All my life, I have been an avid story reader. Mystery, mystery and the macabre, Poe, Hitchcock, etc. Now, as an adult, I enjoy most the Law/Macabre shows, where the ‘good guys’, the ‘protectors’ hunt the worst criminals-those who do the evilest, vilest, nastiest, more horrific crimes, and CATCH them in the end. I like these kind of stories, because as gruesome as the crimes may be, as detailed as they may be described, the ‘good guys’, the ‘protectors’ ALWAYS come to the rescue, always save the victim, and always bring the evil criminal to justice.
Only once have I EVER watched a horror movie. A real horror movie, not a spoof, or a fantasy or science fiction, or a over-the-top one, or a gore fest one. I watched Carrie as a 10 year old. That movie absolutely terrified me. I had nightmares about it well into adulthood, and still occasionally have them. I have never watched Carrie again, nor any other true horror movie. I wasn’t exactly afraid of watching them, I just felt no interest or desire in that sort of story. I never gave it much more thought than that, until today.
Today, I saw an ad for a horror movie named ‘MAMA”, in which the Mother is terrifying the children (who are obviously the protagonists). Almost immediately, it struck me that that was SO WRONG–a Mother terrorizing her children. Then it struck me that my mother terrorized me my whole childhood, and somewhat into my adulthood as well. It snapped into place that I was like the children in the movie, at the mercy of the monster/Mother. That there was no hope. There was no escape. There was no rescue. What I discovered was that my ENTIRE childhood WAS a horror movie. I had no need to watch the story again in a movie, and relive the helplessness, the fear, the desire to just disappear. I had quite enough horror as it was without ever watching more of it.
But, what is interesting, is that those who have been brought up to know that there is love, hugs, cuddles, laughter, safety, on the other side of fear, find these movies ‘thrilling’. I think that is because those of us who only know the fear and helplessness feel the movie twice as intensely, twice as deep as those who knew safety. For us, it is a reliving, not a scary fantasy. And I think it explains as well why my favorite kinds of stories today are ones where the FBI or the Police, or some other authority is hunting and chasing down the monsters. Is saving those like us, rescuing us. Giving us hope for safety. Is enforcing laws and punishing the monsters. Making us safe. I want to hear the story of the monster, I want to see how evil he is. Because I KNOW I am going to see the authorities, the guardians, the protectors STOP the monsters, make us safe.
So, I guess we all like our scary stories, sometimes though, some of us need to have our story end happily and safely.