1. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lack of fright

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Islander, Jan 23, 2009.

    Horror movies aren't what they used to be. Things like ghosts, zombies and vampires don't scare people any more. Modern "horror" movies seem content at being thrillers ("I Know What You Did Last Summer"), or pastiches ("Scream").

    But are people really less scared today than they were 30 years ago? Or are they just scared of different things?

    If so, what are they scared of? What is needed to make a story really scary to today's audience?

    EDIT: After posting, I realised this thread probably belongs in Plot Creation.
     
  2. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Something that has never been done before. Something that is eschewed and is not talked about. Taboos. Something that hits a chord with the audience. Reality is what will scare the audience ****less, so if you protray something real as possible like child abuse, incest, or cannabilism it will bring a whole new genre of horror. Realistic horror. Because the only way to scare and shock viewers these days is showing the unfiltered, unmanipulated portrait of reality, not the caricature of it like Saw or Hostel.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The problem is, phobias tend to be very personal. What freezes one person into hyperventilatiing paralysis leaves another laughing hysterically. Many people find horror based on religious prophecy profoundly terrifying. As an atheist, I'm usually bored to sleep by that kind of book or film. Many people have an instinctive aversion tospiders or insects, and so we were desensitized by a glut of insect fear tales in the 50s and 60s (it's still a sound basis for scaring audiences, so those films and books still come out, but they don't have as much impact as they used to.)

    As Eyez touched on. it needs to be a bit different. The major phobias have been done to death (and beyond), so people are a bit desensitized. Even coulrophobia (the fear of clowns) has been done enough that it's hard to frighten any except the most sensitive coulrophobes.

    So that leaves the more obscure phobias. But the lesser phobias will only reach certain people.

    The only other approach I can think of has also been used effectively in cinema, so oit too will probably lose its power: the double fakeout. You build up anticipation for a major fright to a white knuckle pitch, and then you dispel it in an abrupt letdown - it wasn't the monster, a kitten rolls out, sending a cascade of loose cans clattering across the concrete. And just as you relax and start to laugh at yourself, the monster leaps in with slashing mandibles, dripping with smoking venom.
     
  4. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    The advent of the video game has left horror films/writing out in the cold. Sure, you can show all the gore you want, but on my xbox I can be the instrument of gore. In many readers, books can't compete with that.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Horror is not gore. Gore is a bore (not a political comment. But then again...).
     
  6. othman
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    othman Member

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    Well, if you want taboo ... have you ever noticed that no horror movies and computer games have children dieing? I mean it would be easy to effectively 'shock' an audience and scare them (for their children) but then critics and whatnot would take you apart piece by piece. I mean, teenagers have been touched upon but not to much of an extent but young children would either excel your story to being a bestseller or drown it before you can find a publisher willing to take the possibility of killer her/his company.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Pet Semetary
     
  8. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Mist? Not on screen but disturbing nonetheless.

    (BTW, I do agree that killing a child could either make your book famous, or kill it. It is my biggest fear with my semi-thriller novel whose ending might leave some angry at me.)
     
  9. rory
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    rory Contributing Member

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    Definitely scared of different things. With science as advanced as it is, people are slow to believe in the existence of zombies, vampires, and whatnot. We now have information based on research, rather than superstition and myth. That is not to say that those themes can't be hugely popular, but they just lack a little in the 'horror' area, I think.

    Truly horrifying things these days would probably flow along the lines of fact rather than fiction. For example, superbugs developing as a direct result of antibiotic over-prescription leading to bacterial resistance. That is scary. That could potentially result in the extinction of the human race as we aren't pumping out new antibiotics like we used to. Or conspiracy in the government. Things that actually have a possibility of happening.

    I feel I'm far more likely to be killed by a disease than a werewolf. :p

    Just my opinion. I feel I should point out that I'm a pansy when it comes to horror, so maybe my comments are useless, but I thought I'd voice (or type, as it were) them anyways.
     
  10. goldhawk
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    goldhawk Senior Member

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    If you want to scare people, you have to use the Shadow archetype. The Shadow is the threat at the edge of perception, the fear of the unknown.

