Plot Analysis (spoilers thread)

#1falcofanboyPosted 3/29/2013 8:29:56 PM
ITT, I spoil the entire game. I also attempt to figure out the plot, an effort that some might feel hurts its mystery or immersiveness. Read on at your own peril.

Dated items:
Letter #02: 11/23
Letter #04: 02/27
Letter #05: 03/04
Letter #06: 03/27
Letter #08: 03/29 (As this is after the game's release, it argues against the game being set in 2013.)
Letter #10: 04/12
Beth Hayes' Funeral Pamphlet: 10/18/2009
Newspaper: Sunday, July 6, 1906 (Note that this isn't a real date, as 07/06/1906 was a Friday. The paper is blurry enough that I could be misreading it, or it could be a mistake.)

Note that all of the dated letters are sent in-order, so I'm assuming that the non-dated letters are in order as well. I am also assuming that the red numbers are not canonically on the letters but are there solely for the people playing the game.

Notable people:
Lauren, the player character.
Kate (Mullens? Cf. her email "kmllens@bserv.adv.co"), a childhood friend and the owner of the house.
CR, a childhood friend whom you might have forgotten.
Beth Hayes, Kate's mother (why the name difference?), deceased.

Other people:
Charlie Matheson Jr. and Sr.
Pastor John Taylor (pastor for Beth's funeral)
Jessica (Kullman HR)
James Walter (Kullman President at time of Oakside purchase)

Places:
Birmingham, Alabama (cf. the newspaper in Kullman Mining Co. and the Oakside Park brochure)
Kate's house
Oakside Park
Kullman Mining Co. Mine
North Cross Hospital
Grace Hill Cemetary
Everson St.

Continued...
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#2falcofanboy(Topic Creator)Posted 3/29/2013 8:30:32 PM
Plot:

"Prologue"

Lauren is going to Kate's house (reason unknown, but they're childhood friends), which is about 30 minutes outside of Birmingham, Alabama. A tree falls into the road in front of her, forcing her to walk the last several minutes (and effectively stranding her once she gets to the house). It is unknown whether she actually crashed into the tree or not, or whether her car is still operational. However, the prologue shows the car driving in the rain; I personally believe that the car crashed into the tree and that Lauren's only way back is forward.

A radio tower is visible in the distance and very prominently placed to force the player to notice it.

Notable is Slender's use of falling trees in Part 5 (The Arrival); it's pretty safe to say that the prologue's fallen tree was his work. Was he trying to scare Lauren off? Was he trying to separate her from her car? Was his goal to break her car and force her onward without it? Or was it a simple act of malevolence, executed without a broader plan? Lauren spent time at Kate's house as a child (e.g. she has memories of playing on the swings), so Slendy is probably tied to her in that ineffable way of his. Per the usual, his motives are opaque, if they even exist at all.

Lauren reaches Kate's house as the sky darkens and finds the front door partially open. Kate is nowhere to be found, and the house is in disarray (lamps and the TV leaning against the wall, chairs fallen over, books strewn about, and drawings of trees and a tall, thin man in a suit on the walls). A letter (#01) lies folded on the shelf just inside, to Kate from CR. It mentions that it's been "at least a couple of years". Given the mention of an understood "she" and the cut-off phrase "Guess we'll never", he's probably talking about the funeral of Beth Hayes, which a pamphlet in the next room says was on 10/19/2009. I speculate that this letter is from October or November of 2011. The email dates don't help, since many of their day-of-week fields preclude their falling within the same year (e.g. #05 and #06: if 3/4 is on a Sunday, then 3/27 is on a Tuesday, not a Wednesday). Maybe the creators didn't bother to open a calendar when dating the emails, or maybe they made them deliberately inconsistent so that we *couldn't* date them. Heck, maybe it's a symptom of the computer problems CR mentions in #03, but the day-of-weeks fields are probably wrong (e.g. if the day of week is right, then #02 was from 2008, which would put #01 around a year BEFORE the funeral (given ordered letters), or #02 is from 2014, which would put #04 in at least 2017, #05 in 2018, and #06 in 2019, which does not make much sense plot-wise). Regardless, the letter indicates:

A.) CR is Kate's childhood friend
B.) CR and Kate would go "ghost-hunting" as kids
C.) CR and Kate seem to have had bad luck ever since then
D.) The memories of these adventures came back to CR in a rush
E.) Kate has had a particularly abnormal time recently

Also note how CR wishes to "rewind" back to that time. Given that the storytelling interface is that of a videocamera (hello, Marble Hornets!), this wording stands out to me. I doubt that it has any significance, but it's still interesting given the medium.

