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7:12 PM on 11.15.2014  

Jeff the Killer sucks (Part 2)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was intended to be a Halloween piece, but I got severely held up in finishing it. Be warned, this post contains a few scary pictures from shock sites, so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing, please proceed with caution.



Greetings, fellow horror fans, and welcome to part two of my full Jeff the Killer commentary.

If you missed part one, here's the basic rundown: Creepy Pasta are those scary short stories that hobby writers like to post online to scare their internet friends. They are usually presented as firsthand accounts, often urban legend type deals, and usually have freaky twist endings. Think Slender Man, BEN Drowned, that kind of thing.

Personally, I love this stuff. But there is one very famous Creepy Pasta that has been floating around for a while. It has a huge fan following and is considered to be one of the classics. That Pasta is Jeff the Killer, and despite its fame, it's actually pretty terrible. So to celebrate the Halloween season (yeah, yeah, I'm two weeks late, but it's never too late for horror!) I'm doing a full commentary.

For more information on this pasta and to see the first half of the commentary, move your mouse over these words and push the button on it.

Now, when we last left our heroes, Jeff's brother Liu had just been arrested after taking the blame when Jeff beat up some local bullies. After several days of sulking, Jeff has just been awoken one bright morning by his mother.


“Jeff, it’s the day.” she said as she opened up the curtains and let light flood into his room.

Yes, it's the day. Before it was the night, but now it is the morning. Would you like to come to the downstairs and eat the breakfast before the noon?

“What, what’s today?” asked Jeff as he stirs awake.

“Why, it’s Billy’s party.” He was now fully awake.

“Mom, you’re joking, right? You don’t expect me to go to some kid’s party after…” There was a long pause.

“Jeff, we both know what happened. I think this party could be the thing that brightens up the past days. Now, get dressed.” Jeff’s mother walked out of the room and downstairs to get ready herself. He fought himself to get up. He picked out a random shirt and pair of jeans and walked down stairs. He saw his mother and father all dressed up; his mother in a dress and his father in a suit. He thought, why they would ever wear such fancy clothes to a kid’s party?

How do you "pick out" a random shirt? To pick something out means it is deliberately selected, which is the exact opposite of random. I assume this means he just grabbed a shirt out of his closet without paying attention, but if that's the case, he didn't pick it out. Alternatively, maybe the "random" aspect is a quality of the shirt rather than his actions. Maybe the shirt magically changes color and pattern of its own accord with no rhyme or reason, making it a random shirt. Yeah, I like that explanation. For the rest of this scene, I'm just going to picture Jeff wearing a shirt that is perpetually transforming.

Also, that last sentence is not phrased as a question.

“Son, is that all your going to wear?” said Jeff’s mom.

“Better than wearing too much.” he said. His mother pushed down the feeling to yell at him and hid it with a smile.

“Now Jeff, we may be over-dressed, but this is how you go if you want to make an impression.” said his father. Jeff grunted and went back up to his room.

“I don’t have any fancy clothes!” he yelled down stairs.

“Just pick out something.” called his mother. He looked around in his closet for what he would call fancy. He found a pair of black dress pants he had for special occasions and an undershirt. He couldn’t find a shirt to go with it though. He looked around, and found only striped and patterned shirts. None of which go with dress pants. Finally he found a white hoodie and put it on.

Oh. Never mind about the shirt then, I guess. What was the point of that? Seriously, what does this whole wardrobe fiasco add to the story? This is one of the longest scenes in the story, and it's about Jeff putting on a sweatshirt. My guess is the intended purpose here is to paint Jeff as being awkward, that he doesn't quite fit in with his parents. The problem is that this is one of the most asinine possible ways to show it. Furthermore, it makes the parents out to be complete buffoons while showing Jeff to be an entitled little brat. Which is exactly what they are, except it's not done in a good way. The reason these characters come off like that is not because they are intentionally being developed as such but because the story is doing a piss poor job at actually building three dimensional personalities.

“You’re wearing that?” they both said. His mother looked at her watch. “Oh, no time to change. Let’s just go.” She said as she herded Jeff and his father out the door. They crossed the street over to Barbara and Billy’s house. They knocked on the door and at it appeared that Barbara, just like his parents, way over-dressed. As they walked inside all Jeff could see were adults, no kids.

Of course they are all over dressed, because that's how grown-ups act in real life, right?

“The kids are out in the yard. Jeff, how about you go and meet some of them?” said Barbara.

Jeff walked outside to a yard full of kids. They were running around in weird cowboy costumes and shooting each other with plastic guns. He might as well be standing in a Toys R Us. Suddenly a kid came up to him and handed him a toy gun and hat.

Aren't I so cool? I don't have time for stupid baby things like Toys 'R Us. That crap is for babies, and I'm almost thirteen! Also, there's another human being suddenly appearing. The kid was playing on the other side of the yard and BAMF! Wanna pway?

“Hey. Wanna pway?” he said.


“Ah, no kid. I’m way too old for this stuff.” The kid looked at him with that weird puppydog face.

“Pwease?” said the kid. “Fine,” said Jeff. He put on the hat and started to pretend shoot at the kids. At first he thought it was totally ridiculous, but then he started to actually have fun. It might not have been super cool, but it was the first time he had done something that took his mind off of Liu. So he played with the kids for a while, until he heard a noise. A weird rolling noise. Then it hit him. Randy, Troy, and Keith all jumped over the fence on their skateboards. Jeff dropped the fake gun and ripped off the hat. Randy looked at Jeff with a burning hatred.

This writer has no idea how paragraphs work. That is actually making it hard to comment on individual issues because I don't want to break up a paragraph but each one has about eight million different things wrong with it.

" “Pwease?” said the kid. "
As mentioned above, this is really stupid. I want to rant about it, but just isn't worth it.

" “Fine,” said Jeff. "
This should be a new paragraph. Actually, every other sentence should be a new paragraph, but this is the most obvious.

" At first he thought it was totally ridiculous, but then he started to actually have fun. It might not have been super cool, but it was the first time he had done something that took his mind off of Liu. "
This is that clumsy, half-conversational tone that keeps popping up.

" So he played with the kids for a while, until he heard a noise. "
That doesn't make any sense. Were there not plenty of noises while playing? Is this actually some kind of mime party, everything was completely silent until there came one noise? Did Jeff just stop dead the instant he heard it? Obviously Jeff just heard something odd that diverted his attention, but this sentence makes it sound as though he just froze at some random noise. I'm picturing Jeff as some small animal - a chipmunk, maybe - going stealthily about it's business, hearing a rustling in the bushes, then snapping to attention.

" A weird rolling noise. "
What exactly is a "rolling" noise? I've heard thunder described as "rolling," but "rolling" itself is not a noise.

 " Then it hit him. "
What hit him? The noise?

" Randy, Troy, and Keith all jumped over the fence on their skateboards. "
Ah, okay, I get it now. The reason it was a rolling sound is because that's exactly what it was. No, you can't do that. That is cheating. If you are going to be vague and build suspense about the noise, you can't describe it by saying exactly what it is. That's like saying:

I looked out my window and saw an odd shadow. I couldn't tell what it was, but it was shaped kind of like a masked serial killer holding a machete. So I shined a light on it, only to reveal that it was a maked serial killer holding a machete!

There's another thing that bothers me about that sentence. How did the bullies jump over a fence? Let's think about this. I don't know how high the fence is, but it had to be tall enough that Jeff couldn't see them coming (then again, with the way people teleport around in this universe, you never know.) Now these kids are stated to be around twelve years old, so even if we are conservative about their heights, I assume the fence would have to be at least five feet tall. Furthermore, I don't know what is on the other side of the fence, but considering this is an average suburban neighborhood, I think it's safe to say that it's not a huge ramp aimed directly at private property.

