or something along those lines have gone a little bonkers. I was ranting about this issue of fans going crazy back in 2013, when people were leaving intentionally bad reviews of Charlaine Harris’s last Sookie Stackhouse book because it was the last book, and threatening harm to themselves and others if their favorite couples didn’t end up together (and possibly followed through after a copy leaked in Germany). Later that year, people were sending tons of mail to Warner Bros. and trying to get the White House to intervene in the casting of the Fifty Shades of Grey movie (not sure what they expected to happen with that one).

Seriously, was this worth the hate campaign? I actually enjoyed the movie.

Since then we’ve seen negative reactions to the idea of the Ghostbusters reboot, and then the female-led cast, which was so hateful everyone involved in the movie felt the need to comment and even make a joke about it in the movie. We’ve also seen people react negatively to Captain America becoming an agent of Hydra in the comics, with some people threatening the writers behind this move. One man claiming to be a Marine even said that he would abandon his moral code and become a stone-cold killer because of the change (seriously, did any of these nincompoops think that maybe this was a mind-controlled Cap, or one from another dimension, which apparently is the case?). We’ve probably all seen articles about angry males attacking women online for attempting to be part of the video gaming community and industry. And there are more of these than I’m probably aware of, with this Death Note thing just being the latest.

What’s causing people to become so angry and violent over fictional characters and worlds? Well, it might actually be nothing new. As long as there have been creative works and their creators, there have been people who have gotten passionate about them, sometimes a little too passionate (*cough* John Hinckley Jr. and Ricardo Lopez *cough*). And sometimes people even feel that their love of a property gives them some sort of ownership over said property, and therefore they have a legitimate voice in any decisions over said work. And with the Internet as both means to reach like-minded individuals and platform to voice their vitriol without worry of censure, some of these overly-passionate fans can gather en masse and make their anger heard, warranted or not. Sometimes, a few of them even feel emboldened to make threats of violence.

And I get it. I hated the Death Note movie too. I can think of several ways the Star Wars prequels or some episodes of Doctor Who could’ve been better (I actually nearly threw a shoe at the TV once because I really disliked an episode). And God, was I upset when shows I really liked, such as Dracula or Sleepy Hollow, got canceled. I would have loved to find the people responsible for all these mistakes and given them a piece of my mind.

But therein lies the problem: none of these fans have any actual ownership or say in the decisions revolving around these stories, and at the end of the day, it’s the creators themselves who get to make those decisions. And we should let them. After all, they are spending valuable time and energy to bring us these stories we love so much. It’s essentially a gift from them to us, the readers and viewers. And while not all these creative variations are welcome (*cough* first three DCEU movies *cough*), some of these creative risks have led to some the greatest pieces of storytelling ever made. Remember there was a time when the Winter Soldier wasn’t a thing, let alone a former friend of Captain America gone evil. When Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker, people swore it was the worst casting decision that could be made, and yet Ledger’s Joker is arguably one of the best Jokers ever brought to life. And let’s be real, William Shakespeare ripped off and made changes to most of the stories he’s famous for! And look at him!

A decision that turned out to be right after all.

And this is not just for variations in already established characters and stories. Creators should be able to experiment with stories and characters. Otherwise, would we have Doctor Who? Harry Potter? Death Note the manga? Stephen King’s IT?

So what should you do if a story you like or an adaptation of a story goes in a direction you dislike? Well, there are two possible decisions that you could go that won’t make you look like a tool (trust me, as both fanboy and creator, they work). One is to do what I did with Death Note: calmly point out what was wrong with it or what you disliked. You don’t have to be angry to get your point across. I’ve found calmly discussing what you disliked about something does more than shouting. And besides, being rude or angry or telling someone to die never convinced anyone to your point of view or made them change their ways.

The other is to just not take part at all. After Jodie Whitaker was announced as the 13th Doctor, many fans reacted by simply deciding not to watch the show anymore. I even have a friend who decided to do that, and while I disagree with their view, I respect how adult their reactions were. (Thought to be fair, after all those years of Moffat tropes, it might’ve been easier to leave than to work up anger over a casting decision). So if you don’t like what the creators are doing, just leave. Don’t ruin the experience for everyone else who may want to try out the new direction.

