The camera lights flashed as Marcus stepped out of the limo. He gave a sly smile and continued on his way into the theater. Just before he entered the door a reporter stopped him. "Sir just one quick question, what do you think your reaction to this movie is going to be?" There was no need for him to answer; he simply sneered and yawned before disappearing behind the darkened doors. The laughter of people outside trailed off behind him as it was dampened and deadened by the thick doors.
Marcus was a film critic, and a very famous one at that. He made regular appearances on TV shows and had a limitless choice of papers to run his review column. Whenever he made a visit to a theater to review a movie, it was a regular media circus and for two reasons. The first reason was because of his undeserved fame which came with being a high profile critic as well as the son of a very wealthy but honest business tycoon. The second was because whenever he reviewed a movie, he relentlessly assaulted it into obscurity. He was the critic that everyone hated, but the media loved because of his constant controversy.
Marcus plopped himself down in the very center of the movie theater, not because it was the best seat, but because he needed to be the center of attention. As far as he was concerned, everyone should spend more time watching him in the theater than the actual movie. He was more entertaining to himself than the drivel projected on the eggshell white screen. He nestled into his seat and relaxed as the projector warmed up and the first flicker of light hit the screen. The light sounds of chatter dulled, as did the already dim lights that hung over the crowd.
Marcus chuckled to himself as the title plate for the production company illuminated the screen. "They never make a good film." He said under his breath half expecting the packed theater to somehow hear and agree with him in an outburst of demeaning laughter. The movie began to play, but he was not the least bit interested in it. He glanced at the screen from time to time wishing that it would get better, but it never did. He sighed, sneered, and slept his way through the two-hour movie and breathed a sigh of relief when it was finally over. As soon as the credits rolled he quickly left his seat and walked out of the theater.
The thunderous roar of applause trailed off as he gained distance from the screen. As he walked to his car he said to himself, "Just because the director is here? No need to be so generous with applause for such a terrible movie. Those people in there are just too kind. They’ll undoubtedly inspire more of this trash to be produced."
One lone reporter saw him exit and chased him down. "What did you think of the movie? It sounds like it was received favorably. Could a good review be on the horizon?"
"A good review? Please! I don't give garbage good reviews even if it is wrapped up in pretty paper, polished, and sprayed with perfume."
He continued to his car and left the reporter standing there with her mouth agape. To her, not only was that unnecessary, but completely unwarranted. "Thunderous applause met by a bad review, the critic does not understand his job", she thought as she returned to her news van.
Marcus sped off into the night as he made the journey home. He drove through the darkened streets and slowly out into the quiet suburbs, which included his monstrosity of a house. His house was bigger than any one person would need. Too lavish and over furnished for someone with his occupation, but it was his inherited money and he enjoyed buying nice things. He pulled into his driveway and turned the key ending the quiet roar of his Bentley’s engine. The headlights quickly dimmed to off as he stepped out and walked towards the door. He slipped the key from his pocket and unlocked the heavy wooden door that turned away everyone but him.
He stepped into the warm, dark house and flipped the light switch. With a gentle hum the incandescent bulbs flickered on and he walked towards the sofa. He sat down with his laptop already waiting for him in front of the television that seldom ever went on. The LCD screen lit up as the computer was awakened from its slumber. The word processor opened and Marcus began to write his brief yet harsh and inflammatory review. The keys clicked as his article was written and then sent to be published in the morning. He pushed the screen down, sending the computer back to sleep, put his feet up on the coffee table, and said to himself, "So simple to trash a perfectly ghastly movie. I'm afraid of the movie that is easier to pan than this one."
Marcus shut his eyes and fell asleep on the couch. The Moon wandered through the clear night sky as the hours ticked by on the clock. He had slowly adjusted his position so that he was lying down on the sofa curled up against the warm leather. Nightmares from a conscience that was all but destroyed attempted to pierce his cold, sadistic mind. Perhaps if he had nightmares, he would have seen the cruelty and agony he afflicted upon others, but they never had a chance to penetrate the thick wall of apathy that shrouded his mind and his heart. He slept soundly on his chair all through the night, never once questioning his malevolent words.
Around seven in the morning he woke as rays of sunlight broke through the blinds on his windows and touched his face. He stretched and groggily rolled off of the sofa. He stood and walked to the kitchen for a glass of water. He set the glass down and returned to the living room where he anxiously opened his computer. The fans hummed as the computer came out of sleep mode and he opened the Internet browser. He went straight to the site where his review would be published, front and center, for all to see. The comments were already piling up about how good the movie was and the hatchet job that he did against it. He laughed it off saying to himself, “Uncultured cretins. For them to think that movie was enjoyable is absolutely absurd. It was nothing more than inane drivel.”
However, those that commented on his article were not the only ones who thought it was enjoyable and well made. Within hours of its midnight opening it had already set box office records as theaters sold out and stayed open for extra hours because of the high demand. When Marcus learned of what had transpired while he slept he gasped. He checked when his review had been posted, and the listing time was two hours before the peak sales of the movie, plenty of time for it to have been read.
