Time to talk about real life fear this week. I talk about fear all the time, but it’s almost always been in the context of entertainment and pop culture. What scares us when we’re reading a novel? What scares us when we’re watching a film or a TV show? How do you scare your audience when you’re creating a scary film? That kind of thing. I love to disect the “why” and “how” of what’s scary and then talk about it here on a philosophical level, beause if you don’t know the why and the how, then your scares just won’t work.
The masters are masters for a reason. And it’s because they’ve thought out and mapped the reasoning behind all of their scares. It’s not just trick shots and startle scares. They intricately plan their horror like a watchmaker making gears. That’s not to say that they’ve over-explained the “why?” to the audience. On the contrary, they often leave the audeince in the dark on why things are happening.
But back to real life.
I’ll spare you the details, but the jist of the matter is that I recently moved into a new place (June), and over the past few months my family has been terrorized by our neighbor who has a history of mental illness and psychotic behavior. Lucky me, I moved my family into a new place and won the “crazy, violent neighbor” lottery.
Again, I’ll skip the details and keep it to the headlines. Imagine moving in next to someone who acts like Michael Myers... I’ve caught him staring in the kids’ windows at night, I’ve seen him glaring at my dog, he’s pounded on our door late in the evening demanding that I come out and face him. He’s accused me of breaking into his house with invisible people and changing his computer programs. You get the idea.
Every encounter we’ve had with him has been irritating for me and terrifying for my family. The police have been called twice, and his social worker...
It’s been a nightmare.
And now our family is moving. We have to. And the cops and the social worker have all said we’re doing the right thing. Getting out of this guy’s line of sight is the best thing we can do for our own safety.
But it sucks. I have two kids with night terrors, a dog that paces all night, and a constant nagging in the back of my mind that one night, the pounding on our door and the ringing of our doorbell and yelling, will be replaced by him kicking in the door and coming to confront us violently in our home.
In a month, this will all be behind me, but in the meantime I’ve had to deal with some of the most inconsiderate, thoughtless comments by friends and family alike.
Some people have said I actually deserve it and have maybe brought it on myself in some kind of cosmic karmic way by making dark films.
Others have said I deal in the devil’s goods and have to pay the devil’s price.
My overly religious relatives, who were quick to judge me when I decided to make horror films, are nowhere to be found, now that my family actually needs them.
Fans have ignorantly said, “This is awesome, now you have creative fodder for your next story.”
I find it troubling that so many people can’t separate what I do with who I am. Yes I love horror films, but that doesn’t mean I want to live in one.
It’s been awful for me and my family, but I wanted to share it with you guys because of all the people I know, guess who has offered help, offered friendship, and been there for us?
My friends in the horror community.
Not the people from church, not my “horror-despising” friends, not the religious zealots in my family.
My friends in the horror community.
You guys. You’re the only ones who seem capable of separating fantasy from reality.
Something to think about, for all of us.
Gaudium per atrox.