Apr 9, 2011

G is for Ghost Stories

Okay, both Jen and myself are doing better today. We've been hearing a lot of stories about how this sort of thing happens quite often and frequently results in perfectly healthy babies.

So, on with the challenge. It's still Friday somewhere, right?

I love a good ghost story. Proper horror is amazing, but unfortunately rare.

Good ghost stories, good horror, are defined by two key elements. The fear of, and the obsession with, the unknown. True horror needs to be unknowable, but disturbingly compelling and even seductive.

This is why, despite the myriad of terrifying creatures, The Lord of the Rings is an epic fantasy and not a horror. The threat is a known force, and the method of its destruction is known by the heroes. Further, aside from the draw of the One Ring, there is no sense that the heroes are in danger of losing themselves to their quest.

Similarly, Interview With The Vampire is not a true horror, as the deep mysteries of the vampire are laid bare for both the reader and the characters. By presenting the supernatural in a knowable and tangible way, the writer removes the sense of uncertainty and fear that would normally be present.

Real fear is based on the threat of the unknown. Not cheap startle tricks.

The recent Keifer Sutherland movie, Mirrors, is a fantastic example of truly excellent horror. There is mystery, danger, and the protagonist's growing obsession with the puzzle before him. In a good horror, the hero should actually be very much responsible for the destruction in his personal life, rather than simply being a victim. They should almost be accidentally destroying themselves because they underestimate the real danger.

If you want to read a really amazing story, one that put real chills up my spine, I heartily recommend The Dionaea House. Read everything there. It's truly enthralling.

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