Perhaps due to the nature of the market recently or maybe more my interest in asian mythology but I appear to be writing a lot of ghost stories lately. For someone that doesn’t really read horror or even enjoy horror movies, it’s a bit of a surprise even to me. But here’s the thing about ghost stories, they don’t have to be scary. Suspense works for me so much better than gore. Have you ever watched a film which has been seriously creeping you out and then at the big reveal it is just plain silly. I’m thinking Signs, The Descent or Cloverfield. Ok these aren’t exactly ghost movies but the disappointment when you see the monster is pretty acute. I wonder if it’s harder for the human mind to suspend disbelief when we are given something as concrete as a big grizzly beast chewing on human limbs.
A lot of Japanese monsters for example are ridiculously silly rather than scary, from the one eyes and one footed umbrella monster (kasa-obake) to the giant piece of cloth that flies through the air and gets stuck to your face (ittan-momen). Seriously, I’m not making these up.
For me ghosts are more representations of concealed emotions. But, I’ve often wondered, does that mean this type of ghost stories aren’t real ghost stories? Would a genre editor balk at accepting a ghost story which could be read without a supernatural edge?