Sunday, January 16, 2011

[C] H(a)unting

The blot we’re looking at today is one you’ve probably heard of. The blog name is H(a)unting, and it is about Sandra (17) and her two friends/guardians Lya (age not given, probably in her 20s) and Matt (27). Sandra, incidentally, has been followed by the Slender Man for ten years. Ten years.

The blog is fairly popular. Probably partially because it’s so different, and it’s a fun read. It was popular enough, however, for Robert Sage (of White Elephants) to give Sandra the title of “Oracle.” But does the blog hold up to its popularity? Well, that’s what we’re here for.

Like I said, it’s a fun read. But this strength is also a huge weakness. The blog is extremely polarizing. It’s about time that I explained why exactly this blog is so unique. You see, the Slender Man appears to have befriended Sandra. Evidently, he finds her to be an enigma because his stalking has no major psychological effect on her, and lets her live because he wants to understand her.

There are two large problems with this blog. The first is that the Slender Man is…well, he’s just not the Slender Man. He’s a tall faceless guy. It’s hard to find him scary when he watches Sandra play Fatal Frame, wears sunglasses after watching Concrete Giraffes, or is amused by all the parodies of him. The blog implies that he’ll kill her when he understands why his stalking doesn’t get to her, but his actions indicate otherwise. While his overprotective attitude (i.e., keeping her alive by killing threats to her) is believable under that theory, giving her birthday presents and singing to her is not. It is refreshing to see him with a twisted sense of humor (hanging up a corpse as a “piñata” comes to mind), but often times it devolves into silliness. There’s the aforementioned sunglasses incident, and he hands out flowers after seeing the “Splendorman” video.

On top of that, he communicates through writing. Hey, Slendy, complaining about not being called intelligent? Learn to put spaces between your words, and then we’ll talk. There’s absolutely no reason for that other than sticking with the code tropes. On top of that, it indicates that he can be understood…which completely destroys the scariest thing about him.

So with an unscary Slender Man, how do they provide tension? By introducing (what is presumably) another Slender Man, referred to as ///It///. While there are some who believe this theory, it’s largely scoffed at in the community.

The blog’s other problem is that Sandra is something of a Mary Sue. Her parents are dead. She’s missing an eye, and the other one has somehow had an operator symbol carved into it (yeah, don’t ask me…I don’t know how it works either). She’s got exceptional wit that never seems to fail her. Anyone who disagrees with her has Slendy sicced on them like he’s her pet. She’s granted the title of “Oracle.” But most gratingly, she’s “special” because she is somehow immune to the Slender Man’s powers. Because of this, he keeps her alive because he wants to try to understand her. That last sentence is highly reminiscent of Twilight, and I think we all know how Twilight is regarded amongst everyone who is not a (pre)teen girl. As a result, I can’t take Sandra seriously at all. Matt and Lya would be a bit more interesting if they were more developed. As they are now, they’re largely just characters for Sandra to interact with. They’re not compelling like Zeke Strahm or identifiable like M or interesting like Damien. They’re just there, like most other bloggers.

And now for the technical nitpicks. The blog’s background is really nothing special. The purple/blue/green text on black background can be a bit hard on the eyes at times. The blog history is also laid out so that the months don’t simply expand and contract; they open one at a time, and the page reloads every time they do. While it’s not as bad as some blogs (Musical Occurrences awkwardly places the history at the way bottom, and any WordPress blog is difficult to navigate), it can be a little annoying at times. Again, these are just minor nitpicks, and don’t make the blog unreadable.

So what’s the verdict? Well, the blog isn’t really “bad,” per se. It can be genuinely entertaining. The concept is truly original, and the mood whiplash is done pretty well. This is really a prime example of “love it or hate it.” It requires a bit of the willing suspension of disbelief, but then again, what slenderblog doesn’t? It’s fairly well written and is genuinely funny at times.

I’m giving H(a)unting a [C]. If it’s your style of blog, it’s pretty good, and even if you don’t like it, there are plenty of redeemable things about it. However, if you’re looking for a good slenderstory, I’d recommend passing on this. It breaks away from formula, yes, but the formula it uses doesn’t particularly work. It’s more of a blog with the Slender Man in it than an actual Slenderblog. It’s not a bad read, it’s just one that I wouldn’t recommend.

~ Andy

Thursday, December 30, 2010

[OT] Slondernoms

For those of you looking to find the worst of the worst when it comes to these blogs, I hereby refer you to . It's a fairly humorous take on some of the tripe out there. I don't much like to complain about stories without offering it in a constructive manner, or at the very least, with some reasoned praise. So this blog's kinda nice if you're wanting something to laugh at!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

[A] Please Find Me Hannah

Well; I've been away for a while, but while I was away, I got sent a fairly promising looking submission over at Unforum.

