Friday, 19 April 2013

Dark Pondering - What is your horror response?

Dark Pondering Image
I was thinking today. I know, it is a dangerous thing, but I did make sure I wore the appropriate safety gear. I was pondering what I look for when judging how affected I was by any given horror tale/film. It goes beyond being startled by something, as I feel I get that response from the silliest of things, like the phone ringing as I happen to walk past. I think my own horror indicator is an icy gut. It is very rarely triggered by a film and even rarer by book, but the times it has been triggered, I have usually been impressed with the quality of the fright.

Two films come to mind that triggered it for me. One was the 2009 film Drag Me to Hell. There is a seance scene about two thirds of the way through, and after an anti-climax where nothing happened, the actual happening moments later really caught me out. My gut went very icy, like I had just swallowed very cold water and it had somehow shot straight through me. I would like to make it clear that I did not wet myself, it didn't shoot ALL the way through me.

The second film that triggered the ice response was this years Dark Skies (an average film in many ways that suffered by showing too much of the creatures as the film progressed). There was a scene in the film where the mother walks into her son's room to check on him, and in the brief moment when she opens the door you see a tall stick like figure standing over him in the darkness, the only light the soft moon/street light coming through the window. When she turns the light on, both the son and the creature are gone. The half second that showed the thing standing over the bed triggered me nicely and it was a bit sad for me that the rest of the film devolved into the usual way of manufacturing the scares.

I am struggling to think of any books that may have caused me to react that way, if any ever have.

I would be very interested to hear from anyone else on this. What is your own horror response and what has caused it in the most startling way? Comments welcome below.


  1. Mine is similar to yours, it is a chill, but all over and tinged with what I would describe as a feeling of white noise. Again, like you there are those ,moments of jumping out of your skin moments that are caused by those quick edits and a carefully used piece of music/cat/noise, but it is the quiet almost blink and you'd miss them moments, when the camera pans and you see someone standing there. An early image of Michael Myers behind a hedge in broad daylight in the first Halloween, did caused this sensation for me. Another is in The Blair Witch Project, frankly annoying film with even more annoying characters, it's at the end when they 2 of them finally come across the house and then walk in to one of the rooms and find their other annoying companion standing face forward in the corner, even though he's dead, very chilling. As I think of it, one that is a movement bit is in Ringu, The Ring, when we first see Sadako jerkily crawling out of the well and towards the tv screen. Very very very chilling.

    1. Oh yes I agree with Sadako, the unnatural movement was very strange.

      I wonder how often it will be the crappy/average horror movies that give the most authentic scares, despite our best efforts to poo-poo the actual film as a whole? It might stretch to some of the other film genres that all have the odd film that's a real stinker, but that somehow gain a cult following around them.

  2. I think for some people, it's the scares which dictate whether people value a horror, rather than it being any good as a film. Yeah I guess you're right about it stretching to other genres. Why else would shite like the Scary Movies get made?