Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Book Spotlight: New York Onions by William Becker

Title: New York Onions
Author: William Becker
Publisher: Atlantis: A Creative Magazine
Publication Date: November 15th 2019
Print Length: 4 pages
Genre: Horror
Jessica buys onions every single day with money from under her mattress, then she paints, before finally passing out. 

New York Onions is a short adventure into surrealism and loneliness. 

Originally, New York Onions was published on Wattpad and became "featured" by the website itself, amassing tens of thousands of readers and dozens of glowing reviews, before finally finding a home in its publication with Atlantis: A Creative Magazine.

**Read for this story for free by clicking here!**

A Note From the Author:
My name is William Becker. A few years ago, I wrote a short story called New York Onions, which is something of a surreal short horror story, but applying a genre to it almost feels strange. Seeing as the story is more or less family-friendly and extremely abstract, I would argue that the book would appeal to any person who is older than 13 and for fans of any genre, just because of how unique and universal it is. It’s 1370 words, making it not much longer than the average college essay and actually granting it a decent amount of popularity. It was originally posted on Wattpad in 2017, before finally landing a home in Atlantis Magazine on November 15th, 2019.
William Becker is a young horror author with a mind for weirder sides of the universe. With an emphasis on complex and layered storylines that tug harshly on the reader to search for deeper meanings in the vein of Silent Hill and David Lynch, Becker is a force to be reckoned within the horror world. His works are constantly unfathomable, throwing terror into places never before seen, while also providing compelling storylines that transcend the predictable jumpscares of the popular modern horror.

His first novel, WEEPING OF THE CAVERNS, was written when he was 14. After eight months of writing, editing, and revising, the story arrived soon after his 15th birthday. During the writing sessions for his debut novel, he also wrote an ultra-controversial short story known as THE WHITE SHADE that focused on the horrors of a shooting. Living in a modern climate, it was impossible for THE WHITE SHADE to see the light of day. Following a psychedelic stint that consisted of bingeing David Lynch movies, weird art, and considering the depth of the allegory of the cave wall, he returned to writing with a second story, THE BLACK BOX, and soon after, his second novel, GREY SKIES.

Website * Instagram * Amazon * Goodreads
I like horror. Real shocker, huh? If you know anything about me, I have a deep seated love for anything dark and scary. I’m a horror author, for those of you who aren’t familiar. To say I enjoy horror actually might be something of an understatement. There’s nothing quite as fun as watching a horror film you haven’t seen before, and even more fun than that is showing your friends horror films, waiting anxiously for each jumpscare and trying not to laugh as your helpless friends jolt in horror (no pun intended) in response. I grew up on terrible straight-to-video horror movies, so I’ve seen the worst of the worst. Growing up with an internet connection, it wasn’t hard for me to Google “best horror movies” and watch stuff like The Exorcist or any slasher film from the 1980s. I’ve seen it all. I’m a film major, so I can be a bit of a snob when it comes to my movie choices, but for the most part, I just enjoy movies that are… interesting. Horror doesn’t have to be scary, and at this point for me, it very rarely is. I certainly can’t speak for everyone with my choices, so of course, I would love to hear arguments about why my list is wrong or even a better version. I tried to capture a lot of different styles of horror from a lot of different eras. I also am attaching the trailer to each movie, or at the very least, a scene that gives a sense of what the film is showing.
Starting with a controversial take, eh? I’m sure some pretentious horror elitists will see this and not have any interest whatsoever in reading further. I get it. Paranormal Activity came out in 2007 and was a massive success, prompting five sequels, with a sixth sequel in development at the time of writing. It also really brought forth the low-budget found-footage craze that had seen its roots in Blair Witch Project. Considering the budget wasn’t even 20,000 U.S. dollars, this was something pretty remarkable when it came out.

To me, Paranormal Activity proves there is an anticipation in waiting for the scare… that doesn’t always happen. There doesn’t need to be quick cuts, loud string music, and overly-high contrast to show the audience that they need to be scared. Paranormal Activity shows its strengths in letting the audience watch the interior of a normal, american home. Sometimes, there’s a subtle movement or shape in the night, but more often than not, the scenes are empty. While that might sound boring on paper, the anxiety is there throughout the entire film. You feel a certain kind of connection to the everyman-style characters. The climax is also wonderfully intense. The sequels aren’t bad either, but not nearly as revolutionary as the original.

9. Persona (1966)
Wikipedia calls this one a “psychological drama,” but most people call it a psychological horror, so we are going to go with that. This one is more odd than it is scary, prompting the viewer to go on a mindf*ck of a journey that deals with motherhood, duality, abortion, and sex. It’s one of the three “weird” films on this list, and for that reason, it’s hard to say a ton about it. It’s one of those horror films that demands the viewer dissect the hell out of it and even rewatch it a handful of times. There’s something deeply unsettling about the characters and their interactions that I can never put my finger on.

There was never a first or second movie, which shows off the sense of humor of this movie. There’s a lot of absurdist non-sense in this horror movie that’s more comedy than it is horror. It’s insanely quotable, hilarious, oddly specific, and weird. It seems to be poking fun at the endless slasher sequels that came out in the 1980’s and 90’s. While this might be one of the more obscure picks on my list, it’s an instant classic that shits on every slasher from Friday the 13th to Child’s Play. One of the funniest films ever made.