Continued...
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#3falcofanboy(Topic Creator)Posted 3/29/2013 8:32:46 PM
In addition to the funeral pamphlet, you find a dry-erase to-do list (which alarmingly involves kerosene and a lighter, and the emphasis on "LOCK THE HOUSE" suggests that Kate is afraid of something) and a thank-you note from Kate, the recipient of which is probably Lauren. The note indicates that Kate wants to leave the house behind by selling it, and that she's anticipating a sense of relief upon doing so. It also seems to say that Lauren has moved away since childhood ("thank you... for coming out all this way"). Is Lauren buying the house? The "For Sale" sign in the front states that it's already sold, so I'd say odds are in favor of this.

Another room has a letter near a radio (#02), which indicates that Kate and CR spoke via telephone. This conversation included discussion about something unusual that they'd both been seeing, and CR was surprised to hear that Kate shared what he had supposed to be hallucinations on his part. He intends to seek professional help. The letter also implies that Kate and Lauren have, to some degree, kept in contact with each other.

A third letter (#03) is on the playground outside. Technology has not been working properly around CR. The "shared hallucination" is bothering Kate and CR to such an extent that they decided to meet and talk about it. There are also hints that a particular night during their "ghost-hunting" adventures was traumatic, though CR doesn't remember the night very well (did Kate remember it?). Regardless, he believes that the strange things they are seeing are hallucinatory, so he suggests that they ignore them.

There are two other elements to the Prologue before Lauren enters Kate's room. Firstly, there is a "Missing" poster for a child named Charlie Matheson Jr. It appears yellowed, but it's impossible to determine its exact age.

Secondly, at some point after picking up a flashlight, Lauren notices a tall, pale man staring at the house. When she tries to get a closer look, it vanishes.

Lauren eventually finds a key to Kate's room, and the inside is unnerving. The window is shattered (inwards, which I assume is a mistake given the events of "Flashback"), and the walls are covered in drawings of trees, the thin man in the suit, and repeated words and phrases ("STOP IT NOW", "CAN YOU SEE IT?"). It looks like Kate has come to see the radio tower as some kind of refuge against something and has possibly gone there. After picking up a note on the desk ("TO THE WOODS"), Lauren hears a scream beyond the backyard's gate (which is suddenly open) and heads out to investigate.

"The Eight Pages"

Looking for clues vis--vis Kate's disappearance, Lauren makes her way through what's left of Oakside Park, picking up more of Kate's drawings along the way. The drawings confirm that Kate believed she was being pursued (or hunted), and the man in the suit seemed to be the culprit. As she picked up Kate's drawings, Lauren started to see it herself: an uncannily tall man, slender, faceless, and pursuing her. Unable to ignore what she was seeing, she ran from it, collecting Kate's pages as she went. After finding eight, the entity appeared right next to her, and Lauren ran for her life. At some point, she passed out.

Continued...
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#4falcofanboy(Topic Creator)Posted 3/29/2013 8:33:50 PM
"Into the Abyss"

Lauren woke up near dawn, lost in the woods. Picking her camera up, she began to look around to see where she was (and if Kate or anything pointing to her was nearby). She found two more letters in the forest:

The first letter (#04) indicates that CR's "pretend it isn't there" approach isn't working, and that the "hallucinations" now contain an auditory element. In the second letter (#05), CR encourages Kate to seek professional help, and he forwards his doctor's suggestion of "confronting" the traumatic event (i.e. that night in the woods), which entails going into Oakside Park.

As Lauren walked the woods, she found a dirt road that she followed to an industrial area that turned out to be a Kullman Mining Co. mine. On a bulletin board outside of the mine, she found another letter (#06) which suggests that CR's "confront the trauma" approach backfired. Something had separated Kate and CR, and he ended up experiencing some sort of seizure (possibly, or perhaps his descriptions of what happened should be taken more literally given the paranormal nature of what they encountered) and passed out. His account of waking up in tall grass parallels Lauren's experience of that very morning. He made his way back to Kate's house, but she was in a fugue state of sorts, so he left her there (facepalm).

Lauren also finds a bulletin indicating that the mine has closed, and she finds a suicide note from a Charles M., with "No more job" referring to the closing of the mine and "No more family" referring to the disappearance of his son, Charlie Matheson Jr. (the note is aged to about the same yellow).

