Reluctantly, almost begrudgingly, society seems to be accepting horror as a genre of more than cheap thrills, blood, and gore. From childhood I was drawn to the gateway figure of vampires, but I’ve never been a fan of blood and gore, and not even cheap thrills. You see, I saw something profound in horror. A longing. Experts might call it abjection, but to me there was a spiritual component to it, and I watch these kinds of movies to capture those moments of transcendence. Adam Charles Hart seems to be aware of the draw horror has. Monstrous Forms: Moving Image Horror across Media still shows its origins as a dissertation, but it has an appreciation for horror that doesn’t feel the need to make excuses for it. Exploring the body-focus of horror, it delves into television, gaming, and other applications of the genre.
I have to admit that I don’t understand the cultural fascination with what we used to call video games. I know they’re tremendously popular and the rights for gaming bring in even more royalties than sold movie rights do. I just don’t get it. Still, Hart explores how horror has become a very popular element in the gaming community. Not only that but on the internet many young people like watching videos of other people playing games. I’m sorry, but I’m just not that meta. If I want to get lost in other worlds I read a book. Or watch a movie. And this is where Hart’s book shines. His read on horror films is fresh and compelling.
Recently I had a conversation (virtual, of course) with some colleagues about the horror genre. The topic of horror games came up. I had to sit that part out. I commended Hart’s book though. For me time is too valuable to immerse myself into worlds where options are limited by some programmer’s imagination. Movies will take a couple hours of your time. If well done they’ll remain in your head for hours or days, interacting with other thoughts and experiences, and perhaps even inspiring the viewer. If horror isn’t your thing, I get that. I do have to say that the genre as grown up, and as Hart points out toward the end of his study, academy recognition of a couple of horror films in 2017 bodes well for the future of a genre that seems more and more applicable every day. And when horror comes to town we’re going to need some able guides.