All Noise: Where the Horror Genre Went Wrong

I know that Halloween was two days ago at this point, but I can’t help but use the opportunity to once again complain about the state of one of my favorite story genres.  I’ve spoken about this topic several times before, but I never went too in depth on it.  I mostly lamented how horror uses tropes as a crutch, continually making stories without any real stroke of originality.

Also demons.  I’m really REALLY sick of demons.

But in the end, demons are only a symptom of the problem.  To find out where the horror genre went wrong, we have to start by taking a look at some of the classic horror movies.  I’m going to be using The Thing (1982) as my main example here.  The Thing is a movie about a group of antarctic researchers who are hunted by a malevolent alien entity that can assume the form of its victims.  It carries a palpable sense of tension and dread throughout the entire movie, as the characters have no idea if the person next to them is the alien or not.

The Thing is a slow-paced movie, choosing to focus on the paranoia brewing between its characters rather than the horrific appearance of the unmasked alien monster (even nowadays the contorting of the alien’s form is pretty gross to look at).  And this is where its greatest success is, focusing on the characters instead of the monster.  The paranoia between them can even be seen as an allegory for the Cold War paranoia that was still present in the country at that time.

By contrast, what is Paranormal Activity about?  Well…uh…two people being dicks to each other for most of the movie instead of using their time to battle the demon that has LITERALLY BEEN FOLLOWING ONE OF THEM SINCE CHILDHOOD?!

Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed Paranormal Activity.  But this is the problem I see with modern horror films.  They’re not really about anything anymore.  They’ve become mostly soulless, vapid popcorn flicks, meant only to elicit momentary frights.  Once you’ve left the theater though, all the terror that you may or may not have felt evaporates.  Nothing lingers in your mind because there is nothing to linger.  It’s all just loud noises without any subtext.

Recently I wrote a review of Blair Witch, which is a direct sequel to the original Blair Witch Project.  And while I lamented the fact that it was basically a shadow retelling of the first movie (which makes sense in a way since the first movie came out seventeen years ago), I more lamented the fact that it was just chock full of scares that had no purpose other than to make you jump.  It gets so bad that at one point, when they jumpscare you twice in a row, one of the characters mutters “stop doing that” under her breath in the movie’s attempt to make a self-referential jab at itself.  And that’s another thing I hate about modern horror films.  They’ll crack jokes like that about themselves as if being self-aware of how cliché they are makes everything better.

No.  No it doesn’t.

You can write a horror story about people making bad decisions (and let’s be honest, all horror movies are pretty much characters making bad decisions) without pointing that fact out.  It doesn’t make your story better to do that.  If anything it breaks the immersion for the audience by making them even more aware that this is an artificial construct made solely for the purpose of scaring them.  Horror didn’t used to be like that.  Take The Shining (1980) for instance.  The Shining didn’t really feature a visible monster or demon of any kind.  It was more about an omnipresent evil taking advantage of Jack Torrance’s already present weakness due to his alcoholism and anger issues.  In this way, the evil becomes a reflection of what’s already there, instead of just being some foe the characters attempt to defeat.

Even The Exorcist (1973), one of the original demonic possession movies, was about more than just “ooh demons…spooky scary!”  It was about the family and how the event affected them.  It was about the priest who lost his faith and must find himself again.  It was about the corrupted innocence of a child beset upon by evil.  It wasn’t just about cheap thrills.  It was about trying to unsettle the audience in ways that went beyond gore and loud noises.

It sounds weird, but to put it simply horror movies seem too focused on trying to be scary instead of actually being scary.  And to me it seems to have started with the rise of slasher flick movies in the ’80s and ’90s.

Now I hate to do this, because I don’t like generalizing a whole genre of anything.  And I understand that Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger are iconic horror characters.  But I can’t help but feel that slasher flicks marked the turning point.  The rise of slasher movies meant that horror movies went from having deep, involved stories to having flimsy pretexts for watching teenagers get hacked to pieces.  Like I said, I hate to generalize like this, but it seems to me that these movies almost fetishized violence in a way.  And following that, horror movies become less and less thematic and more and more shallow.  As much as I like Paranormal Activity, any sense of terror I feel when I’m watching the movie fades away the moment it’s turned off.  Nothing really lingers.  I don’t feel any sense of creeping dread.  I don’t find myself looking over events in the movie, searching for hidden meanings or anything like that.

