‘Sequelland: A Story of Dreams and Screams’ - Book Review

Sequels seldom get the same attention and interest as the first film that launched a popular and enduring franchise.  Regardless if it is the first film of a series or the tenth, behind each project there are individuals who are passionate about what they are working on, looking to deliver a final product that fans will enjoy.  Finally, that perennial “middle child” - the sequel - is getting its day in the new CLASH Books titled Sequelland: A Story of Dreams and Screams from author Jay Slayton-Joslin.

As a person who grew up watching horror, Slayton-Joslin states in his introduction that he was looking to understand the sequel’s place in a franchise, learning what worked and what did not.  Along the way, he sought to explore horror franchises that have helped define and shape the genre, such as Saw, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Hannibal, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  Slayton-Joslin includes eleven interviews with such creators as Uwe Boll, Peter Webber, and John Skipp.  The interviews are distributed into five sections: Set Up, First Inciting Incident, Development, Second Inciting Incident, and Climax.  Each section opens with Slayton-Joslin’s reflections on the given topic before delving into the interviews. There are two additional concluding sections titled “Resolution” and “Fade Out.” Matthew Revert delivers an exceptional cover that is an homage transgressive films of the '70s and '80s.  

The reflections of Slayton-Joslln and the interviewees provide a balanced perspective of writing and filmmaking.  The author describes his own experiences with writing which he observes is not dissimilar to the filmmaker’s experience with creating a visual narrative on the silver screen. For example, during the Uwe Boll interview, Slayton-Joslin states that “being invested in art is the key theme that I’m seeing coming up in these conversations” (46). The connection is insightful; it is one of the crucial points that this book makes for readers, as creators themselves and as fans of the sequel and its place in the larger body of franchise films.  At a personal level, the dual approach is refreshing, because Slayton-Joslin successfully creates a shared context across mediums that would have been less powerful if he had just provided his interviews.  Additionally, the interviewees are creators whose opinions and insight might not have typically been heard by this reviewer, giving validity to why #StoriesMatter.

Sequelland: A Story of Dreams and Screams will initially attract readers who are fans of horror franchises and those individuals familiar with the interviewees' and/or the sequels; however, this book is more than that.  Slayton-Joslin successfully blends personal observations with each interviewee, so that each project becomes a lesson of what worked and what didn’t, as well as proving that, regardless of the medium, the creative process is fundamentally the same.  This shared experience results in an opportunity for connectivity between creators.

Creative Team: Jay Slayton-Joslin (author); Matthew Revert (cover artist)
Publisher: CLASH Books
Click here to purchase.

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