October 28, 2008 9:53 PM   Subscribe

What makes a scary film scary?

I'm in a funny position of being a screenwriter and not being scared *at all* by films. The last time I was scared by a movie was THE OMEN when I was eleven. Since then... I just don't buy it. Like a lot of MeFites, I imagine, I'm innured to the clichés of horror. So, I'm throwing it out there. What makes a horror film *really* scary? Let's get shock out of the way... the 'boo' moment. What else can I use to scare the bajaysus out of people like you?
posted by unSane to Media & Arts (30 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
You may want to read up on Noel Carrol's work. He's a philosopher of film, and he's pretty well known for his work on horror. You can check out his book, The Philosophy of Horror, or one of his more famous papers, "The Nature of Horror" (Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 1987).

Some of it will be a little far afield for you, but some of it will be helpful. For one thing, he discusses the nature of monsters and the reasons why we find them horrific.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:04 PM on October 28, 2008 [4 favorites]

Spring-loaded cats
posted by zippy at 10:05 PM on October 28, 2008

If something is watching an unsuspecting character, esp. in a position that normal people are in every day, that is scary -> the scary part usually happens when they look up and see it, though this isn't totally necessary.

Example: things in mirrors and windows. Cloverfield, in the tunnels, when the night vision comes on. Doctor Who, blink.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:09 PM on October 28, 2008

Erm, Noel Carroll. Two Ls.
posted by Ms. Saint at 10:12 PM on October 28, 2008

Nameless, unknown horrors. Once the monster is revealed, it's hard to live up to my imagination and the schtick becomes repetitive. I say, don't show its face.

Isolation. Being cold, alone, threatened by some unnamed, unknown source that exists to end you in a horrifying fashion. Bonus points if it comes after you late at night when you're alone in bed, in the dark, at your most vulnerable. I think that can throw adults right back into the mindset of their childhood. There's something in the closet, under the bed. Once your mind is in that spot, the horror movie can do its work.

With a suitable soundtrack, of course.
posted by empyrean at 10:14 PM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

There are basic fears to be played upon -- alienation, isolation, insanity, corruption of innocense, etc. -- but more basic for me regardless of theme is immersion. When a horror film does its job, the viewer places him or herself in the role of the possible victim, constantly forcing you into the dissonant role of thinking what you would do in that situation yet having to endure what he or she chooses to do instead. In this vein, I find that films that depict a wholly overpowering foe lose its power over the viewers because the person can no longer play that game. "I would give up." "I would kill myself." There is no tension there.

Also, as a basic rule of narrative tension rather than horror per se, you need alternating moments of tension and release. You can't have constant tension throughout. You need little moments of reprieve. The audience would not emotionally accompany the film through 1 1/2-2 hours of rising tension without break. That being said, there is often a "turning point" in a horror film, marked by a rapid acceleration of tension and danger to the characters, and the narrative device of violation of previously relied upon rules. The ghost can only attack you in your home? No, he can be anywhere. Again, in order to create this amplification of panic, of terror, you need to have established rules to later violate. This requires minor moments and zones of safety, to be later lost.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:14 PM on October 28, 2008

"Boo" scares are mechanical. Atmosphere can be bought. But what really sticks is an image that resonates with people for reasons beyond what it matters to the characters. For my money, Rosemary's Baby, Alien, The Tenant, Jacob's Ladder, Uzumaki, Don't Look Now, Slither, Bug, 28 Days Later, and the works of David Cronenberg work as splendid horror movies not because, say, Rosemary's Baby so perfectly depicts absolutely justified paranoia (especially with Charles Grodin's character), or because you can never forget the facehugger (just imagine seeing your friend with thing on his face, those little crab legs holding him tightly, and it's your job to figure out what it is and how to get it off).

I don't know if I'd say that many of those movies have actually "scared" me, which is a little funny since they're all more or less of my favorite genre, but they succeed for the reason any good movie is good - they're entertaining yarns that you keep coming back to in a mental library. I'm never going to forget the "womb-y" ones from Slither, and it's hard, whenever I'm compelled to do something that I shouldn't, to not remember them a little.

The next question is how to parlay that into something that's actually going to sell. Many of the best horror movies have been box office poison. This is where Alien and 28 Days Later could stand as examples, and hell, I'll even stand by the Final Destination movies as examples of how to do a more traditional "watch 'em die" movie franchise. I will also stand by The Ring as being more or less the one and only J-horror remake which worked: it's all resonant images and televisions, with propulsive music. It would be impossible to sell as a screenplay by its lonesome, I'd think, unless you already had a successful original and A-list technicals on board, but it's something to think about. Think of something RELATABLE and EVOCATIVE, and package it with surrounding material which works.