So in other words, these kids just did an even more ridiculous version of this:



All right. With the reappearance of the bullies, we are getting to our climax. This is the final showdown, the end battle. Get ready, people, because we are about the crank the diarrhea dial up to eleven.

“Hello, Jeff, is it?” he said. “We have some unfinished business.” Jeff saw his bruised nose.” I think we’re even. I beat the crap out of you, and you get my brother sent to JDC.”

Paragraphs! You're doing them wrong! (And lot's of other things, too.)

Randy got an angry look in his eyes. “Oh no, I don’t go for even, I go for winning. You may have kicked our asses that one day, but not today.” As he said that Randy rushed at Jeff. They both fell to the ground. Randy punched Jeff in the nose, and Jeff grabbed him by the ears and head butted him. Jeff pushed Randy off of him and both rose to their feet. Kids were screaming and parents were running out of the house. Troy and Keith both pulled guns out of their pockets.

Ding ding ding! Round one begins! Jeff and Randy start wrestling around. This gets the attention of the grown-ups, so tweedle dee and tweedle dum pull out guns, at which point I also pull out a gun and shoot my computer monitor for displaying this crap.

ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? Why do they have guns? Why do two twelve-year-old kids from a suburban neighborhood have guns? I'm not trying to say that kids aren't capable of heinous acts of violence and couldn't get a gun somehow. In this day and age of school shootings, that's never been more obvious. The very point of this story is to examine how somebody could come to that point. Yet here are these kids, run of the mill school bullies, who just show up and whip out pistols like it ain't no thing.

This should be a huge deal. I mean, like I said, the entire story is supposed to building up to Jeff crossing that line. Yet Randy and co. do it with such nonchalance that it nukes the threshold of absurdity. This story puts armed robbery and attempted murder on the same tier as wedgies and swirlies.

“No one interrupts or guts will fly!” they said. Randy pulled a knife on Jeff and stabbed it into his shoulder.

See that first part? That's important. Know why? Because that is the only point in this entire episode that addresses the idea of somebody else getting involved. From this point forward, the adults do nothing until the fight is over. Nobody yells at the kids, tries to talk them down, calls the police, runs for help, or even panics. The bullies (KIDS!) say "don't move," and the entire group of grown adults shuts right down and does absolutely nothing.

Jeff screamed and fell to his knees. Randy started kicking him in the face. After three kicks Jeff grabs his foot and twists it, causing Randy to fall to the ground. Jeff stood up and walked towards the back door. Troy grabbed him.

“Need some help?” He picks Jeff up by the back of the collar and throws him through the patio door. As Jeff tries to stand he is kicked down to the ground. Randy repeatedly starts kicking Jeff, until he starts to cough up blood.

“Come on Jeff, fight me!” He picks Jeff up and throws him into the kitchen. Randy sees a bottle of vodka on the counter and smashes the glass over Jeff’s head.

“Fight!” He throws Jeff back into the living room.

“Come on Jeff, look at me!” Jeff glances up, his face riddled with blood. “I was the one who got your brother sent to JDC! And now you’re just gonna sit here and let him rot in there for a whole year! You should be ashamed!” Jeff starts to get up.

Back at the beginning, I pointed how the narration randomly switches between past and present tense for no reason. This has continued to periodically throughout the whole pasta, but this little fight scene kicks it into overdrive. It's like their battle is so epic that it breaks time, or maybe the narrator is actually Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen.

“Oh, finally! you stand and fight!” Jeff is now to his feet, blood and vodka on his face. Once again he gets that strange feeling, the one in which he hasn’t felt for a while. “Finally. He’s up!” says Randy as he runs at Jeff. That’s when it happens. Something inside Jeff snaps. His psyche is destroyed, all rational thinking is gone, all he can do, is kill. He grabs Randy and pile drives him to the ground. He gets on top of him and punches him straight in the heart. The punch causes Randy’s heart to stop. As Randy gasps for breath. Jeff hammers down on him. Punch after punch, blood gushes from Randy’s body, until he takes one final breath, and dies.

Here it is, folks! The moment you've all been waiting for, the ture genesis of Jeff the Killer! That weird feeling finally breaks free, and Jeff hulks out and murders a kid. How does he do it? Stabbing him? Nope, not Jeff, he's too cool for that. He punches Randy straight in the heart. Yes, straight in the heart. Not the chest, the heart. Jeff just used his time-warping teleporting kung-fu psycho powers to bypass Randy's skin, pecs, sternum, and whatever else, and punch him in the heart.

Everyone is looking at Jeff now. The parents, the crying kids, even Troy and Keith. Although they easily break from their gaze and point their guns at Jeff. Jeff see’s the guns trained on him and runs for the stairs. As he runs Troy and Keith let out fire on him, each shot missing. Jeff runs up the stairs. He hears Troy and Keith follow up behind. As they let out their final rounds of bullets Jeff ducks into the bathroom. He grabs the towel rack and rips it off the wall. Troy and Keith race in, knives ready.

I don't understand how everyone could be looking at Jeff now. The rest of the group was outside while Jeff and Randy brawled their way indoors. So that means that at some point, the entire birthday congregation must have formed a single-file line and walked inside to watch the fun.

So now the other two are after him with guns, and Jeff can also dodge bullets apparently. During this time, while the kids are distracting, the adults are continuing to do jack-all.

Troy swings his knife at Jeff, who backs away and bangs the towel rack into Troy’s face. Troy goes down hard and now all that’s left is Keith. He is more agile than Troy though, and ducks when Jeff swings the towel rack. He dropped the knife and grabbed Jeff by the neck. He pushed him into the wall. A thing of bleach fell down on top of him from the top shelf. It burnt both of them and they both started to scream. Jeff wiped his eyes as best as he could. He pulled back the towel rack and swung it straight into Keith’s head. As he lay there, bleeding to death, he let out an ominous smile.

A thing of bleach? A thing of bleach. A THING of bleach. Were the words "container" or "jug" or "bottle" too complex? That is just beautiful. This pasta has just made sucking into an art form.

If I can offer a tip, please don't ever describe anything as "ominous." Nothing says "I'm trying way too fucking hard" like straight up calling something "ominous."

“What’s so funny?” asked Jeff. Keith pulled out a lighter and switched it on. “What’s funny,” he said, “Is that you’re covered in bleach and alcohol.” Jeff’s eyes widened as Keith threw the lighter at him. As soon as the flame made contact with him, the flames ignited the alcohol in the vodka. While the alcohol burned him, the bleach bleached his skin. Jeff let out a terrible screech as he caught on fire. He tried to roll out the fire but it was no use, the alcohol had made him a walking inferno. He ran down the hall, and fell down the stairs. Everybody started screaming as they saw Jeff, now a man on fire, drop to the ground, nearly dead. The last thing Jeff saw was his mother and the other parents trying to extinguish the flame. That’s when he passed out.

That's not how burns work. Or bleach. Or physics. Yes, alcohol is flammable. No, it wouldn't turn him into a "walking inferno." The stupidest thing about this, aside from everything else about it, is the idea of Jeff's skin getting "bleached." Bleach is corrosive. It doesn't just turn things white, it breaks down and destroys whatever is giving it the color. If you got it on your skin, assuming it was potent enough to do anything, it wouldn't dye it white. It would cause a chemical burn. As in, red and blistering and pain. Which is a moot point in this context, since Jeff is apparently so on fire that he looks like the Human Torch.

