My apologies to Stephen King. I just finished watching A Night at the Movies:The Horrors of Stephen King. It has been on my DVR since October. If I had watched it way back then I (maybe) wouldn’t have said what I did in Show Me the Monster!
Therein, I complained about Mr. King’s propensity to leave the end of a story open, either unresolved or unanswered. I also complained about The Blair Witch Project doing the same thing. Well, in A Night at the Movies:The Horrors of Stephen King, Mr. King actually addresses both of those.
Not only did he proclaim The Blair Witch Project so scary he had to turn it off in the middle before he could continue, he lauded the ending, which I had ripped on pretty hard. He supported this by talking about the ideas behind horror and why it works. Who am I to argue with the Master of Horror?
Well…I’m an uppity writer who has spent my whole life reading and I know what I like to read and what I don’t like to read. So there! *sticks tongue out*
Seriously though, there is more here than either Mr. King or I previously offered opinions upon. Mr. King pointed out the old ‘horror reflects society’s current affairs and fears’ thing, a commonly discussed element of horror, and followed it up with fear of the unknown, including being afraid that it isn’t over, that you can’t stop it, and that you didn’t understand it. (My words, not his. He is much more eloquent and I recommend watching the show if you are interested in such things.)
So basically, to sum up the explanation of the apology, Mr. King finds the horror of the unresolved to be frightening. I can’t argue with that. It is terrifying. But to me, I get enough of that in real life. It is a totally different kind of horror than I look for when I am looking to get scared. If I wanted that kind of horror, I would spend less time trying to clear my mind so I could sleep at night and more time dwelling on my daughter’s future boyfriends, my son’s future grades, and my mortgage payments. Those are all unresolved horrors that keep me up at night.
I like monsters. I like resolution. I like to get the crap scared out of me and then see the good guy (girl) win.
It could be my lack of imagination, or just the way I (don’t) use it, but I don’t like to finish other people’s stories for them.
My wife on the other hand…I never tell her ‘you don’t want to know.’ I just tell her. Her imagination can take a ‘you don’t want to know’ from why I didn’t enjoy a trip to the grocery store with a crying infant in arms and turn it into a dramatic rescue by police who stopped me from driving away with the kid on top of the car (that never happened, and I’m sticking to it). Her imagination is ALWAYS worse than the reality.
I suspect Mr. King is the same way. I suspect writing horror is cathartic for him and relieves his personal terrors. So when he wants to scare someone, he writes that which he finds scary…unanswered terrors. Horrors that you may have to face again because you didn’t resolve them this time.
I get that. I wouldn’t have if I had never known my wife. Reality is so much safer than her imagination. The same has to be true for the ‘Master of Horror.’
So, my apologies. There are different kinds of horror for different kinds of people.
I like mine gift wrapped at the end of the story so I can sleep at night.