Continued...
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#5falcofanboy(Topic Creator)Posted 3/29/2013 8:34:08 PM
Lauren decides that the best way forward is into the mine (clearly, the dark and scary mine is the best place to go when being chased by a supernatural horror). Inside, she sees a warning poster directing employees to exit the mine via emergency lift (powered by at least six generators) in the event of a power failure. She also finds another letter (#07) to Kate:

I am okay Kate.
The woods are beatiful [sic]
Please come see.
I am going to find
you so you can see
It is so beatiful [sic] Kate

Compare the 'K's in this letter with what CR wrote in his other letters to her (#01 and #03). This note was written in different handwriting. The 'K' looks like the 'K' on Kate's to-do list, which would suggest that she wrote it (assuming she wrote the list at all, cf. #13), but the 'K' in her thank-you note is done much closer to CR's. Did CR write the letter in a fugue state himself as a consequence of what happened in #06? Does that explain the different handwriting? If so, #07 was written before #06, so why the ordering? Could he have written between #06 and #08? That would mean that this letter was written on 03/28, which fits chronologically but causes #08 to not make much sense. Could Slendy have done his amnesia trick on CR? Could it have been written by someone else? Who? Also, the misspelling is interesting. It is probably a deliberate move to show the disconnectedness of the writer (though amusingly, it could also be a portmanteau of "beautiful" and "beatific", which might imply a deification of Slendy in the mind of whoever wrote the letter). Finally, note the subtle threat: "I am going to find you so you can see". This reads like a letter written by a brainwashed person. Personally, I don't think CR wrote it; somebody else wrote this letter and sent it to Kate, and as a result, she went back into the woods. I have no idea who wrote this, but it was probably some Slender proxy. Let's go with Charlie Matheson Jr. (he was young enough when he disappeared that the typo makes sense, and since he was probably taken by Slendy, there was ample opportunity for him to be brainwashed). Would love some feedback for this bit.

Making her way further into the mine, Lauren finds the lift and an inactive generator. Upon activating the generator, the door she used to get into the mine closes, and several others open, the sound echoing back and forth across the caverns until she can no longer tell what sounds are coming from what directions. She begins to explore the mine, looking for the other generators, but she starts to hear footsteps that she doesn't think are echoes of her own. Frantically shining her light around, she catches a glimpse of someone impossibly pale in a filthy white hoodie charging at her. Lauren begins to run, noting somewhere in the back of her mind that the person chasing her avoids her flashlight. At one point, this pursuer catches and tackles Lauren and begins to beat her, but Lauren fights it off, and it runs away. She saw only a dead white face, long black hair swinging in front of rotting flesh. The Slender Man itself is also in the mines, inexorably pursuing Lauren. Gasping for breath, she races to the elevator and sends it out of the mine after activating the necessary generators.

Continued...
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#6falcofanboy(Topic Creator)Posted 3/29/2013 8:36:17 PM
"Flashback"

Near the exit to the mine shaft, Lauren finds another letter (#08). CR had been trying to call Kate for two days following letter #06 and was unable to reach her. He planned on checking up on her in person.

After stepping outside, Lauren finds another letter (#09) on a nearby fence. CR went to check up on Kate and found her in Oakside Park with a broken video camera and "weird drawings" (probably like the ones in her room or in Eight Pages). He checked her in to North Cross Hospital with reassurances of safety. I was unable to find any real hospital by this name and with this logo, but there could be one. One could twist and stretch the logo to resemble the Operator Symbol from Marble Hornets, but the connection seems weak enough to be innocuous in my opinion.

Along the mountain path, Lauren finds another letter (#10) on a post. Kate was in the hospital for about two weeks, and then she emailed CR to let him know she was back home. CR had grown increasingly paranoid (feeling unsafe in his home, nailing his windows shut, hasn't slept in weeks), and he suggests that they go somewhere safe together. He is vague, however, in the details.

Lauren eventually stumbles across a building. On the door she finds a note with "I WANT TO DIE" scrawled across it repeatedly. Inside, she finds another letter (#11), which is as follows:

Outside.
I need to die before it catches me.
I'm sorry for any part that is my fault.
Everything is leaking out the back of my head.
Hands have teeth.
Please tell no one I loved them. It's back now.
Hide

The content of this letter is extremely cryptic, and the writer was probably deranged. CR wrote the letter (same handwriting), and from this we can draw the conclusion that he wrote the "I WANT TO DIE" note as well (unless Kate was feeling similarly suicidal). Aside from that, all I can get from the letter is an extreme sense of fear.