All of it is very surface level when it comes to being scary.  It’s not something like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where the pod people are really just an allegory for the Red Menace (AKA Communism).  Instead it’s about a demon who spends the entire movie just messing around with the main characters instead of killing them outright.

You know, because reasons.  There’s no rhyme, reason, or logic to it.  It’s just meant to drag you along for an hour or two until its inevitable conclusion.

Although there may be a light at the end of the tunnel.  There have been more horror movies as of late that eschew the normal formula.  Like The Witch, a movie which just came out earlier this year.  I haven’t seen it myself, but from what I understand it takes place in the 1600’s and focuses more on a family slowly turning against each other rather than some kind of monster.  It’s supposed to be a dark, brooding movie rather than a loud, brash one.

There’s also 10 Cloverfield Lane, which some may argue is more of a thriller, but it still has horror elements to it.  10 Cloverfield Lane traps its characters inside a handcrafted survival bunker while some unknown catastrophe may or may not be happening outside.  But the true creep factor of the movie comes from John Goodman himself.  Throughout the entire movie you’re never sure if you can trust him.  Just when you start to, something else comes to light that skews your opinion of him once again.  It’s a tense movie that never lets up, and that’s what makes it so great.

That’s what I want to see more of in horror: tension and suspense that isn’t just a setup for an eventual jumpscare.  I want a character to be able to walk down a dark and spooky hallway without it always ending with someone or something jumping out at them like an older sibling playing a prank on you.  I want characters who don’t feel like monstrous idiots who deserve everything that’s coming to them because they ignored the obvious warning signs.  Horror works best when it places believable, complex characters in unbelievable situations.  We don’t need more walking stereotypes with the IQ of a bag of rocks.

And seriously, stop with the demons.  We get it, Ouija boards are bad news.  Enough already.

 

Well that’s all I have for this time.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

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Are Jumpscares Scary?

It may seem like a loaded question, but it’s one worth asking.  Are jumpscares scary or not?

Now, I’ve already talked about my frustrations with the horror genre and I’ve listed five horror clichés that I don’t like.  Because I love the horror genre.  It’s one of my favorites and tells some of the most interesting and captivating stories.  But in more recent years, the horror genre has become so mired in this idea of having to be “scary”, which results in treading and re-treading already worn ground in an attempt to scare audiences without any real meaning.  For example, ever since Alien did the “cat jumpscare” back in the ’70s, it’s become a staple of movies and television shows.

And this I think shows part of the problem with horror as a genre.  Creators continually looks back at whatever was popular or effective and then simply tries to re-do it.  I mean they’re even doing a sequel to the Blair Witch project simply called “Blair Witch“.  Now, admittedly, the movie doesn’t look that bad, but it just shows how Hollywood has no original ideas for scaring people anymore.  It’s pretty much all demonic possession movies nowadays, which are routinely panned critically and I would imagine don’t do too well at the box office (although The Conjuring 2 did get some praise earlier this year).

But I digress.  Back to the question at hand, are jumpscares scary?  They can be.  They just have to be done right.

See, for a jumpscare to work, it has to capitalize on built-up tension throughout a scene or on its pure shock value.  If people know it’s coming, then it loses a lot of its power.  Everyone knows that when a character is moving down a dark hallway with spooky music that suddenly cuts out before they round a corner, a jumpscare is about to happen.  There needs to be a little more subtlety than that or it needs to happen when the audience isn’t expecting it.

A great example of the latter can be seen in Paranormal Activity 2.  If you haven’t seen any of the movies, I’ll sum it up for you: people set up cameras around their house.  Spooky stuff happens.  Something about demons.  That’s the general gist of it, but for how cliché it all sounds, the movies are surprisingly effective.  They’ll often just show you dark nighttime scenes with nothing happening in them because the filmmakers know your eyes will be darting about the screen trying to find even the most minute of movement.  But one of the best scary moments in the movie actually happens in the middle of the day.

Now, I’ve already talked about this scenario in my “Horror clichés” post, but I think it’s worth mentioning again.  There’s a scene later in Paranormal Activity 2 where one of the people living in the house sits down at the kitchen table to read either a magazine or newspaper (I honestly can’t tell).  And the scene sits there for a good ten or fifteen seconds with nothing happening before, suddenly, all the cabinets in the kitchen fly open with a crash.

