THE NIGHTLY CHILL
By Steve Arviso
FIGHT THE DAWN!
As the sunlit sanity of the waking world burns the night to ash,
embrace the unbound madness of your wildest dreams,
laugh into the endless abyss of your darkest fantasies,
and rage against the coming dawn.
The Nightly Chill is the unstable experience of the mind and madness of Steve Arviso (@AmoralCrackpot). Mon-Fri. Ish.
- BETWEEN THE CRACKS
- THE MAGIC HOUR
- ELSEWHERE: MADNESS WORM
- TNC PRESENTS: WHERE STARS COLLIDE
- @PAPERBAGCRITIC: THE NUMBER 23 (2007)
As I watched a group adults fling, toss, and hurl boxes in the early hours of the morning, I discovered the word “fragile” no longer held any meaning. And for this, I mourn.
BETWEEN THE CRACKS
I’m starting to suspect that my existence is a lie, and that I will cease to be the moment I stop writing this entry. Do I only exist in the minds of those random voyeurs who may come across these words, with a voice and appearance not my own, but determined by the whims of my readers?
THE MAGIC HOUR w/ MAGIC DAVE (COMING SOON)
ELSEWHERE: MADNESS WORM
The larval stage of the Madhouse Fly and closely related to the Peeper Creeper, the Madness Worm is a parasite with the unique ability to mimic up to several minutes of any combination of sound it’s been exposed to, often with a preference for human music.
While originally thought to generate such sound on its own, it was recently discovered that this is merely a side-effect of the Madness Worm performing its mating dance in the ear of its host.
Thus while it is very fortunate that the lifespan of the Madness Worm can be measured in hours, this likely means little to the poor, unfortunate soul stuck with more than a simple tune in their head.
TNC PRESENTS: WHERE STARS COLLIDE
The Nightly Chill proudly invites you to Fight The Dawn! with “Where Stars Collide,” a short-form audio drama in 4-parts. Coming soon to the PulpBusters podcast.
@PAPERBAGCRITIC: THE NUMBER 23 (2007)
Movie reviews and essays from a sentient bag of popcorn.
Jim Carrey is Walter Sparrow, an animal control officer who finds his entire life turned upside after his wife, Agatha– played here by Virginia Madsen–shows him a novel that shares more than a passing resemblance to his own life. But as this obsession with the book continues to grow, Walter slips further and further into the darkest corner of his own mind… in The Number 23.
On the one hand, the movie is tonally and stylistically all over the place. The performances shift back and forth between naturalistic and melodramatic. The movie starts off as a fairly grounded look at one man’s descent into obsession and madness before becoming this stylized pulp mystery before then turning into a Gothic horror story. It’s hard to pin it down as this serious, dark story or a comedic throwback to classic genre pieces and storytelling conventions.
But on the other hand, there’s still this very engaging story of one man losing his tentative grasp on reality and sanity woven throughout this mess.
Now. Unfortunately, that story is the one told in the book Walter obsesses over rather than the one we see play out in full with Walter himself. The book is a pulp detective story in which a detective by the name of Fingerling becomes obsessed with the number 23 after he meets a woman already driven mad by it. And soon enough, this book not only drives Walter mad, but also convinces him that the book is actually a murder confession from the author.
And while the detective story would work fine enough on its own, it’s the story that inspired this novel-within-a-movie that’s the best thing going–this dark, twisted story of a cursed love that consumes everyone involved, driving them full-speed into madness and death. This is exactly what the movie should have been focused on from beginning to end. Yes, it’s a bit derivative. But its inspirations are the sorts of stories written by men like Edgar Allan Poe and HP Lovecraft. The sorts found in old magazines and radio programs popular sixty or seventy years ago. This may not have necessarily earned the movie any awards, of course. But it’s the sort of grim yet somewhat campy genre piece Schumacher clearly wanted to make.
The majority of the movie actually presented to us is, instead, a fairly dull one. It feels like filler that exists simply to pad out the run-time of two shorter, better films. Connective tissue between the atrophied meat of the movie. And, sadly, the performances suffer somewhat. Carrey and company can often be seen, to speak in more theatrical terms, “playing to the back of the house.” They speak in melodramatic tones and with exaggerated gesticulations. But each time, it’s in the style and degree of a scene’s given style or tone.
Again, the general look and vibe of the movie changes throughout. But the acting does this as well. If it’s Walter speaking with his concerned wife, it plays out in the surreal styles of a traditional Hollywood thriller. Carrey and Madsen will speak in quick fits of emotionally-charged shouting as tense, sharp notes of a violin shriek behind them. But if it’s Walter picturing himself as Fingerling, playing out the story as he reads it, the characters speak in slow, punctuated speech. Their words and tone and inflection conjuring up images of a dark office and a smoking hot blonde lit only by her cigarette. The brass section playing a sensual, alluring tune.
If the movie is anything, it’s consistent in its inconsistencies. But, again, this doesn’t mean the movie is somehow bad. Uneven and a hot mess of plots, styles, and tones? Yes, of course. But when it’s good, it’s kind of great. Nothing innovative, but it is especially fresh in a time where stories like it are long out of fashion.
As a general rule, I would definitely suggest you CHILL with The Number 23. However, it must be made clear that your mileage will vary. And the extent of this will be determined by your interests in classic pulp magazines and radio serials, in Gothic tales where the allure lies in being made witness to inner-demons slowly consuming a man from head-to-toe.
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YOU ARE NOT ALONE
THE NIGHTLY CHILL