And if you’re a parent with kids who may get overly passionate about fictional works, maybe have a conversation with them about how to respond to this sort of thing. It might save someone a lot of headaches later on.

While I doubt this problem will go away anytime soon–if anything, it might get worse over time–we can at least approach it in a healthy manner, rather than with further fear and anger, as well as to find healthy alternatives to anger and/or death threats. Either that, or we never get any sort of new stories ever. And I really don’t want to see that.

 

That’s all the ranting for now. The next week and a half will be crazy for me, so I have no idea how much, if at all, I’ll be able to post until October 1st. I’ll try and get something out next week, though if I don’t, please don’t hold it against me or send death threats.

Until next time, Followers of Fear. Pleasant nightmares!

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Today, we have a new interview that I’m very excited to share with you, because it features someone very special. Matthew Williams is one of the oldest friends I have in the blogosphere (by length of relationship, not age), as well as something of an inspiration and mentor for me. A science-fiction writer out of British Columbia, Canada, he’s created quite a few stories over the years, as well as written a number of science articles for Universe Today.

And today, I’m bringing him onto this show to discuss a very special book, The Cronian Incident, being published by Castrum Press next month. Let’s get this party started!

Rami Ungar: Welcome to the show, Matt. Tell us a little about yourself, both as a person and a writer.

Matthew Williams: My name is Matt Williams. I was born in Ottawa, moved to the West Coast in 2006, and have lived on Vancouver Island with my wife and family ever since. I studied history and the social sciences in University and was a high school and elementary teacher for about ten years. I quit teaching in 2015 to pursue writing full-time and am now a regular contributor to Universe Today and the Curator of their Guide to Space section. In my spare time, I write science fiction that’s focused on hard science and the human condition.

RU: Why does science and science fiction appeal to you so much?

MW: A good question. On the one hand, I spent my formative years watching some of the best science fiction movies and series’ of all time – Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Babylon 5, etc. I was always drawn to SF because as a child, I was always a daydreamer, the kind of kid who would rather be thinking about fictitious universes than paying attention in class! As I grew older, I began to contemplate creating my own SF, the kinds of things I knew fans like me would enjoy.

I was also drawn to science from a very young age. In addition to having a starter chemistry set, I loved circuit boards and broken electronics, which I would take apart and play with for hours on end. As Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” To me, these things were magic! That fascination has not diminished by time. The more I’ve come to know about science, technology, and the complex relationship we humans have with them, the more fascinated I have become.

RU: Tell us about your new book, The Cronian Incident, and how you came up with it.

MW: The Cronian Incident takes place in the late 23rd century, where humanity has colonized the Solar System. On every planet, moon, asteroid, and in rotating cylinders at the Sun’s Lagrange Points, human settlements have been established. Whereas people in the Inner Solar System (known as Extros) live lives characterized by post-scarcity, clinical immortality, and endless augmentation, people in the Outer Solar System (Retros) live a simpler life. For generations, this situation has been the norm. But as the story begins, we find that some people have plans which could threaten to upset the delicate balance.

The inspiration came largely from my professional writing. For years, I have been doing articles about the planets of the Solar System for Universe Today. After finishing an article about the planet Mercury, I began talking to a friend about how humans could live there someday. Before long, I felt the seed of an idea being planted in my mind! I then went about planning a story that would realistically address how humans would go about living on all the planets of the Solar System.

For years, I had also been contemplating the idea of how changes here on Earth would drive human colonization of space. I eventually came up with an idea for a Solar System that was divided between people who embraced the development of AI, nanotechnology and biotechnology (and all the revolutionary changes that will follow) and those who chose to stick to a more traditional way of life.

Not long ago, I decided to marry these two sources of inspiration together. And from that, The Cronian Incident was born!

RU: What sort of research and work went into writing the book?

MW: The research was actually pretty incidental. For years, I’ve been studying climate change, technological change, and all the predictions that are constantly being made about the future. And my day job, as a writer for Universe Today, involved a tremendous amount of research into space exploration, planetary science, physics and astronomy. It wasn’t long before the things I was researching and writing about started to give me ideas! After a while, I came up with one I was particularly fond of and began committing it to paper.