You can take a look at the scene here if you want.

I think what makes the scene particularly effective is how it raises your alert level just seconds before the jumpscare happens.  You see the character in the scene suddenly turn and look away from her reading, almost as if she heard something.  Your brain is immediately like “something’s wrong here” and then BOOM!  You just got jumpscared.

Another thing that makes that scene work so well is that the movie has done a great job of building up the tension.  The Paranormal Activity movies are a very slow burn.  Very little happens for much of the movie until later on when things get more and more violent and suddenly the entire thing descends into chaos (at least for the first three movies…the fourth literally has a chandelier nearly falling on the main character in the first ten or fifteen minutes).

But unfortunately, it seems that most movies don’t want to take the time to be scary.  Instead, they want to get immediately to the scary bits, resorting to things popping up in your face and screaming as attempts to scare you.  I remember watching the trailer for Insidious Chapter 3 in a movie theater some months back and couldn’t help but laugh at how utterly cliché the last half of the trailer is.  It starts off decently enough, with a girl knocking on the wall thinking that it’s her neighbor knocking back until he reveals through text that he’s not him.  Cue creepy children’s lullaby and every trope in the book: old lady in dark hallway, séance gone wrong, creepy shadow people abruptly disappearing, mysterious oily footprints, and so on.  The trailer even ends with someone going into the darkened basement and getting scared by someone hanging from the ceiling and screaming in their face.

Who knows?  Maybe that’s what people want.  I don’t really know anymore.  There has to be a reason these movies keep getting made after all.

In the end I think horror is going to be better served combining itself with other genres, because straight horror movies are far too predictable.  Even 10 Cloverfield Lane (which is a great movie by the way) feels more like a psychological thriller than a straight horror movie.  But perhaps that’s for the best.  Because if all we keep getting are these installments of movies revolving around demons and possession, then I think the horror genre is going to die a slow death.  In all fairness clichés are clichés for a reason.  They were effective at one point in time, but they lose effectiveness the more often they are used.  The cat jumpscare was really unique when it was used in Alien but now it either elicits eye rolls or laughter (and it is often used for comedic purposes instead of scary purposes these days because of how overdone it is).

You see, if your primary method of scaring people is loud noises, then the movie won’t stick out in your mind.  You need to leave a lasting impression.  You need to build up to the jumpscare instead of just throwing them at people one after another.  It’s the reason why I remember 10 Cloverfield Lane so vividly but can barely remember the names of Insidious and The Conjuring, because 10 Cloverfield Lane, even if I hadn’t gone to see it, left me with a very damn good trailer that sticks out in my mind compared to the usual fare (I actually had to think to remember the name of that Insidious movie…that’s how generic the trailer was).

To truly scare someone with a jumpscare, you need to earn it first.

 

Well that’s all I have for this week.  Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

Spooky Scary Stories: Why Does the Horror Genre Exist?

It’s that time of year again…the spooky time where all the spooky things come out and spook people.  THE SPOOKS!  They’re too spooky for me…

But in all seriousness, Halloween is a holiday associated with all the things that like to go bump in the night.  And sometimes squeak.  And sometimes “rawr”.  And sometimes they don’t go anything at all.  They just creep up behind you, sending a chill pulsing up your spine.  You know something’s there, but you can’t see it until the faint, smoke-like tendrils of its hands seize your throat and-

Oh right, I was supposed to have a point to all this.  Whoops.  Got a little carried away there.

Last year around this time I did a post entitled “The Allure of the Scare”, where I talked about why people like me enjoy the horror genre.  This year I want to take things a step further and ask the question “why”.  Why does the horror genre exist at all?  What purpose does it serve?

Horror can trace its roots all the way back to ancient legends and folktales, but it wasn’t really until the 18th and 19th century that horror really became a genre of literature.  It was thanks to the efforts of writers like Mary Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe that horror came to the forefront of people’s minds.  Poe had his famous works like “The Raven” and “The Cask of Amontillado”, but Mary Shelley created one of the most iconic horror stories ever: Frankenstein.  I’ve always seen horror as an exploration of our fears, of the things that we cannot see or understand.  And sometimes, it is an exploration of our faults.  Frankenstein is a good example of this.  It is one of the original “science gone mad” stories, where the brilliant yet unhinged Frankenstein creates a monster that he cannot control.

