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Old 10-09-2015, 11:36 AM
theshiningfan1 theshiningfan1 is offline
Little Boo
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
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How supernatural should a horror film be?

This article may contain miner spoilers.


Hi guys, as part of my research for my horror film I want to get an idea of the type of content that people like these days.

I want to make my film very much about the unknown (supernatural horror). I'm wanting to get an idea about how people feel about mystery and how mysterious the story and content can get before it becomes too mysterious and starts seeming too random.

I like supernatural content to be very mysterious that is very open to interpretation without giving an explanation but instead providing several or many possible answers that aren't clearly shown. I find this to be great content because it makes me wonder about what it is and it's left for my imagination to think about and because I don't ever get the answer or not a clear one, the film is intriguing the next time that I watch it as well. it's not knowing and not understanding everything about the supernatural phenomena that makes supernatural horror scary for me. I find that if something is supernatural, not very well understood and evil or bad in some way then it's terrifying.

What I don't like is manifestations that only seem to be in the film to give the audience clues as to what the story is about, it seems to be a particular style and once you've seen a few films like that you've almost seem them all and to me it more or less defeats the point of having a supernatural horror story because there is almost nothing mysterious or intriguing about it. Many of these not so mysterious supernatural horror stories seem to follow a very limited few conventions and they seem to be particularly present in a lot of ghost stories. It seems to me that these not so interesting manifestations just seem to be often restricted to time and space distortions driven by human emotions and I will give some examples of what I mean soon in this post. I have often heard some people say that if a film is more far fetched than that then they can't take it seriously anymore because it's too unrealistic , this seems a pity to me because if you're just restricted to what is real then you aren't able to enjoy the intrigue that can come from more supernatural and fantasy horrors and the creativity that goes into them. I personally like horror films that are particularly strange and quite far fetched, I think it's one of the great things about film and T.V because we can go into different worlds and witness more interesting experiences that are beyond just normal daily living and it allows us to make creative thoughts come to life in a sense. I believe that mystery and weirdness is a major key to good horror.

Some examples of films that have quite simple and obviously explainable phenomena are Ghostship, The Sixth Sense, The Ring and Jessabelle but there are so many others.

Lets look at Jessabelle as it's a pretty recent title and I'm surprised to see the same old convention still being used. When Jessabelle is in her fathers house we see a couple of scenes where there is supposed mysterious black water coming out of the tap in her room and also in the bath when she is bathing, I was hoping that this was going to be something really strange and interesting but I could just guess that all it was was something quite normal (muddy water) that just so happened to be in an unusual place at an unusual time and the only reason why it just so happens to be something that looks a bit unpleasant is purely coincidental and just so happens to be what the ghost of the girl drowned in, it doesn't have anything to do with the curse other than the curse has brought it temporarily into the house as supposed to being out on the lake. To emphasize my point, When you think that she could have drowned in a tank of blackberry juice or suffocated in Doritos and that would have been what was appearing in the bath with Jessabelle then it really does not seem scary at all!! So all it is is a time and space distortion, and it's been repeated so many times with supernatural manifestations in horror films, it just doesn't seem very creative to me. I notice that these manifestations are usually horrible but because it's nothing other than coincidence and has nothing to do with the haunting or curse then it really doesn't seem mentally scary other than that it looks horrible.


Another more general example is when you often see ghosts and their faces are decomposed and might look scary but does the fact that their face look scary have anything to do with the curse? No, it is just a totally normal and natural process of a corpse so there is not much to be intrigued about. The only thing that makes it interesting at all is the fact that the person is moving about when they should be dead which is not much of a creative stretch. Similarly if we see a ghostly apparition with water dripping off it we can almost certainly guess that it's a ghost of someone who died by drowning in water. Would it not be much more interesting if the manifestations contained much more unexplained and bizzar things, I would much prefer it if the reason why a face looks scary is because of the curse and not because of a normal natural process. So it would be some sort of change or manifestation that can't be explained and is mysterious but looks horrible in some way anyway. This gives much more for the imagination to ponder on and expresses the evil much better and if it happens to be a horrible looking manifestation it is much more relative to the evil force than something normal that just so happens to be being witnessed at the same time.

The Exorcist is a good example of a film that has interesting manifestations in it. For the start it touches on a very dark spiritual subject, pure evil as supposed to just a ghost of a dead person that has a grudge and just wants revenge, something that is less understood as supposed to just being something more familiar like a human being. When the little girl Regan becomes possessed her face changes and becomes horrible and scary looking and we don't really know why other than it has something to do with her possession, same with the horrible green substance that she vomits, it's horrible and mysterious.

The original Amityville Horror from 1979 is a great film as regards supernatural manifestations and mystery, there is a strange, evil, demonic force in the house and the manifestations are mostly genuinely mysterious, the black substance that appears in the toilets, the flies in the spare bedroom, the strange flue virus they seem to go down with. The black substance is not a clue for the audience to think about to help them work out the story, it is a trace of the demonic presence and we never get an explanation for what it is other than that it's some kind of trace associated with the demonic forces in the house or maybe something from a hellish realm that the house is partly connected to, we don't really know. The flies are not connected with a ghostly apparition of the result of a person that was once murdered in the bedroom with flies feeding on the rotten flesh of the corpse, they are another manifestation connected with the demonic presence and are genuinely mysterious. None if not most of the manifestations that happen in the film are never really explained. We do get some insight into the haunting, it's an appropriate amount that gives us more to wonder about but not everything is explained. Here are a few other honourable mentions in terms of films that touch on the unknown well : the original Poltergeist film from 1982, The Mothman Prophecies from 2002, Paranormal Activity, In The Mouth Of Madness by Jon Carpenter.

I have been wondering how other people feel about this, do you share my desire for more mysterious phenomena or do you like to always have things explained to you and prefer more realistic horror with manifestations that are of quite normal things but in unusual places and perhaps nothing more farfetched than that and basic poltergeist activity? This seems to be what is most common in supernatural horror films and has been for a while but to be honest I'm sick of it. It's as if the films are not about fear of the unknown but instead have their own laws of physics that don't stretch much further than what I described first in this article, with very little to no mystery because we can predict what all the manifestations are. They don't seem to be films about the unknown and unexplained but instead more about what's very known and very easily explained.
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