RU: How do you approach writing sci-fi? Is there a particular sub-genre or style you prefer?

MW: My preference is towards speculative and hard science fiction. As long as I can remember, I was fascinated by those stories that made predictions about the future that were based on hard science. Granted, most of these predictions do not come true. But it’s the very act of predicting where we are going based on what we are currently experiencing that makes it all worthwhile.

RU: Do you see yourself writing further stories in the universe of The Cronian Incident?

MW: Indeed! In fact, I am currently working on the sequel and the publisher and I hope to have it ready for release in a few months. The book was never meant to be a standalone, and I plan to take this fictional universe (known as the Formist Series) as far as I possibly can.

RU: You used to be exclusively a self-published author, but now you’re working with a publishing house. What made you decide to become what is known as a hybrid author?

MW: In truth, I always wanted to follow the traditional publishing route. However, I had decided that rather than wait to be discovered, I would promote myself. And the interesting thing was that it was precisely the strategies that I was pursuing as an independent that landed me an offer from a publishing house.

In today’s world, a writer needs to promote their writing and their ideas using social media and all other digital means at their disposal. And publishers – the good ones at least! – make sure to peruse these sites in order to find aspiring writers they think have promise.

RU: What’s on the horizon for you at this point?

MW: Well, there’s the work I’m putting in on The Cronian Incident’s sequel. That will certainly eat up plenty of my time for now! And once the two books are out, I hope to attend book signings, science fiction cons, and other events. Basically, I would like to connect with the readers and see what they have to say about the Formist Series.

Beyond that, I hope to expand the Formist Series further. And of course, I have many other ideas I want to work on and eventually bring to light, ranging from near-future stories to a few space opera ideas. And of course, there’s my day job and writing about space news. That’s something I hope to do for many years to come!

RU: If you had to give advice to any writer, regardless of experience or background, what would you tell them?

If ever I find myself in the position to give advice, I like to share the five main lessons I have learned over the years. Many of these were passed on to me by other writers of note, or just people I have come to respect a great deal. And some is stuff I learned on my own

  1. Do what you love, the money will follow – It sounds cliché, but if you love what you’re doing, it won’t feel like work. And in the end, all the hard work and sacrifice you put in are sure to pay off!
  2. In the meantime, keep your day-job – Whatever you’ve been doing to pay the bills, keep doing it until you know for a fact that you can commit to your writing full-time.
  3. Don’t wait to be discovered – You don’t need to limit yourself to shopping out manuscripts to publishers and waiting six months just to hear back. Utilize new media – blog, tweet, post, share, link, reblog, and share – to let the world know you are a writer and what you have to offer.
  4. Find your voice – When committing to writing, make sure you do your homework first and find out who (if anyone) has written something similar. Also, it pays to know the difference between different subgenres and styles of writing, so you can find the one that works best for you.
  5. Be patient – as my father would tell me, “It takes 20 years to become an overnight success”. No matter what you are doing, it will take time for it to get off the ground. Don’t expect instant results or even to succeed on the first try.

RU: Finally, if you were stuck on a desert island for a while and could only take three books with you, which would you take?

MW: Ouch, tough one! But I guess I would have to choose 1984, Neuromancer, The Diamond Age, Accelerando and Finnegan’s Wake. The first four are masterpieces of science fiction that had a profound influence on me. While the last book is not a science fiction novel, it is a classic of western literature. And I think that if I were trapped on a desert island, I might just have the time and mental energy to figure it out!

RU: That actually sounds more like five, but I’ll let it pass this time. Thanks for being on the show, Matt! I hope the book does well.

If you would like to check out The Cronian Incident, due out September 15th, you can pre-order it from Amazon. And if you would like to know more about Matthew Williams, you can check him out on his blog, Stories by Williams, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. He’s a great guy, so give his stuff a look.

And if you are an author and would like to be interviewed, check out my Interviews page and we’ll make some magic happen.

