Scribblings of a shaved monkey with a keyboard

Future of Storytelling: Week 1

In which I post my response to the creative task of the week for the Future of Storytelling Mooc:

The Task

Please think about which story you have read, seen, listened to, played or experienced has impressed you most in your life. … Which story can you still very well remember? Write down both, the summary of this story (what you remember of the story, not what Wikipedia says.. 🙂 and – on the other hand: – what made it so special to you that you can still remember it.


YOUR TASK IN DETAIL:

  1. Retell this story by giving a short summary of what you can remember of it. (in less than 400 words)
  2. Think about (try to remember) and write down what fascinated you most about this story. What can you remember best? What impressed you most? … Its characters? The locations? The plot? The style and voice of the story? Or maybe even the surroundings of how this story was told, maybe by your parents, grandparents, or maybe in your first self-read book? Tell us the story OF the story so-to-speak. (less than 500 words)

Your answer could be a simple text/essay … or maybe you prefer creating a story in itself, a poem, an info graphic,… about it. — Whatever suits you best!

For me, this is quite tricky. I don’t think there is any one story that has impressed me most. That said “In the mouth of madness” Is one story that I can always remember.

in the mouth of madness

In it, our protagonist, John Trent, an insurance claim investigator hired to locate the missing horror writer Sutter Kane who went missing while working on the manuscript for his next book (The titular “In the Mouth of Madness”).

This has caused massed riots around the globe as people cannot get enough of his works, even though rumors abound that they are affecting the “less stable” of his readers.

In his investigation Trent, accompanied by Styles ( a representative of the publishing house that hired him) tracks Kane down to the town of Hobbs End – a supposedly fictional town in which all of Kane’s novels were set. It further reveals that the inhabitants of this town know they have no control over their own actions, only that “thay are being written this way”. Implying that Kane is influencing their actions in the world by his writing.

Trent confronts Kane in his sanctum (A huge church, supposedly built on the site of dark rituals) to discover that he is only there because Kane wrote it, and his role in the new novel is to deliver the finished manuscript. It isalso revealed that it is not his writing, he is a conduit between this world, and Eldritch Horrors from beyond (A nod and reference to the work of H.P Lovecraft) and that the more people that read his work, the weaker the barrier between our world and that of the horrors becomes. Kane then proceeds to tear open a rift in space to the abyss beyond, and with Styles reading the book describing Trents actions exactly he flees from the creatures with the manuscript.

Trent then destroys what he believes to be the only manuscript and reports back to the publishing house, much to their surprise as they state he delivered the manuscript to them 3 months before and that the movie is due out next month for those who don’t read the book.

On finding a poster for the movie featuring himself, Trent finally snaps and murders a fan of Kanes as he is coming out of the bookshop. A crime for which he is committed – The movie itself starts with him being committed and we see it through the medium of him recounting the story to a psychologist as, in his words “It’s getting worse out there” as the barriers weaken and people mutate as the horrors pass through and take over our reality. The final scene is set after Trent is able to escape the asylum following something involving the creatures and the asylum – a scene where we hear rather than see the action.

The final scene is Trent in an empty cinema, watching the movie of the book, which starts off exactly as the movie we are watching did and essentially, is the movie we have just scene. Implying that the entire thing was created to complete the transition of the creatures and the end of the world.

What fascinated me about the story wasn’t the gore, or the monsters (You barely see them in fact), but the way it was told. From the point of view of the character inside it, who knew he wasn’t insane, but knew that no-one would believe him as the story was so preposterous and outside of the realms of ‘Normality’. It also, in my opinion is the best film that can claim to be an adaptation/influenced by the works of H.P. Lovecraft, as up to that point Hollywood had taken his stories and turned them into standard horror/slasher schlock. Which misses the psychological point entirely. Examples of other H.P. Lovecraft sories that have been translated very, very badly to film:

The Dunwich Horror:

Movie on Amazon:

Kindle edition of the story on Amazon:

Audiobook on youtube:

Herbert West: Re-animator

Movie on Amazon

Kindle edition:

Audiobook on Youtube

Part of the appeal for me, is likely what made it a bit of a flop at the box office – It’s not got a happy ending. In all the horror movies I’ve seen, the antagonists tend to be dumb almost to the point of being retarded and wanting to destroy themselves. In the mouth of madness has a much more feasible (I would say realistic, but I’m not sure that’s the best choice of words) outcome, especially when compare to something like ‘Scream’

Additionally, a lot of the creatures/events/things in the film are left to the viewers imagination. A rather nice touch to my mind as most people will be able to picture far worse creatures and scenes than even the most imaginative creature designer. It also means that it is a little more of personal experience and personal horror as the audience is required to actively participate in picturing what is not being shown. After all, how often have you seen a horror/mostor movie, only to be dissapointed when the mosters are finally revealed and it’s a rather disapointing rendition of a man in a rubber suit?

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