“Final Girl Theory” is a fictional story about a fictional, cult-classic movie called Kaleidoscope. The narrator is addressing the audience with a high level of knowledge about the film. At first, it’s almost documentary-like in tone but later, this changes.
John Meagher’s reading is perfect- he has an urgent, almost excited way of engaging with the text that demands rapt attention.
The author, A.C. Wise, does an amazing job with the descriptive language as the narrator translates, cinematically, what is happening on the screen. The specific details like how many minutes into the opening scene we are, lend themselves to the authenticity and believability.
The audience immediately forgets this movie is not real.
Wise builds an entire universe around this movie Kaleidoscope. It’s fanbase call themselves ‘Kaleidophiles’ and they manically obsess about the film frame by frame, deconstructing it in order to study every second, every line, every breath. The story descends into fan theories expressed in reddit-forum style.
The extreme nature of the violence.
It could be real.
When you discover in the first few minutes why the fictional movie is called, Kaleidoscope, the scene in which it derives its meaning…it will get your attention and quicken your pulse.
“Remember: The viewer is complicit. They agreed to everything that follows and that split second between silence and sound, between sob and catch of breath–they can’t turn back. Not that anyone really tries.”
I am honestly blown away by A.C. Wise’s storytelling. I purposefully chose Final Girl Theory to get an introduction to the author’s work before I invest in buying a few short story collections available.
Best. Introduction. Ever.
This story is visceral, captivating, and imaginative. I could ‘see’ every detail so vividly in my mind, I feel like Kaleidoscope is real; it exists, the obsessive fanbase exists. She exists.
Those shards of glass…
The carnival scene…
I listened to this story twice. Everyone does. “Don’t let them tell you otherwise.”
About the Authors
Sadie Hartmann is known as Mother Horror on social media. She writes horror fiction reviews and other content for Cemetery Dance and SCREAM Magazine as well as Goodreads, Amazon, Instagram and other social media platforms & publications.
A.C. Wise‘s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Apex, Shimmer, Tor.com, and The Best Horror of the Year Volume 10, among other places. The podcast version of her story Final Girl Theory, which appeared at Pseudopod, was a finalist for the 2013 Parsec Awards. Additionally, her work has won the Sunburst Award for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, as well as twice more being a finalist for the award, and has been a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award.
She has two collections published with Lethe Press, and a novella published by Broken Eye Books. Along with her fiction, she contributes the Women to Read, and Non-Binary Authors to Read columns to The Book Smugglers.