As a child, my favorite genre was horror. No matter if it was a book, movie, or videogame, the scarier it was, the more I enjoyed it. Whether I was hearing a heart beneath the floorboards in Poe’s The Tell-Tell Heart, or waiting for the hoard of zombies to come around the corner in Resident Evil as the music got more intense, I loved being on the edge of my seat. Now, I can honestly say after 25 years of living, I have never been scared of anything. Startled, yes, but scared, no. I am under the assumption that those who like the genre though like it because they love the feeling of being scared.
Why is it that I love it so much then? I love the unknown. That is what made all the classic horror films so great. It is never the big reveal that has me, or anyone for that matter, on the edge of the seat, it’s everything that leads up to that point. If you are watching a movie, it is the music, the shadows, the fear coming from the actors, and the suspense that make your heart race. If you are reading a book, it is the all those words that set the scene and put those images, sounds, feelings into your blood. That feeling that you wish you had turned on more lights and the thought of “did I lock the door” running through your head. All of the ambiguity leads two simple choices, will the victim live, or will the victim die?
So this was my favorite genre as a child. Why not now? Now, it is all about the gore. There are very few movies, books, or videogames that cash in on suspense anymore. They spend all their time on making the “monster” as horrific as possible with gore that they have forgotten how to truly scare someone. Yes, the original Resident Evil had your share of gory zombies and mutated creatures, but even more frightening than any Tyrant waiting around the corner was knowing that your simple controls weren’t going to be able to get you out of that hallway in time. I don’t even think there was a quick spin control until the remake so by the time you even thought about using your last bullet to delay the inevitable, you were probably already dead.
Today seems to be a world of instant gratification and I have no doubt that all the genres have changed to keep up with that. There is something to be said about going back to the basics though. Much like there is no fear or excitement in seeing a gory monster rather than just knowing the monster exists, there is no fear or excitement in living a life of instant gratification. To me, the point of life is to live on the edge. Embrace the uncertainty. Dive into the unknown. So what if you are scared, that’s how you know you are alive. And remember, it’s the suspense that…