I’m a fan of horror fiction. Not the generic hack and slash, but the stuff that’s really psychological. It’s the difference between Piranha 3D and Silence Of The Lambs.
The best ones don’t just come up with a beast for us to fear. It’s the ones that raise that eternal question that scares the shit out of most of us: what are we really capable of?
Are we, in our essence, good or evil?
Is there, in each one of us, a psychopath waiting to break out?
Personally, I don’t believe that’s true. Most people go through their lives without any violence at all. They might get pissed at kids or spouses or co-workers, and they might have thoughts, but when it comes right down to it, they would never raise their fists to another.
Most people choose peace instead of violence because it makes sense. It’s also easier. Some people think violence is a problem solver, but it’s only ever a problem-creator. At best, a problem-delayer, usually at a cost of heightened risk.
But I think that’s why truly great horror fiction drags you in.
It asks the question: how well do you know yourself? What about your neighbour? Your husband? That quiet boy down the street?
Could that passing stranger be a nightmare waiting to happen?
Could you find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time and see everything go horribly wrong?
Is there evil in the hearts of men? Or is evil created? Is it bred in the bone or bred in school? In our environments? In our workplaces? Our government? Our culture? Our friends and family?
It’s terrifying, really.
And that’s the way it should be.