Monday, August 2, 2010
When Vengeance Is Good
Uncertainty breeds contempt so if you must get even; do it quickly. The Book of Tortured Souls, Nomar Knight
Ah, vengeance is a powerful catalyst capable of stoking the flames of horror. Here’s a definition of vengeance: “infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like, on a person by another who has been harmed by that person; violent revenge: But have you the right to vengeance? (Dictionary.com)
I found it strange that the people who define vengeance thought it necessary to throw in a moral disclaimer. Not to worry, I’m not going to delve on the moral aspect. Instead I’d like to briefly examine vengeance as a motivating factor for either a protagonist or antagonist. A good horror story shines when one of its main characters utilizes unique methods to get even. Many of my stories involve payback of horrific proportions because I’m someone who loathes unjust actions. There are times I feel the justice system is blind to its victims.
The Saw series grew its origins from the notion that justice must be served at all costs. Director James Wan utilized gruesome visual tactics to make the initial movie a picturesque show of macabre proportion. I believe not all horror involving the execution of vengeance need be a bloody display. Sometimes the best vengeance is to destroy a character’s psyche before feeling the need to do physical damage. Of course, the movie Saw accomplished bringing much anguish to its characters, so in essence, it covered all the angles.
I know I stated that if one must carry out vengeance to do it quickly, but in fiction—the only venue where I feel vengeance should be carried out— it’s best to drag things out, building suspense as the plot thickens until eventually quenching the reader’s thirst for justice.
So the next time you find yourself searching for purpose to write horror, think about the sweet screaming sounds of payback and just maybe, you’ll have a bloody good time.