That’s all for now. Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

As promised last week, I’m pleased to announce that What Happened Saturday Night has been published on Wattpad. I’ve been working on this story, on and off, since my final year of college, so I’m really glad to finally have it out there for you guys to read. Plus, check out this amazing artwork by friend, author, and ardent Follower of Fear Joleene Naylor (if you haven’t checked her out, why haven’t you yet? What’s wrong with you? CLICK HERE ALREADY!!!)! It gets right to what this story represents. And what does this story represent? Read the description:

High school is hard enough. But Louise is different from other teens her age. For one thing, she has feelings for her best friend Nicola. Feelings she knows she shouldn’t be having.

Another thing: she’s going through changes, but these aren’t the sort of changes teen girls normally go through. Louise is a werewolf. And her biggest fear is what might happen if an episode like what happened on Saturday night happens in front of Nicola.

I’ve been told it’s a touching story about coming to terms with yourself, in more ways than one.

Based on the results of Gynoid (which, if you haven’t read yet, here’s Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), I’m hoping that even more people will respond to What Happened Saturday Night (or WHSN, as I’m going to call it from now on). I’ve put the same amount of work into both stories, so hopefully all that will pay off like it did with the former story. And they contain similar themes and elements, so that will probably help.

I also think people will be drawn to it because it’s a coming out story. As an out of the closet bisexual man, I know how scary that is. I know what it’s like to feel weird in your own body because of the way you feel, because of whom you’re attracted to. I think there should be more stories that not only explore that issue, but help normalize it to some degree. What I mean is, coming out should not be scary. It might be my delusions of grandeur, but if WHSN can help do that for some readers, then I’ll be glad that I published it.

If you would like to check out WHSN, follow this link for a read. And if you like it (or don’t), let me know what you think. Positive or negative, I love reader feedback, and it helps me in the log run to make me a better writer.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear!

So last night I got a message from my friend and fellow writer Joleene Naylor (check out her blog HERE) messaged me on Facebook to let me know she’d left a review for my first book, the short story collection The Quiet Game: Five Tales to Chill Your Bones, on Amazon. Immediately I thanked her and told her I’d write a post about it as soon as possible. I managed to do the first thing pretty easily, but I wasn’t able to get to the second part because I had a busy evening in front of me.

I’m happy to say that I’m finally getting around to the latter, and I’m very grateful to Joleene for not only taking the time to read my book, but also to review it. Reviews are important to authors, as they provide valuable feedback to them on their work, and help attract new readers. The more reviews an author has on a particular work, the more people are likely to find and read that particular work. And if they review said work, the cycle continues. So in a way, a review is like telling an author you want them to be successful, and then contributing to that success in a small way.

So if you’re unfamiliar with The Quiet Game, it’s a short collection of horror stories I wrote and published back in 2013, being my first published book. It contains five original short stories, with each being about a different subject. Since it was the first book published, it’s also been one of the most popular, and definitely the most widely-reviewed. Here’s what the blurb says on the back of the book:

In his publishing debut, Rami Ungar brings us five terrifying stories of darkness in magic. You can experience the strange visions of a man battling sex addiction in “Addict”. Or feel the wrath of an enraged dybbuk in “Samson Weiss’s Curse”. Face your fears in Gene Adkin’s Murder House in “I’m Going To Be The Next James Bond” and then journey with a young autistic “In The Lady Ogre’s Den”. But most of all, prepare to play the most insidious game of all: The Quiet Game.

Joleene gave The Quiet Game a five-star review, entitled Five fun horror stories (that’s a compliment right there). Here’s what she had to say on it:

A collection of five varied stories that get stronger as the collection builds, with the final being my favorite. Though I fancy myself able to “solve” the stories before the reveals, there were several surprises here, especially the reveal in the Quiet Game and I’m Going to be the Next James Bond. I also liked that Rami pulled no punches with his characters. In one instance, an anti-semite for instances uses words that would be hard for any author to write -though are necessary to his character. There are other examples sprinkled throughout the stories that show Rami’s commitment to telling the story in the way it needs to be told. A good collection for a stormy night!

Joleene’s review matches up with others The Quiet Game has received:

5 wonderfully crafted tales! I purchased this as an eBook originally and put off reading it for quite a while, I really wish I hadn’t waited. Sometimes when one purchases a collection of short stories you expect some of them to be less entertaining or of lower quality than the others, but none of these disappoint. Well worth the money, especially considering after you read each story the author gives you creative insight into what inspired him to write each tale, which is really wonderful.

