Party On, Arlene

Yeah, I’m well aware that the title of this post is cryptic as hell, but I couldn’t come up with ANYTHING that didn’t sound some some B-Movie tagline — overly dramatic and trying too hard to be cool. And that would be a grave injustice to my topic.

[DISCLAIMER: THE CREATOR OF THE MATERIAL I’M TALKING ABOUT TODAY IS A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE. THOUGH I WILL STRIVE AS ALWAYS TO TURN AN IMPARTIAL EYE TOWARD MY TOPIC, I FEEL IT IS ONLY FAIR TO PROVIDE YOU WITH THIS INFORMATION, IN THE EVENT THAT YOU DECIDE IT HAS COLORED MY OPINION.]

I’m talking about a new webseries called Midnight Murder Party, It’s sort of like a serialized novel, but as it moves along will also have things in common with other non-standard storytelling forms, like visual novels. Honestly, the best chance I have at describing it is to paste in the creator’s description:

MMP is an episodic web-series, similar to modern web comics except that the format of storytelling is text, like a novel. However, unlike a novel, MMP will be released in scheduled segments on midnightmurderparty.com every Thursday. Each episode will usually have its own game or adventure, but there will likely be some story arcs that span multiple episodes as well.

Oh, also, I should probably mention that it’s not a murder mystery. However, I am currently planning a murder mystery episode, so all you murder mystery buffs can look forward to that!

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and join the party!

The first episode feels a lot like an old frame-narrative horror movie, like The House that Dripped Blood. Frame-narrative, for those who don’t know, is a form of storytelling where you’re introduced to an overarching concept, and then within that you’re told several smaller stories that are connected to that concept. So an easy example would be if you’re reading a book about four kids camping in the woods, and it opens with them deciding to tell stories around the campfire. Each of them in turn tells a ghost story somehow related to their location or situation or something like that, with each story punctuated by a return to the “frame” of the kids around the campfire, where you can see their reactions to the stories. It’s like a collection of stories where the stories are embedded in a framework delivered by a storyteller, or storytellers. Stories within stories. Story-ception, if you will.

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We have to read deeper. *bwong*

There’s a lot to like about MMP, especially if you’re a horror fan, and especially if you’re the kind of person who likes deconstructions of traditional genres. One of the cool things about the series is the atmosphere. The party setting that acts as the frame is rather unique in that it’s clearly modern — you can tell that these are people of our time from the things they refer to, for instance — but it plays at being an older, high-society kind of gathering. I like to think of it as “pseudo-Victorian,” or like a theme party where everyone pretends they’re in a Jane Austen novel. And this is why I flaunt the deconstruction angle. Because if you’ve ever encountered horror-based frame narratives, a lot of it is in settings like this — old Victorian houses, people in outdated dress and speaking in recognizable but dated language. “Antique,” for whatever reason, has always lent itself well to horror — how many times have you seen a plot set in motion by someone discovering some dusty old artifact or book that’s been in someone’s basement or attic for God-knows-how-many years? The modern-gone-old-fashioned style is a nice way to play with that trope without becoming another cliché.

That’s not the only trope to come under scrutiny. In the first installment we’re treated to a nice healthy smattering of gore (semi-pun intended). Thought it might not have been intentional, given the atmosphere of the work the gore doesn’t feel like gore for the sake of gore, like in most modern “horror,” so much as gore for the sake of having playing with a trope that isn’t even really horror. It’s gory in a fun way, that makes you say “Hey this is pretty disgusting and it’s awesome for it,” unlike the modern horror film, which is gory in the sense of “Hey, let’s see how far we can push our special effects and how much fake blood we can get this plot to pump out.” The gore here isn’t the goal, it’s a side-effect of having an actual plot. Is it overblown to cinematic standards? Absolutely. But it’s quite apparently in fun, and not because of the misguided notion that gore and horror are the same (they aren’t). And hey, if it happens to have the side-effect of making you think it’s a commentary on the current state of the horror genre, and the fact that everything is gore with no real fear, well, that’s ok too. Sometimes satire is completely and utterly unintentional.

mmphome
You click on a link in this very blog post and find yourself on the webpage shown above. Your journey has started.

When it comes down to it, Midnight Murder Party is entirely unlike anything I’ve encountered in all my time on the Internet, and I definitely recommend checking it out. There’s a lot to love from the first installment alone, and getting in on the ground floor means there’ll be a lot to look forward to. Consider this post your invitation. RSVP with the links below…

Website: http://midnightmurderparty.com/index.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MMPWebSeries

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4 thoughts on “Party On, Arlene

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