Book Review: “found. and other stories” by Todd Rigney

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As genre devotees, we have all, at one time or another, looked at life through the filter of a horror movie.  Through them, we’ve learned to stay smart; to stay safe.  Usually, it’s simple, pragmatic things:  if there are children in your corn, RUN; reanimating your girlfriend’s corpse is never a good idea; the only way to kill a deadite is total dismemberment — you get the picture.  Naturally, we’re all armed and ready for whatever theoretical monster or murderer comes our way.  When the monster is real, though, and lives in your house – that’s really a mind-fuck without a ready-made answer, and found. tackles this question dead-on.

found. is a story by author Todd Rigney, clocking in at a lean 134 pages – really the perfect length for this kind of narrative.  Rigney has a real knack for the novella/short-story oeuvre, and found. is written in an elegantly simple prose, absolutely appropriate to the inner workings of a child’s mind.  Marty, a fifth grader, finds himself dropped cold into the center of his own personal horror movie when he discovers that his older brother, Steve, is a serial killer.  The weight of this knowledge is compounded by the healthy fear he already harbored for Steve, merciless bullying from the kids at school, and two oblivious parents.

Found_1

found.

There’s really a lot to like here; Marty’s constant inner monologue feels like that of a (rather precocious) pre-adolescent boy, which is entirely necessary to secure the tone of the piece and make it work.  He’s immediately sympathetic and relatable – what kid HASN’T snooped through their family’s secrets on an afternoon alone?  Misfits that we are, who among us was never tortured for our weirdness?  Marty feels like a real kid, he freaks out like a real kid, and the whole thing comes together under his realness.  His nuclear family is fleshed out in somewhat broader strokes, but their actions and decisions are pretty stark and unambiguous; it’s easy to envision the kind of people they are.

Being the hacky-slashy-serial-killer true crime buff that I am, Steve and his deterioration really appealed to me.  Horror as a genre tends to demand a gleeful suspension of disbelief when it comes to method and motive.  We’re inured to a culture that doesn’t think about why the killer is killing – it’s often more about how.  Was it creative?  More importantly, was it messy?  found. refreshingly brought both the how and the why.  I’ll admit that, at first, the revelation of Steve’s master plan didn’t feel completely necessary to me – he was good enough as a stand-alone maniac, spraying it all over the place, that explaining his intentions felt less important than handing over an evocative dissertation on his spectacles of gore.  I love a good maniac, and Steve was solid; viewed from higher ground, though, his motive really functions as an added obstacle for Marty, snapping him out of whatever vindication he found in his brother’s crimes and slamming home the sick reality of Steve’s psychosis.

Ultimately, what you’ll see in found. is a creative idea fully realized – whether taken at face value or subjected to autopsy for a deeper meaning, it’s a sick, satisfyingly gruesome bit of fiction, and no doubt will appeal to horror fans of all shapes and sizes.

Twelve

Twelve

Included in my copy of found. was a short-story collection entitled Twelve (Stories Concerning Love and Death).  These stories are all coupled with stunning illustrations by the artist Michael Kotora, gorgeously giving vision to each of twelve lurid vignettes, ranging from the beautiful (Blue Flowers) to the bizarre (Unsafe), to the inscrutable (Puzzles).  Each grotesque tale, regardless of length or simplicity, came rich and complete, often feeling much like thoroughly-gore-soaked episodes of  Night Gallery, The Twilight Zone, or the utterly disturbing Unsolved Mysteries (Robert Stack is a ghoul.   Wanna fight about it?).

Read these stories, whether you get them in a volume with found. or in their original, self-contained form.  Read found. too.  Right away.

 

Rating: 4.5/5 ★★★★½ 

 

It’s always better to read the book before you see the movie, and I’m just ridiculously thrilled and proud to say that the grand-opening, world premiere viewing of its big-screen brother was held on Saturday, July 14th, at Bloomington, Indiana’s Buskirk-Chumley Theatre.  Kids, I have seen the glory of this movie first-hand, and if you missed it, well, you don’t want to make that mistake twice.  Beautifully crafted and directed by the disgustingly talented Scott Schirmer, found. is one of the most exciting independent horror films to cross this dead girl’s path in a really, really long time.  Go forth and be splattered.

Update:  get a load of Nathan’s review of the movie!

 

 

For more gorgeous authorship from Todd Rigney, you can visit BeyondHollywood.com, or follow him on Twitter.

 

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About Kara_E

Kara is a Senior Office Assistant for the Center for Genomics and Bioinformatics at Indiana University. A past English major and lifetime writer, she has also served both as an actress and behind-the-scenes assistant for several projects with our friends at Clockwerk Pictures. Kara lives with her husband in Bloomington, Indiana. In her spare time, she is a freelance editor/proofreader for international students at Indiana University, and serves as an organizer of the Dark Carnival Film Festival (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com).

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