It’s TTT time! As usual, if you’re curious about this, Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl hosts these weekly challenges (so, see her blog for more info). For today, she picked a freebie having to do with page to screen or screen to page adaptations. While I have strong opinions on those topics, they tend to change with time, and thus I decided to talk about something else instead. As I am sure you noticed, I am a huge horror fan – both books – and movies and so I figured why not list 10 reasons for loving that genre. My love for horror has no bounds, thus these are NOT all the reasons why I love horror but just 10 I’ve been thinking about lately. They are in no particular ranking order. I just jotted them down as they came to mind.
1. It always takes place at the edge of the human condition.
These might be the most fascinating aspect of horror for me. I love how the genre explores humanity as a whole and humanity of individuals and then pushes what we know past boundaries we are comfortable with. A book that readily comes to mind is a book that I reviewed in January called While You Sleep. It takes a character that for some reason abandons her husband (society is very uncomfortable with that) for a get-away trip to Scotland to find herself (aren’t women supposed to put family first?!). There she encounters paranormal events that are either truly paranormal or show that she is plagued by delusions. Not knowing what’s real and what’s not is super frightening to me. She gets visited by a demon that entangles her in a weird erotic web and that again pushes what society generally finds morally acceptable (she is after all married and he is after all a demon, but what would it mean if all of that just takes place in her mind?). The reader gets uncomfortable because we are aware of what society considers ok and yet we find us relating to her, to her anxieties, to her ambitions, and to her experiences. There is specifically one aspect of her past lots of women (and also men) can relate to and that makes it even harder to judge her for her current actions. When looking at some of the most recently released horror movies, we can also observe that the genre lets us deal with some of our societal shortcomings without calling anyone out in particular. I am thinking, for example, Get Out (prejudice, racism), The Babadook (how society feels about grief versus how one person might cope with it, how being a mother can be difficult in times like these), or It Follows (STDs and metaphors for rape/sexual abuse). If you haven’t watched these I highly recommend you do, btw.
2. I LOVE getting scared.
I personally love nothing more than a good fright. That probably stems from the fact that some of my favorite late childhood/early teen memories all center around watching scary movies with my dad.
3. It lets me get to know my fears on a deeper level.
As I said above, not knowing what is real and what is not is a big fear of mine. I never really verbalized that until I started deeply thinking about the books that I love and what they have in common. Horror specifically gave me that awareness. I find it very important to explore my fears and that’s one reason why I, time and time again, turn to reading horror books.
4. It allows us to explore darker facets of life such as anger, greed, or jealousy.
We all feel those feelings. We all kinda know we shouldn’t have them, at least not outwardly. Whether or not it’s a good thing to hide them is a different discussion, but the fact is we, as a society, tend to admire people who can hide them and shun the ones who cant. So often, when we actually feel angry or jealous or even envious, we think we are alone in that. Thus, I find it reassuring to know that I am not. I find that reassurance in horror books most often as it somehow is acceptable in that genre to explore those emotions without judgment. Nay, it is even expected to see those emotions in a horror book as they are often considered HORRible in and of themselves.
5. It is a fantastic metaphor for mental illness.
With the release of some really great horror books and movies lately, I truly believe horror is the perfect genre for us, as a society, to work through how we feel about and how we deal with mental illness and other deep emotions. Again, in While You Sleep, we never know if the protagonist hallucinates or if she actually is faced with out-of-her-control sinister events. Would it or SHOULD it even change how we perceive her were she actually delusional?
6. It guides my imagination only to a certain point but then lets it run free and pushes it into realms I didn’t know before.
I don’t know exactly how to explain it. I just know it’s true. A good horror book insinuates but never confirms. It hints at sinister things but it doesn’t necessarily show you. It plays with fears without actually naming them directly. And most importantly it keeps it personal. What frightens me might never frighten you!
7. It’s freaking entertaining as heck.
When I get scared watching a horror movie or reading a horror book, I HAVE to continue on because I have to know how it ends. Thus, I often find the hours just melting away and I never regret spending that time!
8. It makes me think more than any other genre.
I feel this is pretty obvious from this post – I think about horror and its metaphors, goals, strategies, and impact a lot. I am not sure if I can think of another genre that does it as much as horror. Maybe poetry?! As in ways, poetry often evokes for me the same emotions and mental images than a horror story.
9. It has characters that are relatable independent of race, age, gender, socioeconomic standing, or life experience.
This! I really love that it doesn’t matter whether or not the reader is young or old, Asian or European, rich or poor, or grew up traveling a lot or not at all. Emotions (particularly fear) are universal. Paranormal characters such as vampires, werewolves, or ghosts exist across cultures. No matter where you’re from or how you grew up, we have all experienced sadness, anxiety, or doubt. Thus, we can all relate to some of the main themes in horror. In addition, horror explores some of the differences in our upbringing in such a way that even if you don’t know that particular situation you can follow it because you know the surrounding emotions.
10. It perfectly mashes with any other genre.
I find this fact fascinating. We can find horror poetry, horror historical fiction, dark fantasy, YA horror, middle-grade horror, contemporary lit with horror aspects, Gothic horror, and many more in the literature. Each one of those is simultaneously unique and similar. They all bring something different to the genre without losing their belonging. They all also allow for a diverse readership. I honestly believe anyone can find something in horror they would like.
Do you relate to horror? Do you read it? I am looking forward to seeing your TTTs this week. I do love talking about books to movies or movies to books!