Posts Tagged ‘weird’

(WARNING: The following post discusses some recent movies that not everyone has seen yet. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers, but if you’d rather see these movies without knowing anything, then stop reading now and come back later. You’ve been warned.)

It’s no secret that I’m an eccentric, and I channel that eccentricity into my fiction all the time. I mean, my most popular novel is about a young woman who’s turned into a plant/human hybrid. If that’s not an example of weird fiction, then I’m a high school girl in an anime. And I’m not!

Skinamarink’s poster displayed outside my usual movie theater.

With all that expertise, I can say with certainty that there is plenty of room in fiction, especially in horror fiction, for weird. The novel House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, is a prime example of this. It’s a story about a documentary about a recounting of one family’s experience living in a home that has a giant labyrinth hidden inside it. The novel is full of footnotes, some of which have footnotes, as well as pages with only a few lines of text, or the text laid out in an odd manner, forcing the reader to hold the book at weird angles. From what I’m told, it makes for an experience both agoraphobic and claustrophobic.*

No wonder that book has an enduring relevance among horror readers, despite the author and some readers seeing it more as a love story than a horror story.

All that being said, there is both a good way to make a story weird and a bad way to make a story weird. Especially in the horror genre.

Some of you may have heard of the new Canadian horror movie Skinamarink. The movie revolves around two children who wake up one night to find that their father, as well as the doors and windows to their home, have mysteriously vanished. There’s been a lot of talk about the film online, with some loving it and others reviling it. I went to see it on Friday, knowing that one way or another, I would get a weird experience.

Well, I did get that weird experience. It’s filmed in a way meant to evoke a child’s perspective and reflect their nightmares, with the majority of shots focused on hallways, things high overhead or on the television in the den. Anything but the characters themselves. The entire film is also filtered to look like a home movie from the 80s or 90s, and the use of effects is minimal and mostly reliant on practical effects. A lot of the dialogue is told in whispers, so subtitles are used throughout the film. There’s no music, and plenty of surreal moments throughout the film, especially near the end.

That being said, everyone in my theater, including me, hated it. I even spoke to someone who was in the theater with me afterwards, and he told me he fell asleep during the film. I can see why: except for a few effective jumpscares, there was nothing to actually unsettle the viewer or keep them tense or focused, let alone scare them.

Since seeing the film, I’ve been characterizing it like someone took the cursed videotape from The Ring and tried to make it into a feature film, but took out what made that video so scary in the first place.

Now, I’m not saying anyone who enjoyed Skinamarink or found it scary is wrong or bad. The wonderful thing about horror is how subjective it is and how there are many different niches to suit every fan. Nor am I shitting on the director for the choices he made. I reserve that for the Friday the 13th remake and its creators, because that film is trash that gets everything good about the franchise wrong. Most of the people involved in it should get a good kick in the pants!

No, what I’m saying is that the weird is emphasized at the expense of the horror. Online, Skinamarink is characterized as “an experimental horror film” and that feels like an apt way of putting things. From the way the film is shot, to the use of subtitles and the story (flimsy as it is), you can tell that it’s all been an experiment by the director to conjure up a unique viewing experience. And in that respect, his experiment was a success. However, in terms of creating an effective horror film, the experiment was a bust.

Hatching is, in my humble opinion, a great example of weird horror done well.

Now, compare that to another recent horror film, Finland’s Pahanhautoja, or Hatching. The film follows a girl who finds an egg in the forest and incubates it, only to end up the caretaker of a large bird/dinosaur monster that she calls Alli. Yeah, that’s weird, especially when you see the ugly-ass creature, which is brought to life mainly with practical effects and puppetry. But it also helps to tell a story about a very repressed girl who is struggling as part of a toxic family dynamic and being ruled by a narcissistic, social media-obsessed mother. Rather than overtaking the story, the weird aspects help drive the story and explore its deeper themes.

