Whenever my local horror maven, Kelly Fann, and I get together, we like to bandy about the following horror conversation about books and movies. Kelly *loves* horror. It's her favorite genre. I like it well enough as an adult and really dug it when I was a teen. But I don't read it much these days because I find *other* literature far more horrifying than the traditional fiction and film that falls into that category.
Here's why: It has to do with suspension of disbelief. Kelly's willing to do it, and I. Just. Can't.
So Kelly jumps and shrieks at zombies/teen slasher movies and I'm laughing cause I think it's funny when barely dressed actors decide it's a good idea to explore the basement at 3 a.m.
I'm covering my eyes and shivering during The Road and Kelly is exploring the nuances of character and observing the camera angles. Or she's laughing at Human Centipede and I'm squinching my eyes and babbling to myself to drown out the sounds.
We love to have this conversation because it leads to an exploration of what scares us and that leads to what we consider horror.
Kelly finds the paranormal elements of horror to be the most terrifying. And I don't. I'm not worried about zombies and vampires. I think The Shining by Stephen is a great book, but it's doesn't scare me. I was terrified while reading Heartsick by Chelsea Cain and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I'm not frightened of the typical paranormal elements in horror fiction and film because I don't believe in it. I can't get vested in it while I'm reading or watching. I'm the date you *don't* want at the scary movie. Cause I'll just laugh and examine all the CGI and camera angles.
But I am scared of serial killers, the apocalypse, and sociopaths (that last one probably falls into the horror category). And it's because those things exist or have the potential to exist. THAT is what scares me. I read about serial killers in the news. Global warming and nuclear annihilation are always on the horizon. Sociopaths have locked up human beings for years or tortured them in unimaginable ways. That makes the news, too.
I need my horror to come with an element of the possible in order to scare me. If an author throws in a zombie, then I feel safe reading or watching. But if the author can show how it rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again, then I'm going to lock all the windows and watch the front door, Louisville Slugger at the ready.
Zombies don't want me. But Hannibal Lecter? I'm just his type.
kaite stover | director of readers' services | the kansas city public library | 14 w. 10th st. | kansas city, mo | 64105 | 816.701.3683 | www.kclibrary.org