Readersforum's Blog

May 17, 2013

When horror stopped being supernatural

Nowhere left to run for horror? Brad Pitt in the 2013 film of World War Z.

Nowhere left to run for horror? Brad Pitt in the 2013 film of World War Z.

How afraid should we be for scary reading now that fiction’s monsters are being reinvented as worldly threats?

By David Barnett

It’s a cliché to say that Author W does for Subject X what Author Y did for Subject Z. But it was one I found unavoidable when I turned the final page of Benjamin Percy’s excellent Red Moon, released last week.

For it has to be said that Benjamin Percy does for werewolves what Justin Cronin did for vampires and, before that, Max Brooks did for zombies. This century the monsters of old have been taken out of the shadows. Where once a single, terrifying creature sparked supernatural terror, now monsters have become the product of science, of viruses, of very human meddling. They have multiplied and been recast from the night into bright sunlight on a global scale. The horror is now the prospect of monsters supplanting humanity … but does that make them any more scary?

Vampires, werewolves and the revenant dead have been the unholy trinity at the heart of modern horror since the days of folk tale. But their journey from archetype to ubiquity has, I feel, been brought to an almost inevitable conclusion.

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