I recently had a conversation with a friend on one of the many Yahoo loops I participate in. She had told me that she might not like my books if they were similar to movies such as "The Descent." Now true the movie had its moments of terror, but for me it was nothing more than a shabby plot covered in gore and shock. Now granted there are many in the world who will disagree with me, but it my own opinion, horror is far more than just blood and guts. This is why the hacker-slasher movies stick with us but are never highly rated. If the reader/viewer is not attached to the lead character in more ways than one, the overall impact holds no more value than accidentally cutting your finger while slicing a tomato. It's there briefly but soon fades in your mind.
Now I'm not saying that gore shouldn't be included in horror. But if you believe that nothing but gore makes horror you are sadly mistaken. For example, the Saw series had lost touch with its plot and moved to elaborate death with little attachment to the story. Now I love how they come up with some of these devices and how they can create multiple pieces of the puzzle that put together the big picture at the end, but I feel they've lost me when it comes to falling in love with a character and rooting for said person, hoping with all my might that they make it out.
That brings me to my next point in what I believe horror to be. Now it's true in today's movies and books, you can get away with more and more when talking about what you can do to a character. But that's about as horrible as slapping a mosquito or an irritating fly. A reason some of the greats in horror, Stephen King, Clive Barker so forth and so on, do so well is because they make you love their characters. They get you intimately involved with the hero or heroine; you open your heart to him/her just before the author strips the character from you in some tragic event.
It's horror because we become emotionally involved with the characters. They become flesh and blood and it hurts us when they feel pain, both physical and mental. Our hearts ache when their loved ones are pulled from them because we think of what it would be like to have the same happen to us. Their sacrifices are our own and when they run, we feel the adrenaline pumping; when they die, we feel our heart stop beating; when they love, we feel the heat of their passion.
That is where true horror lies…Not in the actions, but what makes the actions so vital to the story. If you don't love the character, you're doing nothing more than swatting flies for however long the movie is or however long it takes you either finish the book or put it down because you are bored of it.
But, this is my opinion of what I believe horror to be….What do you think true horror is?