There is a common misconception within the larger film fandom that when a major motion picture is reportedly undergoing a rewrite, red flags should be firing off over that film’s quality.
The reality, though, is quite the contrary. There is something refreshing about a good rewrite. A fresh set of eyes allows spotlights to be cast across unseen crevices and cracks in the story; mining narrative and character intricacies that don’t change the overall film so much as enhance it. A good rewrite is elegant, elevating the work of the previous writer and shaping the finished film in a way that creates a more cohesive and satisfying viewing experience for the audience.
As a case study, I’m going to look at two versions of the same story. The original Chase Palmer/Cary Fukunaga draft of IT (2017) and the finished film, with the final production draft also credited to Gary Dauberman, comparing what changes might have been made and, more importantly, why.
Now, full disclosure, I am going to be looking at the Palmer/Fukunaga draft in comparison to the finished film of IT (2017); not the final production draft. This means that certain discrepancies between drafts cannot be fully dissected; such as scenes that might have been cut from the final film. Also, SPOILERS if you haven’t yet seen IT (2017).
So, with that being said, let us begin at the beginning with…
BILL & GEORGIE DENBROUGH
At the core of IT (2017); in both the Palmer/Fukunaga draft and the final film, are the Denbrough brothers. It is Georgie’s death which kickstarts the story; acting as not only our introduction to Pennywise, but also to the dangers that Derry holds for our young heroes. This is not a PG-13 world. In Derry, children die, and they die badly. But while, in both versions, it is Bill’s reaction to Georgie’s death which drives him; seemingly subtle changes can be found which snowball into long lasting story implications for the film itself.
The Palmer/Fukunaga draft is much more faithful to the novel. In this version, Georgie is attacked in the sewer, his arm is ripped off, and, much like Marley, is dead as a door nail. Of that, everyone is certain.
Since Georgie’s death is not questioned, Bill (or Will as he is named in this draft) has been pushed aside and largely ignored by his parents. His mother and father barely speak to their living son, treasuring Georgie’s former belongings as holy objects; his room kept immaculate, as if a tomb in stasis. As the story progresses, Will struggles to come to terms with their inability to see that he is suffering just as much as they are. After the events in IT’s lair, Will and his parents are able to finally come to an understanding, and Will is able move past the death of his brother.
Now, in the finished film, there is a slight change to these proceedings. Georgie not only has his arm bitten off, but he is also shown being dragged, screaming for Bill, into the rain soaked sewers of Derry. His body gone, nowhere to be found, the town comes to terms with the idea that Georgie is dead. Everyone, including Bill’s parents’, accept this to be true.
Everyone, that is, except Bill himself.
Bill’s inability to believe that Georgie is dead creates a proactive need in him to find his brother; to prove that he is alive. This change influences every decision that Bill makes throughout the story. Instead of going down into the Barrens to build a dam on the last day of school; Bill, Richie, Eddie, and Stan hope to find evidence of Georgie in the sewer. The search for Georgie leads Bill into the House on Neibolt Street and is the reason why he unconsciously pushes his friends into IT’s path of destruction. While there is a scene in IT’s lair with Bill facing Pennywise masquerading as Georgie in the Palmer/Fukunaga draft, the film’s version has much more weight; since Bill is uncertain whether or not the thing he is talking to is truly his brother. This drive propels Bill through the story; leading him on a collision course toward the inevitable truth; the truth that he faces as he holds his brother’s abandoned rain slicker in the midst of IT’s lair, the truth that his brother is in fact dead. And for the first time, Bill allows himself to grieve, comfortably, within the loving embrace of his friends.
THE HOUSE ON NEIBOLT STREET vs. THE IRON WORKS
Two locations within Derry of infinite importance, both historical and otherwise, are the abandoned Iron Works and the derelict House on Neibolt Street.
