“Fatal Cleansing” Style Guide by Brandon

Often adventure movies have changes in intensity from one scene to the next. In Group 4’s adventure story, the final scene had two of these changes which we will call “beat changes”. The first beat change occurred when Becca and James broke the horror movie film that their mother was watching, which allowed the kids to feel safe and gave the reader a false sense of resolution. Immediately after this resolution, another beat change occurred which broke the traditional sequence of events in a children’s story.


“The broken tape, now little pieces of plastic, is scattered within a small area of the living room. Our mom jolts and looks down at us with a blank face, and then, she smiles.” Group, 4. “The Fatal Cleansing.” Create Your Own Adventure, pp. 3–3.


The beat changes throughout the final scene of the story allow the reader to let their guard down and have a false sense of resolution, only to be left with a darker tale when the story ultimately wraps up. These beat changes served as useful tools to capture and maintain the reader’s attention by using the element of surprise. This contributed to the story’s pathos, as it allowed the writer to play with the reader’s emotions without explicit words, rather with changes in plot.


The bulk of story built up conflict for the protagonists by portraying a horror movie as the source of conflict for them. In the final scene when the tape was smashed, the protagonists underwent the first beat change and finally felt safe. Here the reader got the impression that since resolution occurred and the tape was smashed, the story was ending. If this had happened, and the story concluded on a happy note, the story would resemble a fairy tale wrapping up with a happy ending. But this story was not meant for the fairy tale audience, and as such continued past the happy ending to an ultimately darker resolution. Since this story was intended for a more mature audience that could appreciate a darker turn, the plot changed a second time and the story ended in a very dark way. This contributed to the story’s kairos, as the false sense of resolution occurred just before the story ended, in the second to last paragraph, tricking the reader into believing the story would end. Then in the final paragraph the plot takes another turn.


What happened after the quoted text is the second beat change, revealing that the children are not safe at all. Instead of the horror film being the source of conflict, the mother was actually the source of conflict as the horror film turned her evil. The surprise that this brings the reader causes them to be more engaged in the final scene of story and creates a more memorable ending. This double plot twist is common in horror novels and movies, as the element of fear portrayed in the scenes has been proven to work well with surprises in the plot. Often times, horror movies like Saw and Paranormal Activity rely on surprises in the plot to contribute to the fear portrayed in the scenes. These surprises can be portrayed through jump scares or through big reveals in the end of the plot, the latter being the situation for Group 4’s story.