There are some horror films that are truly legendary in terms of iconography and popularity. Movies like The Exorcist, The Conjuring, the original Halloween, or even Insidious are frequently touted as the best. If I was concerned with ranking movies by popularity and not my personal preference, you would certainly see a lot of work by James Wan. Texas Chainsaw is a classic forte into blood, guts, and mayhem. From beginning to end, the sinister vibe of the film is practically overwhelming. The rather simple premise and grimy aesthetic have both been written about countless times, so there’s little to say here that hasn’t been said before. It’s based around the crimes of Ed Gein and seems to capture the degeneracy of serial killers pretty damn well. It’s not necessarily scary as much as it is disturbing, but it’s a really fun watch. Every time I watch it, I have a lot of sympathy for Franklin, who is in a wheelchair for most of the movie. The final scene is one of the most strangely beautiful I have ever seen.

6. V/H/S 2 (2013)
There simply aren’t enough horror anthology films that are this fun. While it will probably only appeal to horror fans, this collection of four short films is more than worth the price of admission. As part of the found-footage craze, this never really got all that much attention. It’s constantly creative, but not in that experimental way that I usually love to worship. Its low budget horror, (mostly) practical effects, and simple plotlines are relentlessly effective. There’s a film about aliens infiltrating a sleepover, another about an Indonesian suicide cult, a ghost story, and a really good one from the point of view of a zombie. I really wish more attention was being given to movies like this, ones that are just… fun to watch.

5. Eraserhead (1977)
There should be an award given to this movie for the weirdest f*cking thing that has ever been released. It’s so horribly uncomfortable, with its gross special effects, ear-rapey sound design, and bat-sh*t insane music, most people have a really hard time understanding it. It’s one of my favorite films and it still manages to make me cringe, even more so than most current releases. It was David Lynch’s first feature-length film and it’s pretty easy to see why it got such a huge cult following. Unlike most of the movies on this list, I don’t think it can be compared to any other work of art, not even Lynch’s other films. Huge inspiration for me but also extremely weirdly.

4. Psycho (1960)
This is the baseline for all horror. This is THE horror film in my eyes. Some consider it one of the first slasher films, and honestly, they aren’t entirely wrong. The shower scene and the music associated is iconic in pop culture.

3. The Lighthouse (2019)
It's weird seeing Green Goblin and Edward Cullen as the only two actors in a film together. Don't let that discourage you, because The Lighthouse is a weird journey to a place I'm at least somewhat sure is hell. Released in 2019, the film is shot entirely in black and white and is a dreadful, surreal, and intense hour and a half. The Lighthouse screams with its unreliable narration, mythology, and just overall nontraditional style. I wrote a full review when it came out. It descends into a wonderful chaos of Shakespearean monologues, tentacles, and ambiguous storytelling. No, it won’t make you jump out of your seat like some of my other picks, but it is extremely uncomfortable.

2. Hereditary (2018)
If movies like Friday The 13th, Halloween, or SAW are to horror as The Fast and The Furious is to action, then Hereditary is the John Wick of horror. That's not to say Friday the 13th or Halloween are bad (I just marathoned both series) but that they aren't exactly artist masterpieces with insane attention to detail. Hereditary, on the other hand, is an example of just about everything done right. The first thirty minutes or so of the film lead you to believe that this is going to be a simple horror movie about a dead grandma haunting a family, but then sh*t hits the fan and it turns into an extremely dark drama about death. The cinematography is symmetrical and always impressive, making each shot feel like a piece of art. The writing is very intricate and while not as confusing as Eraserhead or The Lighthouse, it gives you room to do some leg work and does not spoon feed for even a single second. Like a lot of my choices, it benefits immensely from rewatches. Toni Collette deserved an Oscar for her role. It’s one of the few films where the characters lead the film and don’t just simply react. The score is also incredibly memorable, but there’s one movie that takes the cake..

1. Sinister (2012)
Okay, Sinister scares the sh*t out of me. There, I said it. There are a lot of horror buffs out there who won't admit to being scared by anything, but I am going to say outright that I find this movie perfectly done. It's one of the few horror films I've seen that doesn’t entirely base its soundtrack on string swells and bass. The Super 8 sections of the film are truly some of the scariest things in horror. There aren't any fake jumpscares, and the jumpscares that are there are done amazingly and satisfyingly. The storyline is also a compelling look at a writer (Ethan Hawke is amazing and touching here) trying to support his family. It's also one of those few horror films where the characters aren’t stupid, abusive, or awful to their children. While the cinematography and hidden details don't compare to Hereditary, and it's not as thought provoking as The Lighthouse, Sinister is a damn fine film that checks off every box for me. It's got well written and relatable characters, memorable scenes, an AMAZING soundtrack that sounds unlike any I’ve heard in my entire life, and a rather unpredictable plot. I saw this movie for the first time when I was 12 or 13, and even today, it still blows me away. The sequel isn’t super impressive, but as a standalone film, this is practically life changing.

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