Horror Businessis a novel I that wrote. It’s coming out in February 2015. Horror movies play a huge role in the narrative.
“Horror Business” is a sporadic column where I ask influential/invaluable writers and people of interest the following question: What scene from a movie has scared/troubled/shaken you the most?
When I think of the term “literary horror,” Nick Antosca is the first name to come to mind. Before I read his book Midnight Picnic, I still thought of horror in a very stereotypically lurid, cut-and-dry, genre sense. Just like everyone, I was a product of the Stephen King school of horror.
Midnight Picnicchanged my perception of what horror could be. It didn’t have to be flashy. It could be gentle. Subtle. It could be ethereal and sad. Yes, there are some terrifying parts in that book, but most of the horror is cumulative, one that stays reader when the book is done. It reminded me of reading a deeply-personal journal that you’ve forgotten you’ve written and realize that you’ve been haunted at one point in your life.
Last year, he put out a story collection called The Girlfriend Game, which is fantastic and includes his story “Predator Bait,” about a decoy used in a To Catch a Predator-likeshow. It’s probably my favorite thing I’ve read by him.
And if that’s not inspirational enough, he also has written for bunch of rad shows shows like Last Resort, Teen Wolf and Hannibal. Plus, he just sold a script for The Disappearance, which will be produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television. Damn.
What scene from a movie has scared/troubled/shaken you the most?
NA: This is a well-timed question, because one of my answers is that scene in Twin Peaks when Bob climbs over the couch. That is fucking terrifying. The way it changes the landscape of a familiar place – a living room – and shows Bob as this otherworldly sort of entity that doesn’t treat living rooms like they’re supposed to be treated (you’re not supposed to climb over the couch! normal people – human beings – in safe, familiar living rooms don’t do that!) gives you this disorienting feeling. That’s a scene I’ve actually had a nightmare about.
One of my favorite horror movie scenes is also the scene in The Orphanage where the main character has to play the knock-knock game she played as a little girl with her friends… but all those little friends are now dead, and they’re somewhere in the house, still children, waiting for her. She is terrified but she needs to call them to find out what happened to her missing son, so she faces the wall and knocks, knowing that when she turns around, the empty doorway behind her might not be empty anymore… It’s so scary, and it’s also elegant screenwriting, a beautifully set up scene.
Another great, scary scene is the last scene in Enemy, the Jake Gyllenhaal doppelgänger movie. I won’t spoil it. It’s a real “what the fuck” moment. Some people I know whose opinions I respect felt totally cheated by it. It freaked me out.
Also the scenes of the house just being watched in Michael Haneke’s Cache.
Oh wait, no – I know what the scariest scene in any movie is for me. It’s the “borrowing some eggs” scene in Haneke’s original Funny Games. The excruciating social awkwardness and the growing sense of dread – we KNOW these kids are eventually going to do something awful to this poor woman and her family – make the scene feel so real. Makes me queasy every time.