You don’t scare me!
I’m Not Angry
Last week’s review of the Japanese Role-Playing Game Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a fun little excursion into distinctly foreign video gaming. That got me to wondering what else I’d been missing from the Land of the Rising Sun lately. Silent Hill had carved itself out a nice niche in my collection, but it desperately needed some support. This desperation led me to the Sony handheld exclusive Corpse Party franchise. Without going into another review, suffice it to say that Corpse Party is bowel-evacuatingly terrifying at its absolute worst.
Yet, as paranoid as I’ve been over the past week, I’ve had the wherewithal to wonder why I’ve been missing out on that feeling for so long. Surely, there have been other local horrors produced lately? Well, sort of. To reiterate a point I made last semester, North American horror isn’t pulling its weight, anymore. Jump scares and loud audio cues just aren’t all that horrifying. Good job, Silent House! You shot a one-take 88-minute movie starring the less-famous Olsen sister. Only problem is that the film Russian Ark did the same thing ten years earlier, was eleven minutes longer, and had a cast roughly 300 times the size.
The point in all of this is that North American horror has been resorting more and more to remakes and cheap gimmicks rather than being actually scary. This is where Japanese horror outshines the North American genre; the simple fact is that Japanese horror is actually scary, and North American horror isn’t.
See, the goal of horror shouldn’t be to make you jump out of your pencil-thin theatre seat. Horror should initially make your skin crawl, and it should chip away at your subconscious until you’re a quivering ball of nerves. In no uncertain terms, horror should make you horrified by what you see. By that rationale, the high tension induced by most North American does not constitute horror, no matter how closely aforementioned tension resembles horror.
This high tension is the result of audience’s fascination with gore. Gore can induce high tension. Gore can even induce actual horror; however, real horror isn’t reliant on gore. Real horror should just force you to listen to some visceral squelching noises off-screen, and shout vigorous encouragement at you as your imagination run amok. Even if the pay-off ends up not being what you expected, your imagination has done more damage to your frazzled nerves than the didactic explanation of what just occurred ever could.
In short, give me films like Audition and A Tale of Two Sisters over the Devil Inside and Sinister. Give me House and Infection over Paranormal Activity and Chernobyl Diaries. Damn it, give me the Ring and the Grudge over, uh, the Ring and the Grudge. Needless to say, of course, that Corpse Party is going to be getting a lot of play out of me.
The rise of Netflix and file-sharing has made foreign cinema and gaming more accessible now than at any other time in human history. There’s really no excuse for you not to check out J-horror, except for trepidation about the new. As for me? Well, I`m not angry. But I`m sleeping with an awful lot of lights on, lately.
Photo courtesy of ciclolainternacional.blogspot.com