My current work-in-progress falls into the horror genre. In the past, this has been something of a niche market--the dark little corner in the back of the bookstore where the shelves are sagging under the weight of Stephen King and Dean Koontz (who, by the way, does not belong here).
Recently however, horror as a genre seems to be disappearing. Not that horror books aren't being written--they just aren't getting stuck back in that corner. Some bookstores don't even have a horror section anymore.
I think it's because horror nowadays requires more than a scary monster and a desperate woman running for her life through the woods only to take refuge in a house that has been abandoned for a hundred years. I mean, come on. Who would ever make a horror movie with that kind of plot?
So why do people like to watch and read horror?
Simple. People like to be scared. But not just scared--they like to be safe and scared.
James, you obviously have no idea what you're talking about.
It's a theory, okay. I'm not an expert on why people like to freak themselves out. People confuse me. As my dad says: "People are some of the dumbest humans on earth."
The theory: Readers and viewers flock to horror stories because it gives them a chance to face their own fears in a safe environment where if they fail or are overcome, it won't matter. We want to be brave. We want to be strong and overcome the things that make us quiver in our flip-flops.
The thing we fear the most probably isn't that dead girl standing at the end of the hall. More likely it is the thought of revealing a secret we've kept hidden, or giving up something we know is wrong, or the fear that we will fail and lose it all.
In my opinion, good horror is much more than a haunted house and an ambling ghoul looking for revenge. Good horror pokes and prods at the deepest psychological issues that we all face. It asks questions about anger, commitment, bravery, love and faith.
Too deep? Maybe. Maybe people enjoy horror stories simply because they are suspenseful and you MUST KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
Do you read or watch horror stories? Why? What's your favorite?