–Jeff D.

I liked that each story was unusual. I think that the book was appropriately named. I prefer chilled bones rather than scared out of my whits since I am a bit of a chicken.

–ENJ

Imagine if you will a young Stephen King penning dark scenarios inspired by his youth, and what you get is this anthology. Through this collection of short stories, Rami Ungar brings us into the world of dark urges, childhood traumas, ghosts, phantoms, and dark psychological thrillers. An inspired creation, and definitely a good intro to this indie author’s world!

–Matthew Williams, author of The Cronian Incident

If you would like to check out all of The Quiet Game‘s reviews, or if you would like to pick up a copy yourself, I’ll include the links to check it out below. And if you do decide to read the book,, make sure to leave me a review.

And if you haven’t checked out my good friend Joleene Naylor, then what are you doing with yourself? Head over to her blog and check out her stuff, as well as her books!

That’s all till next time, my Followers of Fear. As you saw in my last post, I’ve got something big coming out next week, so make sure to tune back in then. Until that time, happy reading and pleasant nightmares!

The Quiet Game: Available on Amazon, Createspace, Barnes & Noble, iBooksSmashwords, and Kobo.

At the beginning of the year, I said I was going to try publishing more of my shorter works in as many places as possible. This included Wattpad, which for those of you who don’t know is kind of like the YouTube for writers: anyone can upload and share stories. I fulfilled this promise somewhat earlier this year by publishing Gynoid, a science-fiction novelette I’d been trying to publish on and off for quite some time. I published that story’s first part on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, and if you are good at math, you can tell that it’s been six months since the story was first published. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to go over how Gynoid was doing and what plans I have for the site in the future.

Update on Gynoid

When Toby Crimson orders a gynoid, a robot designed to look and act like a human girl, he knows he shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Gynoids are for perverts and losers, after all. But Toby has told a lie, and he needs the gynoid, named Ariel, to keep that lie up. What he never expects is to actually like Ariel being around. Or that Ariel is going to change his life. Whether he likes it or not.

I published the first part of Gynoid on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, for a very good reason. The story is a romance in a science-fiction setting, but it’s also a kind of anti-romance story. There are dark sides to stories about forbidden love that I don’t always see portrayed in fiction, so I used Gynoid to explore those dark sides a little, in particular to the idea of male fantasies.

And so far, people have responded. In those six months since publication, the number of people reading Gynoid have gradually increased to 132 reads. It’s still not a huge number, but it’s a good-sized number for someone who’s still building an audience and who publishes sporadically on Wattpad to begin with. And there has also been a few votes, which is the equivalent of likes on YouTube for this platform.

What really interests me though is the comments. I’ve received some comments on this work, and not only is just one of them from my mother (a whole new record!), but the other comments have been very telling. One commenter was very happy that the ending was, in their view at least, a good one. Another recent reader finished the third part of the story on or around August 3rd, username LadieFace, published that she hoped there would be more to the story (I assume based on the name it’s a she). A week later on August 10th, she comes back and comments that she hopes there’ll be a sequel.

Now, I do have ideas for a sequel, and I did tell her as much when I saw the comment, but that’s not the point. This story stayed on this person’s mind so much that she felt the need to come back a week after her first comment and ask if I had more. When a story makes someone do that, you know it really resonated with that reader.

This gives me hope that, in time, Gynoid will continue to be read and people will come to enjoy it. Maybe they’ll even come to like it to the point that it’ll push me to write a sequel story. Anything’s possible.

If you’re curious to read Gynoid, I’ll include the links below. And if you do check it out, please tell me, here on the blog or on Wattpad, what you think. As I always say, I love reader feedback.

Gynoid: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

What Happened Saturday Night is getting published!

What Happened Saturday Night is another story I’ve been trying to get published for quite some time, and now I’m happy to say I’ll be publishing it on Wattpad next week. Like Gynoid, this story has a heavy romantic element, but this time it’s more of a paranormal romance rather than a science-romance. Here’s the blurb I’m using on Wattpad:

High school is hard enough. But Louise is different from other teens her age. For one thing, she has feelings for her best friend Nicola. Feelings she knows she shouldn’t be having.

