Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Why it's not scary

This Saturday we were role-playing for the first time in ages, it was also Call of Cthulhu for the first time in ages. After finishing playing and returning back home the discussion turned to horror and the fact that I don't scare easily. To me most of western horror is laughable. I may think it cosy if they're lucky. But western horror has the trait that it's almost always beatable. You can almost always beat the evil and there's almost always a place where you're safe. Thus far that argument goes for CoC as well. The evil is only inside that house, outside of it I'm safe, and the feeling of being safe shouldn't be there when playing a horror RPG. But it is. The demon in CoC is, thus far, beatable, vanquishable and it won't come after you hunting you 'til you crack. Another problem that western horror has that when they don't know how to make it more scary they turn it gross instead. Like this scene from the Poughkeepsie Tapes (I haven't seen it, just this scene turns me off), the same goes for the four latest Saw movies. Western horror movie makers need to learn that gross does not equal scary!

When it comes to horror I'm toughened, I'm jaded. Why? I started reading horror stories (those short stories printed in packs in books) when I was somewhere around 9-11 years old. I started watching 15-rated horror movies at the age of 11, some of them alone. Jumpers don't scare me anymore. I may jump, then I laugh. Nowadays I watch western horror movies more because of a keen interest in what's supposed to be scary rather than actually wanting to be frightened. I was put in front of a computer and set to play Amnesia. I was excited, thrilled, to finally start playing it. I expected adrenaline and a heart beating fast. I expected being chased around by zombies in a dark house unable to defend myself. I was left disappointed. After having played for 71 minutes I had had no rush of adrenaline, no fast-beating heart. I had not yet been chased around and the only things that were supposed to scare me was the guy breathing asthmatically and biting his nails, occasionally he would whimper when a light was burned out. The dark rooms and the occasional trembling was supposed to create a scary environment, I suppose. But not being able to see properly combined with his everlasting nailbiting was more annoying that scary. When the game told me how to run I thought that it would get scary soon enough, I would be chased soon enough. But even after that nothing happened. I guess I should play it more to fully realise why people seem to be so scared of it... Cause this far I really don't get it. Like the guy in this video... I don't get it...

It also applies to other things. I love to read Stephen King. I haven't read that many yet, but Pet Sematary is my favourite thus far. It gives me those cosy spine-chills that makes me appreciate the warmth of my cover or blanket. The same goes for Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft. They're simply cosy and enjoyable.

But there are ways to make me scared still. I've talked about how easy, predictable and safe that western horror is. Asian horror is the complete opposite! You can't ever get rid of it once it sets its eyes on you. It will always be there, watching you, hunting you, wanting you... You're never free from it. Even when you can't see it, even when you can't hear it, you can feel it. It's nagging at your brain. It's making you scared of ordinary things like taking a shower. It's more psychological than physical. There's no jumpers, only the monsters sneaking up on you, grabbing hold of you when you least expect it. You can't beat it easily, and even if you think you did there's no telling if it actually worked. It can follow you anywhere, there are no safe places. This is what's scary!
I still watch things like this although I know it'll scare me into sleeplessness. I try to not watch it when it's dark outside. But I love the sensation. You know getting all tense and scared, adrenaline pumping, heart beating insanely fast. Then it's over, the video or the film has ended. The tension lets go, the heart slows down, you relax and that single sensation of relaxation makes being scared so worth it. You know how some people look for adventure to feel their adrenaline pumping, people that are kind of addicted to adrenaline? Yeah, this is what I shoot up on. 

That it's hard to scare me has nothing to do with my imagination. My imagination is alive and well. Very lively actually. I can scare myself sleepless at nights just by starting to think of the wrong things. Usually "the wrong things" are associated with Asian horror. I can't see very well without contacts or glasses and I wear neither, of course, when I go to sleep. That white shadow over there is the ghost boy from the Grudge staring at me. That darker shadow in the corner of the ceiling that seems to be growing is the hair from the ghost girl in the Grudge. She's coming, she'll kill me, she's growing out of her hair, coming out of that corner. Soon she'll crawl over me in my bed. If I turn around she'll be there staring at me. From the space between my bed and the wall there's a shadow hand rising, a shadow hand wanting to grab me and take me away. That scratching sound from the hallway is someone crawling across the floor, trying to grab the handle on the door... They'll get to me! 
Those are the kind of thoughts that can haunt me at night. I know how to counter it of course, once they have begun, but I don't know how to stop them from coming. 

There are of course games that are supposed to be creepy but in my eyes seem more interesting and exciting than scary.
Limbo is one of them. 

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