A Musing on Horror

The truly great horror stories are the ones that get you to distrust your own senses. The greatest comfort to the human mind is to know that everything is settled in its correct place. As soon as something upsets that order, whether it is natural or not, a potential threat appears, and the fear response is triggered. This is the primal instinct which all horror taps into to some degree.

Tzevtan Todorov knew this. To him, there were three types of horror: the uncanny, where the unsettling features are mundane; the marvelous, where they are clearly supernatural in nature; and the fantastic, where you are unable to tell. For Todorov, it was this third category that interested him the most. And it is this category we find ourselves in right now.

Look around you. What a quaint little establishment we are in, right? A nice little coffee shop, perfect for artistic discussion. But what's that feeling on the back of your neck? Is that breathing? And what's that shape in the corner of your eye? The one the appears human, but not quite so? Have your senses detected a threat? Or are you just imagining it?

My friend, we find ourselves at a crossroads. You can either believe your senses, or ignore what they are telling you. After all, the other patrons haven't seemed to notice anything. It's just you and me. It could very well be a trick of the imagination. And yet that hot breath is still hitting the back of your neck, isn't it? You have a choice to make. You can live without knowing whether or not something is really there...or you can find out.

Look behind you.