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Horrific dissection

One of the earliest horror films, Nosferatu, knew how to terrify.
One of the earliest horror films, Nosferatu, knew how to terrify.

Confession of a fear junkie

Article: Farron Ager – Oped Editor

“Why do you like horror so much?”

This was a question posed to me by a friend, who, casually looking over my movie collection, noticed what he called a “disturbing trend.”

It never really struck me as something worth serious thought, but, sure enough, as I pawed through my DVDs, a good 50 percent of them are just in the horror genre alone, from classics spanning from Nosferatu to The Thing, to foreign masteries such as Dead Snow and The Orphanage. Hell, even more modern horror movies, such as The Mist and Insidious have made it into my collection. It wasn’t a case that I just woke up one day and decided I liked horror. It was really something that snuck up on me and I hadn’t bothered to give it any significant attention until now.

Yet, it’s not that I can even say that I really liked horror movies as a kid. I was petrified by movies like Ernest Scared Stupid (children get turned into wooden dolls by a troll that attacks during daytime) and We’re Back: A Dinosaur Story (two children sign a contract with their blood, seriously). It actually took the acute memory of our production manager to recall the second film because childhood Farron apparently was so traumatized by the movie that he suppressed it. Even haunted houses were an absolutely nightmarish ordeal that couldn’t end soon enough.

But, despite how much I scared myself, I was always drawn back to all things frightening. Before I knew it, I was reading through every Goosebumps book that my school library carried. Even though it took a long time, I graduated eventually to watching 28 Days Later and Ju-on: The Grudge without hiding under the covers. I certainly never thought I’d be writing an M.A. thesis about horror books and movies.

I wish I could say what it was about horror that I enjoy so much. One thing I’ve found is that there are only particular kinds of horror that I enjoy. I generally don’t care for gore flicks like the Saw series.

1930s pulp horror writer H.P. Lovecraft once wrote, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” I don’t think I could agree more. For me, horror is that terrible thing that is just beyond your sight in the dark. It’s that one little idea with which your imagination runs wild and then, suddenly, that creak you just heard in your house becomes something so much more than just the floors settling. It’s that shudder in your spine you feel like you’re being watched by some dreadful force. It’s also that terrible excitement and burst of adrenaline that forces you to turn your head to make sure nothing is behind you.

Does it make sense to be frightened in such a manner? Not really. Nor should it. While there are countless theories out there, from biological evolution to social conditioning, we still don’t have a concrete answer as to why some of us enjoy the dread that manifests in so many different ways for so many different people.

My name is Farron Ager and I am a fear junkie.

Image: Prana Films

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