He slammed his fist into the sofa and said, “What kind of people am I dealing with? They flock to this… this garbage! We will see who has the last say in this matter.”
Marcus picked up the phone and dialed the number for the morning television show that he would frequent to give verbal reports of his thoughts on a movie. As he waited on hold he saw a quick moving, dark object fly past him out of the corner of his eye. He turned to see what it was, but nothing was in sight. “Must have been my imagination,” he thought to himself.
He scheduled himself for the eight-thirty time slot on the show, after some coercion to make it available for him to come on and rant. He ran upstairs, fixed himself up, changed his clothes, and hopped in the car. He sped down the street and made his way to the television studio. The Sun was beginning its climb to the highest part of the sky as he raced to make the time slot he had scheduled. He pulled up to the studio, jumped out of his car, and ran into the building with thirty minutes to spare.
He got himself into makeup and they hurried him through, leaving him very little time to prepare whatever he was going to say. So far, he was on a rage-fueled rant about the ignorance of the little people that disagreed with him. He knew he needed to calm down and collect his thoughts before he went live, but there was so little time. The show cut to a commercial and they called him on. He sat in his usual chair and leaned backward as he tried to steady his nerves.
Before he knew it, the floor director gave the countdown and the show was back on the air. The host picked up almost seamlessly and began the segment.
“And welcome back! Now we were going to have a viewer call in segment today, but we had a scheduling change. I know, I know, some of you were looking forward to it, but don’t get upset and change that channel yet. With us now we have the film critic Marcus Puret. He’s going to give us one of his usual reviews, comment on the general acceptance of the film, and then we’ll still have the call in to comment on the movie or whatever else you want to say, but just a heads up, if its not about the movie you’ll be held until we've had some callers give their opinion of it, if there are any. Okay Marcus, you’re up. So you went to see Sunset Shot last night, an action thriller about a race against the clock to stop a serial killer, what did you think of it?”
“Well to be honest, it was a terrible movie. There was no artistic value, no deeper meaning, and no real depth to the plot. To be utterly simple about it, it was garbage.”
“Don’t you think that might be a little harsh? After all, it set a box office record last night.”
“Yes, that’s all very good, but that just goes to show you the low class that these people have these days. The little people need to learn what a true good movie is. It’s not about the action and the adventure, it’s about the passion, the reality of life, the deep meaning to be discovered, the soul searching required to understand the heart of the film.”
“I see. Well, we have our first caller. We have Brian from Philadelphia, hello Brian you’re on with us!”
“Hey how are ya. Listen I had to call in just to give Marcus there a piece of my mind. You film critics need to wise up. All you do is get paid to watch a movie and then tell us why you didn't like it because it didn't have enough of your ‘artistic’ bull crap in it. You try to wreck movies that people like to watch. We spend all day in the real world, you don’t. We want to see a movie that we can escape in to and enjoy before we actually go back to reality. You want your artsy movies because you’re so detached from what actually goes on in this world, it ain't even real.”
Marcus was visibly angered but also flustered, something he rarely was. Never before had anyone slammed his profession right to him. He shook his head and narrowed his widened eyes. “Now listen here Brian, I understand what you are saying, but you have to understand, you are uncultured. You simply don’t know what is good for you and that’s what my job is, to tell you what is good for you.”
“You know what Marcus. We don’t need you to tell us what’s good for us. We know what’s good for us and we don’t need people like you putting us down. You’re the one that needs us cause without people willing to read the trash you feed them you’d be out of a job and you’d be so lost it wouldn’t even be funny.”
Marcus’ face lit up bright red. He was ready to yell back, but instead he steamed off of the set. The host’s eyes and mouth were wide open and they quickly cut to commercial. Marcus stamped out of the studio and angrily slammed the door on his car. He drove home in a wild fury and replayed over and over in his mind what he would have said to that caller had he not been on television. However, what he did not know, was that Brian’s words immediately acted as a rallying cry to everyone like him. The hardworking average Joes who don’t need or want to be told what to think or what to enjoy. By the time Marcus got home, the Internet was already swirling with articles, blogs, and all kinds of comments to disregard anything a critic has to say. When Marcus opened his computer and saw the mass amount of people up in arms against him, he panicked and entered another blind rage. His brain pounded against his skull and he saw red as he went on a tirade of curses and rants in the privacy of his own home.
A week passed and a new movie came out. Marcus anxiously went to review it. Another action/thriller that he was ready to give a fiery F to. He hurried home after and threw together a vicious review ripping the movie for all it was worth. The next day however, his review was not posted, nor were any subjective reviews. The rallying cry of Brian’s on-air rant was being heard round the country. A call for the end of the subjective film critics. After some alterations and re-submissions his review was posted, but it received very little views. The only people who read it, were his diehard fans who hung on every word of his twisted opinion of the average man and the movies he enjoys.
