Psychological Horror 101
This week, I feel like I need to write about something very close to my heart. As some of you may have seen, I am self-publishing a NA psychological horror. Some folks out there don’t feel like this type of writing should be considered horror, rather they choose to name it a thriller or dark contemporary. Are those people wrong, not really but if we look at the definition of psychological horror may have a change of heart.
Wikipedia.com defines it as this:
Psychological horror is a subgenre of horror fiction, film, and video games (as a narrative) which relies on the characters’ fears and emotional instability to build tension.
Psychological Horror is an element of fiction, not tied to a particular genre (it manifests itself in many stories which are not identified as “horror stories”), which aims at creating horrific or unsettling effects through in-depth use of psychology.This may involve replacing physical threats with psychological ones (e.g. madness), thorough exploration of the mind of the involved protagonists (including the bad guys/Monster of the Week), replacing overt displays of horror by more subtle, creepy details, and so on. Often overlaps with Surreal Horror.
So, is that clear as mud? I thought so. Personally, I take psychological horror to mean a more mental fear, one that we find in ourselves that takes us to a deep, dark place–one of horrific thoughts or actions. Hence, my book.
I find this type of horror to be much more scary than your typical thrasher movie. See a girl in a bikini top walking alone in the woods at night…something is going to happen. We can see this. We expect this. What we don’t know is what is happening in someone’s mind. They are the monsters we should beware of.
A few of my favorites are: The Shining, American Psycho, and Dexter. The main character is seemingly average on the outside, but what we don’t know is that each has a violent side that craves depravity and horror. THIS is what makes it a story so very frightening.
For me, it’s always about male characters having these warped sense of the world. What about girls or women? Are we all do-gooders? Um, no. Take Girl Interrupted for example. Reality is on shaky ground with Wynona Ryder and Angelina Jolie’s characters. It’s here that we find out the true nature of horror and the mental breaks that can happen to the ordinary.
I know, I know. Now you ask why I write these stories–that’s better left for another time.
The monster that lurks under the normal person is completely terrifying. I love watching them warp and change, revealing the madness. You write that horror! I will read it!