I watched and enjoyed this year's horror movie “Barbarian” awhile back. It starts off as the first AirBnB horror movie - or the first one I've seen, anyway.
It occurred to me that back when cell phones grew into common usage I wondered how horror fiction would deal with that development. A staple of the scary classics I grew up with was the isolation factor. In fact, isolation is a big part of most horror, in one way or another. If we're all carrying phones everywhere we go, we can always call someone for help, I thought. It seemed like horror stories would either have to separate characters from their phones, or the devices would have to somehow not be functional.
I thought it would become repetitive and eye-rolling to always have to get rid of people's phones - of course it's never really been a problem as far as I can tell.
The easy solutions, like batteries running out, devices dropped, or no reception have all been used, and for me, it works fine as an obstacle. But I think what I like better is when the phones work, but it doesn't help. Or advancing technology actually CAUSES or ADDS to the horror-character's problems.
Sure, we can go anywhere with our phones - but so can the sinister strangers who are stalking us!
It's even more interesting with social media: regular people now have the exposure of celebrities, just without the money to protect ourselves from scary types who mean us harm. Just like celebrity writer Paul Sheldon in MISERY, now we can ALL have stalkers and peepers who are watching us without our knowledge. And the profiles we see online could be fake, and hiding who-knows-what. Like maybe an actual evil, superintelligent Catfish!
Not only was my younger self wrong about technology solving horror-problems too easily - sometimes new technology is created in fiction to create horrendous havoc for unsuspecting horror heroes. Starships in ALIEN and EVENT HORIZON and Stephen King's THE JAUNT only opened new horrific doorways for us to go through - and to let awful things come out.
FTL travel opens endless possibilities for frightening things to happen - and don't forget the sentient robots and AI that populate multiple frightening stories!
Horror will never be conquered by technology - the dark corners of human (or superhuman) nature is always with us…and isolation may take different forms, but it's always potentially there as well.
What have been the scariest uses of technology you've read or seen?
This is the last of my horror/Halloween posts for this year.
See you next week!
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Banes at 12:00AM, Oct. 27, 2022
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