The blog's premise is, at its core, solid. Cam, the protagonist, is searching for his girlfriend Hannah, who has been taken by Slenderman. I personally like this setup, because I've been seeing a trend of protagonists who are disconnected from the people around them, to downright sociopathic. The addition of a simple human relationship just makes it so much more relevant. At least, in my eyes. A lot of these blogs really do seem to be an exercise in pure narcissism; what makes a story interesting is almost invariably the relationships, and the tension between characters. This blog recognizes that.

The blog also recognizes the importance of pacing, and dramatic timing. I'll be perfectly honest, there's not much else I can say beyond that, because it's only just starting out, and I am very tired. But this blog has all the hallmarks of a really intriguing story. It hooked me in from post one, and I feel it is a blog that could really deserve a lot of attention, even if it's only for the craftsmanship of the author's writing. Plotwise, there are some areas which are a bit suspect: How could Hannah POSSIBLY magically find a random blog on the internet? springs to mind, but I'm honestly willing to let that go, simply because it's a damn strong author sitting behind it.

Bad points? The blog uses the typical 'white text, black background' bollocks that I thought died out with Geocities. It's a small point, but that just plain annoys me about a LOT of these blogs. Yeah, I know. Slenderman's scary. You should be able to communicate that through your writing, not through burning your words into my eyelids. This is entirely me just being bitchy, but hey. Don't say it doesn't get old. The blog also utilizes a lot of the Marble Hornets/Tribe Twelve tropes, which isn't bad per-se, but I would love to see some original haunting going on. Just more than bumps in the night and nosebleeds.

Back on positives, one thing I do want to mention is the ARG aspect of this blog. Now, it's only just starting out, but I am pretty much certain that there is a lot more to the blog than meets the eye: there are just some parts of the blog which seem out of place. I haven't spent much time reading too deep into this, but it's quite clear that there is some form of code permeating the blog. I'll leave it to my readers to figure it out for themselves.

In conclusion: You don't need a hugely complicated originating premise to make a damn fine story. A lot of bloggers could take lessons from this guy: start simple, work your way out.

~ Sol

Monday, December 13, 2010

[S] Dreams in Darkness

[WARNING: Spoilers.]