In the Palmer/Fukunaga draft; the Iron Works are where Henry Bowers and his goons hunt down Mike Hanlon; in a subplot largely absent from the film. In a racially incendiary rage, Henry Bowers chases Mike into the Iron Works; hoping to trap him there. Mike gets away but Patrick Hockstetter decides to check out the old crumbling Iron Works building, alone. It’s here that he is cornered by IT and killed.
Later, when Patrick is missing; Henry blames Mike for the death, leading Officer Bowers to arrest Mike in a grotesque show of police force that sends Mike’s father (very much alive in this draft) to the hospital with a heart attack.
After being proven innocent, Mike is chased by Henry Bowers and Co. toward the House on Neibolt Street; where the Losers intervene. It’s here that the apocalyptic rock fight takes place. The Losers take cover in the House from Henry’s M80 fire crackers, where they collectively encounter Pennywise for the first time. Later they discover that the entrance to the clown’s lair is in the Iron Works; and it’s here that they venture in the hopes of killing IT for good.
In the finished film, the Losers never go to the Iron Works; Ben just reads about it in the Library. This also means that Patrick Hockstetter does not venture there but instead meets his end searching for Ben in the sewer; which is a much more direct motivation to go snooping in a creepy place than simple curiosity. Say what you will about Patrick Hockstetter; one wouldn’t really consider him the inquisitive type.
Now the big question attributed to these changes is, why? Why add more importance to the House on Neibolt Street in the finished film as opposed to the Iron Works?
On the production end, eliminating the Iron Works allows for a costly location to be deleted from not only the schedule but overall budge of the film. To build and properly set design the Iron Works would be costly and time consuming; utilizing resources which would undoubtedly be taken away from other aspects of the film, i.e. the Derry Sewers or the House on Neibolt Street. On a nuts and bolts level, excising this location could be seen as a matter of practicality.
But production considerations aside, there is also a narrative benefit. Focusing all of IT’s menace and presence upon the House on Neibolt Street fixates our attention on a single location in Derry that we know is evil. While the Iron Works is considered a place where IT operates, as is the Black Spot Bar (more on that later), the Losers learn that the House on Neibolt Street is the central hub of the Derry sewer system and the home of IT. In classic film structural fashion, this allows the audience to see the Losers confront this house multiple times, through multiple lenses. We see them discover the house, as Eddie does with the Leper. We watch them take on Pennywise arrogantly, as is the case with the clown room and door sequence. Then later we see them come back more prepared, ready to find the kidnapped Beverly; fully aware of the dangers that they might face.
This allows us to see how the Losers have changed over the course of the story; how they have grown wiser and more confident in their abilities to face down that which previously seemed an insurmountable evil. Film structure is about highlighting how characters change. And seeing how the Losers face down the House on Neibolt Street is an elegant structural shift which exemplifies that principle in a very effective and satisfying fashion.
Anyone who has read the novel, or has seen the 1990 mini-series, is very aware of the importance of flashbacks. Throughout the novel there are a number of asides by Mike Hanlon, detailing the history of Derry and, by extension, the history of IT itself.
In the Palmer/Fukunaga draft, these flashbacks take very real shape in two forms. First, as a story told to Mike while his father lies delirious in his hospital bed. Leroy Hanlon relates to Mike the story of he Black Spot where an entire bar of people was burned to the ground. Leroy tells his son how he confronted IT and barely made it away with his life.
Later, the draft describes firsthand a massacre that took place at the Silver Dollar Saloon in 1879, where several men were brutally slaughtered with an axe while the bar full of patrons went about their business; never minding the massacre taking place mere feet from them. Ben tells the Losers this story hoping to better demonstrate the horrors that Derry is capable of and how IT has been at the heart of them all since the beginning.
Now, in the finished film, neither of these flashbacks can be found. There are several reasons why this might have been changed; but the simplest one is probably the most pertinent.
The flashbacks are not necessary.
IT is a big story, dealing with seven protagonists and a sprawling history that tracks back centuries. There is a way to write this movie poorly where the script gets so bogged down in explanations and expository asides that the Losers don’t have anything to do. In fairness, the Palmer/Fukunaga draft integrates these flashbacks cohesively into the narrative; but by their very nature, flashing back speed bumps the story’s forward progression, whereas the final film proves that excising them from the story allows the focus to be entirely upon the Losers and their struggles.
