H is for Horror

| February 16, 2014
1. In 1999 I watched The Blair Witch Project. It was the first horror film I watched that had a lasting effect. I think it was because I lived in a rural Michigan town and across the street was a forest with no developments save for an abandoned house.
2. The horror genre seems antithetical to the traditional field of aesthetics. It is a genre attempting to unnerve, frighten, and repulse. All of which seems contrary to what we traditionally consider beautiful.
3. Philosopher Noël Carroll wrote a book entitled The Philosophy of Horror. In it, he discusses the nature of the horror genre as it emerges through books and into movies. I can’t say much more about this book other than suggest you read it.
4. From paintings by Munch and Francis Bacon (pictured above) and Goya’s etchings to contemporary horror films and books, the field of art has consistently been preoccupied with the details of horror. This preoccupation could rest on the same basis as all other aspects of art and beauty. The artist has a question: ‘How can I evoke [fill in the blank] from an audience?’
5. The aesthetics of horror suggests that pleasure and beauty can be derived from the presence of fear. The question is whether or not the beauty is appreciated within the experience or only present upon reflection?
6. The most effective aspect of the horror genre comes in the absence present (odd?) within a work. Showing the audience a monster too early makes for a bad movie. I cannot think of one horror film in which the monster’s reveal was more effective than its absence.
7. The ‘monster’ in The Blair Witch Project is kept under wraps, letting the audience members create the most sinister scenario possible in their own heads. Not seeing, in this case, is more effective than seeing. The lack of a visual reference for the ‘monster’ makes it more personal, and in effect, more real. Even in a visual medium such as film, the absence of seeing enhances the work. How many other times is sight a hindrance to our experiences?