Suggested soundtrack: Castlevania Symphony of The Night OST
Everyone else might be out there watching movies about scary clowns and drowned girls or playing games with fungus zombies and things that go bump in a darkened spaceship. But I’m not one of them; nope, I’m a big ole scaredy cat. At least when it comes to certain kinds of horror.
Give me an eldritch terror you hear, but never see; a creeping fear that seems to pulse with every step you take in an abandoned town even though you know there’s no combat in this game. Give me elegantly becaped sons of Vampire Kings and Thalassophobia whilst I’m safe in a submarine….ignore the wall-to-wall windows.
There’s no reason there can’t be a bit of poetry in the terror, right?
Those in my generation will remember the gothic horror aesthetic of the Castlevania series. They will remember the quiet fear of the original Resident Evil and the deep, unwavering WTF of Silent Hill. But one can only play so many matches of Left 4 Dead or The Killing Floor before wanting something a bit more meaty. Bad pun. Kept it anyway.
Ours is a generation uniquely primed to always expect the worst and to expect a fight when there needn’t be one. We don’t possess a magic vacuum to suck up ghosties, but we also can’t get trapped in a video game or killed by a video tape. Do kids even know what VHSes are these days?
Halloween 2020 is not about pumpkins, chintzy horror, and fake blood. It’s about death, decay, degradation, and real blood split in the name of empty ideologies and stuffing pockets. I could eat all the Reese’s pumpkins in the bag or hand out apples to the neighborhood kids. I could replay Everybody’s Gone to The Rapture or psych myself up to attempt to play Outlast, Vanish, or Slender without alarming the neighbors.
But my mind languishes, melted and stuck to a Victorian lounge chaise and dripping with anxiety. There is no large and heaving beast whose tentacles scrape against my neck or mutant human with a flower for a face trying to make a meat garden out of me. There is only a caught breath trapped in wide-eyed fear of catching real death; the ultimate Trick.
Change the soundtrack to System Shock 2.
Wish for a dystopia that wasn’t so boring and sad. Remember to schedule your psychiatrist appointment and pick up your meds. The holidays are coming and all signs point to life being as expansive as the Silent Hills P.T. trailer (i.e. a hallway of recursion that’s constantly dirty and full of memories your mind manifests as visceral body horror).
Take shelter in your games. Visit each other’s islands and dress like your favorite horror villain or wear that Halloween skin on your Guild Wars 2 character. Play No Man’s Sky while you drink beer and laugh with your friends. Watch a movie that’s scary, but ends well for everyone like Beetlejuice.
Hide beneath the floorboards from the airborne monster and indulge in manufactured terror. Pretend you don’t feel like the only one afraid of pixelated zombies and going to the grocery store.
Juliet Childers graduated from University of Houston and writes for a number of outlets including TheGamer and Edgy.app. After a long hiatus from poetry, she is breaking back into the industry with renewed fervor and unflinching identity. She loves video games, South Korean dog Instagrams, and the occasional Dr. Pepper.