For the Halloween season, I will write a short thriller on Tuesdays that will leave you squirming a bit. I don’t call this horror because that genre and much of its sub-genre are overused. It has also changed a lot over the decades.
Traditionally, what was known as horror would show us good and evil. The protagonist, when faced with actual evil, would struggle throughout the story to overcome it. The story was frequently used as an allegory to show our battle with our inner demons, and what awaited us if we gave into them.
Over the years much of the horror genre has devolved into stories glorifying evil itself. With no compelling protagonist and no hope, many of these stories rely on jump scares or just plain gore to keep the audience involved. You can probably tell, I am not a fan of where many of the stories have gone.
I think a good supernatural thriller, or horror, need just a few things. First, you need a setting that is unsettling. Second, you need a protagonist that will remain when times get tough. Often an unwilling actor is the best kind because they are easier characters to develop. Finally, you need a restrained hand. Our fear of death and harm will cause us to imagine all sorts of horrible things. All you need to do is trigger that feeling.
Let’s be honest. “Jaws” was a great movie because we almost never saw the shark. However, the original script required the generous use of the prop. The studio can thank the broken mechanical shark for their success. In fact, when it does appear it seems far scarier the first time you see the movie because you already have something in your mind before he pops out of the water. Afterwards, when you see the movie again, you are surprised how fake the shark looks. Why? Because you are over the feeling of fear you had.
Terror On Tuesday will be a series. I can’t possibly bring a character through an entire experience in one post. We will finish the story on Halloween. I hope you enjoy it.