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The Resurrection of the Horror Genre

by Beth Divine 15 Nov 2018

It is an established fact that times of political instability and uncertainty engender a sharp rise in the advent of horror: in fiction, in film, now in television and in video games too. There is believed to be a correlation between the fears of the populace which writers, the unacknowledged legislators of the world, as Shelley claimed, seem to absorb by observational osmosis.

The truth of this can be seen with horror being spurned in the 80s and 90s except for works by masters of the genre, such as Stephen King and James Herbert – both of whom shot to their greatest heights while the traumas of the Korean and Vietnam wars were ongoing. Then, with the advent of ‘post-truth politics’ – a phrase that should stick in the craw of self-respecting citizen, politicians should only ever be honourable and truthful and the fact that they are not is a far worse horror than any writer of fiction would ever dare to conceive… The early 2000s saw the slow resurrection of the genre, with zombies – traditionally the most horrific and grotesque of the horror creatures – rising higher in popularity than at any time since the nuclear fears of the Cold War in the 50s and 60s. Vampires were brought back to life, so to speak, and reimagined as the good guys, as dynasties, and as sparklers, while werewolves popped up, again with a divide: their doglike characteristics making them more user-friendly than previously, or mutated into disgusting hairless, mindless and twisted monsters. From there, horror subverted itself, with humorous offerings like The Santa Clarita Diet putting a zombie spin on paleo and keto diets and our modern obsession with skeletal thinness.

In short, the people who have profited the most from global stupidities like Brexit and Trump’s election to president are probably those who make their living from writing horror. One excellent example of this is The Persistence, the latest offering from PlayStation’s BR platform. A full review of the game will follow shortly on the blog, but a quick summary is as follows: you are confined in a spaceship and become beset by zombies, using a wealth of weapons and unique 3D printed bodies that you can choose from when you ‘die’. The Persistence’s big selling point is the persistence of fear that is felt throughout the game – the scenery, music, colours and settings are designed to feel creepy and full of suspense.