Another thing: she’s going through changes, but these aren’t the sort of changes teen girls normally go through. Louise is a werewolf. And her biggest fear is what might happen if an episode like what happened on Saturday night happens in front of Nicola.

So as you can tell, the story has a big LGBT element along with the paranormal one. These two genres actually work pretty well together, actually: they both deal with things that are outside the norm, at least to some people, so putting them together is kind of a natural fit.

I’ll probably be publishing this story either on Monday or on Tuesday next week, so keep an eye out for the announcement post. In the meantime, I’d like to thank friend and fellow novelist Joleene Naylor, who also did the cover art for Gynoid, ffor this beautiful artwork for the tory. It is so powerful and expresses everything I want in a cover. I can’t wait for people to see it and want to read the story inside!

Will I publish anything else on Wattpad?

Good question. It depends on a number of factors. I’m still trying to get stories published in magazines and anthologies, as well as trying to put some in a collection of short stories I’m keeping on the back burner for the moment. Depending on the story, as well as whether I feel it ought to be in a collection, a publication, or on Wattpad, anything could happen. If I do publish anything, it’ll probably have less of a romance element than Gynoid or What Happened Saturday Night has.

So if you’ve been reading my stories on Wattpad simply for the elements of love and romance, I’m sorry to disappoint you on that front.

 

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. I might have another post out later this week, but it’ll depend on time and motivation, among other things. Until then, happy reading, and pleasant nightmares.

So yesterday I’m having a conversation with the receptionist at my doctor’s office while I wait for my appointment, and we get onto the subject of the stories I’m working on (because if you know me, after a while that WILL come up). I tell her about my WIP Rose, and what that’s about, as well as some of the themes in the story. When she hears that it deals with some pretty heavy themes like abuse, her response was, “Wow, I didn’t know horror could be so deep.”

And that’s a common response from non-fans, not just of horror but of speculative fiction in general. People who are on the outside of this genre tend to look in and see only a stereotypical surface: swords and wizards and weird humanoid species who make weird oaths with the names of oddly named gods for fantasy; funny costumes, silly effects, and incomprehensible in-universe technical jargon for sci-fi; and of course, people screaming and dying in gross ways for horror. And to be fair, a lot of these stereotypes do have examples in the genres that are just that, especially the slasher genre for horror. Whether they emerged as a result of the stereotypes or they were the influence that created the stereotypes, I’m not sure.

But, as any fan can attest to, any one of these genres can delve deep into very complex ideas and themes. And that includes horror, which is what I’ll be focusing on in this post (sorry sci-fi and fantasy. I love you, but you’re not my normal bailiwick). In fact, horror does this quite a bit, it’s just usually more subtext than overt. The reason behind this, obviously, is because horror’s main purpose is to scare, so having exploration of ideas take the forefront of the story over the actual scares and plot actually takes away from the latter, which causes the story as a whole to suffer. In novels, you can sometimes devote a few paragraphs or even a couple pages to that, but it still cannot be the main component of the story.

And because it’s often more subtext, the heavy bits are often overlooked by non-fans and even some fans, who are more likely to focus on how scary/creepy/unnerving the story was. This happens especially in movies and TV shows, which as visual mediums are very good at conveying the scare with their subtext.

A text full of great subtext.

However, even if it’s not obvious, the heavy themes and ideas are still present in the story if you look for them. A good example would be Dracula by Bram Stoker: on the surface, you have a Gothic vampire story. But go a little deeper, you see a commentary and criticism on Victorian ideas and fears. Dracula himself can be seen as a sort of twisted Jesus Christ, offering immortality through the drinking of his blood and the taking of the blood of others; the vampires themselves can be interpreted as corrupting sexuality turning good people, particularly women, into carnal monsters; and the vampires coming to England as a nod to English xenophobia, with Dracula and his kind, who speak and act strangely and must sleep in the soil of their native lands, representing the influx of foreigners to England during the later Victorian era and how they may not be suited to English society, according to some Victorians.

A story that’s more than just scares.