When Jeff woke he had a cast wrapped around his face. He couldn’t see anything, but he felt a cast on his shoulder, and stitches all over his body. He tried to stand up, but he realized that there was some tube in his arm, and when he tried to get up it fell out, and a nurse rushed in.

“I don’t think you can get out of bed just yet.” she said as she put him back in his bed and re-inserted the tube. Jeff sat there, with no vision, no idea of what his surroundings were. Finally, after hours, he heard his mother.

In the first paragraph we see that Jeff has a Daredevil-level sense of touch, being able to feel casts (by the way, casts don't "wrap,) the exact number of stitches in his body, and even knowing that there is a tube in his arm. In the next paragraph he suddenly doesn't know what his surroundings are. So where does he think he is then? It also implies that he's just left to sit there until his mother shows up hours later. Do no doctors come in? No nurses try to comfort him? Are his parents so callous that they can't be assed to look into their own son's well being? Oh, wait...

“Honey, are you okay?” she asked. Jeff couldn’t answer though, his face was covered, and he was unable to speak. “Oh honey, I have great news. After all the witnesses told the police that Randy confessed of trying to attack you, they decided to let Liu go.” This made Jeff almost bolt up, stopping halfway, remembering the tube coming out of his arm. “He’ll be out by tomorrow, and then you two will be able to be together again.”

" Honey, are you okay? "
Peachy. Never been better.

" Jeff couldn't answer though ... "
Makes sense.

" ... his face was covered ... "
Yeah. We got that.

" ... and he was unable to speak. "
Does the author think we're stupid? We got it the first time.

Yay! Liu is out of trouble now! Isn't our justice system great?

Jeff’s mother hugs Jeff and says her goodbyes. The next couple of weeks were those where Jeff was visited by his family. Then came the day where his bandages were to be removed. His family were all there to see it, what he would look like. As the doctors unwrapped the bandages from Jeff’s face everyone was on the edge of their seats. They waited until the last bandage holding the cover over his face was almost removed.

“Let’s hope for the best,” said the doctor. He quickly pulls the cloth; letting the rest fall from Jeff’s face.

Jeff’s mother screams at the sight of his face. Liu and Jeff’s dad stare awe-struck at his face.

There was a very famous episode of The Twilight Zone that played out similar to the above. This story is also like the Twilight zone, as in it sucks so hard that it is in the same zone as Twilight. What is going on? Did they do surgery or something? I don't get it. I'm asking way too many questions this late in the story. I'm just so baffled that I'm beyond analysis at this point.

“What? What happened to my face?” Jeff said. He rushed out of bed and ran to the bathroom. He looked in the mirror and saw the cause of the distress. His face. It…it’s horrible. His lips were burnt to a deep shade of red. His face was turned into a pure white color, and his hair singed from brown to black. He slowly put his hand to his face. It had a sort of leathery feel to it now. He looked back at his family then back at the mirror.

This pasta.'s horrible. Once again, that's not how any of that stuff works. The first thing that is stupid here is how he rushed out of bed like that, but whatever. Yes, skin does turn red what it's burned. That makes sense. It doesn't work like permanent lipstick, though. I've already talked about how stupid the idea of his face being "bleached white" is.

The dumbest part of this, though, is the hair. As anybody who has ever had trouble starting a grill can tell you, THAT IS NOW HOW BURNED HAIR WORKS. Yes, it turns black because it's charred, and then it crumbles into ash. Because that's what happens to stuff when it's burnt. Even more ridiculous, why does there even need to be an explanation for this? Can't he just have black hair?

“Jeff,” said Liu, “It’s not that bad….”

“Not that bad?” said Jeff,” It’s perfect!” His family were equally surprised. Jeff started laughing uncontrollably His parents noticed that his left eye and hand were twitching.

“Uh… Jeff, are you okay?”

“Okay? I’ve never felt more happy! Ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaa, look at me. This face goes perfectly with me!” He couldn’t stop laughing. He stroked his face feeling it. Looking at it in the mirror. What caused this? Well, you may recall that when Jeff was fighting Randy something in his mind, his sanity, snapped. Now he was left as a crazy killing machine, that is, his parents didn’t know.

“Doctor,” said Jeff’s mom, “Is my son… alright, you know. In the head?”

“Oh yes, this behavior is typical for patients that have taken very large amounts of pain killers. If his behavior doesn’t change in a few weeks, bring him back here, and we’ll give him a psychological test.”

“Oh thank you doctor.” Jeff’s mother went over to Jeff.” Jeff, sweety. It’s time to go.”

Jeff looks away from the mirror, his face still formed into a crazy smile. “Kay mommy, ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa!” his mother took him by the shoulder and took him to get his clothes.

Yeah, he's fine. We just took the bandages off five seconds ago, he has very serious facial injuries, and is either high off his ass or psychologically disturbed or both, but yeah, he's good to go.

“This is what came in,” said the lady at the desk. Jeff’s mom looked down to see the black dress pants and white hoodie her son wore. Now they were clean of blood and now stitched together. Jeff’s mother led him to his room and made him put his clothes on. Then they left, not knowing that this was their final day of life.

Yes, hospitals usually do give you back the stuff you had when you came in. I doubt they take the time to stitch it back together, though. This also makes me wonder how they were salvagable to begin with, considering Jeff was last seen as a "walking inferno." Then again, with the way fire seems to behave in this universe, I guess I should just be glad his shirt hasn't morphed into a goth trench coat or something. Maybe the Thing of Bleach fixed his clothes.

Later that night, Jeff’s mother woke to a sound coming from the bathroom. It sounded as if someone was crying. She slowly walked over to see what it was. When she looked into the bathroom she saw a horrendous sight. Jeff had taken a knife and carved a smile into his cheeks.

I'll save you the trip to Wikipedia: Yes, it came out the same year.

“Jeff, what are you doing?” asked his mother.

Jeff looked over to his mother. “I couldn’t keep smiling mommy. It hurt after awhile. Now, I can smile forever. Jeff’s mother noticed his eyes, ringed in black.

“Jeff, your eyes!” His eyes were seemingly never closing.

“I couldn’t see my face. I got tired and my eyes started to close. I burned out the eyelids so I could forever see myself; my new face.” Jeff’s mother slowly started to back away, seeing that her son was going insane. “What’s wrong mommy? Aren’t I beautiful?

Credit where credit is due: Jeff's explanation is a little creepy. If Stephen King had written something like that, it would have been awesome. Sadly, it's wasted in the nasty pile of nonsense that this pasta has become.

“Yes son,” she said, “Yes you are. L-let me go get daddy, so he can see your face.” She ran into the room and shook Jeff’s dad from his sleep. “Honey, get the gun we…..” She stopped as she saw Jeff in the doorway, holding a knife.

GET THE GUN? ARE YOU FUCKING SHITTING ME RIGHT NOW? You're shitting me. This pasta is literally shitting me. My physical being is literally being expelled from its anal sphincter. Yes, he murders them in the next sentence, but at the time was hurting nobody but himself. His mother's reaction should be to scream, run to him, scoop him in her arms, comfort her baby boy, call an ambulance. Instead, with no prompting at all, she calmly goes to her husband and tells him to "get the gun."

"Wake up, Pete. Get your gun, I think our son has gone insane. Naw, don't bother emergency services. We had a good run but we have to draw the line somewhere. We'll tell Liu we sent him to live on a farm upstate."

It's a good thing he didn't come out of the closet as gay or something. They probably would have sent him to a labor camp.

“Mommy, you lied.” That’s the last thing they hear as Jeff rushes them with the knife, gutting both of them.