In that spirit; the final aspect of contrast between the versions that I am going to explore is…
THE LOSERS’ CLUB
At the heart of IT, in all it’s various forms, are the Losers. They are the core of the story. Pennywise is scary, yes. But only as a mirror of the Losers own earnest desires and beliefs. If Pennywise is the bastardization of childhood wonder, the Losers are his mirror; a shining example of what it means to be young and to believe, not only in yourself, but in your friends.
The Palmer/Fukunaga draft features the Losers very much as they are presented in the film; with a few notable exceptions. Specifically dealing with the relationship between Beverly/Ben/Bill, the purpose of Mike Hanlon, and what drives the Losers toward their final confrontation with IT.
In the original draft, Ben is just as earnest and genuine as he is in the film. He falls for Beverly instantly. He writes her the poem and sends it too her. But this is where the similarities cease; as Ben does not see Beverly flirting with Bill, nor does she find out that Ben was the one who wrote the poem.
The entire ebb and flow of the love triangle between Bill, Beverly, and Ben is largely absent from the Palmer/Fukunaga draft; a relationship which with a only few key scenes added into the finished film, including the subterranean kiss that wakes Beverly from her Deadlights laden slumber, was able to blossom with wholly satisfying results.
When it comes to Mike Hanlon, he is the one who seemingly loses the most from the Palmer/Fukunaga draft to the finished film. In the original version, the relationships between the Bowers and Hanlon families were more fleshed out. Henry Bowers’ hatred for Mike, specifically, is detailed and acted upon; whereas is merely hinted at in the film. And most importantly, similar to the final film, the core of Mike’s story is focused upon his parents.
In the Palmer/Fukunaga version, Leroy Hanlon has a heart attack which Mike believes is caused by IT. This leads Mike to infer that killing IT will save his father’s life. Ultimately this is not the case, leading Mike to understand that there is evil in the world far beyond even the reaches of Pennywise.
In the finished film, Mike Hanlon’s parents are long dead at the story’s outset. Dead, Mike believes, by his own inability to save them; as evidenced by IT showing Mike the burning hands of people trapped behind the butchery’s cast iron door. By eliminating Mike’s parents, and casting them as the baseline fear that IT can exploit, his arc as a hero is one of the most pronounced and clear in the film. He goes from lamb to lion; finding the courage by story’s end to do what he must to save the people he loves most, in this case, the Losers. And while, structurally, Mike does not meet the Losers until halfway through the story, the inclusion of his fear at the butcher’s shop solidifies him as a central protagonist and allows his prominence in the story to never waver despite his seemingly long absence from the film’s proceedings.
For that matter, the inclusion of every one of the Loser’s fears, all taking form very early in the film; allows for the threat of Pennywise to become fully realized to each of them, whereas in the Palmer/Fukunaga draft their fears are more spread across the front half of the story. All except, that is, for Richie Tozier.
As in the novel, he is the sceptic, unwilling to believe his friends’ stories of lepers and clowns. Opining classically whether or not “only virgins” could see this stuff. The fact that Richie is absent from seeing the blood in Beverly’s bathroom only prolongs this belief.
In another brilliant addition to the House on Neibolt Street sequence; the Losers initial assault on IT’s home base also acts as Richie’s full realization that IT is very, very real, so that when they escape the house it is very understandable why he might argue to cut their losses and abandon their crusade. Richie’s fear might be of clowns, but his reaction to seeing his own MISSING poster proves that even the Trashmouth can’t talk his way out of everything.
With the film’s inclusion of Beverly being kidnapped by IT, forcing the Losers to rally together in order to save her, the film’s story comes full circle. Whereas the Palmer/Fukunaga draft pushes the Losers into taking a preemptive strike on IT, more revenge based than anything, fearing the clown might be coming for them next; the film allows circumstance to pull them toward becoming heroes, forcing them to choose selflessness for the betterment of their friends. This is another structural benefit of the film. Giving the Losers a tangible reason to reunite is more cinematically satisfying than the original draft and more clearly highlights their growth from outcasts to family; proving the one thing that IT might be able to manipulate, but never overcome, is the Losers’ love for each other.