One of the Generation II blogs, Dreams in Darkness is one that is known about but not really talked about to the extent that blogs such as Just Another Fool and Seeking Truth are. It’s popular enough that it gets its own TV Tropes page, but compared to other big name Slender stories, it falls short off the radar of most viewers, or so I feel. This is a shame, because Dreams in Darkness gets so many things right that it’s definitely worth a glance if you haven’t already. A warning, however; it is DEFINITELY not for those with a weak constitution.
                The story revolves around Damien O’Connor, an arrogant nerd who thinks he’s always right and indulges in self-loathing; in his words, at least. He lives with his roommate Ted, works in retail, and doesn’t have much in the way of a social life, though this starts to change once he starts dating a cute girl that he works with. Then one day, the roommate starts getting addicted to this little-known series called “Marble Hornets” (very original, right?), a series that Damien eventually gets hooked into as well, so much so that he creates his own poor attempt at a Slender blog called Watch this City Burn.
                Of course, a Slender story isn’t a Slender story if nothing goes wrong. The really amazing thing of DiD, however, is that it’s eighteen posts- about a month and a half- before anything related to Slender Man even begins to happen to our hero; and even then, it’s all a joke up until the day Ted finally goes missing…and then is brutally murdered. And even THEN, Slender Man doesn’t show up physically until August; three months after the story begins.
                One of the things I like about Dreams in Darkness is that it’s the definition of a psychological horror story. While Slender Man rarely makes a physical appearance, it’s that fear of him that fuels the paranoia. It relies a lot on its writing to make it scary, and it succeeds. The writer, whoever he is, knows how to make a story suspenseful without resorting to a lot of scare tactics; and those tactics that he DOES employ, definitely pay off in a big way.
The characters are, for the most part, all fleshed out. Damien goes from an average, angry nerd and then switches between a determined hero and a terrified little boy. His personality goes all over the place, but it’s all written very well, and in such a way that it is believable. Ted is unique in that he is the first known gay character in a Slender Man story, though he’s also a bit of a prankster. Damien’s mother is a certified psycho, but with reason behind her actions, even if that reason is completely deranged. Each character has something to them; they’re not just there for the sake of moving a story along.
What I like especially is the attention to the backstory. Damien plays upon the theory that Zeke Strahm laid out in Seeking Truth and discovers his family had ties to a cult that offered sacrifices to the Slender Man. He finds pictures that show an Uncle Eddie, whose story remains a mystery, and a dog Max that he never remembered owning. He finds accounts of him, Ted, and their friend Emily and how they may have encountered the Slender Man as children. The past plays just as important a role as the present, and it’s put together smoothly, almost effortlessly.
Of course, the main aspect about Dreams in Darkness comes from the other title that DiD stands for: Dissociative identity disorder, or split personality. Damien encounters a personality split around the time of Ted’s death, and his alternate personality, known as “TheArsonist”, takes over the Watch this City Burn blog. Unlike most mysterious figures in the Slender universe, Arsonist does not appear to be a proxy; if anything, he is doing everything in his power working AGAINST Slender Man.  His true intentions, however, are never revealed, but it is still an interesting spin on the story, seeing Damien warring with two halves of his mind.
Above all of that, there is one thing that Dreams in Darkness does that very few other blogs can do: It kicks you in the gut. Dreams in Darkness is never afraid to get graphic in its description. Ted is murdered and strung up from a tree by his intestines, his guts stuffed into a bag. Emily and Vincent are brutally torn apart in a motel room. Damien views a tape containing an explicit orgy among cultists and a naked eight-year-old girl tied down to a stone slab. Do I really need to continue?
But probably the post that holds the most significance is “Terror”, the post where Damien goes into the red brick building, looking for clues. The suspense keeps your breath held throughout most of it. The build-up is fantastic. It doesn’t jump into anything; it lets things play out naturally. And when Slender Man DOES appear, it is quite possibly the most shocking encounter ever, possibly only being beaten out by Evan running at him with a bat. If one were watching this in the theater, you would probably hear a pin drop after the scene was done, mainly because you’re trying to figure out if that just happened or if you were imagining it.
It’s not a perfect blog, of course. The big issue is that it stops without explaining things within the plot. What exactly was TheArsonist planning? Is the cult still continuing, but with new, different members? Who was Wilcox’s successor, if it is? And just WHAT was up with that bone-blade-thing? They never explain, nor, do I imagine, we will ever know. They are just more mysteries on an ever growing list of mysteries involving the Slender Man.
The ending is probably the most ambiguous. After a brief paragraph in which Damien seemingly says good-bye, his brother Rick appears in the comments to explain that Damien has died. Which most people come to expect from blogs. His explanation afterwards, however, drops one last bombshell; none of it was true. Amelia had not been with her mother, but had been considering leaving town due to Damien’s paranoia. The kidnapper was found and killed, and one child was saved. The picture Damien found, he supposedly drew himself. Uncle Eddie never existed. The brick building is in a different location and is shut up tight. Most importantly is the subtle but evident suspicion that Damien is the one that killed Ted, Emily, Vincent, and Wilcox.
This is all left to interpretation. Viewers are left to their own beliefs as to whether or not any of the events actually happened. The general consensus though- and it is further backed by the reappearance of Zeke Strahm in the blog’s comments- is that it actually did happen. Again, it is one of those things that will never be fully explained.
Overall, I would go so far as to say that Dreams in Darkness is the most well-written blog out of the archive. It knows how to tell a good story and make the stomach believe that it is true. I would say that it is better than Seeking Truth in terms of believable characters, suspenseful plot, and attention to details, and it is my personal favorite. If you’re looking for something that attempts to do things differently, this may not be the most DIVERSE one to turn to, but it does do attempt couple new approaches that pay off. If you’re just looking for a well-told story, this is definitely where you want to go. Story begins right here:


Sunday, December 12, 2010

[A] The Slenderblog


No, the name is not the most creative part of this series. Today, I'm going to look at The Slenderblog, which is one of those blogs which I've seen around the place, but never actually read. The reason I'm checking this one out is because our latest guest reviewer has been...well, having a little bit of trouble on his own personal blog, and I've been fairly intrigued.

This blog starts off with a similar purpose to my own; informative. Andy, our scholar, goes through the genre in a rounded look at where Slender Man has come from, and where it's going. If you're confused as to any part of the community, then...well, this is pretty much a one-stop shop. This blog informed me about Core Theory, which is an entire subsection of the Slenderblogs which I haven't gone into yet. (I will proceed to do so eventually, to review them, though. For Science!) It's a very self-aware, and quite well written look at the genre from an informative point of view.

Then, come December, things appear to be...going south for our good scholar.

I've got to say, I was all but prepared to post my first [C] today, but reading this blog, I reckon it's very cleverly done. Andy has blurred the line between a scholarly account of the urban legend's process, and becoming part of the urban legend himself. I find it very cool that a blog that's, well, kind of like my own, has made the translation from informative to...story driven quite this easily. The Tulpa Effect can account for so much these days. And, it doesn't even look like he made the decision to change styles on the spur of the moment; it appears to have been planned a couple of months in advance. I believe he foreshadowed it when he mentioned...Was it Lack of Lexicon?

