Sunday, September 2, 2012

Marble Hornets Season 1 review

    I was actually intending to review this before the previous post but I started talking about immersion in horror and it branched off to become an essay. Suffice to say, immersion is extremely important to the Marble Hornets series and its ability to sustain it throughout the first season is a major factor in making it great.

    Marble Hornets is, for those unfamiliar with the work, a series of video-blog entries by a college student named Jay who is investigating the mysterious mental breakdown of his friend, Alex. As revealed in the first video, it somehow relates to the internet meme monster known as the Slenderman.

    The Slenderman is a faceless man in a suit who is unnaturally tall, capable of making himself unseen (but not invisible), and who is utterly inscrutible. He was created for a photo-manipulation contest on the Something Awful forums and has since branched off to become an urban legend with numerous series based around him.

    Interestingly, the Slenderman actually taps into a bunch of real-life legends that give the character plausibility. The Slenderman is not that far removed from legends of the Fair Folk, Men in Black, modern-day demon sightings, and malevolent ghosts. The Slenderman doesn't have an origin like other monsters and is all the more terrifying for the fact we don't know what sort of rules he operates by.

    He is also terrifying.

    No, seriously, not since I've been a child have I had the kind of clammy frightened 'hairs standing on the back of my neck' feeling I've had while watching this series. The last time I remember being this scared was an irrational moment while walking down my own street at night only for suddenly the entire place to seem unnaturally menacing.


    This entire series is like this

    The videos are usually quite short, often not more than a few minutes long, but work well for their easily digestible nature. The level of tension in the videos is incredible, building up through the entirety of the series with no pause. By the time the series ends, you'll be shaken to the core but eager to begin the second season.

    It's hard to put into words why the series is so effective. The shaky camera-work would normally annoy me but it's supposed to be crappy given it's taken by amateurs. Also, it's hard to keep good camerawork when you're terrified out of your mind. The visual storytelling is wonderful too, often saying a lot with a single short image that other movies would take an hour to build up to. There's also the fact Slenderman is the best monster since the creature fromAlien, IMHO.
Yep, he's just stolen your soul.

    If I have any complaints about the series, it would be the TotheArk messages. Explaining them would ruin part of the fun of the main series but I can't stand the guy. While necessary to the story, the actual mechanism chosen for his communication annoys the hell out of me. 

    Whatever the case, I'm definitely going to buy these episodes on DVD.


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