Ever since the day I latched on to the concept that there were things in this world that I couldn’t quite understand, I made it my mission to learn everything there was to know about absolutely everything.
Even a trip to Thorpe Park with my friends wasn’t complete without endless days of research… As a result, I could tell you all the mechanical ins and outs of most rollercoasters and rides… but I won’t do that right now because you would probably get very, very bored.
This obsession with needing to know everything has become the bane of my existence. When I was thirteen, I knew something was wrong with me, I felt different and strange. I liked things a certain way, and would regularly get anxious and upset over the silliest things. I spent hours researching what I thought it could be, only to be caught out when a trained medical professional told me it was Autism. I was devastated. Not that I was autistic… but that I didn’t see it coming.
What can I say? I’m a control freak.
I have this genuine need to be the cleverest person in the room. One step ahead of anyone or anything that’s out to get me. I tell you, there’s nothing scarier than playing the Sims 3 late at night in your room when you’re supposed to be asleep and watching a burglar tiptoe across your screen when there is absolutely nothing you can do to stop it.
I guess you could say my relationship with horror stems from my need for control and knowledge, and I’m not alone in this. It was M.M. Owen who said: “Horror thrives on discombobulation.”
I think that’s why Stephen King frightens me so much. His work is never predictable… until it is. I was shaken to the core (and honestly kicking myself) that I hadn’t realised that ‘redrum’ was ‘murder’ spelt backwards.
Owen went on to say that “the best way to survive a horror setting is to be supremely, boringly, sensible: don’t talk to strangers, don’t stay the night in a foreign town, don’t go to the aid of anyone who looks sick, don’t go in to that crumbling old building. If a very attractive stranger tries to seduce you, it is almost definitely a trap. Respect tradition, do not commit sacrilege, listen to the advice of elderly locals. At the heart of a lot of horror is a conservative craving for the predictable and the known.”
And in all honesty… I quite agree. As humans, we fear the things we don’t understand. This is why the concept of the uncanny is so terrifying. The whole idea of everything I know suddenly being switched for something else that’s pretty much identical makes me feel quite sick.
Muriel Gray’s ‘Roundabout’ is a perfect example of this. An utterly normal, (even boring) setting, but behind that facade lies a lurking beast, ready to change your life completely.
People read horror for many different reasons. Personally, I read it to cling on to the normalcy and boringness of everyday life. After all, “by putting normality in jeopardy, it creates a desire for its return and future security”
And if you’re like me, and want something genuinely terrifying… go and watch one of those driving safety PSAs… I’m still absolutely petrified by the fact that I NEVER SAW THE MOON WALKING BEAR.
- Electronic Arts, The Sims 3, (2009)
- M M Owen, Our Age Of Horror,
- Stephen King, The Shining, (1977)
- Muriel Gray, Roundabout, New Fears, Mark Morris, (2017)
- Kimberley Reynolds, Geraldine Brennan, and Kevin McCarron Frightening Fiction. (2001). p.8
- user: dothetest, Test your awareness: do the test, (2008),