Sunday, October 2, 2011

Why So Serious?

Two days ago, on October 1st, I began my second annual BoHoMoMo (Bosworth Horror Movie Month). For the entire month of October, I will watch at least one horror movie a day. There isn’t much that makes me happier than finding a truly great horror movie, and afterward dissecting it to find out how it ticks. You see, I want nothing more than to scare people. If I create a story that gives you nightmares, I will smile evilly and rub my hands together, and if I had one I’d twirl my mustache.

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.

Jennifer Bosworth is the author of STRUCK
(FSG/Macmillan, May 8 2012), a novel of post-apocalyptic proportions. She wants you to have nightmares, so she's kind of a bad person.


  1. Oooh, my hubby LOVES horror flicks! I might have to pick your brain for a list of good ones! :D Interesting thought about depression and fear not mixing....

  2. I never really thought about that, but you're absolutely write. If something is sad, that emotion always outweighs the scary component of it.