Sunday, January 15, 2012

MY TWO CENTS ON: HORROR AND ISOLATION


We knew, as kids, the fear of being alone in the dark. Or better, the fear of not being completely alone. We instinctively were afraid of feeling little and abandoned, facing something lurking under our bed or inside the closet. So we stared, wide-eyed and shaking, at imaginary creatures which took shape in the shadows; monsters which craved for our eyes to close. Because no one could help us; because no one was there with us.

Horror thrives in isolation. Few human beings are able to shake off the fear of being alone, in the darkness, out of the comforts which civilization breeds. Even as adults, we still feel the need for the presence of someone who cares enough to protect us.

Physical isolation is often used in Horror to pry open the locked lid our infancy’s terrors.
As an adult, you feel only frustration should your car get stalled on a forlorn country road in broad daylight. Yet, should it happen by night, things really change. For imagination and childhood fears resurface, creating dangers at every nook and shadows, lingering in our minds.

Social isolation is used in Horror to feed the instinctual fear of the stranger and unfamiliar.
Foreigners (like me in Thailand) are isolated by language and custom. Social diseases can cut off an individual from mainstay society, denying him the comfort of community while living in it. Pariah and outcasts are a terrible sight in some lands. Horror stories which prosper on social isolation often feature viruses or other infective menaces.

John Carpenter’s ‘The Thing’ made use of both techniques of terror; physical isolation (by placing the story inside an Antarctic research base) and social isolation (by having the alien creature be able to infect and double human beings) creating a deadly mix which resulted in developing one of isolation’s closest siblings: paranoia.

That’s why in almost all Horror movies you see the characters being separated from their party one by one.
Because isolation breeds fear.

That’s why I dread ‘Social Networks’. I use them, yet sometimes, there, I feel like Jonathan Harker:

If there were anyone to talk to I could bear it, but there is no one.
Bram Stoker's Dracula

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