I love haunted houses. I think if you have some common sense and keep a respectful attitude, you can live happily with a ghostie or a demon. And, you’d always have someone to push down that can of peas off the top shelf you can never reach.
Some residences just ooze the “murder house” vibe. You might remember the post that I did a couple of years back called, “Horror House For Sale.” For those of you who don’t (you can click the link and check it out… just sayin’), I shared a few images of a house that I found on Zillow. You could feel the presence of well… something, just looking at it. Maybe a mutant creeper still living in the walls somewhere, just waiting for the new owners to move in. Wouldn’t that be something!?
I came across the above image recently (don’t ask) and it took me back to the day when I first found Zillow’s Most Haunted Property. That all-familiar sense of excitement I mean, fear… of course I mean fear, I’m not a psycho (good movie by the way!), the fear crept back in and I started to imagine all the possible fun dangers lurking within those walls.
This led me to wonder: what exactly is it about haunted houses that fascinates us so much? Now, I understand this might sound like a stupid question. Obviously, everything that makes a haunted house a haunted house is what makes it thrilling scary. I guess what I mean is, what is it about an old, rundown house that makes our skin crawl?
As I’ve said before, most people are terrified at the idea of living in a haunted house, and I get it; it’s a pretty universal feeling. I mean, imagine driving down an old country road late at night (I seriously recommend you find a better way to spend your evenings) and seeing a house like this one! No lights on the road (and if you’ve ever driven down a country road at night with no lights, let me tell you… it’s freakin’ DARK) or in the drive or visible in the home. Or worse yet, just one light dimly glowing in a shadowy window. I’m willing to bet you’d think, “someone definitely died there and in a gruesome horror movie kind of a way too.” I know I would.
Why, though? Well, if you ask me, haunted houses invoke one of the biggest fears known to humanity – the fear of the unknown. The weight of all that ambivalence can be crushing. There are few things in the world that can toy with our sense of security as much as haunted houses.
I have to say that Hollywood understands the root of our fears when it comes to haunted houses and boy, do they capitalize upon them. Haunted house movies make a killing (no pun intended, oh, who am I kidding… of course it was) and in a sick twist, this oft-used trope works to spread the universal fear to generation after generation. When we find ourselves face to face with a house that in any way resembles the Amityville Horror House (there’s a story that Hollywood really beat to death by the way), everything in us tells us to run. Well. Most of us anyway.
Horror movies and ghost stories have taught us that all run-down houses host paranormal entities and demonic forces intent on charming claiming our souls. Of course, the logic-angel sitting on our shoulder reassures us, “oh, that’s just hogwash,” even if it sometimes does so in a quiet, slightly frightened voice. Because you see, ultimately, it’s the uncertainty of their presence in the dark that is the most terrifying thing of all.