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The Definition of Scary

Scary is when you can feel the chills go up and down your spine as the hairs on the back of your neck stand up from the rush of adrenaline -- typically due to a traditional jump-scare or the rise of a suspenseful dissonant musical score heightening up to some hideous climax. Scary is when you're so engulfed in a story and its characters that you almost forget you're in a theater or sitting in your favorite chair in front of a fireplace as you read about a serial killer stalking a young, fresh teen from the corner of a back alley. Scary is when you almost feel like you want to close the book or turn off the TV, but a part of you wants to keep reading or watching just so you can see what happens....

Scary Is All of Those Things, All Rolled Up Into One


And it's hard to get that definition of scary in full force, man. The right mixture makes the grade. Anything less or imbalanced, and that verisimilitude gets lost in translation, and you've got what's typically called a "horror-comedy" where the scares actually make you giggle and eat popcorn versus holding onto your seat for dear life.

It's not easy getting that mixture right. And that's why the greatest masters of horror -- Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Jack Ketchum, Wes Craven, Guillermo del Toro, Clive Barker -- they're geniuses of the written word in the best way.

They Get the Mixture Right


And they tell the story with the exact intention they're going for. That's rare in storytelling. Because typically it's a good thing to just tell a story, and everyone's experience of it varies. But a story that only has one intention -- to scare the living Hell out of you -- is truly masterful, and the perfect definition of scary.

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