Influenced by The Protagonist Next Door
A hypnic jerk is not a hypnotist hitting on your girl, but an honest to goodness science term for that weird sensation one may experience right before falling asleep, you know the one, the one where you’re suddenly falling. I think horror should produce a similar sensation, at least metaphorically. The hypnic jerk is a simulation; you’re not really falling, but a part of you may believe that you are. In the same way, the sensation from a work of horror should feel real, should cause a visceral reaction.
Now, I generally don’t like gore when it’s cheaply employed, but gore is a perfect example of what I am getting at. Unless one is particularly jaded, seeing realistic bloodshed, violence, or maiming, causes a sympathetic response in an individual. However, the hypnic jerk is not just a sensation that feels like the real McCoy, it is a particular sensation, a startling terror. Gore is not always a reliable shortcut to this end goal of horror.
I think horror should pull the rug out from under its audience, and I don’t mean that it should have some unseen twist. Like the sensation of falling, whether real or imagined, horror should take us to a place where we have no control, left in an ambiguous state without solid ground.
The question then arises of how this is achieved. There is, in this case, more than one way to skin a cat, but the method of greatest personal interest to me is the transition from man to monster, the grey area of morality, the realization that makes King Oedipus strike out his eyes.
Now, if only I can bring my audience to that point!