“IT” is a brick of a novel, utilizing every trick in Stephen King’s tool box. In many ways, it’s the most “Stephen King” of any Stephen King novel. And as with most of King’s works, adapting it for the screen is no small feat. Most attempts simply get lost in translation. But while it takes a single mind to craft an enriching novel, it takes many minds, collaborating in tandem, to craft an engrossing film. A process that many films crumble under the strain of, where story is abandoned in favor of simplifications and convenience.
Thankfully though, through the combined talents of Fukunaga, Palmer, and Dauberman, collaborating Producers and with the masterful direction of Andy Muschietti, the filmmakers of IT (2017) were able to craft a story that not only lived up to the novel’s promise; but elevated it even further, creating a film that will undoubtedly (much like the stories of King himself) stand the test of time, to be admired and enjoyed for many generations of Losers to come.
Event Coverage: Mark Patton and Kim Myers Talk Freddy’s Revenge in London
Earlier this month Unicorn Nights organized a rare treat for horror fans, not only did we get to view the often under rated A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge but we were also honored to be in company with the two leading cast members. Mark Patton who played Jesse Walsh and Kim Myers who played his on screen girlfriend Lisa Webber were on hand for a Q & A session once the 1985 sequel had wrapped and Dread Central was in London for a full report.
Every horror fan has their own take on Freddy’s Revenge which has always felt like a standalone movie compared to the rest of the franchise. Speaking to fans at the infamous Prince Charles Cinema where the event was being shown they recalled moments that made the movie so special and separate from the other sequels. The bright yellow school bus, Jesse’s 20 inch tongue, Freddy bursting out of a Mark Patton plastic fantastic body, the exploding parrot, Jesse’s dance, Jesse’s fight, Jesse’s scream, the dog with a human head, the horrifyingly beautiful score by Christopher Stone, Hope Lange, Clu ‘fucking’ Gulager, the beautiful Kim Myers (who judging by tonight hasn’t aged) and of course the infamous line when Freddy tells Jesse,”you’ve got the body, I’ve got the brain”, before peeling back the skin on his head to reveal his pumping organ.
When the movie had wrapped Mark and Kim got down to business and answered fans long awaited questions. Myers confirmed that her audition had been grueling and that she had been asked back four times, but it was her read through with Patton that convinced the powers that be to cast her. “It was a dream come true to get the part and the opportunity of a lifetime”, confirmed Myers.
It was also interesting to learn that Robert Englund who of course would return as Freddy Krueger was the very last cast member to sign on for the sequel, and his participation was very much in the balance. Patton made everyone in the room laugh when he answered a question from a fan who said ‘was his screaming really him?’ Patton confirmed it was, before revealing that the sound men were in fear of him. Of course Myers is the only actress to have kissed Freddy and she revealed that the peck was very slimy and disgusting , but it was all about saving the love of her life, and with that, both her and Patton, embraced in what had been a fantastic and memorable night for the fans that had turned up for this sold out showing.
ABOUT UNICORN NIGHTS:
Unicorn Nights is the LGBTQUAI strand of films at the Prince Charles Cinema. Looking at some of the best (and worst) films that appeal to a queer unicorn audience. From Classics like Dirk Bogarde’s Victim and Tilda Swinton’s Orlando to lesbian werewolf love stories Jack & Diane and coming out classic Get Real. Their goal is to not let forgotten films from gay film makers or covering gay subjects be forgotten about and give a safe space for unicorns (as they like to call their audience) to come and enjoy film in the beating heart of London’s film center.
If you are in the London area you can follow Unicorn’s latest events and keep up to date by clicking here!
Also check out news on Mark Patton’s new documentary, Scream Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street.