Really? That's the last thing they heard? So, they didn't hear footsteps and neither of the parents made a single peep while Jeff was murdering them. Furthermore, insane or not, there is no reason why two capable adults should not be able to overpower a thirteen-year-old kid in a straight-up fight, especially one who is suffering from greivous injuries, including having no eyelids. Of course, given how they reacted during the fight with the bullies, they probably didn't even try.

His brother Liu woke up, startled by some noise. He didn’t hear anything else, so he just shut his eyes and tried to go back to sleep. As he was on the border of slumber, he got the strangest feeling that someone was watching him. He looked up, before Jeff’s hand covered his mouth. He slowly raised the knife ready to plunge it into Liu. Liu thrashed here and there trying to escape Jeff’s grip.

First, what noise woke Liu up? His parents' murders were clearly portrayed as silent, so either there was nothing for Liu to hear, or the narration lied to us. Or the writing sucks. Second, Jeff overpowers Liu far too easily. Jeff holds Liu down with one hand despite Liu thrashing around and fighting as hard as he can to get out of it. It isn't like Jeff is sitting on him or something, he's just pressing on Liu's mouth with one hand. The only way this would be possible was if Jeff had some kind of superhuman strength.

Or if the writing sucks.

“Shhhhhhh,” Jeff said,”Just go to sleep.”

A th- th- thththat's all folks!


WatchMojo, a group that makes Top 10 YouTube videos, once named this the second scariest creepy pasta behind Slender Man. They were clearly pandering, and the descriptions sums it up perfectly: "After being badly burned in a fight with some local kids, the once innocent Jeff lost his sanity upon seeing his scarred face. After carving a smile onto his mouth and cutting off his eyelids, he viciously killed his mother, father, and brother." Look at how it downplays so much of the story. Yes, that is technically what happened, but it glosses over almost the entire thing.

In other words, they knew it was bad. They didn't want to lie to the audience or try to spice up the narrative, so they glossed over it. Even the Creepy Pasta Wiki deleted it from their site "as per Quality Control." There is no mistaking it, it is terrible in every way.

The actual writing, as in the phrasing and mechanics, is deplorable. There was so much that I didn't comment on because it would be too time consuming and it wasn't worth it. The whole thing reeks of teenage angst.The dialogue is cliched and hamfisted to the nth degree. From medicine to law to basic social interactions, the author clearly doesn't understand how the world works. The only character to any substantial degree of realistic characterization is Jeff himself. The worst of the cast are the adults, who are complete dipshits, but it's clearly not deliberate. The author just doesn't understand how adults, or pretty much anyone besides thirteen-year-old emo kids, think and act.

So if it's so bad, why, then, do is it so popular? As I said above, I think it all comes back to that face. Like it or not, that little chibi-Marilyn Manson looking photoshop has a pretty eerie air to it. It's shocking to look at it. Being so closely associated with that picture, most people probably come across it while looking into the origins of the picture and take it as canon.

Most people probably pass it over for its quality. The remaining fringe are angsty kids who simultaneously a.) identify with Jeff as misunderstood teen and/or bullying victim; and b.) have never read a book in their life and have no standard of quality. It boils down to a nasty story based on an ill-concieved cyber bullying photoshop, both of which continue to be a bane on Creepy Pasta readers everywhere and bring down the collective quality of horror fiction.

But hey, this is the internet, right? The downside of anybody being able to publish anything is that there is going to be a lot of crap to go with the bad. Fortunately, there is still plenty of good stuff out there, and even the stuff that sucks can be good for a laugh. If you've made it this far, thank you for going through this story and reading my commentary. It was a long one, and I appreciate the support.

Now got read something good, and have a good night.



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9:47 PM on 11.13.2014  

Jeff the Killer sucks (Part 1)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was intended to be a Halloween piece, but I got severely held up in finishing it. Be warned, this post contains a few scary pictures from shock sites, so if you are sensitive to that kind of thing, please proceed with caution.


Greetings. It's that time of the year again. That time of the year when we put on the scary movies, dress up in costumes, hand out candies, carve up pumpkins, and tell old folktales in honor of All Hallow's Eve. For as long as I have been a member of ScrewAttack, I have made it a tradition to post something horror-related at this time of the year. I've talked about literature, horror games, and even shared some of my own fiction. It's a tradition that I enjoy, and hopefully my past and present readers have been able to as well.

Two years ago, I celebrated the season by talking about one of the internet's scariest babies: Creepy Pasta. That particular blog was (and remains) one my most well received blogs since V4 of ScrewAttack. Creepy Pastas are those gritty, spooky stories that pop up around the internet. Stories like Slender Man, Ben Drowned, Squidward's Suicide, and Zalgo. They are the internet's answer to the folktales or yore, and I have come to enjoy them every bit as much.

What I love about Creepy Pastas is their guerilla nature. They are so informal; they are not published novels, they are simple tales free from the pomp and circumstance of mass media, which in turn creates a layer of mystique that can really make you wonder. The fact that this new lore is often presented in such a down-to-earth fashion means that well written and presented ones can actually blur the line between reality and fiction. They make you want to believe. That is an incredible effect that very few other mediums have managed to replicate. Some of the writings that have come out of this budding genre are nothing short of genius.

I'm really quite enamored by it all. I frequently find myself passing the time by heading over to the creepy pasta and wiki and taking in a good ghost story. I've read most of the famous ones and have amassed quite a love for a few of my personal favorites. In all this time, though, there is one particular Creepy Pasta that keeps popping up everywhere. Jeff the Killer, a.k.a. Go to Sleep, is one of the most well known and well loved Pastas out there. The pasta and its main character have a massive fan following, making Jeff possibly the second-most-popular character in all of Pasta-dom (the first being, of course, Slender Man.)

Despite its massive popularity, I have never really taken the time to acknowledge or comment on Jeff the Killer. There is actually a very good reason for that:

Because it sucks.



The exact history of the pasta is a little skewed; no details are set in stone. After doing some research, I've put together what I think is the most basic history of the pasta. It all started with that face. Around 2008, the infamous Go To Sleep/Jeff the Killer face started popping up around the internet. Screamer pranks, shock sites, scary image pages, the works. It spread around due to its creepy composition and ability to startle unsuspecting viewers. Indeed, if you're not used to it, it can be pretty nerve racking. Despite looking like somebody pulled an Ecce Homo job on Ronald McDonald, it falls in the middle of the uncanny valley. There is something inherently not right about it, and it does a fine job of wrenching your guts the first time you lay eyes on it.

In my research, the most commonly accepted explanation is that started as the face of a young woman. She posted a selfie on 4chan, where she was then viciously cyberbullied to the point of suicide. If that is true (and I hope it isn't) then that is absolutely horrible. Bullying is awful, and for it to get that bad is deplorable. My heart goes out her and her family. When you interact with somebody, online or otherwise, please keep in mind that they are people with thoughts and feelings and lives. They don't deserve to be treated that way. On the flip side, if you or somebody you know are a victim of bullying or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please seek help. This website has good information and helpful links, including a link to the national suicide hotline.

Anyway, the infamous face is supposedly an ill-conceived Photoshop of that poor lady's selfie. It went viral online because, let's face it, as mean-spirited as the whole episode is, that picture is pretty freaky. Soon after making its rounds, a few independent pastas based on the image started popping up. Being little more than glorified fanfiction, most of these went largely unnoticed. There is one, however, that the masses took notice of. A short story about a young teenager whose trouble with local bullies drove him insane.

It was very well received and is now considered to be a classic creepy pasta. It gets lumped along with Candle Cove and Squidward's Suicide as one of the best out there. It is now considered canon, as the "official" origin story of the guy from the picture. It is now linked with the image in most of the internet's collective conscious. It has a huge fan following, inspiring fanart and more stories. It is as definitive to the Jeff the Killer mythos as Marble Hornets is to Slender Man.

