Wherein Horror Lies

For weeks now I have been wondering why nothing I read or watch on TV scares me. Don’t get this confused with me saying nothing scares me because things do. I get scared by things that actually happen to me and random bumps in the night. The idea of zombies scares me, and even watching Walking Dead scares me, but little else scares me.

I have been wondering for a while now why I don’t get more frightened, or why I would consider some horror movies and books more paranormal than horror. With this question I really started a quest into what constitutes horror and what doesn’t. I have gotten a few ideas as to what is horror and what it isn’t, so then I started looking at how I view each element that comprises horror.

I think it has to do with detachment. When I was younger I could totally delve into a book to the point that I felt the things author’s were describing happening to their characters. I could feel every swell of magic, every tide of emotion. As I get older I find less and less that a book can really strike those chords any longer. I am unsure if it is the writing or if it is my mind, but I don’t really get into books like I used to, despite my love of books.

Then last night I was re-watching True Blood and as Lorena and Bill made out on a blood soaked bed, blood pumping from the gaping hole in a womans neck beside them, it came to me. I have been desensitized to horror from the games I have played and the movies I have watched. Over time it went from “Dear lord, someone help that woman!” to “Yeah, more vampire sex and more blood. . . .” to the point that I don’t consider those images horrifying any longer.

So what scares me? Not gore, that is for sure. I think what scares me the most, and what I consider horror is the psychological. Frailty scared the wits out of me because it showed mental illness, or righteousness, you didn’t know. You couldn’t tell if the main character was really screwed up, or if he was doing the work of a higher power, riding the world of darkness.

The Devil’s Advocate scared me as well, because we saw what would happen to the main character if he chose one thing, but then at the end he chose the other. Then we realized, no matter what he chose, he was still going to go through everything we had seen before. It was inescapable.

Following the inescapable, zombies terrify me because of this very thing. No matter where you go, they are there. You can’t get away from them, because as soon as you think you do, they will come chewing through the door of your cabin in the middle of the woods because they smell you or whatever.

People like being scared, but I don’t think there are many people now that can scare us because we have gotten to a point where we are harder to scare. Why is that? Is it because of science explaining away so many myths and legends we have long thought had supernatural origins? Is it because everything we are forced to see on the news and other media venues have shown us that we are living with real life monsters? I am not sure, but I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the topic.

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