And that’s where the big difference between Skinamarink and Hatching is. The former’s weird aspects overtake the film and drown out the horror, while the latter’s weird aspects help out the horror and the story in order to be told more effectively.

To summarize, when telling a story of the weird variety, it’s important to remember that you’re telling a story first and foremost. Thus, while you can add as many weird elements as you want, if they overwhelm the story you’re trying to tell, you risk alienating rather than engaging your audience. And that’s something every storyteller wants to avoid. Including eccentrics like me.

*It’s on my TBR list, but that list is long and I only have so much reading time. Thus, it’s going to have to wait a while till I get to it.


Just a reminder, my Followers of Fear: this coming weekend I’ll be at ConFusion at the Sheration Detroit Novi in Detrot, Michigan. This is a big science fiction and fantasy convention that’ll be held from Friday, January 20th to Sunday, January 22nd. I’ll be there selling books and doing Tarot readings, so if you’re in the area, feel free to stop by and say hi. I’d be more than happy to see you.

You can find out more information about the convention by checking out its website here.

That’s all for now, my Followers of Fear. Until next time, good night and pleasant nightmares.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

I’ve been told that today is the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century. Putting aside the fact that time is an illusion, particularly to non-human entities such as myself, you’d think that today would be kind of extraordinary because it was the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century. But, beyond it being President Biden’s first full day as commander-in-chief, it’s not extraordinary. The day itself was ordinary, just another day in a strange time for me.

What, you may ask, makes my life so strange? It’s a number of things. For one thing, I’m moving next week. Surprise! A two-bedroom apartment in my complex opened up recently. My rental managers knew I was planning on moving out at the end of my current lease anyway so I could have more space and they didn’t want to lose a good tenant. So, they offered it to me and I accepted.

And I’m excited for the move. I’ll be able to have a home office in the second bedroom, and there will be enough space for me to get some cats without their food bowls or litter boxes becoming tripping hazards. But it means I’ll have to uproot myself from my current apartment, which I’ve lived in for nearly five years. I’ve slowly been ticking items off my to-do list, like notifying various companies I pay bills to or taking down all my wall art and decorations. And it’s odd to see this apartment prepare to become not my apartment, but empty. Like I’m erasing my presence from this space.

I went through so many changes and had so many experiences here: started my first full-time job, published a book, got my drivers license, etc. All those experiences will still stay with me, but the location will no longer be accessible. It will no longer be my home.

And then there’s the fact that I’m not motivated to write lately. I know, shocker! But I’ve got one short story being released as an e-book exclusive, several other stories being read over by alpha or beta readers, a couple of other projects that I can’t talk about now in the works, and a few other writing-related things going on. Is it any wonder I don’t feel like doing anything more than some basic outlining?

Add in the change of Presidents yesterday, in a transition of power that feels more significant than any in living memory. Not only that, but it comes hot on the heels of an insurrection in the Capitol building. And that I’ve taken the next couple of days off for the move. And it’s January, so the year is still new. And all this and other events in my life and the world are coming one after the other after the other.

In a way, I feel like this pup. Photo by Dominika Roseclay on Pexels.com

And that, despite it all, I’m feeling kind of Zen lately. Or as Zen as I can be. With my neuro-atypical brain, turning my mind off and being thoughtless has never been my strong suit. Believe me, I’ve tried. But I feel something. I feel happy and clear and relaxed. Even as I go about my goals and daily tasks, I feel very attuned. Like I’m where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m at peace with myself and the world. I’m moving through the world and part of it. There’s no reason for me to feel this way that I can see, but there it is.

Is it any wonder that my life feels weird right now?

And you know what? It’s not a bad way for life to be. I mean, yeah, as an eccentric, my life is always a little weird. But this is a different kind of weird. A beneficial, relaxing, pleasant sort of weird. And I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

Which will likely either be till I go back to work, or when I need to get some serious writing work done. Not sure, ask me later.

Good night, my Followers of Fear. And until next time, stay safe, enjoy the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, and pleasant nightmares!