Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Fear of the Dark

It is said that comedy and horror are the hardest things to write. Metasearch is meant to be a thriller, not a horror story, but both genres tend to merge at certain points especially when dealing with the supernatural. Take a look at movies like “The Shinning,” “The Sixth Sense,” “Psycho,” “Jaws,” and “Seven.” What makes them stand out (and yes, there are many other examples) is the way they are set up. Nowadays many scary movies rely on old and cheap formulas: The loud bang of a sound or music, or extreme gore. I was never a fan of gore. Yes, you can make someone squirm by showing a rather macabre torture scene, but that’s not going to stop people from going to the beach or taking a shower. Even in video games, thanks to their immersive nature, you have some scary rides like “Resident Evil,” “Eternal Darkness, “Fatal Frame 2,” and “Silent Hill” that leave you feeling a little uncomfortable even after you’ve quit the game.

The challenge becomes even greater in comic books where you rely solely on images. Yes you can do something gory, or some cool monster, but how can one convey fear? I wrestled with that question myself as I wrote Reverie. When the reader finally sees the psychic vampire, does it really have an impact? If we put things in perspective I guess the answer is yes. If a person sees some sort of strange vapor floating on top of their bed and they can’t scream or move, they will be frightened, but can you really make that connection on the page? I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

When you reach your “Jaws” moment, and by that I mean the anticipated reveal of your nemesis, you’re arriving at a pivotal moment in your story. It’s a sink or swim moment (no pun intended), in which an artist can be tempted to unleash some sort of extreme monstrous creation to convey a sense of danger. I opted for the subtle approach, relying on the story’s atmosphere and hoping that by now, my readers are already immersed in it. After all, Reverie was envisioned to be an “it can happen to you” type of story, that’s grounded in a plausible reality. I can only hope, in the nicest of ways, to make some sleep with their lights on after reading my tale. I’ll see you in the page.

Oddman Out