The Haunting of Hill House is masterfully done horror with humanity
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In the movie “The Innkeepers”, two clerks in an allegedly haunted hotel work on the last night before the place closes down. They deal with some odd final guests, both human and otherwise (maybe).
In “Hush”, “Halloween” and “The Strangers”, peoples' homes and neighborhoods are invaded by psychotic masked stalkers.
But of course, there's more going on in these scary flicks than just the plots.
Many of us know about subtext, theme, character arcs, and other moving parts that exist in stories; I've touched on them here and there in these Thursday posts.
The power of character and theme is just as present in horror as other genres. This is the stuff that makes us feel when we experience stories.
In many horror stories the character flaws are crucial to the stories. Maybe more crucial than in other genres. Or at least in a different way. Maybe because the real scary stories have dark stuff under the surface to match the more obvious horrors:
In The Innkeepers, Claire may be seeing ghosts. But her real problem is that she's stuck in a rut in life, and not moving forward in her life in any way. Living a meaningless life is scarier than ghosts.
In Hush, the main character has isolated herself in the country and is also isolated by her deafness. This will make survival much more difficult.
The estranged couples in The Strangers, Vacancy, and Open Water are lost because of their bitterness toward each other. If they don't learn their life lessons, they will not survive…and even if they do learn, in may be too late. The real horror lies in how horrible we can be to the people who are closest to us.
In The Shining, Jack's alcoholism and violent temper are more scary, in a real way, than the dark spirits haunting the Overlook hotel. Stephen King said that the way he sometimes felt hate for his young children terrified him, and was a big inspiration for that book.
In SAW, The Exorcist and Paranormal Activity, it's just the neglect of a lives not fully lived or fully engaged that let the evil in. Scary stuff we can all relate to, I'd wager.
More than other genres, horror often doesn't have character arcs…sometimes this is because the characters fail to overcome their flaws, or the flaws just outweigh the ability for them to change and survive.
No matter if the horror story is realistic, heightened reality, or supernatural, the real juice comes from the dark stuff underneath: behavior and thoughts that lead us down the wrong path.
“The Haunting of Hill House”, the new show on Netflix, captures all of this character stuff really well. That show reminds me of Stephen King's “IT” squite a bit. So far. Still not finished with Hill House yet. But the characters are incredibly well realized. Which makes the horror much, much scarier.
All right, that's it for now! Hope you have a fine day and a wonderful Halloween season!
Again, check the DD Awards out! They're always a fun time!
Banes at 12:00AM, Oct. 18, 2018
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