The building has a running television which is playing a tape of Kate drawing one of her pages during a thunderstorm. Lauren watches the tape and sees blips of distortion. The lights in the house flicker as well, and Kate becomes aware that the Slender Man has arrived. She picks up her camera and says to herself in a terrified whisper, "He's here. Close all the windows and doors. Just don't let him in." She runs through the house (which seems to have come alive with the sounds of doors opening, the radio turning on, and the piano playing itself), closing the windows and doors, and then she runs to hide in her room. Unfortunately, Slender Man appears in the room, and Kate goes out the window, though it's unclear whether she jumps through or if Slendy made her do it (which, admittedly, would be unusually hands-on of him).

The chronology of this video is confusing to me. Firstly, note that none of the Prologue scrapbook items are on display. This I can ignore if necessary, since they would honestly just distract from what is an amazingly tense scene; continuity can take a back seat to atmosphere in a horror game if the violation is small enough, which this would be. However, if this was deliberate, then Kate came back to the house to place these items *after* the encounter, which just doesn't jive with the feel of the thing (living with a broken window in the room?). My guess is that the storm in the flashback is the same one that felled the tree that stranded Lauren, but if the exeunt through the window was her final departure from the house, how did she have the items on CR's list? Did she have them at all? Would love some feedback for this bit.

Continued...
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#7falcofanboy(Topic Creator)Posted 3/29/2013 8:36:45 PM
"The Arrival"

The TV goes to static after the tape ends, and Lauren continues her trek up the mountain. She finds a post with another letter (#12), which states that CR, in his paranoia, burned down his home.

There is a cave ahead. When she enters, she sees a box with another letter (#13). CR says he left Kate a list of things to bring (possibly the to-do list from the Prologue), and he tells her not to tell Lauren about him.

The cave continues, and Lauren finds an area with writing all over the walls:

"YOU WARN THEM AND DOOM THEM"
"YOUR HELPING HIS ARRIVAL"
"ITS SO SIMPLE"
"END THIS"
"IT CAN END"
"HE WANTS THEM TO WARN YOU"
"READ THIS AND DIE"
"I CANT STOP"
"IM SO SORRY FOR EVERYTHING"
"HIS ARRIVAL IS COMING"
"THERE WILL BE NO ARRIVAL"
"WELL BE GONE FOREVER"
"YOU KNOW ABOUT HIM HE KNOWS ABOUT YOU"

CR also left a note filled with desperate apology and self-blame for everything that happened. His theory is that Slenderman is aware of you if you are aware of It; if nobody is aware of It, It cannot affect anybody.

As she's exiting the cave, Lauren encounters a forest fire. Here, Slendy is popping from place to place, lighting fires, felling trees, and apparently just trying to kill Lauren. Lauren sprints the rest of the way up the mountain and enters the radio tower building, slamming the door shut behind herself. A series of violent knocks immediately follows, and Lauren makes her way further into the building. Something gets through the door and begins following her, making the same unsettling noises as the hoodie-creature in the mine. She enters another room full of writing and locks herself inside. The following is the writing on the walls starting at the door and going clockwise:

EVERYWHERE I TURN IT IS THERE. EVERY TIME
I OPEN MY EYES I SEE A DARK SHADOW
IN MY HOME IN MY DREAMS EVERYWHERE
IT EATS AT ME
RIPS AND TEARS AND BREAKS AND SLASHES MY INSIDES MY BRAIN
MY NERVES MY EVERYTHING

I MUST BURN I MUST BURN IT DOWN
FOUND ME IN THE WOODS
FOUND ME IN THE DARK FOUND WHAT ELSE DO I DO
YOU CAN NOT HIDE

HE ALWAYS FINDS YOU
HE ALWAYS FINDS YOU AND NEVER
STOPS STOP
IM SORRY FOR EVERYTHING

WHY DID YOU COME HERE RUN
RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN RUN
I CANT SEE RUN

I FAILED YOU (this is above the body)

THIS IS SOMETHING I HAVE TO DO
SOMETHING I WAS TOLD TO DO
WHISPERS FROM MY ONLY FRIEND
WHO IS GONE NOW
EVERYTHING MUST BE BURNT TO THE GROUND
FOR ME TO BE FREE

YOU ARE MY ONLY CHOICE
IT WILL TEAR YOUR
BRAIN APART AND YOU WILL WATCH
IT TURNS MY HEAD INSIDE
OUT AND I CANNOT
CONTINUE LIVING THIS WAY

YOU ARE MY ONLY CHOICE
YOU HAVE TO BE HERE
SO
I CAN GO. YOU WILL BURN
WITH EVERYTHING ELSE

IT WAS FOLLOWING ME
AND IT WILL NOT STOP
EVERYTHING BURNS AND MELTS
AND WHITHERS AND FALLS APART

There is a charred male body (CR) in the far end of the room with a damaged camera. When the camera is activated, a sound clip plays of CR attempting to burn himself and Kate to death. Judging by the screams on the tape and the number of bodies in the room, he only succeeded on himself (though he badly burned Kate, thus explaining the apparent decay on her face, for lo and behold, THE CREEPY HOODIE PERSON IN THE MINES IS KATE!).

