The Horror, the Horror: An Introduction
By Kim Hollis
May 28, 2020
We live in a horror story.
Okay, not really. It feels like it some days. During this time of pandemic and quarantine, I often tell people that you should feel productive if you manage to shower, brush and floss your teeth, and get dressed. Sometimes, we have to take those small victories.
Some of the best advice I’ve taken has come from BOP’s own Sean Collier in his Tales from a Quarantine article, when he offered the following sage words:
Watch whatever you want in the moment. Play whatever you want in the moment. Read whatever you want in the moment — or don’t, no one’s going to judge you for letting “Ulysses” get dusty right now. You know the shows and movies you watch when you’re in a bad mood and just need a pick-me-up? That’s probably your go-to list for the next few months. Last year, you didn’t really need to watch “The Office,” “The Simpsons” or “Friends” yet again. Now, it’s a very, very good idea.
Well, I’ve already read Ulysses (unfortunately not to my taste, much to the disappointment of my sister, a James Joyce scholar). So, as I attempt to fill my days with comfort, my go-to has been Animal Crossing: New Horizons since I’ve been an uber fan of the series since I first played it on my GameCube in 2002.
Another “comfort” of mine was reignited as well when I happened upon a list in a newsletter I received. Now, I love lists, whether it involves making them, reading them, or completing them.
The list in question involved horror films available on various streaming services (most of which I use, since my husband and I cut the cord probably two years ago now). Despite a bleak period of gorno/torture porn that damaged the genre for several years, I’ve always loved scary movies. Even as a child, movies such as The Blob and The Creature from the Black Lagoon left me intrigued. I liked feeling frightened.
In today’s world, that fright emerges as an all-too-real thing. The Emily St. John Mandel novel Station Eleven relates a fictional tale of a modern-day pandemic. I believed it otherworldly at the time I read it. Now, I think of it often.
Horror movies, with their tropes, allegories, and general lack of reality, can provide a different form of escape. In recent weeks and months, my husband and I have watched such scary fare as Fantasy Island, The Banana Splits Movie (yes, it’s horror), The Invisible Man, and The Hunt. Happily, the genre has returned more to its roots, with more psychological offerings as well as slasher flicks seeing a resurgence.
And while I may not have the stamina to continue this as a permanent weekly update, I figure I can take a look at horror stories of the past and present for the foreseeable future. I won’t limit it to just film - if a good book or television series (or video game) qualifies, I’ll plan to include those as well.
With these preliminaries out of the way, I first venture into the realm of supernatural horror as I explore the many, many questions raised by the terrific Robert Eggers film The Witch. Check back tomorrow for the full article.