Is Horror Irrelevant?
Are horror movies and books irrelevant these days?
I’m asking for a friend.
Well, no, not really. I’m asking for me.
A strange question, I know, coming from somebody who is making a living on writing horror. But it’s a serious question.
The reason I’m asking is: I can’t help but wonder what books or movies are actually scary these days.
I recently watched Get Out, and found it to be very creepy and unsettling. So (naturally) I showed it to Thing One, 15 years old, and at the end of the film I asked him, “What did you think to that?”
To which he replied, “Yeah, it was good.”
“Did it scare you at all?” I said.
“No, not really,” he replied, with a teenager’s shrug of indifference.
Now, I can still remember the day I left him in the cellar as a toddler watching SpongeBob Squarepants, and when I went down to check he was okay, I found him staring silently at the TV while big fat tears rolled down his cheeks. It was the episode with the bully, and Thing One was terrified.
Then there was the situation with The Walking Dead a few years later, but we’re not going there, Mrs Preston still hasn’t forgiven me.
And, of course, I showed him Jaws when he was nine, and he almost stopped watching the film after Hooper nearly poops himself underwater when Ben Gardner’s head pops out of the boat.
He loves films, and will happily watch anything I suggest, but is he ever scared?
And I think that is probably the case for a lot of us these days. We’re inundated with violent entertainment, not just in films and books but computer games too. Does anybody actually get scared anymore? Do people still faint at horror movies, as was the case (allegedly) with The Exorcist? Does no one run out of the cinema theatre to throw up and then run back in to carry on watching the film?
We’re all so worldly wise now. We’re all so sophisticated in our knowledge of how films are made. And if a film has a ton of digital effects, it becomes even less believable. Unless it’s done well, of course.
But what about books? When was the last time a book seriously creeped you out? Gave you goosebumps on your goosebumps?
It takes a skillful writer to pull off something like that.
And I’m just not sure it happens anymore.
But I’m willing to be proved wrong.
Let me know in the comments what film or book last creeped you out.