    The best, recent example of this is Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. This is one scarily dude but he doesn't do anything through most of the story; he just talks. He does have an action scene at the end where he kills a guard and escapes prison but most of the time he is in a cell or in restraints. What scares people about him is that they can't figure out what he's thinking; that he can out think them and manipulate them into doing exactly what he wants even when they are doing their best to thwart him.

    Cast your villain as a Shadow and keep most of him unknown to your readers, even after the end of the story.
     
  11. Alex1994
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    Alex1994 Member

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    I recently saw the play entitled 'The Woman in Black' in London's West End. It contains no gore and no blood. The play is very simple: there are only 3 actors. The set is equally simple and you need to use your imagination quite a lot to set the scene. I can say that everyone in the theatre was scared to death. You may ask, how can theatre be scary? Well, go to see a performance of 'The Woman in Black' at London's Fortune Theatre and I can guarantee that you will be scared witless.
     
  12. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    Nobody knows how to scare anymore. Every time I watch a movie like Halloween or Black Christmas (originals, bitches!) I see this more and more. It's a general lack of suspense, a general lack of real shocks, it's the way they only tread through waters that have already been treaded. "It's a horror movie," they say. "We don't really have to try!"

    SAW and Hostel were both initially full of potential to revive the genre, but they were run into the ground eventually, and now they're just garbage.

    We need someone to take risks.
     
  13. Raxxus Von Harken
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    Raxxus Von Harken New Member

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    Scared.

    I actually think, the only thing that scares people anymore, are movies, where they have a small dark room, and extremely eerie and scary music, and a bad guy who just jumps out of no where and skips a heart beat.

    Thats what I find scary. A movie without that is Playschool.
     
  14. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hardly anything scsres me anymore, maybe becauseim older, maybe becauseeverything has been done, and done, and done, its been overkill.

    If its got gore and blood, its more a laughfest for me (i grew up in the 80s' watching everything that was classfoed as scary, which these days they all have 18 ratings, go figure).

    What scares me now (as an older person), is the more "real" scenario movies, like saw (only the first one, they got repetitive, thus less effective), Wolf Creek (A guy with a gun and taunt rape scenes etc), Very real and for me frightning


    There was one more that made me do the "made dash" to turn the lights on after i saw it. That was No COuntry for Old men, an odd choice, but i was on my own and it made me think what if someone is outside with the mind of tha freak.

    Note - if i see one more movie do the dark scene where someone has to use night vision googles (The Decent, cloverfield), im going to punch someone! Only so many times you can do somethin before it gets old.
     
  15. apathykills
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    apathykills Contributing Member

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    i think now days we are more resistant to physical horror, such as big spiders or major amounts of gore; psychological thrillers and horror movies however are still as terrifying as ever.

    i don't know how many of you saw hostel but it's been deemed one of the goriest movies of all time; i don't think it's all that gory and i know it didn't scare me.

    on the flip side a movie with no gore, "hard candy", left me terrified. the movie is almost entirely dialog and by the end i was shaking in my boots.

    this is because horror is not about gore, it's not about giant spiders or zombies or vampires, it's all about you and your mind.

    all good horror comes from the brain, someone scary jumping out of a closet is not frightening; it's startling.

    look at saw, fine it has its gore component but the really scary moment, the terrifying moment, is just before the doctor shoots the other guy.

    the mist was a great movie and what made it great is the moment were they're all sitting in the car, and you know what happens next, but you wont admit it to yourself.

    inducing fear from the mind is what it's all about for me and it usually has a much longer impact on the person watching.

    show me all the zombiewerwolfpirats in the world, but non of that will compare to a father that has a gun pointed to his daughters head and told that she will die if he wont rape her (can't remember were i saw this, but it f*cked me up).

    i love horror movies and i think the best thing to happen to the genre is the rising amount of movies that are devoted to the psychological elements of fear.

    p.s

    video games are interactive, this is why I think they will never be able to express fear as affectively as other genres, as a key element of fear is feeling powerless.

    There are however exceptions, like silent hill 2.

    p.p.s

    the devils rejects is also awesome, and is also a good combination of gore and psychology, much like saw.
     
