Thursday, September 4, 2014

Creepypasta Review: Jeff The Killer

I know what you're asking. What is Jeff the Killer? Jeff the Killer is what's referred to on the internet as a "creepypasta." Creepypasta, for those not in the know, is basically a sub-genre of horror defined as being exclusively written by hyperactive 12-year-olds who have never read a horror story before. None of them are scary and most of them aren't even particularly good stories.

Let me make this clear: I'm not a particularly brave person. I absolutely believe in ghosts. I grew up being scared witless by R.L. Stine before graduating to being scared by H.P. Lovecraft. Plus, my revolver is located across the room from where I sleep which is going to be terribly inconvenient when my home finally does get invaded by an undead serial killer. So believe me, it's not some sort of heroic valor that lets me resist being scared by these things, they're just not scary.

Jeff the Killer is one of the most well known of all creepypastas, and also one of the worst. It's also where the infamous creepypasta face came from. You know what I'm talking about.

This is supposed to be a real face. Apparently Jeff is made out of magic marker and Photoshop.

That's the reason why I read it, and after doing so I just knew I had to write a blog post on just how much this thing sucked.

The story begins with a misguided attempt at setting itself up as a "true story" with a fake Newspaper bit about a boy surviving a serial killer. Naturally, it completely blows it by including an action scene, because real reporters always use those in their articles, right?

It goes on to tell the origin story of Jeff the Killer, a little boy who moves to a new town and who is immediately ambushed by knife-wielding middle-schoolers. I'm not joking. After fighting them off, somehow, the police decide that he and his brother attacked the three kids with no provocation and send his brother to a Juvenile Detention Center with no trial or investigation.

Later, the three kids attack him again and he kills them all, while getting his own face horribly scarred in the process, at which point he goes insane, mutilates his face even further, and kills his whole family for no real reason.

Ugh...

So, where do I even begin?

How about by asking, why do the police blame Jeff and his brother Liu for the incident? (Also, why are two brothers named Jeff and Liu?) But really. The three bullies - Randy, Troy, and Keith - aren't exactly subtle. They skateboard around the city with knives and attack random people in broad daylight. In the story's climax they jump their skateboards straight over a privacy fence (some God damned how) and invade a backyard birthday party with pistols and knives so that they can beat up Jeff. Put simply, these kids are crazy and sloppy and there is no way the whole city is unaware of it.

The thing is, the story doesn't even care. Why do the police not immediately suspect the three underage knife-wielding hoodlums who the story clearly states attack people like this all the time? Just because. Why does perfectly normal Jeff go irrevocably insane after two fistfights, while the other characters don't? Just because. Why do Jeff's burns turn his hair black? Just because. Seriously, why are two brothers named freaking Jeff (an English name) and Liu (a Chinese name)? Just because.

They just didn't care, folks.

KR Rating: [0] SHOVEL

Here's the big thing, though: even if the plot made sense this turkey would still give you literary salmonella. The author writes with all the suspense of a textbook and the subtlety of that same textbook being thrown at your face. At no point does he come close to creating suspense or horror, and it's not even like he's really trying.

I want to make something extra clear here to any aspiring horror or creepypasta writers.

Horror is not about violence, gore, or surprise.

Violence, surprise, and gore are not scary because they are concrete. They exist in the here and now. That means they can be dealt with. Horror comes not from terrible things happening in the present, but from imagining terrible things happening in the future. It's about creating an atmosphere of dread. It's about suspense - that is the essence of horror.

That is also this story's greatest failure, and really the failure of creepypasta in general.

It's especially sad, because the story does have some interesting aspects which, if given more consideration, could have made for a decent story.

Jeff's struggle with the bullies, and the adults who refuse to believe the truth, could have made for an interesting plot. Everyone who has ever been a kid knows the frustration of having adults refuse to believe them when they're telling the truth. Couple that with having to deal with psychotic, knife-wielding bullies (who your parents refuse to believe even exist) and you've definitely got something that could drive a kid mad.

Sadly, the story never dwells on that. Nothing much comes of that storyline, plus as mentioned before the bullies are so over the top that the adults' disbelief just comes off as stupidity anyway.

For that matter, the dark force that drives Jeff, which takes control of him and allows him to easily defeat the three armed bullies in both of their altercations... what is that? Where does it come from? Again nothing much ever really comes of this. It's mentioned in passing a few times, but the author clearly isn't interested in examining it.

Perhaps even worse, Jeff after his transformation into the titular "The Killer" is not an interesting villain, and again it's disappointing because the author came so close. Again, here's a tip for any aspiring writers: a good horror villain has a reason for why he kills who he kills. Jason Voorhees goes after young adults who are negligent in their duty of protecting the younger generation, because those are the kind of people who caused his death. Dexter goes after other serial killers because he thinks it makes his own lust for murder okay.

What is Jeff's motivation? Maybe he could go after bullies like the ones who burned him and scarred his face? Nope. Maybe he could go after negligent parents who are dismissive of their children, like his were? Nope. He just goes after everyone, because he "snapped" and "enjoys killing now."

I honestly wonder why the author made the decision to write this story as a creepypasta when he was so clearly uninterested in any of the dramatic or frightening aspects. He's clearly far more interested in writing an action story, he even has one of the bullies utter a stereotypical action movie one-liner before lighting Jeff on fire!

Of course, it's not like the action scenes are any more plausible or better written then the rest so it's probably just as well. The only thing that could have saved Jeff the Killer is a better writer.

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