Interestingly enough, in Shelley’s version the monster actually speaks and is quite eloquent.  He torments Victor Frankenstein after Victor refuses to acknowledge him and even tries to destroy what he created.  It’s a different tale than the film version, where the monster just groans and walks around causing havoc and mayhem.  In this sense, Shelley’s Frankenstein exposes the darker side of ambition, of the human need to push boundaries.  It’s not the most well written book (it suffers from what I like to call “ye olde prose” syndrome), but it is a classic in every sense of the word.  The style of writing may not stand up to today’s standards, but the story still has power.

But horror isn’t just a way to explore individual fears.  It’s a way to explore cultural fears as well.  Take the sci-fi/horror movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  In the movie, the inhabitants of a small town are slowly being replaced by emotionless, alien duplicates of themselves that look the same and know everything the original knows.  They’re pretty much identical, except they’re evil and stuff.  Basically this movie is often seen as a metaphor for the spread of Communism, or rather our fears of it at the time.  The original version came out in the 1950s, during the Cold War, an era that wouldn’t end until the early 1990s.  And it makes sense.  Replace the aliens with the Red Menace, and you’d have a pretty chilling propaganda movie.

And that trend continues even today.  One theory as to why demons are such a prevalent trope in movies today is because of our fear of terrorism.  Demons are a representation of that fear, the fear that nice, ordinary people could suddenly turn into violent weapons of destruction.

Of course it could also just be that one movie had demons in it, did super well at the box office, and now everyone is trying to capitalize on it.  But that’s a boring theory.  I prefer the interesting one.

But in any case, horror does well as a genre because, like I said earlier, it taps into things that other genres either can’t or won’t touch.  It reminds us of what it is like to be human, to be afraid.  In a strange way, horror feels more grounded than some other genres out there (despite a prevalence of paranormal phenomena in it).  It shows us characters that aren’t invincible or impossibly heroic in their actions.  Often, humans make stupid decisions, and characters in horror movies do the same (hey we should split up and search for that spooky noise).  Horror touches on those things that we often don’t like to talk about or acknowledge.

And sometimes, it’s just fun to be scared.  Because I’m a masochist like that.

 

Well that’s all I have for you this time.  Have a spooky, wonderful Halloween and tune in next Wednesday for another post!

Guilty Pleasures: Ghost Hunting Television Shows

So I have a little bit of a confession to make.  I actually enjoy watching those ghost hunting TV shows every now and then, even though I don’t really believe in paranormal phenomena.  It’s a guilty pleasure of mine (but you already knew that because you read the title of the post…you clever scamp).

But let’s rewind a bit, back to March 2014.  I was just starting up this blog and my very first post dealt with the paranormal.  In it, I talked about how even though I am skeptical when it comes to whether or not ghosts and the like actually exist, I enjoy ghost stories and just the idea of the paranormal in games, movies, and television.  In the post, I only really talked about video games, specifically the Dark Fall games, a series of point and click adventures dealing with ghosts.

I suppose then, that this was a long time coming.  I have seen several ghost hunting shows before (interesting fact, the show Ghost Adventures actually visited Duluth earlier this year), but the one I’ve enjoy most is Ghost Hunters and its spinoff Ghost Hunters International on the Syfy channel (yeah don’t ask, I don’t know how that ever became a thing).  I mainly like this show specifically because when it comes to the spectrum of being believable, Ghost Hunters probably lies at the top.  I have a healthy skepticism about most of these shows, especially a certain one I’ll talk about in a little bit.

But why do I like these shows?  Mainly because they feel atmospheric to me.  I like the idea of going into a supposedly haunted place and just experiencing all it has to offer.  And since I’m certainly not going to be buying plane tickets and going to any famous haunted locales in the near future, I have to do it vicariously through video games and television.  I chalk it up to a mixture of the part of me that likes exploring and that masochistic part of me that likes horror and being scared.

And as far as experiencing a haunted place goes, Ghost Hunters is a good avenue for it.  If you’ve never seen the show before, the gist of it is this team of people go to a bunch of different places (usually two per episode) and see if they can find any sort of paranormal evidence, be it on video, audio, or some other means.  And of course, they investigate in the dark, because that’s when all the spooky stuff happens.  In any case, I enjoy the process that they go through in each episode.  And in the end, they seem the most genuine out of all of the shows, because they at least admit when they haven’t found anything…which leads me into the other show I want to talk about.

