I’d love to talk about this subject, since it’s somewhat related to BBR, too. It started out as such, and even though it became much less twisted and grim with time, it still has a fair share of fucked up things.
I’m not gonna lie, I have a soft spot for spooky and twisted tales. I’m sure many of you do. However, as it is with any genre, it requires effort to produce something likeable and timeless, something that’d stick with people. And unfortunately, most “edgy” media, especially adaptations, don’t bother with that.
Here’s the easy cheap list for making a “dark” “adult” story:
- complete misanthropy
And you’re all set, basically. And the funniest thing is that the first three things aren’t guilty of ruining the story for me, it’s the fourth element that everyone insists on so much.
So here’s a good question to ask yourself: why does your story need this edge?
Do you want to explore creative visuals with it? Do you want to shock and offend those who deserve it, to make a useful commentary? Do you want to show that there’s always the sparkle of hope and humanity even in this grim and gritty world? Do you want to present some kind of sick, sad, but truthful moral? Do you just wanna go all out with the exploitation genre and deliver some tongue-in-cheek entertainment this way?
Or do you just want to follow the “sex and violence sell” route? Do you want to offend people just for the sake of it, because you feel superior? Do you want your story to be devoid of joy because you think that good endings are too mainstream? Do you make your protagonists immoral douches that suffer no consequences because you think they’re cool? Do you take what should’ve been black humor way too seriously?
It took me a while to realize that the twisted stories I enjoy are likeable for a very obvious reason. They have likeable elements. Well, duh, you say. But I’m serious, how many times have you encountered an edgy story, absolutely devoid of enjoyable and relatable characters, entertaining plot elements or somewhat creative visuals? I can hardly count those.
In the end, the amount of 18+ material in your story doesn’t matter. It still has to follow the rules of storytelling that’d strike a chord with the audience. Characters saying “fuck” every second doesn’t automatically make your story more adult. Graphic deaths don’t automatically make it more intense. Most sex scenes in the movies are awkward and boring.
All this stuff may sell your content, but to a specific group of people I personally wouldn’t want to pander to. Part of that group doesn’t even know any better, because they keep being fed the same garbage over and over. You need to try harder than that. Your audience deserves better.