It has to be the devil’s rollercoaster ride. You have to feel something. And that something is FEAR.
The best horror, for me, makes you feel two things when it’s over:
- thank god I’m alive and
- thank god that wasn’t me.
Here’s what I think.
Too much stuff masquerading as horror misses the point. I don’t want to see bodies ground up (I’m just not turned on that way.). I don’t want to see people tortured (See previous comment.). I want to see people put in a perilous, no-way-out, impossible-to-survive situation...and survive. I think that such a situation is both akin to real life and the opposite of it.
Here’s what I mean.
It's my belief that daily we are all caught in a life-and-death struggle, only we don’t know it. We live at a superficial level of life, never diving beneath the surface. But the reality is, DEATH is watching. In the form of cancer and other diseases, car wrecks, plane crashes, suicides, poisonings, a cruise ship capsizing, stray bullets, and all that.
We ignore these truths, perhaps because it’s the only way to get along in life, to take care of our day-to-day necessary chores, to keep our bodies functioning and a roof over our heads. We sedate ourselves with drugs, alcohol, sometimes religion, and always TV.
But Death doesn’t care.
So a good horror movie or book or audiobook or podcast or even old radio show provides you with a means to look over the edge and into the abyss. It gives you time to reflect that you will die. Probably not as horribly as described in the horror vehicle of your choice. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, even slipping away in your sleep. Or, in my hoped-for exit scenario, whilst saving a small child from destruction, such as swiping it out of the way of a runaway vehicle, while sacrificing your life in the process. But that’s just me.
Horror lets you be scared. Because you should be. But you’re too busy working, laughing, playing, dreaming. Good horror not only lets you be scared, it lets you defeat Death for one more day. Because good horror, true horror must adhere to the Unspoken Rule: somebody must survive in the end. And that somebody must be the hero or heroine, because that somebody represents US.
They are us and we need more time!
Enjoy your life while it lasts (and may it last a long, long, long time).
For more such rants, see my blog at www.carlplumer.com. Thanks for reading.
And now it's your turn: What makes good horror? Answers on a postcard or in the comments section below.