(I probably won't be making that transition myself. Just an FYI.)

On the downside, a lot of his vlogging could use some work. This isn't a problem restricted to this blog, either; a lot of the vlogs seem to fall into the trap of just being talking heads, and just delivering a whole load of exposition for five minutes. Vlogging should utilize the medium, I feel, and not just be a spoken blog. Even a lot of the Youtube channels which ARE just a dude talking at a camera for 5 minutes, use jumpcut editing to keep the audience involved. And they generally involve far more expressive, over the top and comedic actions than a horror theme would allow for. Once more, this blog has fallen into the trap of allowing the character to be defined by what happens to him. Which was perfectly fine when this was just an informative blog, but now he's gone down this route, it would be nice to be able to empathize a little more.

That said? It's a very creative blog/vlog. I suggest you follow it for its story, and keep referring back to it if you don't understand a concept that's being thrown around a lot in these stories.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

[OT] Editor's Note

Our latest guest reviewer referenced his own blog in his latest post, which I cut out, because I didn't feel it was right letting a blog go past without being reviewed. Makes this blog look messy. That said, it is what I believe to be a fairly well known blog. It looks interesting, and I will be posting my thoughts on it later today.

~ Sol

[A] A Blog That's Not Mine

            Today, we’re looking at a new blog that’s not mine.  Or rather -

A New Blog That’s Not Mine

- since that’s actually the title of the blog.  A New Blog (that’s what we’ll call it for short) is more or less a parody of Slenderblogs in general, the largest and most obvious parody being the title.  If you’re one of the few peope who doesn’t get it, allow me to completely ruin the joke by explaining it: it’s poking fun at people who “find” a blog that’s “totally not theirs” and they “just thought this forum (usually the Unfiction forums) would be interested in it.”  Now I have to admit that I shamelessly plugged my blog that way, but hey, at least I promoted another blog as well.

            Now, before we launch into the blog itself, a bit of semi-off-topic advice.  Plugging your blog on Unfiction isn’t exactly the best way to get your Slenderblog views.  The best way is to go to Unfiction and read the other blogs being plugged.  Read those blogs, and then comment on them.  Let me just say that I’ve gotten way more views from people reading my comments on other blogs than I have from Unfiction.  This is a mistake the uninitiated make—and the mistake that Aaron, our author, is parodying. 

            So, onto the blog itself.  One of the most amusing features of this blog is how much the author plays dumb.  He has “never heard of ‘EMH’ or ‘Marblehornets,’” so he clearly has no idea what’s going on.  Certainly no one else has experienced this before!

            Aaron covers, in his first few points, the major Slenderblog clichés.  He’s obviously starting off too fast, mentioning the Slender Man in the first post (of course, he has absolutely no idea who that is, naturally).  On top of that, he has weird dreams, experiences static, visits a playground, emphasizes trees, finds notes with cryptic poetry/“code,” and types out a post he doesn’t remember typing, all within just three updates.  He backs off a bit after that, not introducing a totheark clone (strangely, no one seems to think too hard about that mask he’s wearing, or the Operator Symbols he’s filled a crossword puzzle with) until the sixth post.  This mysterious masked man also seems to have taken some sort of interest in Aaron’s girlfriend…hmm….  Anyway, the only thing he’s really missed so far is the name.  “Aaron” just doesn’t sound like the name of a Slenderblogger.  Something pretentious would be way better.

            Overall, the blog is quite entertaining, though it does suffer from a few problems.  The main one is pacing.  While he manages to work in so many clichés so soon, that’s also part of the problem—he works them in too soon.  It’s already fairly evident that he’s almost out of material.  On the other hand, many blogs do everything Aaron did, and seriously, too.  If it’s those types of blogs he’s parodying, he’ll either have a bunch of filler and keep upping the scales (that’s probably how the super-powered blogs started in the first place) or just burn out with nothing else to do, either throwing together a hurried “oh god hes after me” or just not updating anymore.  Since everyone loves a good parody, I’m hoping it’s the former.

            The comedy is actually probably the biggest strength and weakness of this blog.  It’s really a make-or-break thing.  People have different tastes when it comes to comedy.  For example, I personally don’t understand why so many people love Family Guy when I personally find it crass, repetitive, preachy, and bland (with, admittedly, an occasional comedic gem).  Anyway, the blog’s comedy.  It consists mostly of him faking being oblivious to everything that’s going on and boasting about how he’s totally not scared.  It’s all quite silly, and silly just isn’t what some people are looking for in humor.  However, it’s still short right now, so it’s definitely worth at least checking out.  If you don’t like it, no big loss of time.  If you do, well, you’ve got a new blog to watch.