However, just because something is popular does not mean it is good. To put it bluntly, the story is terrible. Not in the same sense the picture is, which is effective but born from a real life horror. The story that has become so famous is a prime example of bad writing. It is filled to the brim with mechanical errors. The characters are either horribly wooden or straight-up Mary Sues. It's filled with cliches, everyone acts completely unrealistically, and it has no semblance of the realism and fear-of-the-unknown that actually make creepy pastas so potent. The entire thing has a flavor that ironically reflects its very content: it reads like teenage emo kid venting his frustration with his parents and the other kids in his seventh grade class.

It is an awful mess of a story. This isn't a controversial topic, either: even the things it gets right are amateurish at best. That is what perplexes me about its popularity. With the internet's known cynicism, most stories written like this would either fall into obscurity or reach so-bad-its-good territory in the same vein as My Immortal or Sonichu. Jeff's fans are completely sincere. Creepy pasta readers have actually turned this thing into a modern classic despite its dreadfulness. If Slender Man and The Rake are the internet's Frankenstein and Dracula, Jeff the Killer is its Twilight.

Speaking of Twilight, a couple years ago I found a tumblr blog called Reasoning with Vampires. It is no longer updated but the basic gist is that the author takes scans of text from the Twilight books and juxtaposes them with snarky commentary. It is a brilliant concept and leads to both comedy gold and some deep insight into good writing. I works quite well, so instead of blindly ranting for the rest of this blog, I'm going to celebrate Halloween by doing a full commentary on Jeff the Killer.

Below is the full text of the infamous creepy pasta interspersed with my own thoughts. What you will find is the original story in normal typeface. My thoughts, in bold, are placed between paragraphs. I might also throw in some underlining during the main text to draw attention to things. The intention here is to illustrate exactly why I don't like this story, and hopefully entertain along the way.

One more thing before we get started. Just to keep this fun, I've made up a little drinking game to play as we read along. I'm kind of a teetotaler, so grab yourself some water or soda pop and see how far you can get without peeing your pants. Now, take a drink whenever...

-You spot a spelling or grammar mistake
-Jeff or Liu does something unrealistically badass and/or courageous
-One of the child characters uses unrealistically articulate diction
-An adult says something not articulate enough
-The narration changes tense at complete random
-The bullies say/do/attempt something so vicious it would put street gangs to shame
-An adult does absolutely nothing to help the above situation
-The narrator describes something in a ridiculously conversational tone

Okay, ready? Now, come with me as we dive into the dark realm of Jeff the Killer...



Excerpt from a local Newspaper:

After weeks of unexplained murders, the ominous unknown killer is still on the rise. After little evidence has been found, a young boy states that he survived one of the killer’s attacks and bravely tells his story.

“I had a bad dream and I woke up in the middle of the night,” says the boy, “I saw that for some reason the window was open, even though I remember it being closed before I went to bed. I got up and shut it once more. Afterwards, I simply crawled under my covers and tried to get back to sleep. That’s when I had a strange feeling, like someone was watching me. I looked up, and nearly jumped out of my bed. There, in the little ray of light, illuminating from between my curtains, were a pair of two eyes. These weren’t regular eyes; they were dark, ominous eyes. They were bordered in black and… just plain out terrified me. That’s when I saw his mouth. A long, horrendous smile that made every hair on my body stand up. The figure stood there, watching me. Finally, after what seemed like forever, he said it. A simple phrase, but said in a way only a mad man could speak.

“He said, ‘Go To Sleep.’ I let out a scream, that’s what sent him at me. He pulled up a knife; aiming at my heart. He jumped on top of my bed. I fought him back; I kicked, I punched, I rolled around, trying to knock him off me. That’s when my dad busted in. The man threw the knife, it went into my dad’s shoulder. The man probably would’ve finished him off, if one of the neighbors hadn’t alerted the police.

“They drove into the parking lot, and ran towards the door. The man turned and ran down the hallway. I heard a smash, like glass breaking. As I came out of my room, I saw the window that was pointing towards the back of my house was broken. I looked out it to see him vanish into the distance. I can tell you one thing, I will never forget that face. Those cold, evil eyes, and that psychotic smile. They will never leave my head.”

Police are still on the look for this man. If you see anyone that fits the description in this story, please contact your local police department.

Here we have the first indications of suckage. It isn't that bad, but it's far from good. The first thing you might notice is how poorly the writing is executed for being a newspaper article. I'll give the author credit in that introducing the story with a flash-forward prolog of this type is a decent way to go about it. Everything about the newspaper article, though, is completely wrong.

For starters, a real news article would stick mostly to the facts. The embellishments and long, drawn out details are way out of place. The story leads us to believe that this is in the middle of an ongoing string of murders, so the newspaper might run an op-ed piece down the line, at which point this kind of writing might be better suited (though still not of this caliber.) This particular article is presented as straight news, so its style is way out of place. It also doesn't follow the inverted pyramid, which is when a journalist places all of the most important information right at the beginning and fills in the gaps as she goes on. If you look at pretty much any news article (again, not op-eds or features) you will find that the entire story is summed up in the first one-to-three sentences. The most basic details, all of the essential information that you need to now, is right there at the beginning. A real newspaper article for this event would probably look something more like this:


A Whereverville man was hospitalized last night with stab wounds after being attacked by a home intruder.

Police say John Doe, 34, was awoken shortly after midnight by the sound of screaming from his son's bedroom. Doe investigated to discover a man in the house threatening the son with a knife. Doe attempted to subdue the intruder, and was stabbed in the shoulder during the ensuing struggle.

Police say the attacker jumped out a window and ran when they arrived on the scene after a neighbor called 911. They were unable to locate the intruder and an investigation is still ongoing.

This incident is the third such case in recent weeks. Police say blah blah blah, so on and so forth. You get the idea.

I can understand why somebody who is not familiar with formal newswriting would not stick to proper form. What I can not forgive is the child's description of the event. It is far too detailed and artistic. This is supposed to be child recounting a bad experience. What we get instead is first-person narrative. His story is written exactly the way a narrator in book would speak, full of imagery and metaphors and even has some poetic language. There is no way that anybody would speak like that in dialog (which is what that is, being a newspaper article), but especially not a terrified little kid who just survived a homicide.

By the way, this is the point where the story shifts from the article to the main story with Jeff. In the original text (without my commentary) there is nothing to distinguish this transition within the formatting. No heading, no line break, no picture, just BAM! New scene. You probably won't notice it since I have essentially created that divide here with my own writing, but when you are just reading it, it's a very abrupt change that really takes you out of the story.

Jeff and his family had just moved into a new neighborhood. His dad had gotten a promotion at work, and they thought it would be best to live in one of those “fancy” neighborhoods. Jeff and his brother Liu couldn’t complain though. A new, better house. What was not to love? As they were getting unpacked, one of their neighbors came by.

“Hello,” she said, “I’m Barbara; I live across the street from you. Well, I just wanted to introduce my self and to introduce my son.” She turns around and calls her son over. “Billy, these are our new neighbors.” Billy said hi and ran back to play in his yard.

Yes, you read that right. The middle sentence in the above paragraph is suddenly in the present tense for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Get used to that, because it's about to happen a lot. Other than that, these paragraphs are rushed, as though the author wants to show the scene but doesn't want to spend too much time on it.

“Well,” said Jeff’s mom, “I’m Margaret, and this is my husband Peter, and my two sons, Jeff and Liu.” They each introduced themselves, and then Barbara invited them to her son’s birthday. Jeff and his brother were about to object, when their mother said that they would love to. When Jeff and his family are done packing, Jeff went up to his mom.