Have you ever heard of Paranormal State?  If you have, and have seen it, you might understand the direction I’m about to go in.

Paranormal State is another ghost hunting show I’ve watched, but not for the same reasons as Ghost Hunters.  I watch Ghost Hunters because I like the idea of ghosts and hauntings, and their method of doing things doesn’t strike me as ridiculous as some of the other shows.  I watch Paranormal State because I like to laugh at it.  Me and my roommate used to watch it in college a lot because it was just so absurd.  The team in this show hails from Penn State University, and seems to have a major confirmation bias going on.  If you don’t understand what I mean by that, let me put it like this: they like to twist things around so that it fits their version of what they want to be true.

Here’s an example.  In one episode, they investigate an abandoned sanitarium (read: mental hospital).  While they’re there, they get a recording of a voice saying the name “Lucy”.  After doing some research, they discover that they can’t find any evidence of a woman named Lucy ever having worked there, been a patient there, or even having set foot through its doors.  So what’s their conclusion?  A demon is covering up the evidence.  Yeah…I wish I was kidding.

But that kind of thing is precisely why my roommate and I watched the show a bunch, because it was hilarious to us.  About ninety percent of their cases were attributed to demons.  I mean they even had a serialized arc going on with a demon that followed the Mississippi River.  It’s really rather ridiculous how much demonic activity they’ve supposedly encountered in their time.  And after all that, most of their demons just create drafts of air and blow doors shut.  Demons everybody!  They’re seriously evil and stuff!

Paranormal State is definitely one of those shows that I believe is either faked on some level, or the people in it are just really full of themselves.  In any case, I still enjoyed watching it.  Too bad it’s no longer on Netflix instant streaming.  Comedy for days man.  Comedy for days.

Everyone has that guilty pleasure in their life, that thing that they do that they know is kind of stupid but they do it anyways because they enjoy it.  Ghost hunting shows are that thing for me.  I know that on some level the science those shows use is pretty much bunk or unproven, but the idea of chasing down paranormal entities is something that fascinates me.  It’s a primal sort of thing, when you enter a deserted or empty building in the middle of the night, and you feel that sharp chill on the back of your neck.  You get the unshakable sensation of not being alone.  The wind howls through a distant hallway, creating an eerie sound akin to someone moaning.  That’s the kind of thing I feel when I watch those types of shows, the sensation of exploring a place like that.  And I love it.

And you know what the best thing about shows like Ghost Hunters is?  No obnoxious jumpscares.

 

Well that’s all I’ve got for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another new post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

The Frightening State of Horror

So there’s this new movie coming out soon called Deliver Us From Evil.  It’s a story about a cop who goes around to all these spooky looking places filled with spooky looking things, as spooky people jump out of the shadows at him, seriously giving him the spooks.  The trailer has some well-done looking scenes, including a particularly unsettling scene with a plush owl that falls off a shelf and rolls toward a little girl in bed.  And what’s the cause of all this weird mayhem and spooky things?  Why of course, people are being possessed, for like the twentieth time in the last five years.  You’d think for once the exorcist would actually be worth a damn.

I touched on this topic before in one of my posts, where I talked about why I found horror fascinating as a genre.  You might remember that I also mentioned how I was getting a little worried with the state it’s currently in, constantly going over trope after trope.  In particular horror movies seem locked into this weird obsession with demons.  It’s always demons.  Every time something goes bump in the night?  Demons.  Every time someone does something stupid in a movie?  Demons.  Every time someone dies in a movie?  Well, you get the idea.

It’s no secret that movies these days tend to be criticized for being unoriginal, being based off of some kind of source material or being a remake of an older movie.  But horror movies in particular are notorious for that.  Even the Paranormal Activity franchise, a series I like, is all about demons.  It seems like every horror movie I see a trailer for ends up being about demons or hell.  There was one I learned about a month or two back called As Above, So Below that actually seemed intriguing.

It was about this group of archaeologists or something that decide to go down into the catacombs of Paris, which are notorious for being disturbing.  Predictably they get trapped and bad things start happening.  But it gets interesting in the trailer when one of the characters finds a piano that he remembers from his childhood, with the same broken key on it and everything.  So what’s the explanation for all of it?  Turns out it has something to do with the gates of Hell.  Of course.  It couldn’t actually be anything interesting could it?

