Horror Transitions Well Across Ways Of Engagement
Horror In Urban Legends
Horror is a wide genre casting its net over nearly every available medium. Spoken stories in the forms of folklore have evolved into our modern day urban legends, while still holding on to the essence of the medium. They are tales of warning intended to scare or warn against some threat, instill a moral in some fashion, or simply disgust the listener. They often are told amongst social groups, as something that happened to a “friend of a friend.” They tend to take on a life of their own in telephone-style retellings, making them regionally recognizable.
Urban legends in horror rely on the speaker captivating their audience with elements of the paranormal, supernatural, or a terrifying serial killer still at large. They contain an air of insider knowledge, with a focus on local landmarks or events, which leads to their faux credibility. Urban legends speak to us not only because humans have a long history of being entranced by spoken word, but because the central focus of these modern-day myths focus little on the victims of the story, highlighting the sense of dread and our natural fear of the unknown. New Orleans has dozens of tours led by guides who take their audience to the actual spots in the legends. Often conducted at night, they utilize the haunted locations to fully immerse their audience in visuals that mingle with the storyteller’s tale, to add both realism and an extra dose of adrenaline to their performances, without a full cast, special effects, or even a simple soundtrack.
Horror In Film/TV
Movies and television are typically the main go-to for horror entertainment. Enjoying a horror movie or show is a social experience, as we tend to watch them with people not only because of their fear-inducing effects. Fear is best processed in discussion with others, and horror movies are no different. Often they contain such horrific themes and visuals that we cannot help but discuss them with those around us, who can either sympathize with the shock or point out elements we missed.
Within recent decades, special effects have allowed many previously impossible plots to come to life through horror films, which previously risked looking silly. Even the sound effects have evolved to find there are sounds that unsettle humans without being detectable, so viewers will be prompted into a fear response without knowing why. Older films and shows would often rely on psychological horrors or isolation themes. The Twilight Zone (1959) was an impressive show because it could transform a simple idea (something out of the ordinary occurred), combine it with often simple settings, scripted to convey a horrible thought. Many of their plots focused on morality, revenge, isolation, and detachment to name a few. These seemingly simplistic elements came together to create a show that has had a lasting impact many decades later. The most heinous tortures and demonic forces have a stable home in the realm of film.
Horror In Books/Short Stories
Written horror is a personal favorite of mine. Anything can happen in the few pages, as there are no limits to what a compelling author can concoct to feed an imaginative reader. If there are words to describe it (or in the case of Cthulhu, no words) nothing can hold back horror. The most vile monsters or situations are created to speak truths about society and the condition of humanity itself. There is a protective veil over fiction, which allows both exposure to taboo topics and the privilege of open discussion through the actions of the characters. Speaking freely about plot elements is acceptable, as we are not outwardly professing an individual stance on a subject, merely speculating about elements of the plot.
Horror In Video Games
Video Games are another modern type of horror. They allow full immersion into the story, while allowing the player to become a part of it. Their actions lead to their consequences or rewards. Critical thinking, strategy, and quick reflexes are utilized to complete the objective of the game. You get to experience the horror from a first person perspective. Loss of your comrades, people you attempt to save, elements of the game you try to overcome are all in your hands. The artwork and plots in most games are a masterpiece in and of themselves. The game presents you with a reality of dealing with a situation, and it is up to you to remedy it, if you can. Dead Space is fantastic, not only as a video game but also because it transcended into other mediums of film, comic book, and novel… truly capturing the effect a medium has in the presentation of horror.
For an amazing talk about the horror genre, check out Dead Talk Live’s episode with the Black Summer Panel!