One of these things is not like the other: Jeff, Margaret, Peter, and Liu. As in Liu Kang. This all-American white suburbanite family gave their child a Chinese name. I could accept that if the parents were developed to be cultured, but Maggy and Pete here both have the personality of a door. I don't think this is actually the author's fault; according to Know Your Meme, the "Liu" character comes from a different "origin story" from YouTube video. It is likely that this author just lifted it from there.

“Mom, why would you invite us to some kid’s party? If you haven’t noticed, I’m not some dumb kid.”

I actually like this line. It is a good show of Jeff's personality. Of course, there is the problem that a.) It was the neighbor who did the inviting, not the mom and b.) Jeff is a dumb kid. Still, it shows us that Jeff can be selfish and stuck-up. Which I'm not sure the author was going for -- judging by the tone of the story, I think we might be supposed to take it at face value and agree with Jeff.

“Jeff,” said his mother, “We just moved here; we should show that we want to spend time with our neighbors. Now, we’re going to that party, and that’s final.” Jeff started to talk, but stopped himself, knowing that he couldn’t do anything. Whenever his mom said something, it was final. He walked up to his room and plopped down on his bed. He sat there looking at his ceiling when suddenly, he got a weird feeling. Not so much a pain, but… a weird feeling. He dismissed it as just some random feeling. He heard his mother call him down to get his stuff, and he walked down to get it.

Yup, that's definitely what she said all right. It's also what a million other mother's might say when their author's only write in cliches.

This paragraph has a ton of a flaws that I could analyze all day, but I'm going to focus on one big one right now. Every once in a while, the author will dumb down the narration. He will describe something very conversationally when it doesn't really fit that tone. Notice the sentence I underlined. Even ignoring the incorrect use of the ellipsis, that description is extremely awkward. The only time that wording would work is when I person was trying to describe something to another person, not a third-person narrator with a reasonably distant voice describing a major event. It's almost like the author didn't know how to describe something, so he shifted tone for only one single sentence in order to make it spooky.

That is not only awkward to read, it's also cheating.

The next day, Jeff walked down stairs to get breakfast and got ready for school. As he sat there, eating his breakfast, he once again got that feeling. This time it was stronger. It gave him a slight tugging pain, but he once again dismissed it. As he and Liu finished breakfast, they walked down to the bus stop. They sat there waiting for the bus, and then, all of a sudden, some kid on a skateboard jumped over them, only inches above their laps. They both jumped back in surprise. “Hey, what the hell?”

The kid landed and turned back to them. He kicked his skate board up and caught it with his hands. The kid seems to be about twelve; one year younger than Jeff. He wears a Aeropostale shirt and ripped blue jeans.

He's younger than Jeff, because little kids are stupid. Jeff is much smarter and cooler because he is older. Also, this kid shops at Aeropostale, which is where all stupid shallow preppy popular kids go. Not like us cool kids, we only shop at Hot Topic.

“Well, well, well. It looks like we got some new meat.” Suddenly, two other kids appeared. One was super skinny and the other was huge. “Well, since you’re new here, I’d like to introduce ourselves, over there is Keith.” Jeff and Liu looked over to the skinny kid. He had a dopey face that you would expect a sidekick to have. “And he’s Troy.” They looked over at the fat kid. Talk about a tub of lard. This kid looked like he hadn’t exercised since he was crawling.

Ah yes, our antagonists. What? You didn't think the villain in the horror story would be the serial killer, did you? That's just silly!

A lot of things in this universe happen very suddenly, don't they? That's a word that's been tossed around a lot so far, but right there are some of the worst examples. How the fuck do two human beings just suddenly appear? Either Jeff possesses the observational skills of Helen Keller, or everything in this universe can teleport.

Notice how we've known these characters for one paragraph so far and they are already the most stereotypical sidekicks you can imagine?

“And I,” said the first kid, “am Randy. Now, for all the kids in this neighborhood there is a small price for bus fare, if you catch my drift.” Liu stood up, ready to punch the lights out of the kid’s eyes when one of his friends pulled a knife on him. “Tsk, tsk, tsk, I had hoped you would be more cooperative, but it seems we must do this the hard way.” The kid walked up to Liu and took his wallet out of his pocket. Jeff got that feeling again. Now, it was truly strong; a burning sensation. He stood up, but Liu gestured him to sit down. Jeff ignored him and walked up to the kid.

I love the beginning of this paragraph. The author begins the introduction, breaks the quotation for a speaker attribution, then finishes the sentence. This has the effect of making the reader drag out the beginning of the sentence in their head. When I read this, I picture Randy introducing himself like a movie villain:


Not only that, but the rest of Randy's dialog is so over the top and cliche that I can't help but hear that same tone of voice in every word he says. In my mind, Randy now has the voice of Lord Zedd.

That is not the only bad writing here, either. There is way too much going on. Consider what just happened:

-The leader introduces himself
-He threatens the brothers to give them money
-Liu gets angry
-One of the other kids pulls out a knife
-The other kid steals Liu's wallet
-Jeff gets that weird feeling again, and it's stronger this time
-Liu tries to get Jeff to calm down
-Jeff ignored him and walked up to the kid

There are at least eight major action beats in the course of five line paragraph. They are thrown at us so rapidly that none of them have time to register, so that when we are done reading the paragraph, we have no idea what just happened.

Also, don't even get me started on the fact that the bullies are carrying around weapons and robbing people at knife point. There will be plenty of time for that later. For now, I'm imagining their knives are just boy scout-issue pocket knives with tweezers and nail files and stuff, and that the kids are just picturing it like that episode of South Park with the ninja weapons.

“Listen here you little punk, give back my bro’s wallet or else.” Randy put the wallet in his pocket and pulled out his own knife.

“Oh? And what will you do?” Just as he finished the sentence, Jeff popped the kid in the nose. As Randy reached for his face, Jeff grabbed the kid’s wrist and broke it. Randy screamed and Jeff grabbed the knife from his hand. Troy and Keith rushed Jeff, but Jeff was too quick. He threw Randy to the ground. Keith lashed out at him, but Jeff ducked and stabbed him in the arm. Keith dropped his knife and fell to the ground screaming. Troy rushd him too, but Jeff didn’t even need the knife. He just punched Troy straight in the stomach and Troy went down. As he fell, he puked all over. Liu could do nothing but look in amazement at Jeff.

Oh by the way, Jeff is also Bruce Lee. Here we see him disarm three attackers at once, including the humorously understated breaking of limbs. And in case you didn't catch how impressive that is, the story has to draw attention to it. "Troy rushed--" er, no, I'm sorry, "rushd"-- "Troy rushd hiim too, but Jeff didn't even need the knife, because he's so badass ain't no mufuckas gon' put him down! He was all like hiiiiyaaa bitch! Yeah!" When Jeff does a pull-up, he's not pulling himself up, he's moving the wall down.

“Jeff how’d you?” that was all he said. They saw the bus coming and knew they’d be blamed for the whole thing. So they started running as fast as they could. As they ran, they looked back and saw the bus driver rushing over to Randy and the others. As Jeff and Liu made it to school, they didn’t dare tell what happened. All they did was sit and listen. Liu just thought of that as his brother beating up a few kids, but Jeff knew it was more. It was something, scary. As he got that feeling he felt how powerful it was, the urge to just, hurt someone. He didn’t like how it sounded, but he couldn’t help feeling happy. He felt that strange feeling go away, and stay away for the entire day of school. Even as he walked home due to the whole thing near the bus stop, and how now he probably wouldn’t be taking the bus anymore, he felt happy. When he got home his parents asked him how his day was, and he said, in a somewhat ominous voice, “It was a wonderful day.” Next morning, he heard a knock at his front door. He walked down to find two police officers at the door, his mother looking back at him with an angry look.

