But I don’t just want to dole out the scares. I want to receive them. So let’s examine a month of horror movies together. When I find something that teaches me how to scare, or how NOT to, I’ll let you know. And perhaps you will do the same for me.
I started out the month with a French zombie film titled “Mutants,” about a woman who is trying to keep her husband from going full zombie after he’s infected with the virus. It’s just the two of them for most of the film, trapped in a huge, empty building in a snowy wilderness. The woman loves her husband so much she refuses to give up on him, even when he begins to vomit gouts of blood, his teeth and hair fall out, and he chases her around the abandoned building naked, trying to eat her.
This movie was . . . no fun. It was depressing, and for me I find it hard to be depressed and scared at the same time.
What does fear feel like? To me, it’s my heart pounding and my breath speeding up and my muscles tensed like I’m on a rollercoaster about to roar down. Fear is exciting! It reminds you that you’re alive! That’s why the horror industry is still thriving today, because most of us do not live exciting lives, but we still want to feel that rush of adrenaline from the safety of our couches.
So, what I learned from day one of my thirty-one days of horror is that a story won’t give the audience that pulse-pounding thrill they’re looking for if it’s a complete downer.
If you want to write tales that thrill, lighten up. Just not too much.