All Photos: David Bronstein
2017: The Digital Rebirth of the Midnight Movie
This year’s Sundance audience had no idea what they had signed up for when they entered the Egyptian Theatre on January 21st, the midnight premiere of Kuso. While Flying Lotus has established a well-earned legacy through his music, feature films are a fresh venture for him – and his first effort was transgressive enough to be dubbed one of the grossest films ever made. In spite of this film’s instant infamy, however, it didn’t have a theatrical run. Its grotesque pleasures must be sought almost exclusively online. Only some (lucky or unlucky) cinephiles have been able to experience this creation as it, and much of its ilk, should be – in the darkness of a theater.
The midnight movie phenomenon truly broke into the mainstream during the late ‘60s, amidst the academically-deemed Golden Age of American cinema. Now-famous directors like John Waters, David Lynch, and Alejandro Jodorowsky earned notoriety with these works – made infamous by their grotesque natures, sure, but also because they broke cinematic rules in such effective ways. There is something cathartic about watching a film that shows you something impossible, surrounded by others who are just as shocked and moved. This is an experience that audiences can’t truly replicate outside of a theater, at any time before nightfall.
Since the rise of the multiplex and big-chain theaters, independent cinemas have had a more difficult time competing. Why settle for one screen, anyway, when you can have twenty? With blockbusters and a series of misfires (lookin’ at you, Heaven’s Gate) putting an end to the revolutionary Golden Age, there wasn’t a space for midnight movies. Perhaps this was because they defy classification. Their ultimate effect may be disgust or discomfort, but a midnight movie isn’t necessarily horror, or comedy or sci-fi, for that matter. Without a category, they’re impossible to sell – or sell easily.
Film festivals have become the salvation of these less accessible offerings. Kuso was one of eight midnight selections at Sundance this year, amongst the equally harrowing (albeit less gooey) Bitch, the oddly touching The Little Hours, and entertaining anthology XX, to name a few. Big players like South by Southwest, TIFF, Tribeca and AFI sport midnight sections as well, which have premiered recent smashes like Turkish hellfest Baskin or monstrous love poem Spring – while the equally important Fantastic Fest and Sitges Film Festival have focused solely on genre films for years. Fest favorites still rely on distribution to find a broad audience, though, and often the weirdest ones get left behind.
So, where do modern audiences find these films when they don’t get a traditional release? They have to go online. Netflix’s horror section is notoriously uneven, though its acquisition of IFC Midnight’s lineup has improved it immensely. One of the most consistent platforms for weird cinema is far more niche – AMC’s hidden gem, Shudder. It’s advertised as Netflix for horror, but its curators have shown a specific focus on all things strange, regardless of category. This year, they’ve acquired more standard genre fare, like the heinously clever Better Watch Out and the powerful, agonizing Revenge; but arguably their most famous grab is Kuso, which draws an entirely different audience. Fresh acquisitions like Prevenge and We Are the Flesh, along with hard-to-find classics such as Death Bed: the Bed that Eats and The Devils, prove the site’s attention to exposing new audiences to bizarre, world-changing content.
It isn’t to say that weird movies haven’t been made in the decades between these periods; but we seem to have entered an age in which they’re becoming easily accessible again. Prestige talent has begun crossing into weird movies too; see Anne Hathaway in the genre-destroying Colossal or Jennifer Lawrence enduring all sorts of abuse in mother!, remarkable if only for the fact that Paramount released it with no questions asked. Stylish directors like Ben Wheatley and Ana Lily Amirpour broke into the mainstream with their own no-budget visions of strangeness, A Field in England and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, respectively.
Presenting a new generation with films that challenge, provoke, disgust and distort is essential; we live in a time of upheaval and anxiety, so why not explore movies that show the world in all its chaotic glory? Even so, that connection of a dark theater is missed – and fans can hope that somehow, the system will change again, allowing for a fresh cycle of movies that only play at night.
