What pushed me furthest toward conceding my previous judgment? The scene with Elsa and the chainsaw was gruesome enough to speed my heart and tense my body. Not only did it succeed in catching me by surprise, but it did so without a single graphic cut. The gore was all implied, but the effect was profound. Had it been more graphic, the scene might have gone too far. It worked because the writers knew just how far to go and ventured no further.
A writers’ group I belong to recently discussed boundaries in our writing. We all shared our individual limits—where we draw our personal lines. I admitted there are a few extremes I’ll likely never tackle, but I have to wonder: Can horror ever go too far? If so, what are the limits?
After reading a particularly graphic scene I’d written for Jane, my husband turned to me in awe and said, “You’re really sick—but you write it all so tastefully, it works.” I think about what horror means to me, what is able to get under my skin, and I realize boundary and definition go hand in hand. What is one person’s extreme is another’s perfect scene.
A recent review in the Contrary Canadian expresses a similar notion, comparing the drama to the horror. What is horror if not drama taken to the edge? Perhaps the best horror skates along the edge of tragedy, holding that fine line and weaving between the two until they are one. Maybe the delineation is more pronounced than that.
What are your thoughts on the matter? If you’ve read Jane, what do you think about the balance of drama and horror? Are there any scenes you feel went too far? (And if so, why?)
Stop by tomorrow for my final Coffin Hop post. Until then, I hope you find some great horror reading beyond this page and dream sweet, terrifying dreams.