Speak to anyone who likes visiting dark places and you'll likely be overwhelmed by their enthusiasm for all things awful. The horror, the weird, the unknown. The things we are told but would rather forget. They'll drink it all in and will be happy to share it with you, if you'll stick around long enough to listen.
My first conversation with Tracey was about something strange and I liked her immediately. We had seen the same film. I can't recall which one, but there is a good chance that it was rented from Blockbuster and was the only copy in the store.
Yes, one of those films. The old, subtitled one. The one with the grim synopsis that runs for three hours. The one that has made the top ten in a 'most controversial films,' list. Most would avoid it. But to some, it looks as good as blood on snow.
Books and films allow us to live in the dark. You can let it in safely, where it will stay under your skin for days. Crawling out from beneath your fingernails, commanding you to watch that film one last time, or turn the page in that book, the one you can't put down until 2am and your eyelids force themselves shut.
But the experience is only ever as good as the story. And a good story should stick with you. It should pop up at the dinner table and distract you from the conversation. It will live somewhere in that deep part of your mind and tap you on the shoulder every so often, going off like a bright light, urging you to experience it again.
And then there are times when the story is not imaginary. It doesn't sit behind a screen or hide in a page. It's the worst story you've ever heard and yet there it is, taking you to dark places that you don't want to go.
But in dark places there are lights. And every story has an arc. And in this moment, even though the story is as bad as it gets and the arc feels like it's falling further and further downwards, there will be a light somewhere. Waiting to tap us on the shoulder and say, remember that film we saw? Let's watch it again.
The world is full of good stories. Tracey knew this and hundreds of them. She also understood what it meant to visit dark places and find the lights within them.
So once in a while, go and live in the dark. Find a good story.
Tracey would approve.
Oh, and if you need some help getting there, you could do worse than giving this lot a go.
Ari Aster. Sarah Lots. Alex North. Craig Robertson. Paul Tremblay. Fiona Barron. Ed Talfan. Jonathan Mayo. Eve Smith. Achim Von Borries. Michelle Paver. Catherine Ryan Howard. Eva Garcia Saenz. Lars Von Trier. Joseph Knox. Erin Kelly. E.S. Thomson. Jeff Guin. Victor Hugo. Peter Laws. Frank Darabont. Amy Winehouse. Caroline Lea. Park Chan-Wook. David Fincher. Jeannie Wycherley. Rebecca Guy. Ed Thomas. Antonio Campos. Cathy O' Dowd. Joshua Oppenheimer. Nick Heil. Hendrik Honloegten. Severija Janusaukaite. John Krankenor. Pat Falvey. Claude Landsmann. Tom Tykwer. Dan Gilroy.
He filled the basin and splashed cold water over his face and hair washing off the mud and reviving his senses.
(Rebecca Guy: Ruin)
J.W. December 2020