12 Spooky Video Game Farms To Celebrate Your Thanksgiving
Happy pre-Christmas, everybody! It’s once again that magical time of the year, where all the department stores get out their light up Santas and tinsel to celebrate the birth of capitalism. The Spooky Month is gone, all praise be to the glorious Coca-Cola Company. Oh, and there’s also something about turkeys and stuffing your face with enough pie to temporarily shut down your brain’s ability to recognize your in-laws as the enemy.
Now if you’re like me and your family is an impossible five whole hours away from you, you might be spending Thanksgiving alone. No shame in that, just a single adult man alone in his room on a day meant for loved ones. But that doesn’t mean that we very-much-not-lonely-and-totally-content-with-our-life-choices individuals can’t have some fun! So this year, I’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving by remembering the American heartland that made this all possible. The noble farmer, tilling the soil from dusk till dawn until automation made his job mostly just pushing buttons. So join me if you will, with my list of 12 Spooky Video Game Farms to Celebrate Your Thanksgiving!
12) All is Dust
All is Dust is pretty much the reason that this is a list of “Spooky Video Game Farms,” and not “Top Spooky Video Game Farms.” This is a game that I once used to kick off a series of negative reviews I called “Bottom of the Bargain Bin,” you can go ahead and read my rambling review if you are so inclined. For the rest of you, I’ll recap by saying that All is Dust is bad. None of that wishy-washy some redeeming nuggets that you can see through the rest of the turd. It’s just plain bad. But what it does have going for it is that, A) it is 100% free, B) it 100% takes place on a farm, and C) it’s so bad that it sticks in my brain as being entertaining. Play if you’re very bored or truly deranged.
11) Farm for your Life
Although not really living up to the “Spooky” part of the “Spooky Video Game Farms” list, I’d be remiss to leave it out. Taking place after the zombie apocalypse, you must do your best to raise livestock and run your restaurant by day, and defend it from waves of zombies by night. It’s part tower defence, part Harvest Moon, part Cooking Mama, part Diner Dash, and part Minecraft. For only $10, it’s definitely worth checking out just for the unique premise and adorable zombies.
10) Monster Rancher
Whereas Pokémon was about a small child going forth into nature to enslave its creatures and force them to fight in the ultimate bloodsport, Monster Rancher was about setting up the ideal monster sex palace. Okay, you still make them fight. This is a monster raising (or, if you will, monster ranching) simulator after all, it would be pretty bleak of the ultimate goal was to just chop them up and sell off the best bits. It never did as well as Pokémon, but I always found something charming about Monster Rancher’s take on raising your monsters. Rather than just fighting to get bigger and stronger, you could raise their individual stats by making them do chores like tidying up or running laps. I got much more of a sense of attachment to my individual monsters when I felt like I was their dad, making them mow the lawn for their own good. Then, later as their pimp, I forced them to mate and produce supermonsters.
9) Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green
Somewhere out there some, search optimization program must be whirring its little algorithms in confusion as this is the first time anyone has mentioned Land of the Dead: Road to Fiddler’s Green in a decade. A tie-in to the equally unloved Land of the Dead, it actually serves as a direct prequel. You play as Jack, a farmer who on the night of the zombie outbreak finds his farm besieged by… well you know the drill. Road to Fiddler’s Green gets bonus points for not only partially taking place on a farm, but for starring an authentic American heartland stereotype farmer. Now let me be clear, this game is pretty bad. But it’s even more so that endearingly simple kind of bad, where the zombies are so easily avoided it’s like the scene from Dawn of the Dead where the bikers are basically just having an orgy around them. I have no idea where you’d get your hands on it, but give it a play if you want some good ol’ fashioned bad game.
8) Dead Secret
This is the part where if this were a “Top” list, it would begin in earnest. Like a Jigsaw victim tasked with beating Five Nights at Freddy’s, this is a game that surprised me. I’m not really keen on the whole fixed point VR thing, as it tends to only lend itself to jump scares, but Dead Secret won me over with some thrilling chases and overall creepy atmosphere. The bizarre plot contains oni-masked demon spirit guides, magic slugs, dream machines, and the phases of the moon. It’s definitely something worth checking out, and is available on all major VR headsets. Even without one, I found the game enjoyable.