So Jeff beats up the bullies and takes off. The first time I read this, I thought it was pretty stupid that they wouldn't go to the police or at least tell their parents. I mean, you would think that they would want to get some help after being assaulted at knife point, and I'm pretty sure that is grounds for self-defense. At the same time, they were probably emotional and not thinking clearly, and it would look suspicious that they ran off and left a pile of bloody kids. So it's understandable. What is not understandable is what happens next.

There's that feeling again, bringing bad writing with it. The phrasing is clumsy, and there is once again way too much stuff crammed into a single paragraph. It's all capped off by Jeff's interaction with his parents the next day. Notice how subtly the author hints at Jeff's state of mind?


“Jeff, these officers tell me that you attacked three kids. That it wasn’t regular fighting, and that they were stabbed. Stabbed, son!” Jeff’s gaze fell to the floor, showing his mother that it was true.

“Mom, they were the ones who pulled the knives on me and Liu.”

Wait, what? So Jeff and Liu did tell their parents? But the parents did nothing. They did not call the police, they did not get a lawyer, nothing? Until the next day when the cops show up, at which point Margaret reacts like the neighbor just told them her kids broke a window or something.

“Son,” said one of the cops,” We found three kids, two stabbed, one having a bruise on his stomach, and we have witnesses proving that you fled the scene. Now, what does that tell us?” Jeff knew it was no use. He could say him and Liu had been attacked, but then there was no proof it was not them who attacked first. They couldn’t say that they weren’t fleeing, because truth be told they were. So Jeff couldn’t defend himself or Liu.

“Son, call down your brother.” Jeff couldn’t do it, since it was him who beat up all the kids.

“Sir, it…it was me. I was the one who beat up the kids. Liu tried to hold me back, but he couldn’t stop me.” The cop looked at his partner and they both nod.

“Well kid, looks like a year in Juvy…”

“Wait!” says Liu. They all looked up to see him holding a knife. The officers pulled their guns and locked them on Liu.

“It was me, I beat up those little punks. Have the marks to prove it.” He lifted up his sleeves to reveal cuts and bruises, as if he was in a struggle.

“Son, just put the knife down,” said the officer. Liu held up the knife and dropped it to the ground. He put his hands up and walked over to the cops.

“No Liu, it was me! I did it!” Jeff had tears running down his face.

“Huh, poor bro. Trying to take the blame for what I did. Well, take me away.” The police led Liu out to the patrol car.

“Liu, tell them it was me! Tell them! I was the one who beat up those kids!” Jeff’s mother put her hands on his shoulders.

If the poor writing, one dimensional characters, wooden dialog, third grade mechanics, and ridiculous plot twists weren't enough to convince you of this pasta's awfulness, we get this scene. Ladies and gentlemen, we are slurpin' turds now. I didn't comment through this whole because I wanted you to get the full experience. There is so much suck in the above paragraphs that I could write an entire separate blog post on this scene alone.

This author has no clue how the justice system works.

In this situation, the police would show up and maybe even take somebody down to the station for questioning. Liu would be given a lawyer and probably let out on bail. There would be an investigation that would span weeks or even months, social services would get involved at some point, and it would all lead up to a trial or hearing when a judge, not the police, would decide if and how long he would go to juvenile hall. In this case, Liu would probably not be convicted anyway, since everything that happened was in self defense during an armed robbery.

Furthermore, it isn't like there wouldn't be people to testify. The bullies are known trouble makers. They even said it themselves: "Now, for all the kids in this neighborhood there is a small price for bus fare, if you catch my drift." These kids' activities should be common knowledge in the community. Which actually begs the question of how they were ever able to go after Jeff and Liu to begin with. If these pint-sized extortionists were really as active and violent as we are led to believe, why have the police not done anything about it? Are you trying to tell me that these kids rob people at knife point on a regular basis and nobody in the entire community has done a single fucking thing to stop it?

I'm assuming the story takes place in the United States. I don't know the inner workings of the justice systems of other modern western nations, but I assume there is generally more to them than "the cops show up and take you straight to prison without trial based entirely on hearsay."

So the cops show up looking for Jeff, but Liu steps in and takes the blame. Jeff insists it was him, but Liu picks up a knife. Now keep in mind, the text doesn't say he did anything with the knife. It doesn't say he threatened anybody or used it in any way to inflict or imply harm. He is just holding it. Well, I guess the cops really don't like knives because they draw their guns on him.

Yes. The police draw their fucking guns on a ten year old kid who is doing nothing but holding a kitchen knife. I am not making this up. You read the text, didn't you? That really happened. The author actually wrote that happening in the story.

Liu isn't even very insistent about the crime. He's just like, "yup, it was me, see here's a knife." Meanwhile, Jeff is begging and pleading and putting every ounce of his being in the confession and all of the adults are just brushing it off. Liu's knife has such an intimidating presence that it trumps every other aspect of this interaction. It's a good thing he wasn't slicing bread or something when the police arrived. They probably would have taken straight to the electric chair.

Everything about this is so absurd that I barely even noticed all the other flaws here. The blatant grammatical errors, the poor sentence structure, the constant switching between past and present tense, the dialog that makes me want to puke. Yes, the constant bombardment of horrible writing has reached a point where I'm actually having trouble properly analyzing it, and I'm resorting to toilet metaphors to get my point across.

“Jeff please, you don’t have to lie. We know it’s Liu, you can stop.” Jeff watched helplessly as the cop car speeds off with Liu inside. A few minutes later Jeff’s dad pulled into the driveway, seeing Jeff’s face and knowing something was wrong.

“Son, son what is it?” Jeff couldn’t answer. His vocal cords were strained from crying. Instead, Jeff’s mother walked his father inside to break the bad news to him as Jeff wept in the driveway. After an hour or so Jeff walked back in to the house, seeing that his parents were both shocked, sad, and disappointed. He couldn’t look at them. He couldn’t see how they thought of Liu when it was his fault. He just went to sleep, trying to get the whole thing off his mind. Two days went by, with no word from Liu at JDC. No friends to hang out with. Nothing but sadness and guilt. That is until Saturday, when Jeff is woke up by his mother, with a happy, sunshiny face.

Jeff's parents are idiots. Of course, I can't blame them. The writer clearly doesn't understand how people think. Look at how casually Jeff's parents react. Are they outraged? Getting an attorney, bursting in the police station, calling the local news and throwing a fit? No. Heck, Jeff's mom apparently didn't even think this incident was important enough to warrant calling the father at work. Instead, she waits for him to get home and then "breaks the news" to him. This is how I picture that conversation going down:

"Hi, hunny, I'm home. Did anything interesting happen today?"
"Well, our son was arrested at gunpoint for attempted murder and was immediately jailed without trial, but that's about it."
"Gee, that's unfortunate. So what's for dinner?"

Okay, so the text does say they were "shocked, sad, and disappointed." The problem is that it isn't shown to us in their demeanor, it is told to us after the fact. This is another problem with story, the concept of show vs tell. What that means is that most of a story, but especially the most important parts, should be written so that the reader experiences it in real time, like we are there. On a more specific scale, the author should describe the things happening so that the readers can observe it and draw conclusions for themselves instead being blatantly told what the characters (or even the readers themselves) are supposed to be thinking.

On the other end of the spectrum, some things should be glossed over. Maybe some long-past exposition, or the actions of a minor character, a really slow event, or one that moves the story along but the minute details aren't especially exciting or important.

