Have you ever wondered why our favorite horror fiction scares us so much? You could say it has to do with how it’s crafted or the fact that it contains some pretty creepy monsters, but the psychology of fear stems a lot from the environment in which it was created, and subsequently perceived.
Kat, uh, what the heck do you mean by that?
Well, think of a Victorian ghost story. I think we can all conjure up the stereotypical haunted house with stained lace drapes, creaky hardwood floors, and gaslighting. We may read these books now and think they aren’t that scary as we sit in our fully lit bedroom with the drone of the air conditioning as a constant background noise.
But just imagine if you were reading them during the time in which they were created?
Just imagine your closest neighbor living ten miles away and streets without streetlights. Imagine what the imagination could conjure in the dark corners that are only illuminated by the flickering candlelight. Imagine a world where women had less rights and help was farther away.
If you think about the horror fiction you consume in the context in which it was created, I think you will find that they are much scarier than we give them credit for.
The environment in which we consume fiction often shapes the success of a genre. This includes cognitive development, generational zeitgeists, and current events. 1984 is still scary because there always seems to be a corrupt political figure somewhere in the world. But how much of horror dates itself? How much thrill is lost due to shifts in environment?
It is the successful author who can write a piece that can survive throughout the changing environments of the future.
What are your thoughts on environment shaping the horror genre? Do you have any examples? Comments? Disagreements? Let’s here them!
Talk to you later,