Saturday, March 19, 2011

Horror that makes us afraid or cautious of horror films/ghost stories

In the film Kwaidan, I noticed a message of warning in the final story "In a Cup of Tea". At the end of the story, the author of a book as well as the narrator in the other short stories finds himself trapped in water as the ghost in the story had been. I took this to be a result of the author meddling in the business of spirits. I believe that the author could be considered meddling simply because he was retelling the ghost stories. Many films or stories examine some taboo, whether it be speaking about ghosts, demons, or some other entity. The story or film in turn, makes that taboo appear real to the audience and, I know at least in my case, adds a different dimension of fear to the viewing or reading experience. I have sometimes found myself wondering if the fate of the characters of the story or film will become my own, if only for a few seconds. This type of psychological mind game, as well as most psychological horror, is some of the most horrific, because it occurs in the minds of the audience, and may be as real to the audience as any other thought. I know this is what many of my friends found most horrifying about the film The Ring. I am curious to find out if anyone else agrees that this type of scare tactic is unsettling?


  1. I agree that the true fear of the psychological thriller is the fact that reality is suspended and the audience is thrown into a mind game of sorts. At least for me, however, the horror of the film is not from the fear that the fate of the characters could potentially be my own. I feel the real horror of these psychological thrillers is created because the world has been altered, where certain laws exist but others do not. I'll follow the lead and use The Ring as an example. I am not afraid of seeing things come out of the tv and kill me, leaving a gruesome expression on my face. What twists the mind is the fact that although other "laws of nature" are being followed, this one has been suspended. The film maker has created a word very similar to the one inhabited by the audience, but differences that create an uncanny feeling while watching.

  2. I also agree that the true fear from psychological horror comes from the fact that the fate of the characters may be our own. However, the truly horrifying movies make us question whether we would act the same way that the characters do. For example, the movie Seven comes to mind. In the end, Brad Pitt's character ends up killing the serial killer in retribution after his wife was killed. This action was exactly what the serial killer wanted to happen, and Brad Pitt knew it. However, his need for revenge was so strong that he went through with it anyway. I often wonder when I see the movie what I would have done in his situation. I would like to say that I could never kill anyone, but when pushed, I really could not say. The great psychological horror movies make us even question our own minds.