In addition, I'm going to cite a good friend of mine, who once said that the scariest words ever heard are "I've seen this before." Repetition works well in horror movies because it sets up suspense and eeriness for subsequent scenes. Think about how to work with this creatively.

I would also recommend reading the manga The Drifting Classroom, Uzumaki, and the works of Shintaro Kago. The latter author is gory and bizarre and not strictly a horror writer per se, but he's also extremely creative. A screenwriter could do much worse than to draw from his example to craft a fresh spin on horror.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:18 PM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

the real factor: as in the possibilty of it actually happening. mr. hitchcock understood this quite well as do most of those who follow in his footsteps. argento, raimi and the like.
posted by docmccoy at 10:25 PM on October 28, 2008

Also: strong characters are a must. The horror films we still watch today (Sticherbeast mentions many of them) work so well because they are backed up by a solid plot and very good characterization. The humans are just as important as the monster - doesn't mean you need a lot of backstory, just make it real.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:30 PM on October 28, 2008

First of all, it's worth asking whether you're after writing a Hollywood horror film, or a film that is genuinely scary. The reason I ask is that the horror genre from Freddie on is typically a comedy/horror crossbreed, with even nominally serious films winking at the audience much of the time.

That said, the scariest film I've seen lately is "Cloverfield." Even though the characters were obnoxious and the acting mediocre at best, they did two things very very well:

1) as mentioned above, immersion. They truly put you inside the situation and let you feel the characters' powerlessness and confusion in the face of uncontrollable events.

2) they played on a horrific real-life event, 9/11, without ever referring to it directly. For me at least, it brought back what that day felt like in a way that was very uncomfortable, and in doing so packed more punch than a hundred cheesy "let's roll" movies ever could.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:36 PM on October 28, 2008

destruction of the rules of reality
primal fears
false sense of security laid bare
posted by SaintCynr at 11:15 PM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Previously, but without the how-to part of the question.

I'd say the Primal Scene-type horror thing is what still scares me. Basically, you need to evoke the feelings of a child walking in on the parents mid-coitus.

The viewer needs to be immersed enough, and have the same perverse desire to discover what's-out-there as the protagonists (who in turn need it just to move the plot along). The what's-out-there needs to have a simultaneous feeling of familiarity yet be completely bizarre. And they need to have an unclear understanding of the violence that is happening.

My answer to the question in the link above was the "bear scene" in The Shining, which I think is the best example of the above. Someone else in the thread also noted it violated the Fourth Wall convention, which includes the viewer in the Primal Scene that most other films don't. Another theme I think I noticed in that thread was Scary Children, which is similar to the Primal Scene. The Orphanage was mentioned which used this, and that was one of the very few films I found scary in the past decade. It too teases the viewer with familiarity (cuddly cute children!) and unknown violence (creepy mask! why isn't he friendly? is the kid going to kill me?).

The two films I know that play up the Primal Scene best are The Conversation and Blow Up. Neither are really horror, but they are ripe with tension.
posted by FuManchu at 11:20 PM on October 28, 2008

Blair witch project was scary at first. Set up wasn't overdone and felt realistic. Unexplained sounds in the night. Getting lost. Different and illogical reactions. I really hate horror movies (they scare me), but this one I liked.
posted by rainy at 11:24 PM on October 28, 2008

Subversion of mundane normality.
posted by mandal at 11:37 PM on October 28, 2008

As an addition to some of the already fantastic answers here: I find the scariest films to be the ones that have open endings/"plausible" origins.

If it's a serial-killer movie, and the film ends with killer still out there, then as the credits roll there's always that nagging voice in the back of my head "Ooooh...this could happen TO YOU!" There's always the risk, I suppose, of creating an unsatisfying film this way, but if you structure it right and make the protagonist's goal more about the journey of discovery rather than the actual "who?", you'll be alright (see "Zodiac").

If it's a monster/ghost movie, make the supernatural appear as "plausible" as possible. "The Devil's Backbone" comes to mind as an exceptional example of this. The story is of a young boy in an orphanage during the Spanish Civil War, and there's a ghost of another boy in the basement. Yeah, yeah - we all know ghosts aren't real, but if you can set up the world inside the movie as a mirror to the real world, audiences will typically still get sucked in. Kids, if the actors are good, can also help since they're extra-vulnerable and nearly instantly sympathetic.

"The Ring" is another good example: very "plausible" world (the whole coming-out-of-the-tv thing might have pushed it a little far, but hey - even that was done pretty well), with the added benefit of a nice, open ending.

