May Monster Madness Blog Hop. Click the link or the image to visit the master post for the hop, or scroll to the bottom of the post to see the linky list.
Okay, so what is scarier than the monster you can see stalking you? The monster you can't see.
In recent years I think Hollywood has forgotten this, because it has budgets for huge special effects. The thing about the human imagination is that we are all different; different things scare us to different amounts. Hence, the more you leave to the human imagination, the scarier it is likely to be for everyone.
The greatest weapon in the arsenal of scare to achieve this in a film is SOUND.
I think one of the genres that understands this best these days is Asian Horror (Japanese, Korean etc). What they do is have long build up scenes where you have really creepy noises and thuds which show you the monster's progress. By the time the monster actually appears the viewer is so scared already it could look like a little fluffy bunny and everyone would still be terrified. The sound of the cat and Kayako Saeki's croaking sound from The Grudge both spring to mind - you can hear them at this site if you would like to.
All it is, is a moving camera the swings from left to right and back again past a central pillar. The sheet ghost never moves when the camera is on it, only when it is not, and it is terrifying. What may or may not happen is left totally to the viewer's imagination and that's the worst part. I didn't enjoy PA3 as much as PA1 and PA2, but that scene was magnificent.
The same principles can be applied to the written word as well. The build up to a monster in a book is just as important as it is in film. If a writers describes the monster straight away, they've lost something. Sound can play an important part in this and an author has the advantage of being able to use smell and touch as well. The cold clammy touch on the back of the neck, the tap, tap, tapping on the window, the low moaning that could be the wind, the dank smell of mould and decay: all can be used to build the mood.
Too many people seem to think instant gratification, instant scare with full on monsters is the best way to go, when in fact it's the build up, the tension that creates the terror. I think monsters are much more likely to terrify when we can't see them.
Thank you for reading. What are your favourite scary moments in movies or books?
If you enjoy books with a ghost story build up, you might like my book Face of the Dead:
Face of The Dead
Old houses creak and groan and make noises. Miles had expected that when he bought the farmhouse, but the tapping on the windows is a bit of a shock the first night he moves in. Of course there has to be a rational explanation and Miles is determined to find it, which would be easier if things didn't keep getting stranger.
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