  16. Eli
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    Eli Member

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    Oh my god silent hill scared me so much I never touched the playstation again :eek:
     
  17. Capt.Ahab
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    Capt.Ahab Member

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    A lot of people have touched on psychological effect of others to instill fear. Sure there are people afraid of spiders and serial killers or creepy neighbors that peek through your neighbors but the damages comes physical. What you did is something that a lot of people are afraid and will without having some antagonist slaughter the characters.

    Take the dark for example. The dark holds the unknown, so a lot of people fear it. A lot of people don't. A simple light could solve the issue. You could still write a good horror story of darkness, though it has been done before. BUT what you could do is make that fear completely psychological. Forget some serial killer running around in the dark killing people. Lame. Instead it should progress through one's mine over time, as the darkness slowly creeps through the character's nerve and he/she starts to lose his/her sanity and results in a personal injury or death or whatever ending you want. I personally do not fear the dark. I may be hesitant to enter a dark room, but not from fearing that someone will kill me, but for the fear that I might bump into something that would stub my big toe or something. But is I were to remain in darkness in an unfamiliar setting I would definitely lose my nerve and become jumpy. What could be a predator stalking in the darkness watching your every movement my only be a squirrel tramping through leaves to find some nuts. Becoming surrounded in darkness alone for too long would bring in a serious psychological breakdown when there really is no threat to the characters life. Just a thought though. People try to use darkness in thrillers and utterly fail because they always include a darkness dwelling antagonist. Eliminate the antagonist and you might actually have something that can take your mind for a spin.
     
  18. Evil Ferret of Randomness
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    Evil Ferret of Randomness Member

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    I agree with Captain Ahab. You could always do something with complete sensory deprivation, which is basically making it so someone can't see, hear, feel, taste, or smell, or something of that such. I am a HUGE fan of Psychological stuff, which might be why I go frekkin' insane whenever people mention The Dark Towers, so I do have a bias for it... So, yea, my opinion probably isn't the best...
    ANYWAYS! Good luck with the issue!
     
  19. scotty
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    scotty New Member

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    I get what you mean by the psychological fear having more of an effect than the physical effect of a big bad monster running about.

    This is partly the reason I find some zombie movies quite scary. It is not the whole part with the gore that scares me, or to an extent the eating people part, it is the part psycological effect of the unending tide of them; all coming for you and with no reasoning with them is possible.

    Moreover the emotional efect that these people used to be close to you. I mean what can be more terrifying than having your family come back from the dead and their only desire is to kill you, and you having to kill them before they get you!

    Some zombies movies have realised this. However the majority haven't.

    Does anyone else share this feeling? Or is it just me being mental?

    Cheers
    Scotty
     
  20. Dr. Doctor
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    Dr. Doctor Contributing Member

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    You know, I did a story like that when I was first expanding into more serious stuff. I should re-visit it.
     
  21. Leaka
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    Leaka Creative Mettle

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    I don't agree. I think since a video game is interactive it is more scary. Because you are there, you are the dude with the gun running in a labyrinth of darkness. Doom 3 scared me the most though I could barely play a few hours of that before getting up and leaving, Silent Hill scared me, Resident Evil scared me enough, F.E.A.R. scared me to living death.
    I think since it's interactive the world is more tangible you are more absorbed into it.
    You are the story, you are the main character, you are there.



    Video games are like the only thing that scares me.
    I love horror though like Poe and Lovecraft because there is something personal and deep about it. Something just more then a few scares, there is more about the ghost, etc.
    There horror was real, but also a bit abstract at times. The Pit and the Pendulum all though didn't scare me, it disturbed me, gave me chills.
     
  22. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    I've never been scared by a movie. Why? Because I'm not part of it. I know that nothing that happens in the movie will affect me in any possible way, so there's nothing to be afraid of. Books... No offense to any horror writers, but I usually end up laughing when I read something that tries to be a horror movie. I can't see it, I can't hear it, I certainly can't smell it or be harmed by it; to me, horror stories are not scary in any way.

    In something as interactive as a video game, though, I'm actively participating in the action. I can't just sit back and watch the main character pull off a miraculous escape/victory, just because he's the hero and he HAS to live; I actually have to do something about it myself, and frequently, the things you have to do to keep your head are not obvious.

    The way I see it, there are only two ways to experience something truly scarier than a survival horror video game: virtual reality (which has yet to see the light of day), and actually going through fear scenarios yourself.
     

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