Author Topic: How comfortable are you with ambiguity in horror?  (Read 513 times)  

Offline JamesGBoswell

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How comfortable are you with ambiguity in horror?
« on: November 11, 2019, 03:58:37 pm »
One thing I've noticed is that there's a spectrum when it comes to comfort levels with ambiguity as a plot device in horror. Some people prefer the very ambiguous, creeping, growing dread of existential horror like in Bird Box, while others prefer the explicit, in-your-face, "I'm going to kill you right now with this knife I'm holding in my hand"-sort of unambiguous terror like in slashers and gore-fests.

I fall almost completely on the side of the former; I don't want to see what the monster looks like or even know if there's really a monster there at all, I just want to be afraid that there could be a monster and believe it's probably horrible, if so. What about you?

I write weird, dread-inducing, cosmic horror fiction because it's fun to be scared when there's no real danger.
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    Offline The Hooded Claw

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    Re: How comfortable are you with ambiguity in horror?
    « Reply #1 on: November 11, 2019, 09:11:14 pm »
    Both techniques work, Im sure some stories are better suited to one technique than the other, and some authors are better at one mt
    Ethic, though I dont read horror regularly enough to be able to do any classifying. Having given that ambiguous answer, I must admit that I do enjoy some uncertainty for awhile. But I do want things cleaned up by the end!
    "Once you can accept the universe as matter expanding into nothing that is something, wearing stripes with plaid comes easy."  - Albert Einstein

    Offline WC John

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    Re: How comfortable are you with ambiguity in horror?
    « Reply #2 on: December 05, 2019, 01:47:33 pm »
    I often prefer the slow burn right up until the throat slitting is necessary.
    Too much of anything in a book (or movie for that matter) can get tedious. 

    Offline KZwrites

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    Re: How comfortable are you with ambiguity in horror?
    « Reply #3 on: December 10, 2019, 04:42:40 pm »
    I adhere to the Jaws principle of horror: the shark is scarier when you don't see it. The unknown leaves us with inly our imaginations and that customizes our fear. It's instinct really.

    The thing is that as terrifying as Jaws was when the shark just dragged people underwater, the only sign of its passing a cloud of blood, you want to see the shark. Denying that confirmation is tricky. Sometimes it can be cheap- honestly, Lovecraft gets that way. Yeah, yeah, hideous unknowable shape, beyond description...you're a writer, could you maybe try to describe it for me? Just a little bit? At the same time...does IT become scarier when you know IT's origin in King's mythos, or just another sideshow in a complex world? Horror is a balancing act between too much info and too little.
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    Offline Heffnerh

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    Re: How comfortable are you with ambiguity in horror?
    « Reply #4 on: October 18, 2020, 06:03:55 pm »
    Agreeing with the OP - not knowing what it is definitely gets me. Your imagination thinks it will be worse than it actually is. Case in point - Babadook. Once the monster was shown, the suspense was blown. I think the only one where the monster was way worse than I pictured was the Ring, if anything because the movie had lulled you into a false sense that the worst was over. Slasher films are fun or can make me feel nauseous-- Nightmare on Elm Street really well done balance of both.

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