Another example. "The Lady in the Water" -- while not a horror film -- breaks the "plausible" rule, and therefor was pretty terrible in my opinion. My mind had to make too many leaps, and as a result any and all suspense and conflict disappeared (also, there were so many damn "rules", you never knew what was actually bad for the characters, making it really hard to care).

And another example. I've not seen "The Descent", but the idea itself has actually turned me off to the film. "I guess I'll just avoid cave spelunking, and I won't have to worry about it," is what I picture myself saying at the end of the movie. If the monsters (or whatever it is in that movie) were found, say, in elevator shafts, perhaps it would be more interesting to me, since elevators are something I ride every day.

Oh, "Jurassic Park" is another good example of the "plausible" rule. Once you get past the "they made dinosaurs from fossilized mosquitoes" idea, the rest of the film is pretty logical (for a movie, anyway).

And so too with "I Am Legend" -- the world it established was a movie-plausible extension of the initial premise (a cure for cancer turns people into zombies), which was good. There were other problems with the movie, which made it end up being not-so-good, but it started off great!

I'm also a sucker for the unknown, so make sure to have a blind character or otherwise render their sight impaired at some point...I don't know, being able to HEAR something terrifying but not SEE it makes it MORE terrifying. See the scene in "Signs" where the flashlight is spinning on the floor and we can only hear the aliens attacking the outside of the house as a good example of this (but don't bother watching the rest of the movie); see "The Village" for how NOT to do this.
posted by wonderyak at 12:56 AM on October 29, 2008

"What else can I use to scare the bajaysus out of people like you?"
What genuinely terrifies you? (Apart from writer's block)
Getting old & dying? Terrible things happening to loved ones? The strange noises coming from the shed when you put the bins out late at night?
If you start with an idea that sends a chill up your own spine it might be easier to find motivation and make it convincing without resorting to clichés.

(The Blair Witch Project has always been an interesting example to me. It does contain some spooky moments with sounds in the forest, but really the whole film is about setting the viewer up for that final scene. There's no way I'd ever bother to watch it again, and long sections were tedious and shoddy the first time, but it succeeded in setting the tone so that most people left the cinema with that final scene stuck in their head. It's hard to think of another film that's so extreme/pure in this, rather than just using a 'twist'; maybe Spoorloos?)
posted by malevolent at 2:06 AM on October 29, 2008

Knowing more than the characters, but not enough to give me a complete picture.

I need to have seen the shadow that tells me She's Not Alone In The House, but if I know who's in there with her, it stops being scary.

A close up of a shark attack is less scary than seeing the fin slicing through the water towards the unsuspecting bather.

Having the evil china-doll leap right at the camera is less scary than "Wait a minute, did that doll just blink?"

You need to know something bad might happen, but you need the suspense of knowing it might not happen right now. Once you discount the Boo Factor, fear is all about anticipation.

The horror section at TV Tropes will have further help.
posted by the latin mouse at 2:24 AM on October 29, 2008

Things that are not where they are supposed to be.
posted by jbickers at 3:24 AM on October 29, 2008

What genuinely terrifies you? (Apart from writer's block)

eh, I always though The Shining was, at its core, a movie about fear of writer's block.

You might find a preference for the kind of horror in Japanese movies. Their approach to horror is very different than that of Hollywood. The latter aim for fear as it is expressed by the body. They play heart-beat based music to raise your pulse, and they scream "boo!" to pump adrenaline into your blood. The former aims for an existential fear. They will pause on a scene for 45 seconds to let you contemplate that, you too, the viewer, you are mortal.

For a good study of the difference, compare the American version of "The Ring" with the Japanese original.
posted by gmarceau at 3:56 AM on October 29, 2008

Horror in the arts is, as the other posts have noted, a pretty wide-ranging topic. My take on it is that horror plays upon deeper uncertainties that we hold about the world -- fear of the dark is really fear of that which we don't understand, Rosemary's Baby is really a fear of the birthing process and the havoc played upon our young by the world, and so on.

You might find some of the more academic reviews of the genre useful for identifying what defines horror; Cinescare does an intelligent job of describing the socio-political tensions that horror cinema taps into, ostensibly as a review site, and Stephen King's On Writing talks quite a bit about how tension plays into a story from the perspective of a reasonably well known author of horror novels and films.
posted by ellF at 4:54 AM on October 29, 2008

