Let’s face some weird facts, while not all enjoy the horror genre, there’re actually quite a number of us whom actually like it a lot. Those scary movies where the guy had to saw his own leg off just to escape, or the corpse like girl who crawled out of a well and crawling out of the tv screen to kill whoever watching it, all those movies, we actually enjoy watching it, well at least I do. However, it’s weird that we don’t really want this to happen in reality. The very slightest glimpse of the supernatural might just make even the most veterans of horror movie goers shit themselves.
I didn’t always love to watch these horror films. In fact I hated it. The first ever horror films I watched was the 1989’s Child Play. A demon possessed toy seeking revenge or something. It was cynical and stupid, yet I was so scared by it. Nightmares came every night following that movie night. My siblings actually thought that movie was funny. Well, after 15 years, so do I. After that, I pretty much forgot about the whole horror genre, until I watched The Conjuring. A few of my friends and I got together and watched it on a laptop. All of us are cowards, and don’t have the balls to watch it by ourselves alone. Wrapped with blankets, in the middle of the night with the lights off. It was terrifying, but weird enough, it was actually really fun. I liked it, and want more. And that is when I discovered The Shinning. Which changed everything I know about the horror genre as a whole. I’m not going to spoil about the movie, but I just couldn’t help but thinking even after the movie has ended, about how scaring and frightening the movie was. It wasn’t about how scary looking the ghost was, or how many times we actually see the ghost, nor was it about the jump scares in the movie. In fact, there wasn’t any. What kept my butt clenched on my seat throughout the whole movie was because of trying to figure out all those supernatural stuff that happened. We weren’t given any explanation of what was disturbing them and the ending gave more questions than answers. This was when I realised what made The Conjuring such a frightening movie to watch. It wasn’t the frantic chase in the basement, nor was it the final confrontation with the witch Bathsheba. But it was in fact because of how the movie managed to make a believable story and atmosphere. The scariest moments were in fact, for me at least, was the moment when the protagonist Loraine noticed the hanged woman under the oak tree by the river and how she realised a lot of bad things happened here at the house. That feeling of atmospheric tension that you get experiencing it in a movie is really hard to come by. When it comes to movies, it is actually quite hard to immerse and to invest the viewers into the world that the writer has made. This is where I believe that another medium can provide a better experience.
When it comes to immersion and atmospheric presence, the best platform that comes to mind is videogames. Say what you want about it, no other form of entertainment can make you feel immerse in the experience. The best demonstration that I can give isn’t even a horror genre game. In fact an action game set in a nightmarish version of a Victorian era. It really didn’t look that scary the first time. Just a few zombies, werewolves, hunters and monsters and all that. However, as the story unfolds later, the story become convoluted with the lore behind the plague and entered the Cthulu like beings. The depths just get deeper and deeper, with things we couldn’t really understand. And this scares me more than any ghostly nun. However, it comes to my attention, that the entire horror genre, no matter how frightening or gut wrenching it is, it wouldn’t have the same effect the second time. All those jump scares and unexpected turns of events, will inevitably be cringy and boring. It is scripted. When you get jumped, the director wants you to be jumped. That was intended. Enter; STALKER. And yes, it’s also a videogame.
A survival horror shooter that took place in a post apocalyptic Russia after the events of a second nuclear incident at Chernobyl. The radiation has contaminated the land and made most if not all the inhabitants mutated into beastly figures with psychic powers. Having rumours that because of the outbreak, a mystical being resides at the centre of the exclusion zone which can grants any wish that one desires. That was the premise. For the rest, is up for the players to experience. This is what make it so appealing to me. It is first and foremost a horror game, but it doesn’t hold your hand and leading you to the scariest parts. It’s not a Halloween theme park, with the haunted house. The probability that you will encounter bloodsuckers and mutated dogs are purely out of chance. My first experience from it was just like any other day with the occasional shootout with some local bandits, but as I stalked around the bushes, I discovered a couple of dead bodies alongside with some grotesque looking figure, having long arms and legs, and with tentacles as its mouth. No sooner than I realised that what I was witnessing was a bloodsucker. My eyes were peeled. I flinched at every sound that was heard. Every few seconds, I would glance behind to see if someone or something might follow me. I was so close to the objective to go back to the safe house. My heart pumped ever so fast as I was nearing to the next encampment. The experience , the anxiety, the unknown possibility what might happened, that what was missing in every other horror films. The bloodsuckers didn’t even showed up, but the anxiety from barely saving my ass with a few bullets and a few bandages left, that what makes the experience as a whole.
That’s all what I can describe about my experience. Perhaps a new movie or something might give something new. Until then, I’ll be scavenging in the desolate city of Pripyat with some cheeki breekis. That’s an inside joke. I doubt you understood that. For those that is still terrified to watch any horror films, just watch with some friends. And try to laugh at how absurd the makeup on that ghostly nun.