First of all, if you don’t find Minecraft scary, fuck you. You’ve obviously never played it. I do not care how blocky the graphics or adorable the sheep are. You try to listening to the zombies moaning softly in the distance as you huddle in your makeshift hovel and pray the night to be over. How about you place the last block on your new swimming pool, only to hear the telltale hiss of a creeper just behind you. Then you can come back and tell me that Minecraft isn’t horror. And don’t tell me it’s not a farm, either. All you do in Minecraft IS farm. It’s a game about building things to eventually grow more things so you no longer have to go out of your way to collect things. That is the literal transition from hunter/gatherer to farming.
6) Slender: The Arrival
Now that it’s been 4 years since its official release and the hype/controversy has died down, I’m free to say nice things about Slender: The Arrival without sounding like a pandering YouTube twat. In retrospect, the part of Slender that I really didn’t like (other than the community) was the first randomly generated section. The whole 11 or so interchangeable environments with 8 pages scattered between them just felt unnatural, a cheap way to lengthen gameplay at the cost of a cohesive world. However, I found the game to be pretty good when it got to the more linear scripted areas. One such level was titled “Homestead,” and takes place on a spooky farm complete with grain silo and quaint little hilltop church. It’s a pretty solid little piece of horror, and definitely worth watching someone overreact to on YouTube.
5) Resident Evil 4
Resident Evil 4 is not a game wanting for memorable locations. It’s got a spooky castle, a spooky military base, a spooky mine, a spooky… ancient ruins? I mean hell, this is a game with an underground lava fortress and a minecart ride! That being said, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t immediately associate Resident Evil 4 with the first pitched siege battle in the farming village. Many of the game’s most memorable moments come from these first few chapters in the decaying rural town, including the enduring introduction of Mr. Chainsaw-McSackface. That alone deserves a spot on this list.
4) Dying Light: The Following
When I gave Dying Light: The Following a five-star tongue bath awhile back, much of that was due to my own personal disappointment with DLC releases. You really have to give props to a DLC pack that is at the same time affordable, lengthy, and adds something genuinely new to the title. For The Following’s case, that came in the form of lengthy rural sections you had to get across in your sick customizable buggy. It was unique compared to the previously cramped and vertical spaces of the main campaign, adding even more freedom to a game about freerunning.
3) The Walking Dead
Back in the day, Telltale Games was that cute little indie company putting out new Sam and Max games and the CSI tie-ins. That all changed in 2012 when The Walking Dead put them on the map. Before then, no one expected that a game you could play on your iPhone would make you cry. Of all the heartbreaking and shocking moments, perhaps the most is the dinner at the St. Johns’ farm. Clementine will remember that…and so will I.
2) Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
The last two additions on this list basically write themselves. I’m choosing to give Resident Evil 7: Biohazard the second slot because it’s just way less recognizable as once having been a plantation. As someone who doesn’t find country bumpkins scary, the crazed hillbilly trope of films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre or House of 1000 Corpses never really got to me. The Baker family? These people scare me.
1) Outlast 2
Of course the top spot on this list goes to Outlast 2. If you Google “horror games on farms,” it’s the first result. And there’s good reason for that. Outlast 2 takes everything unsettling about rural Americana and cranks it up to 11. You’ve got slaughterhouses filled with people, rotting cattle, a syphilitic cult leader, pits filled with dead babies… the list goes on and on. It’s genuinely terrifying. I’m not even someone who likes the weaponless approach to horror, but with Outlast 2 it’s as much about the setting as it is the jump scares. Definitely check it out.
Well, there you have it horror fans. A nice sampling of 12 Spooky Video Game Farms to Celebrate Your Thanksgiving. I tried to include a little bit of everything for everyone here, but let me know if I missed your favorite heartland horror! Happy pre-Christmas to all, and to all a good… fright?
…I’ll see myself out.
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