Ordinary Horror

By: Grace Hamilton

Vampires are terrifying. So are werewolves and witches come Halloween. Ghosts and ghouls creep into bedrooms and make shapes in the dark. Blockbuster hits give us headless zombies and videogames fill homes with unstoppable gunmen.

The texts in this course have shown us similar kinds of horror. These examples demonstrate a realm of fright belonging to an alternative universe. I don’t remember the last time I accidentally went on a date with a vampire or stumbled upon the devil, do you?

This raises the question: what does horror look like in this universe? In the human world you are living in this very moment. It’s there, I promise…

black hole 2

We are all familiar with the feeling of fear. Fear is the feeling produced in us when we are unsure where the murderer lurks in the house on the screen before us. It is the feeling we feel when we think we hear footsteps in our quiet homes. When we think we are being followed, or when we are young and we think that a monster is beneath our bed. We may tense up a bit, breathing increases, the room feels hotter, and your stomach tightens. Books, films, and oral stories alike have the power to make us sweat.

But what about the fear we experience when we watch horror on the news? Terror overseas that fills people’s homes and sleep. This is the kind of horror that makes entire countries tremble with fear and close their blinds.

There is also horror in the mundane that many of us experience glimpses or inklings of every day. Fear and horror usually take a very different shape in our everyday lives then they do on print, in picture, or on screen. In those instances, the horror is defined by who is telling the story and how it is being told. It is quite another thing when we are living the story itself.

This feeling, fear, is the same one that we get when we see a voicemail from mom after we know we have made a mistake, or “your exam scores have been posted.” Or when you know your heart is about to be broken.

I fear intensely the passage of time. I find its speed horrifying. I think expectations can be terrorizing, hopes can be dangerous, regret makes my blood run cold, and memories are often spooky. The prospect of rejection makes my hairs stand on end and the future is the ultimate creator of panic. These are my monsters, and far more frightening then any myth or movie.

So think about it: What is it that really keeps you up at night?

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4 thoughts on “Ordinary Horror

  1. Not only as my classmate but as my best friend, I direct this comment to you. I too find fear in the speed of time, in the prospect of rejection, and in the danger of hopes and dreams. However, I am grateful for this fear, for it means that I have something to lose. It means that we care so deeply about how we spend our days and who we spend them with. I appreciate this fear because it reminds me how much I want something or how much I love someone. Don’t fear the fear itself, embrace it, turn it inside out, and be excited that you have this very moment right now.

  2. I think this is a very interesting viewpoint on horror. Personally, I think the examples you talked about (eg. the voicemail from your mom, seeing your exam scores and even the passage of time) are more classified as anxiety. There is a fine line between the two and both bring about the same experience. Horror is the sensation of dread – when there is no hope eg. things look bleak and there is almost little or no chance of escaping the murderer that’s in your house. Anxiety is the feeling you get when you are expecting something – there is no definite answer and there still is hope eg. you may be afraid of seeing your exam score, but there is the possibility that you did pretty well. Are your fears horrors or anxieties?

  3. These are interesting concepts to think about. I find the graphic horrifying as well, reminds me of hair raised on your back when you are experiencing pure terror. Horror scares everyone differently and I have a tendency not to fear monsters because I brush it off as unlikely. However, there is fear in our everyday lives and horror on the news is scarier than horror in a story because you can’t react the way you want to. I either avoid the news or do not think too much about it, staying optimistic. However, with fictional horror stories and movies, I think in depth about the plot and why certain parts scared me more than others, analyzing the techniques because it doesn’t affect how I live my daily life.

  4. This is a rather interesting take on horror in reality. Often when we are presented with horror it comes with a face of ridiculousness, as opposed to an image of the mundane, which is closer to reality and thus can strike fear in a rather real place in our hearts. I enjoyed how you examined the human consciousness in the form of pattered footsteps or the paranoia of thinking we are being followed. I know that as a little kid when I would shut off the living room light I would immediately sprint to my bedroom for fear of being left in the dark and vulnerable. I look forward to reading more of your work!

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