Milk for the Ugly, annie96 is typing, & Format in Horror Stories

Milk for the Ugly is a weird little thing, listed as a “motion book”. annie96 is typing plays out as a real-time chat. Both use the format to enhance the horror, but one has nothing else going for it.

Milk for the Ugly, is basically a picture book with animated pictures. For some reason there’s a degree of interactivity in that a few pictures let you move the animation back and forth, but there didn’t seem to be much point to that part.

I found it interesting how well the format of this worked. It’s not simply a movie, as you’re manually choosing to go to the next page, but you can’t flip pages whenever you feel like it either – once you’re on that page, you have to let the animation play out. In other words, you can’t just ignore what’s happening until it’s over, but you don’t have any control over it either. The best or worst of both worlds, horrorwise.

The story itself isn’t groundbreaking or anything, though wholly serviceable, but it really impressed me how well it worked combined with the format. The woman is drawn quite consistently but can range from terrifyingly hideous to pathetically feeble to simply an ordinary person, all based on how it’s presented, which goes well with the general themes of perception, and the animation really helps with that. The lack of control builds tension, but the fact the animations are very short and slow means it couldn’t rely on cheap jumpscares and had to design everything to hold up to close viewing, which I appreciated.

In contrast, annie96 is typing is nothing but its gimmick, and it’s not even a well-executed gimmick. This one similarly demands engagement while preventing real control, this time by letting you hit a button to get each new response but often giving you a waiting message that the other person is typing to delay the answer, but the story has nothing going for it beyond that. It makes little to no attempt to make this feel realistically – annie96 is typing… messages have no bearing on how long the thing she’s typing is or if it’s something she’s struggling to word or if there’s some reason she might start typing and then stop for a minute, just how tense a moment it is and how nerve-wracking it’d be for the waiting reader. Skip the gimmick for the regular transcript and we’re presented with a tedious pile of half-baked cliches, with the only halfway clever bit at the end being that (spoilerz!) the creature is the one typing at the end based on style, and really, the fact the typing style completely changes to make it obvious rather than the ambiguous horror of not knowing what’s real or not just underlines that this is a bunch of cheap tricks over a narrative that holds up to examination.

3 Comments

  1. SpoonyViking says:

    Hey, I saw that exact same story somewhere on the Internet (the “annie96 is typing” one)! Didn’t know it was originally from a game (or “game”, as the case may be).

  2. Act says:

    Wow that transcript for annie96 was really terrible.

    1. Farla says:

      That’s what made it really stand out to me! People were praising this and there’s absolutely nothing to it but the gimmicked inconsistent delay. It shows how much just that can add.

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