Another week went by and Marcus soon realized that he would be out of a job if this kept up. He needed to do something to regain his status as a film critic, but he had no idea what to do. He was not willing to change his opinions on movies, not for a second would he even give a thought to the possibility that maybe the movies he attempted to chop to bits had some entertainment value. There was only one way Marcus was sure he could get back his fan base, and that was by enlisting the aid of some heavy hitting names in the movie business.
He made dozens of calls to actors he had praised and even to other he had scorned. None of them, however, had any desire to help him. Marcus was like a helpless animal rundown on the highway, and those he reached out to for help could see it. He floundered about as he looked for some hand that would pull him from the brink of obscurity, but none offered to help. Regardless of praise or prominence, he had no one who was willing to help, not a single person who he could call a friend. He slammed his phone down onto his coffee table, sending a hairline crack through the glass. He looked at the crack and examined the fine line that had been formed. As he stared into the broken section, a black shade dashed through the reflection. Marcus looked around startled, but neither saw nor heard anything.
After a few minutes he calmed down and decided to take a nap. He quickly fell asleep, clutching his first movie review like a teddy bear. As he slept he began to dream of his dying fan base and the grip he was losing on what movies were deemed good and what was trash. His dream turned to dark thoughts of vengeance and anger, but then moved to something far different, they turned to betrayal. He dreamt of all those he thought were friends, those who worshiped him or befriended him. He realized at that moment that no one truly cared, they either idolized him for his power, or sucked up to him for a lenient review.
His subconscious mind began to deteriorate and traveled to a place of grand delusions. He dreamt of his triumphant return to power with the next blistering movie review that he wrote. His mind’s eye gazed upon his next review, a scathing indictment of anything other than realism set to return him to his seat at the pinnacle of critics, as the titan of his trade. He awoke from his sleep believing that what he dreamt was a vision of the future. His mind had been so wrought with the agony of losing his stardom and authority that it had succumbed to the one thing Marcus never had, hope; albeit deluded and absurd hope.
The next night there was a new movie opening, one set to be a huge blockbuster. A fantasy, action/thriller about a boy, his newly given power, and a dark demonic figure he had to defeat for his freedom and the freedom of the world. Marcus was excited to give it the worst review of his life. He eagerly drove down to the theater and took his seat. He yawned and guffawed through the entire movie, coming up with witty one-liners in his mind to make fun of the film and its unknown leading actor. He giddily drove home after the movie feeling like he had the power and that after that night, all would listen to him and never again would these silly, unsophisticated movies be made.
He pulled up to his house and excitedly got out of his car. As he walked to the door he heard something rustle in the bushes, he looked but he could see nothing. He thought that he had seen something move, but the object in question was as black as the shadows it was in so he disregarded it. He opened up his computer and began to click away on the keyboard. Little did he know what lurked in the in the darkness, in a place where he could not see, something, he would never expect. He had no idea what was stalking him, what was constantly skulking behind his back. He finished writing the review, by far, the worst hatchet job he had ever done to a movie. If his magic spell worked, it might even cause a run on the unknown actor, who was also the writer and co-director. But Marcus did not care; he figured it would only be one less uncultured imbecile to worry about.
He stood and turned slowly. His heart was beating rapidly as it climbed out of his chest and into his throat. When he saw what was behind him his heart sunk back beneath his rib-cage and stopped in his chest. From the darkness crawled the demonic creature that had existed in the movie. He quickly thought to himself, “What have I created? My review, my hatred towards inane drivel has manifested itself to bring an end to my righteous crusade.”
He gazed at the horrifying beast as it stood menacing. Time seemed to slow as he questioned what he was seeing. He looked at the clock on his wall; the second hand had stopped moving. He looked back at the creature which reached out its hand and extended a boney finger towards Marcus. He backed up but bumped into the coffee table. He looked down and in the fractured glass he saw his reflection, half of which was his face and the other half which belonged to the creature. He looked back up and the monster that remained standing silent and still. In its hissing, gargling, throaty voice it beckoned to him, “Marcus, it is time you paid for all that you have done. Your malice shall finally be dealt back to you.”
Marcus tried to run, but he could not. Before he could even lift a leg the creature was on top of him. It thrashed wildly at his skull raining blow after blow down upon him. Claws slashed at his skin and the sharp fangs ripped his flesh. He was in utter agony as the monster brutally killed him.
Days later, the police discovered his body, after people reported that he had not been seen for some time. They entered his home to find him dead on the floor next to his sofa with his computer still on and open to the new, scathing review he had written. Friends and loyal fans wondered as to the cause of death, but the autopsy results said it was completely natural, caused by too much stress and maybe too much vitriol in his heart. Marcus died of a brain hemorrhage. There was no manifestation of his hatred, no monster that crawled from the darkness. The only monster was the one that lived inside him, the dark hatred for the people he saw to be beneath him, his own personal demon that had cause him too much stress and ultimately, ruptured his brain.