And this can be found throughout horror stories, particularly in novels where there is room to explore these heavy themes. A lot of times, you can see these themes embodied in some way in the supernatural forces that may threaten the character(s). Stephen King does this very well in many of his stories: while explicitly stated that the events of The Shining are supernatural in origin, on another level it’s a great story of a family breaking down due to stress, isolation, alcoholism, and old tensions arising, with the hotel simply being a stage for things to play out rather than a true supernatural entity. Likewise, It is a story about a supernatural force, but that same force is also a representation of childhood fears, what we fear in the dark as well as fear of growing up. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of this great novel.

You also see this in movies, with a great example being The Babadook. While the titular monster could be real, it could also be a form of shared delusion between a mother and her son, trying to work through their individual and collective issues. There are a number of articles that look at the film from a psychological perspective, and the arguments they make put the story in a whole new light from first viewing. The Babadook is a story laced with deeper meaning, if you just look beyond the surface.

So as we can see, horror is more than just people screaming and dying in gruesome ways. Like any story, it can have a deeper meaning, going into the psychology of characters, the beliefs of society, philosophies on life, death, love and so much more. You just have to pull back a veil and take a closer look, and you’ll see what’s always been there.

I’m going to start this post by stating for the record that I have not read any of the Dark Tower books, or the audiobooks, or the graphic novels. I’m coming at this as an outside fan, someone who likes Stephen King a lot but has yet to try his fantasy series because, as even King puts it, it’s an acquired taste.* I also realize that this is a movie, so they’re going to have to make many adjustments between getting the story from the page to the screen. I’m okay with that, because I’m pretty sure a straight adaptation would be longer than Titanic (and that’s three hours long!). And I somehow managed to keep away from reviews from other sources, so I went into the theater with a clear mind in order to judge this film on my own terms.

That being said, I liked this film.

The Dark Tower follows Jake Chambers, a teenager from New York who is having dreams about this strange world, a man dressed in black who is trying to destroy a gigantic tower, and a man called the gunslinger who hunts him. While the rest of his family and even some of his friends think he’s crazy, Jake manages to find a gateway to the mythical Mid-World, and becomes an important piece in the battle between Roland the gunslinger and Walter O’Dim the Man in Black, as well as an important piece in the battle to keep all of reality from becoming destroyed.

So like I said, this film worked for me. The visuals were very beautiful, giving us this huge world with strange features and breathtaking views. The actors were all great, especially the main three, Idris Elba as Roland, Matthew McConaughey as Walter, and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers. My favorite was McConaughey, his take on Walter was terrifying. You could sense the psychopathy in this character, the indifference to death and love of destruction. It’s really creepy. Elba was also commanding as Roland, making you feel this intensity, and Taylor as Jake was a believable character who finds himself in this strange world and is trying to make the best of it.

*shudder* Scary dude.

Also, shout out to Fran Kranz as a bad guy. Did not know he was in the film, so it was so cool to see the guy who played Topher in Dollhouse there.

I also thought the fight scenes were choreographed very well. They didn’t look silly or hard to make out, and the camera work wasn’t shaky or anything. And for a series well-known for being complicated and bizarre, I actually felt like it was easy to follow. Sure, some things didn’t make sense or weren’t explained, but I was able to follow it for the most part.

That being said, there were two things that I didn’t like: one was there was this minor character called Timmy, who is supposed to be a friend of Jake’s, and he’s in the film for maybe three minutes and really doesn’t serve a purpose. If you took him out of the story, the film wouldn’t be missing anything. I also thought that the story was kind of by-the-numbers. There wasn’t any sort of point where I was surprised by what happened, or the filmmakers threw me for a loop. Was I thrilled? Yes. Did I was like, “Oh hey, I didn’t see that coming”? No.

But all in all, I think this is the best adaptation of The Dark Tower series we’re going to get without being overly complicated or bogged down in details. I know it’s not going to please everyone, especially hardcore fans, but it was a good film for me, and I would be interested to see a sequel and/or the television series in development based on the movie.

On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving The Dark Tower a 4.4 out of 5. Go see it, and find yourself reciting the Gunslinger’s Creed for the rest of the day.

*And if the books anything like their probable inspiration, HP Lovecraft’s Dream Cycle, particularly The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, I’m willing to wait.