Today I came across this video. Be warned that there’s a spoiler alert below, so you may want to see it first (it’s only a minute).
The good: This is an example high-impact psychological horror. A dark ambiance and haunting surreality make this more than worth the viewing. Maybe not 100% original, but it’s on the right track.
The bad: There are already traces of Hollywood horror corruption visible in this filmmaker.
It isn’t horror or even horrifying to have something lurch out and scream as the camera changes angles. It’s surprising at best and, what’s more, distracting because the viewer is actively threatened by the image, causing them to be thrown headlong back into reality as their brain checks them over, making sure all systems are go.
Please, if you’re a budding artist of the visual medium, think about this: would it be scary on paper? Consider the following.
Jason crept down a deserted hallway, feeling a bead of his cold sweat drip down his spine. The flashlight his brother Jerry had insisted he take began to flicker, and for an instant, he thought about the beeping of the heart rate monitor, and the instant his father had flat lined. He heard a creak and turned back, only for a hideous demon to jut into his view, screaming.
Did that scare you, Traveler? I doubt it. So why is it ‘scary’ in film? Because the writers and directors feel shock value and an adrenaline spike are worth more than genuinely terrifying creatures and scenarios.
I’m not saying these films aren’t worth their salt, to certain crowds and for certain reasons, but consider Saw- one of the reasons I really enjoyed the antagonist here isn’t because he leapt out of a closet with a Chucky mask and a bloody knife, but because he single-handedly outsmarted everyone in the movie and was so confident he could do so (spoiler!) that he laid on the floor right in front of his victims, then got up and left at the end without a second thought.
Or, if mental horror is not your speed, consider Jacob’s Ladder, which was terrifying simply because you had no idea what was going on and couldn’t really trust the protagonist. Hell, for a while, it looks like he’s the bad guy.
Dracula (the book) was horrifying because it was almost impossible to kill the eponymous vampire and he was getting stronger every day. He had few concerns and didn’t bother trying to kill the protagonists that were trying to kill him because, for the most part, no human posed a threat to him.
Or Frankenstein (Again, book), which held the scare-inducing notion of a man defying god to raise the dead, and that undead specimen then trying to kill his own father because humanity itself was one giant, heartless monster that drove the creation mad.
Perhaps I’m ranting and raving, but I consider myself a bit of an old soul, and I don’t believe that true fear will ever be inspired by loud noises and sudden screen flickers. Disagree with me if you want, or hate me for bashing your beloved slasher films, but I prefer quality terror to cheap jerks and jolts every day of the week.
Comment, share, and do what you will with my diatribe, Travelers, just be sure to send a tweet my way if you appreciate where I’m coming from. It’d be nice to know I’m not alone on this road.
May the wind be at your back, no matter where you turn your eyes,