Can Books Be As Scary As Horror Films?
In my scaredy-cat opinion, yes, books can be just as scary as horror films, if not more so. The visual nature of horror films means that when watching them, we are aware that the terrifying occurrences are happening to the characters of the story, and not us (although the fear of experiencing the same thing does still creep in afterwards!). In contrast, when reading a book, we almost become the protagonist. We do not just follow their story, but get to know their terror on an intimate level, praying with them that the next move they make won’t be their last. Propelled into our own minds are the panic-stricken thoughts of the characters, and we find ourselves living in that fictional moment, wondering what we would we do if it ever came true. We draw on our own darkest fears to interpret the story in the way that, on an individual level, is the most horrific. With a good enough story, our own thoughts can construct images far more horrific than any director could. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this. I remember watching a horror film when I was young where a man received creepy messages from the dead via the radio. This memory has haunted me ever since, and I’m not ashamed to admit that a crackly radio still strikes fear into my heart.
Furthermore, the duration of a book spans many more hours than that of a film. With a film, you know that your questions are going to be answered within about an hour and a half. Books. on the other hand, draw out the suspense over chapters and chapters, the tension building to almost insufferable amounts all the while.
I am currently reading a thriller/horror book called Intensity by Dean Koontz. The story follows a survived potential victim and a sociopath, where the viewpoint switches between the two characters. I can honestly say that this book disturbs me greatly. When Chyna (the survivor) is the protagonist, it gives the feeling that such horror could happen to me (but I sure hope not!). When Edgler (the sociopath) is the protagonist, his perceived normality is all the more petrifying. I can’t help but worry that I am mingling alongside a real-life madman.
Another feature which adds to the scary factor of horror books is that the author can choose to put in as little or as much description as he or she chooses. By hinting at what has happened the story is open to interpretation, conjuring up a hundred different terrifying possibilities. Again, this plays on the reader’s personal fears, resulting in a unique horror experience.
What do you think? Can books be as scary as horror films?