I've brought this up before, sort of, but that was in a different context, and wasn't quite as specific as this. But okay, here's my question. Is it possible to have a horror story genuinely be scary without the villain being undeniably evil? Or does anything to make the villain sympathetic get rid of the sense of terror? I bring this up after reading some of Hell House, by Richard Matheson, which is hailed as one of the best haunted house novels ever written from what I understand, and earlier, reading the original Frankenstein. The latter I've ranted about before, as I find the creature to be a more moral protagonist than the MC, among others. Thinking back though... how is the creature even supposed to be scary to the reader? He only attacks people because was pushed way further than any normal person would be able to tolerate, and doesn't even usually attack humans when pushed earlier in the story. Why would he be terrifying? Because he looks like such? I bring all this up because I see the problems of having a sympathetic character as someone the reader is supposed to be scared of. Sympathy usually means knowing a bit about them, and/or them not seeming threatening to you, per say. However, Frankenstein, bizarrely, also suffers from the problem slasher films would have literally hundreds of years later: One doesn't care if the victims live, and may actually be rooting for the antagonist to kill them. As a direct contrast, Hell House had, from what I've read, a pretty clear cut evil villain, what with who the house was previously owned by and all. To be fair, there might be a sympathetic spirit, but judging by how the book reads, and things I've heard about it, this seems to be more likely the house just screwing with them. Now, the latter I won't comment on the scariness or lack there of, but rather, it causes me to wonder: Could Hellhouse have worked if the house had sympathetic reasons for wanting to harm the protagonists, or even a sympathetic background leading to the present? Those who have read the full story, please comment on this, and point out to me if I have glaring errors, hopefully without spoilers, on any of this. But again, can an antagonist be scary while being sympathetic in the present and/or in the past? My criteria are that the monster, slasher or what have you, have reasons that can be sympathized with for killing, or what have you, the protagonist, but still remains genuinely scary. I bring all this up because its both something I want to try, but don't really have any examples I can think of to look at, other than perhaps why something failed.