This story just jumps all over the place. On top of that, the only character who is given enough attention to "show" anything is Jeff himself. The story is written in a third-person-limited POV, but even first-person POV stories at least describe other characters. Anything that any other character does that doesn't directly involved Jeff is some way is glossed over. Jeff is such a Mary Sue that the narration itself doesn't care about anything besides him.


Well, I think that's about enough for now. Check out Part 2 for the exciting conclusion!

read + comment

8:57 PM on 04.29.2013  

Slender: The Arrival Review

In June of 2012, one-man development team Mark “Parsec” Hadley unleashed Slender: The Eight Pages onto the internet as a free downloadable game for horror fans. Billed as a “proof of concept,” the project was an ultra-low budget experiment for Hadley to test the waters for a larger game he planned to make further down the line. Despite its guerilla nature, the game became a massive hit and is now considered by many to be one of the scariest video games of all time. It is a darling of YouTubers everywhere, who have practically created a new genre out of filming their terrified reactions while playing the game.

All of this success left many wondering exactly what else Hadley could have up his sleeves for whatever undertaking he had originally envisioned, and if it could measure up. Fans no longer have to wait for the answer. Along with help from Blue Isle Studios, Hadley's full vision of Slender: The Arrival has come to fruition and is now available for download.

Unlike its predecessor, The Arrival brings with it an actual plot. The player controls a girl, presumably named Lauren, who crashed her car on a dirt road on the way to visit a friend. After finding her friend’s house ransacked, Lauren follows an ominous scream into the nearby woods, where she finds herself in the cross hairs of the nightmarish Slender Man.

For those who don’t know, Slender Man is a faux urban legend dreamed up on internet message boards. He is a faceless man in a business suit with oddly proportioned limbs who is known to show up in the background of photos shortly before disaster strikes. Exactly what he does varies based on the tale, but his most common shtick is to stalk victims from afar while slowly driving them insane through supernatural means. Hundreds of short stories, photo blogs, and video series based on him have sprung up across the web, making Slender Man into one of the most successful legends on the net.

Slender: The Arrival has the player on the run from the Slender Man, while being driven further into the wilderness and visiting different locales along the way. The events leading up to this point are revealed through notes the player finds scattered throughout the game. Interestingly, the story was written by Slender Man veteran Troy Wagner, of Marble Hornets fame. While not terribly original as far as Slender Man stories go, it’s appropriately creepy and sets the mood well.

Lauren, for her part, is a blank slate. She is a silent protagonist to the extreme, even more so than Jack Ryan, Gordon Freeman, and Chell. She exists completely as an audience surrogate, allowing players to put themselves into her role and become more immersed in the game. The most we ever see of her is a shadowy drawing during one of the loading screens, and we only know her name because it is mentioned in passing in one of the notes you find.

The game is split into five chapters. The second and third chapters are based on the gameplay of the original Slender, while the first, fourth, and fifth are more structured and linear. The pacing and gameplay can feel very different between the two types of levels, almost making me feel like I should write a separate review for each one.

The second chapter is literally a remake of The Eight Pages, with the third chapter sharing its gameplay style. The player is dropped in a dark, spooky area and given the task of finding certain objects while Slender Man stalks them. Players have no weapons, only a flashlight and their wits. There are no hit points to drain. If Slendy catches you, it's game over.

What sets Slender Man apart from other video game monsters is his slow, calculating methods. He is very patient in his attack, toying with the player like a cat-and-mouse game. It makes him a very intimidating adversary, and ratchets up the suspense, as you never quite know where he might pop up. He announces his presence with static across the screen, sending the player into panic mode, knowing that he is somewhere close by. His AI has been reworked from the previous game, so veterans of The Eight Pages won’t be able to rely on the same tactics that got them through the first round.

One of biggest changes to these levels is the addition of Slendy’s cohort. This time around, Slender Man has an accomplice, a hooded demon girl who fans have nicknamed “the Proxy.” The Proxy is a physical entity, choosing to stalk players on foot and beat them up rather than teleport around and eat their soul. As a result, players can interact with the Proxy in ways that can’t be done with her boss, such as shaking off her attacks or hiding in a dark corner and running when the coast is clear. She is also far more aggressive than the Slender Man, adding a whole new dimension to the game when she’s around.

By way of comparison, the final two chapters are much more linear and scripted. The player sets out to accomplish specific tasks, and has a pretty straightforward journey to do so. It is still possible to lose, but the highly-scripted nature of these levels make them much easier than their open-ended counterparts. This also makes them a lot shorter.

Don’t get the wrong impression, I am not badmouthing the quality. The latter half of the game is still immersive, engaging, and scary. The problem is that putting two gameplay styles side-by-side throws off the pacing. The third chapter is easily the most difficult, and by extension, the longest. It can take several attempts to beat and treads closely to the line of frustration once in a while.

It feels awkward to put the game on hold for so long in the middle, only to have the final stretch fly by so swiftly. And I do mean fly by: the game as a whole is very short. Even with the odd difficulty spike, a single playthrough only takes about an hour, or less depending on how quickly you get the hang of the open-ended chapters. Playing through once unlocks a “hardcore” mode, that ups the difficulty on repeat playthoughs, but that probably only offers replay incentive to those who already loved the game to begin with.

Visually, Slender: The Arrival looks great. Even on my lower-end PC with the resolution turned down, the visuals are still stunning in their detail. Environments are excellent, especially the forests, which are lush in the daylight foreboding in the darkness. I found myself stopping along a late-game mountain path just to admire the scenery in the distance.

The character models are not quite as good as the scenery, but they aren’t necessarily, bad, either. Slender Man is vastly improved over his previous incarnation, looking more “natural.” If you have the guts to stop and examine him rather than turning tail and booking the instant he appears, you might see him moving a little bit as well, which makes him feel like an actual character this time around instead of a static, indifferent gameplay element. The other character models, few as they are, just kind of fall into mediocrity.

Being a horror game, the sound is a vital part of the atmosphere, and Slender: The Arrival delivers. There is very little music to speak of, but the game is rife with ambient noise. Birds chirping in the daylight give the player time to breathe and relax between the more intense segments. Conversely, the hellish thumping in the headset whenever Slender Man is on the prowl is chilling. Few moments in video games have made my blood run cold faster than being in a tight corridor with the sound of the Proxy’s footsteps rushing in my direction from just around the corner.

Any other complaints I could make about Slender: The Arrival are minor. Some players have reported glitches, a few of which forced them to replay entire chapters, but I never experienced them myself and they seem to be fixed by now. Interacting with doors and windows is a little clumsy, though overlookable. Also, all of the exposition documents that can be picked up throughout the game are automatically unlocked after you complete a chapter, whether you found them or not, thus rendering extra exploration unnecessary. Those, of course, are just nitpicks. They are noticeable but don’t really bring down the overall quality that much.

Horror in media is highly subjective. I cannot pass universal judgment on Slender: The Arrival’s scare factor. Some people might play the whole game without batting an eyelash, while others might need to rush out and buy a night light and teddy bear. Personally, I found it to be creepy and atmospheric with a few good heebie-jeebie moments. I would not put it on the same level as games like Amnesia or Silent Hill, but it earns its place in the genre well enough.

Slender: The Arrival is a solid game to play. Despite a major pacing problem and a few minor nitpicks, it delivers a unique and enjoyable horror experience that surpasses its predecessor. The only reservation I have about recommending it is the amount of content compared to the cost. As much as I liked the game, it seems too short to justify even the relatively low ten dollar price point. If you are a devoted fan of the genre, the original game, the Slender Man mythos, or just want to support small-time indie developers, give it a shot. Otherwise, wait and see if you can snag a download in the $5-$7 range further down the line.

Slender: The Arrival is available as a digital download from

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