We need to talk about: Horror

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Between family gatherings and forcing myself to be social now my sister is home for two weeks I found myself watching a scary film. Now, by scary I am talking pretty low on the scary scale, because anything more than a few ‘boos’ and I am shaking in the corner with fear. Tip: should you be short-sighted, you can take your glasses off during a scary film and then all you have to contend with is the noise. (The film was The Haunting if you’re interested. It made me scream in the cinema when I was 13, so I thought, hey, why not revisit that embarrassing moment from my past.) Normally I would refuse to watch any scary film that isn’t viewed in the company of friends, but even then I tend to strongly object. To give you some context, I had to cover my eyes during The Woman in Black.

I don’t read horror, I read The Rats once and while disgusting it didn’t scare me as much as it made me nauseous. I’ve read The Woman in Black, which – thankfully¬†– didn’t affect me in the same way as the film. Not just because attempting to read with a cardigan over your eyes is counter-intuitive.

I don’t have an interest in scary books, because none seem to frighten me.

I have wondered if my imagination stops me before I can picture the worst, which considering my anxiety issues would be ironic. Or perhaps I don’t have the power of rich imagination. Films give me my fears – and things I never thought about fearing – on a platter, gore and all. I don’t need to think or imagine, there they are in high definition Technicolor. Accompanied by fearsome tones composed to elicit negative emotions. I can curb these visuals in books, the zombie is slower, the evil painting less haggard – I can protect myself from being scared. I am in control of the fear.

I wish I could open the floodgates to this literal fear, face it and conquer it. Mayhaps with enough practise I can.

Can you recommend me a literary horror that will both scare me and impress me?

P.s. No Stephen King please, his prose and I do not get on.

Image by Sean O’Shaughnessy

7 thoughts on “We need to talk about: Horror

  1. My recommendations are Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, if you’ve not already read it, and Helen Oyeyemi’s White Is for Witching. I don’t know if the latter counts as horror, exactly, but it’s got a malicious house in it, and that always gets me.

    I can’t get on with horror either, and although I am short-sighted, I wear contact lenses — not so easily removed for diminished scares. A substitute teacher showed us Scream when I was twelve, and it gave me nightmares for months, and ever since then I’ve been completely off horror movies. Horror books are okay, in the ghost genre, but I don’t do anything, ever, with serial killers.

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    1. Thanks for the recs!

      Serial Killers hit too close to home with me, I have nightmares about them even when I don’t read or watch books and films on them.

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  2. As for what Jenny said, my teacher did similar. I’ve wondered why it is that teachers often pick films that aren’t particularly sensitive or simply age-appropriate. I don’t read much horror either, mostly out of a lack of knowledge as I don’t mind it too much. So the most I could recommend is L J Smith, which isn’t that bad.

    On the subject of glasses, you can pick a spot relatively near the screen to look at if you’re around people who will notice you not watching (or know you need glasses). The only issue in that is if you’re at all tempted to look, it’s easy to do so.

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  3. Hmmm … I can’t say I’ve read anything really scary recently, mainly because as I got older, it just takes more to scare me like when I was a kid. Movies on the other hand – there’s some creepy stuff out there!

    But I still enjoy horror even when I’m not crapping my pants because it was so creepy.

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