Stories are all about inducing emotions. The two main emotions I search in stories are fear, better defined as blood-curdling horror, and happiness, better defined as uncontrollable laughter. About laughter I write on this page. What follows is about fear.
Many people who don’t like horror films have asked me what’s so great about choosing to be terrified during one’s spare time. For me, and I suspect many others, the answer is surprisingly simple: I love to be able to experience utter terror while in complete safety.
Think about it: without horror stories, the only ways I could experience such emotions would be fraught with dangers. Walking at night in a derelict and dangerous part of town, for example. Instead, thanks to horror stories I can shiver, jump and scream while curled up in my favourite armchair, with the knowledge that the worst consequence might be a few sleepless nights, and a mild heart attack on rare occasions.
When it comes to horror films, I’ve long been addicted to Japanese horror. As the infallible Wikipedia tells us, Japanese horror tends to focus on psychological horror and tension building. That’s precisely why I like it so much. I’m not too keen on films of the splatter genre, where bits of internal organs fly all over the place and enough blood flows to supply a hospital for a month.
One of the J-Horror films that scared me the most is Ju-on: The Grudge. I’m talking about the Japanese original, not the American remake, which I admit I haven’t watched.
Without wanting to introduce too many spoilers, I’ll just say that the film is divided into loosely related episodes and is about a curse that is passed from person to person. Like flu, but much more annoying.
What made the film so terrifying for me is the apparent randomness and inevitability of the curse. Inevitability because there’s no escape: once the curse reaches you, you are going to die before the end credits roll, no matter what you do or where you go. Randomness, because once you are cursed that nasty little kid you see in the poster could appear out of nowhere at any moment, invariably scaring the holy bejesus out of you (even if you like children).
Maybe I’m too simple-minded, but I don’t need elaborate CG monsters or expensive special effects to experience the purest, most authentic fear. The noise coming from the attic, the fleeting image in a mirror, the presence felt behind a corner, is all I need.
This was just a taster. I intend to write a lot about ghosts, haunted houses and eerie graveyards. So please come back to the Cosy Little Cottage on a stormy night, sit with me next to the fire, and get ready for some spooky tales.
Image credits: Ju-on film poster taken from the Wikipedia article. Copyright owned by the film producer or publisher. Low resolution version reproduced for commentary and criticism purposes, believed to qualify as fair use/fair dealing.