Here’s a fun question: What are you afraid of? What terrifies you? What haunts your dreams? What do you refuse to watch on TV, in film, read in a book? What terrifies you?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a pop quiz so you don’t have to answer. Not me at least. Fears are private things, they’re big weaknesses, aren’t they? It’s hard to be afraid of something, really afraid of something and not let it control you. So it’s okay to be afraid of something and consider it a weakness. We’re all friends here, no judgment.
Okay, so let’s get back to the question (this is a rambling piece, bear with me).
What are you afraid of?
This doesn’t have to be one thing either. You can be afraid of wasps and simultaneously be very afraid of demons, possession, zombies. That’s fine. I just want you to focus in on that fear or fears. Got it?
Let’s get into it.
Keep that fear in mind.
Before I get into the good stuff, I want to talk about why recently I’ve discovered my love for writing horror…and really intense horror. There are three main reasons. The first is that it invokes the feeling of terror in the reader. Good horror has a way of crawling into your head and sticking with you when you go to bed. And that’s good. I think it’s important we experience that feeling. I think it’s a fundamental part of being human…feeling inescapable terror that is. And there are not many ways to get it safely outside of the horror genre (both literary, art, and movies).
The second is that by feeling that terror we are given such a wonderful opportunity! We can sit down with our fears, read a book again, watch a movie again, or even just think about what scares us and learn. We are given the opportunity to explore our fears, see why they exist. What scares you might not scare me and what scares me might not scare you. Why? Why am I afraid of something that someone else is not? It’s an important question to ask and it’s the beginning of understanding and conquering our fears.
I’ll give you a quick example. The movie “28 Days Later” absolutely terrified me and it still flips my stomach (I hope it does for many years) because there are so many absolutely terrifying aspects to it. Of course, it’s a just a well-made movie so of course, that alone means it will frighten me but it’s the other parts of it that gave me a real scare, that stuck with me. The parts that haunt me the most are when people couldn’t see an attack coming and that their hope, their love, blinded them from the attacks that happened so quickly anything other than death was impossible.
That upset me.
Because I like to believe that those aspects of human nature are our redeemable ones, not our damning ones. But that’s not always how it goes. The more peace I make with that, amazingly, the less those parts of the movie truly scare me. Interesting isn’t it?
Let’s move onto the last thing: horror reflects society’s fears and problems.
I know what you’re thinking. Society has no zombies. No vampires. No werewolves. Yeah, I know. But it’s what they represent.
Let’s take 9/11 for example. What did we see in the wake of this terrible disaster? What did we see as terrorism grew? Possession movies. Movies with heavy religious undertones. People dying because of anti-Christian force. That’s no coincidence. That’s a revival of the fear of forces against Christianity. We saw this before with Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” and we saw it again as people continued pointed the finger at Islam.
I’m not expert at this, but please check out this link. Because Jason Wallin is.
Amongst some of the things he talks about are zombies, technology, even animals and vegetation. I agree with most of what he said too especially with zombies since it took the world by storm around the time various diseases were starting to threaten people’s safety. In the Cold War era, people were exposed to alien invasions. Wonder why? The fear of the invasion of a foreign concept like communism.
Google is your ally. A quick search will teach you all about how horror reflects society’s fears.
Okay, okay. So what are you afraid of?
Take a moment and really consider why you might be afraid of something. Is it a religion? Is it a need for control? Underneath every fear of a book, movie, or painting is a truth. I invite you to explore your fear and find your own. Remember, horror is here for you to enjoy. That doesn’t mean you need to adore gore. You can enjoy bloody movies but you can also just enjoy the process of getting scared and diving into that fear to better understand yourself.
It’s important that we understand the what and why behind our fears because odds are, they aren’t just on the screen. If we are scared of something in a movie, it might just represent our real-world fears. And those must be dealt with if we want to become better, stronger, and more able. Fear is there as a warning and not all warnings need to be listened to, especially if they’re wrong. How many warnings have you clicked out of? How many have you plain ignored?
With all that being said, this Halloween season, try something new. Pick up a scary book. Look up a scary movie online and learn to enjoy the process. Horror is a beautiful learning tool that offers you insight into your own personality.
It’s okay to be scared of things. It’s okay to always be scared of those things. But it’s also good to know why you are scared of those things. Developing a healthy respect for our fears is important but developing a working relationship with them is even better. There will come a time in everyone’s life where we need to push that fear down. And horror helps you learn how to do that. It gives you those tools.