Date: 10/15/18 06:01 pm Title: Found Footage
Found Footage is one of those stories that builds slowly, teasing its deeper mystery, and hinting at a wider conspiracy of friends and family along the way. It seems innocent at first, a melancholy revisiting of a young woman's childhood home, but the more Allison discovers, the more she begins to wonder . . . and fear.
What makes the story particularly effective is the fact that we are just as in the dark as she is, but we have the benefit of knowing the genre and being familiar with Courtney's writing. Even as Allison is making assumptions about the hidden stash of videotapes - mistaken assumptions that lead her down the wrong path - we are coming to understand the bigger picture. That means when other things start happening, like missed calls from friends, our anxiety increases alongside hers, but for completely different
Given that we are dealing with a sort-of locked room mystery, with Allison and the TV comprising over ninety-percent of the story, it is the details that make this such a compelling read. Even when portraying happy memories, the dirty tracking, poor quality audio, and jerky camera movements of old VHS tapes can be unsettling, so that really adds to the drama. Add to that the lack of labels, and the way in which she is forced to watch the videos out of sequence, and the experience is even more jarring.
That is not to say the entire story relies on outdated technology to make it work. Courtney uses a cellphone to connect Allison to the outside world, and then uses a dead battery to isolate her once again, not just cutting her off from answers, but from warnings and friendly concern. The missed calls and texts help to keep the tension high throughout, and her inability to reach out and demand the answers she needs serves to increase the feeling of helpless terror.
What if your world was a lie? What if your entire existence was a lie? Those are the questions that come to confront Allison. Does how and why of such a betrayal really matter? That is the question that comes to define her as the story comes to a close, with an odd text exchange with her best friend ending things in such a way that a happy ending could be just around the corner . . . or a horrific confrontation, depending on how much of your own feelings you read into things.
Date: 10/15/18 04:35 am Title: Found Footage
(copied over my FM review, might as well praise you here too.)
Very clever story. Love twists away from the traditional forced fem tales. I don't think it necessarily needs another part, though that depends entirely on you. I would definitely read it.
Allison seems like a very mature person. She sees that her life is happy and that her mother's twisted, abusive actions were out of love. She must confront her of course, but to me it seems pretty clear that she will find it in her heart to forgive as long as she is no longer lied to when she asks for the truth. She should think of that boy the way she initially did, as a tragically lost brother, and move forward.
I would say for a story referencing Cheryl Lynn I would have expected more humiliation in her transition. Obviously the amnesia is the backbone of the plot, but it could have been delayed until a few months into the transition to provide space for that sort of scene where he is aware of what is happening to him. In the end though, if that had been the process you could probably throw all forgiveness out the window when Allison finds out about it and that's not the sort of ending I want for her.
Great job. This is a story I'm going to remember. Thanks for writing it.