The movie horror genre has been given a bit of a bad rap as of late.
Not least of all because of a long list of underwhelming sequels that have plagued cinemas for the last thirty years.
Prequels more so, but spin offs are just as suspect.
In fact, even originals are haunted by an inescapable factor that is, unfortunately, written within the very DNA of horror movies…
That is that they are, sadly, just movies. And that the genre really doesn’t matter so much as the medium.
What am I talking about?
Well, that the medium is really the innate DNA at play here.
And as it turns out, I’m actually alluding to a medium that paves way to something that allows for true, dreading, and affecting horror…
That medium happens to be video games, believe it or not.
Video games actually allow for something that is far more crucial to achieving this type of horror – Anticipation.
Whenever you’re roaming through a dark corridor, gathering survivalist items to restore your health or running for your life in the wake of a terrifying villain, video games have the ability to create brooding, nagging dread and nervous anticipation that is a hell of a lot harder to achieve in movies.
Part of the appeal, especially in the case of the survival horror genre, is that as a player you always feel as though you’re in extreme danger, inhabiting the in-game character like he or she were you.
So instead of witnessing a helpless victim from the safety of an auditorium, video games inherently have the DNA to cast a very dark shadow over your bedroom as you play – or inhabit, more so – the life of the in-game character.
Rather than Mr Smith or Mrs Jane Doe, it’s actually you that is roaming through a dark corridor. It’s actually you that is gathering survivalist items and it’s actually you that’s running for your life.
That right there is the power of video games as an art form – they fill you with a nervous anticipation that feels all too real.
It’s just a shame that, sadly, video games aren’t seen as the go-to platform for intelligent horror.
I’d say that’s an awful shame indeed, considering how they actually embody the most affecting horror imaginable.
Photo by Simon Matzinger.