Thursday, April 24, 2014

Horror & Comedy: Best Of Friends

What is it about horror that makes it such a great match for comedy?

I noticed this when I went to a haunted attraction last October, and now periodically as I experience new horror films and writing. When we are scared, there are two reactions: to scream, and to laugh.

You would think that these two reactions are so opposite that they can't possibly work together, but when you analyze what is happening while experiencing something horrifying or terrifying, it makes sense. For a jump scare, I know that it's coming usually. If I don't, then it still works the same. Something jumps out and causes me to react physically and audibly - usually jumping myself and then crying out. But, then the come-down part of that reaction takes place and I laugh at myself for being tricked into reacting in such a scaredy-cat way and also at the realization that I am safe from harm.

It's a great thing to understand when writing horror of any kind. Even though some variations of the genre have taken the comedy aspect too far into camp, I believe it is essential to have moments for your characters to both scream and laugh because without the humor, the horror becomes too dreadful. It's a good idea to have a nice balance between the two.