Horror The Supernatural Genre
Horror is an ancient genre, it roots lodged in ancient myth and folklore. Since then the genre has evolved, even sometimes doing without elements of the supernatural on which the original horror stories where founded. Despite the emergence of natural horror, horror which incorporates elements of the supernatural still remains superior. While horror can be successful using only natural circumstances, horror that utilizes elements of the supernatural evokes a more effective response from the reader.
“A Rose for Emily” is a good example of horror which contains no supernatural elements. While pieces of the story contain the unusual or violate societal taboos the story conforms very much to the way in which we think the world operates. The reader could easily imagine that this story might really have occurred at some time. While the realism of the story makes it more plausible to the reader, it also lessens its effectiveness. The idea of a woman lying down next to a dead body for decades is revolting, but not very horrific. No sense of dread is imposed upon the reader, and the only visceral response is one of disgust. While the piece in effective at entertaining the reader, it lacks the ability to truly inspire horror.
Dahl’s “A Man from the South” also lacks the ability to impress a sense of terror and dread on the reader. Like “A Rose for Emily” the story is entertaining, but the reader is not really terrified by any of the events that happen in it. There is a slight sense in revulsion at the idea of collecting human fingers but there is no overall sense of doom in the story.
“The Call of Cthulu” however is of a completely different nature. In it H.P. Lovecraft weaves a tale full of dread and unfathomable terror. The mystery of what exactly Cthulu is, what portents the strange dreams hold, the mysterious statues created in deep antiquity, all come together to impress a sense of fear upon the reader. An overriding element which makes the story so effective is the use of the supernatural, which allows Lovecraft to create beings to terrible to exist in the world we know. Throughout the story pervades a sense of the unknown, of some ancient mystery which mortal man should never venture to know. The story evicts a visceral sense of horror from the reader, one of realization of what might happen if such things were ever to exist. While any sane person would never claim that a giant god from the stars will ever rise out of the ocean to destroy the world, the reader can nonetheless envision such a horrific event. “The Call of Cthulu” shows how effective the supernatural can be in horror.
Another excellent Lovecraft story that incorporates the supernatural is “Nyarlathotep.” The plot centers on the arrival of Nyarlathotep, a...