Kate then busts into the room and kills Lauren. The end.

Continued...
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#8falcofanboy(Topic Creator)Posted 3/29/2013 8:37:49 PM
Analysis

Note that some of this is speculative.

Kate and CR (childhood friends) get back in touch. Slendy begins stalking them both, and in a misguided effort to "confront their trauma", they go into the forest, where It messes them both up. Kate has a second experience a day or two later that leads to CR finding her sleeping in the forest, after which he brings her to the hospital. Kate goes back home after a couple of weeks. Desperate to be rid of the house, she reaches out to Lauren, who buys it. CR also leaves her a note with a list of things to bring for their trip to his place where they can be safe, which is his fancy way of saying extremely painful double-suicide. After Slendy attacks her in her house, Kate goes to meet CR (possibly with supplies, possibly without), and they head up the mountain to the radio tower, Kate dropping notes (and a TV?) along the way. CR enacts his double-suicide plan, but Kate has reservations, and he fails to kill her. She does not escape unharmed, however; her face is burned beyond recognition, and her mind has snapped. Lauren crashes into a tree en route to Kate's house somewhere around or shortly after here. Kate heads back to her house, opens the back gate, and screams (note that the scream sounds not quite human, not quite inhuman; Kate's mad by this point). Lauren chases Kate, Slendy chases Lauren, and they all end up in the mine the next day. Kate, being mad and all, tries to kill Lauren, who escapes without recognizing her assailant. Lauren makes her way up the rest of the mountain, and Kate catches up with her at the end and kills her while Slendy plays at pyromania.

Thoughts?
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Lord of the Rings was the greatest work of literature of the twentieth century, period.
~Orson Scott Card
#9No_ConsequencePosted 3/29/2013 11:14:36 PM
First off, thank you for creating this thread--I was considering doing it myself, but I could NOT have matched your level of detail and depth here. I haven't yet had the chance for a thorough, gather-all-scraps playthrough as my first time going through the game was a tad rushed, however days of thinking over the events that had transpired and the story in and of itself, I found I came to the same conclusions you did. I found the Matheson "Missing" poster and during "The Abyss" level, I mistakingly thought the proxy pursuing Lauren had been Matheson Jr. himself, though I scrapped this idea seeing as he had hardly even a passing mention within the story itself. As for the smashed-in window within Kate's room, I like to think after locking herself in, she went for the window in a last-ditch effort to escape slender man only to be taken up in his vectors before getting through. I have a question: are we entirely sure Lauren was killed in the end? I know it's likely wishful thinking and pointless attatchment to a mute main character on my part (hell, even -I- got the sense of a bad end when I noticed that the camera drains bit-by-bit after each chapter), but I would like to be certain Lauren's actually dead endgame. Also, what IS "the Arrival"? Hasn't slender man already arrived hence tormenting these three childhood friends?
#10Mario_BonesPosted 3/30/2013 3:33:11 AM
Wow, thanks for this. I never found the Charles Matheson notes in my playthrough so that changes the plot quite a bit.

I only just beat the game, so haven't totally thought this out yet, but I was thinking that the burnt man WAS Slenderman. I haven't read all the notes, and reading what you've written has made me change my mind a bit, but when I played that section, I thought this:

-Kate was depressed after Beth's death. They were close since there are photos of Beth and Kate together in Kate's house.
-CR is someone Kate met after Beth's death at some point
-They became close friends
-CR was insane and was going to kill them both in a fire in one of those crazy, love driven double suicides
-Lauren knew something was up, which is why CR told Kate to not tell her about him
-Kate escaped (not burnt, as she was OK in the video in Level 4)
-Somehow CR's ghost/spirit whatever came back as the Slenderman, who has its appearance because of the burns
-He began following Kate, and it drove her crazy, leading up to her jumping out of her window, possibly killing her and bringing her back as the hooded girl

As I said, I haven't thought this through too much just yet. It fits in with some of the notes but not all of them, but it made sense during the ending :3

When I saw the burnt corpse I immediately thought it was the Slenderman pre-Slenderfication. It made me think of Marble Hornets and the entries talking about the people being stretched and burnt in the woods.
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