Even video games have run into a dry spell when it comes to the horror genre.  Too many of the games today focus on loud pop-up scares and objectives along the line of “collect eight whatever and escape”.  Or they don’t even try, giving you mounds of ammo for your weapons and focusing more on creating big explosions than any actual ambiance.  Horror needs to be subtle in a lot of ways.  You can’t be truly scared by something if it just instantly jumps at you.  It needs to stalk you in the shadows first, allowing you to catch a glimpse of it as it skitters away into the darkness.

Dark Fall The Journal.

If this was a horror movie, there would be blood and pentagrams drawn on the wall. Because spooks. (Dark Fall The Journal.)

This is something that the Paranormal Activity movies are so good at (with the exception of number four).  They build up the tension with little odd things happening during the nighttime segments, which slowly build up into crazy disturbing things by the end of the movie.  Few people seem to realize the importance of build up.  It’s that feeling when something gets under your skin and creeps you out.  It’s that feeling that you’re being watched, that paranoia of what could be around the next bend.

Video games in particular are in a unique position to create some truly atypical horror experiences.  Eternal Darkness is one of those games that I feel really broke the mold, even if it is over a decade old now.  It not only had your typical freaky monsters, but it messed with your mind.  It would commonly break the fourth wall, making you think your controller was unplugged or that your TV turned off.  It even makes you think you accidentally started deleting all your saved games.  These moments are what makes it one of my favorite games of all time.

This is the kind of thing I want out of horror these days, some level of originality.  We can all agree that an abandoned mansion, asylum, hotel, or whatever is creepy, but there are ways to be creepy without always resorting to well-tread ground.  Part of the reason I talked about the horror games I’ve played, such as the Dark Fall series, is because I feel they find ways to unnerve or scare me without resorting to jumping in my face and screaming “BLARGH”.  I will admit that those scares can make me jump (hence the name “jumpscare”), but they don’t leave any lasting impression.  It’s that momentary knee-jerk reaction, followed by a weary sigh of knowing that they used the oldest trick in the book.  Loud noises aren’t that scary.  They’re mainly annoying.

But I do really get tired of all the demon story lines.  This family has an ancient secret, involving demons.  This house has a terrible history…involving demons.  This forest is known for being haunted……by demons.  This person actually IS a demon.  It just gets old when every demonic possession movie involves someone screaming “get out” in a deep, gravely voice right before a door slams shut.  Yeah we got it.  They’re possessed.  It’s spooky and stuff.  It’s not like demons are intrinsically bad as horror tropes, they just get old when they’re in pretty much every modern horror movie.

Betrayer is a new game I've started playing recently. It takes place in the early 17th Century and involves all sorts of supernatural weirdness. It's not a jump out at you kind of horror game, but it's dripping with atmosphere. It's something unique in a sea of clones.

Betrayer is a new game I’ve started playing recently. It takes place in the early 17th Century and involves all sorts of supernatural weirdness. It’s not a jump out at you kind of horror game, but it’s dripping with atmosphere. It’s something unique in a sea of clones.

I guess what I’m trying to get at here is that we should be trying new things.  Yes old castles are scary.  Yes demons are freaky.  Yes dark forests in the middle of the night are creepy places to be, but they’re all so obvious.  That’s the problem with them.  We know them too well, so we expect there to be spooky things there.  There are settings out there that are ripe for horrific atmospheres and stories, such as the bottom of the ocean.  Being trapped deep beneath the ocean surface is a terrifying prospect for me, and one I don’t see explored often.

Horror as it is right now is stuck in a deep rut.  It’s a record that is constantly skipping.  If it stays that way, I’m fairly certain it will eventually die out.  There are interesting ideas out there, in both games and movies, but there need to be more of them.  I’m all for dark corridors and distant, creepy noises, but sometimes I would like to be exposed to something new.  With modern technology we can go places and explore ideas that we had no conception of even just fifty years ago.  The problem is that people become all too content with the old and the familiar.  There’s nothing wrong with the safety of what you know, but all of human experience didn’t come about because people stayed with what they know.  Embrace the unfamiliar, and you might be surprised with the results.

And that’s all for this week.  Next week’s post will be barely illuminated by your flashlight as you pull open the old wooden cellar door.  Until then, have a great week everybody.