Uncertainty. The best horror films seem to rely on several different linked principles of uncertainty to keep the audience unnerved. The first is often the uncertainty of the situation. What's going on? I mean we all know we're watching a movie that is trying to scare of so the first thing we want to do is figure out what the threat is going to be, a good horror movie doesn't make that easy to do. Not being able to predict the plot or the actions of the characters is very helpful in maintaining suspense, if some of the characters are going to die make it ones that aren't expected. Even better kill them when we don't expect it. Don't let the audience get comfortable with your timing. Psycho is the best example of that, the star of the film, the only character we've been given a chance to identify with, is killed by a secondary character half way through the film. The shock of that leaves the audience completely stunned and primed to jump at anything that happens from then on. Keeping the audience uncertain of pace will go a long way towards keeping them uneasy.
Use the space well, in addition to not knowing when something is going to happen, make sure we don't know exactly where the threat is going to come from. I would slightly disagree with the shark fin notion mentioned above, while the fin is scarier then seeing the whole shark, I think the scariest moments in Jaws are when the fin has disappeared and there is nothing to see but the water. Knowing the shark is there somewhere and waiting for it to reappear is the tension builder, where will it come from and when? Pitch Black and The Blair Witch project do this very well using darkness instead of water. The Birds also does this well but in a different way, it shows us the danger plainly, the birds are always around, but we don't know when they will attack and where that attack will come from. In this case it's the signal that confounds us, the seeming illogicality of it all.
Show us things but never very clearly. J-horror films are great at that, shadows, blurs, characters moving before we can focus on them, characters keeping part of themselves hidden so we want to see more but we can't. Suspecting something is hidden from us makes us both want to know what it is and fear it is something truly horrible. Don't Look Now did this extremely well. This also is important in the setting too. If you give the audience a setting that they can't fully take in and is unfamiliar to them you've done much to keep them wondering which works towards increasing the tension. I Walked with a Zombie, Alien and Texas Chainsaw Massacre are all excellent examples of this.
Above all, avoid cliches. Show us things we haven't seen before if you can,or at least keep the context and expression fresh since unfamiliarity lends itself handily to . Keep your audience off-balance as much as possible. Be like a magician keep confound their expectations and they should be ready for whatever tricks you have up your sleeves.
Well, that's my initial take on it anyway, I hope it helps.
posted by mr.grum at 4:59 AM on October 29, 2008

or in brief, what ellF said.
posted by mr.grum at 5:03 AM on October 29, 2008

Rosemary's Baby is really a fear of the birthing process and the havoc played upon our young by the world, and so on.

I don't believe that. That's stuff for a thesis or something, but not for a film. A horror flick is about characters, and the way we relate to them. Rosemary's Baby is about us, being polite to people we don't know and vaguely distrust. We are conditioned by society to be polite, and in a horror movie, this is what turns against us: our niceness, our innocence, our adherence to polite society.

The tension in a horror movie, I think, is the tension of knowing that the bad guy is a bad guy although he is smiling (he's the helpful janitor), knowing that the lead character knows this, and acutely understanding that the lead character can't just bash in the bad guy's head and be done with it because he is, after all, still smiling. This is probably also why horror flicks lose their tension once the bad guy makes his opening move. From here on, we're in action movie territory. The hero can now take countermeasures.

A lot of the scariness also comes from the villain, who usually shows a very acute understanding of the hero's psyche. He knows their weaknesses well, and caters to them. It's sadistical, there's a very personal and psychological relationship between hero and villain (for the thesis crowd this is: "the villain is actually heroes doppelgänger!").

That's probably what makes 'Blair Witch' so scary and effective: because it has all of the things mentioned, but it's like a very prolonged Act I (villain toys with heroes, heroes try to put on a brave face because witches don't exist). And the beginning of Act II (witches exist, villain strikes, you're doomed) is actually the end of the movie.

As mr. grum says: it has to do with pacing.
posted by NekulturnY at 5:17 AM on October 29, 2008

De element of surprise. That's it. Give the audience a complete twist/change of direction/thought from where they were to where you will be taking them <>>>>>>>. 180. With a dip and a curve and add some blood and gore and go against the fibre of rationale. Just a tad. You're there.
posted by watercarrier at 6:37 AM on October 29, 2008

Solon and Thanks' advice--strong characters--can't be stressed enough. A film that scares your average MeFite is not going to be a film about the typical horror movie victim, i.e. Stupid Girl who ventures out into the ominous darkness, followed by Stupid Boyfriend who quaveringly calls her name out, finds her body (boo!), and gets killed (from behind, natch) a second later (sigh).

I'm not saying that pacing, atmosphere, and all the rest of it are inconsequential. There's no single sufficient condition for scariness, just a cluster of necessary ones that sometimes add up to the real thing. But the one that gets shirked in most horrors and thrillers is simply the presence of believable, three-dimensional characters. (This is one of the things that enables the immersion that other people are mentioning.)

As a screenwriter, some of that is out of your hands--a good, nuanced actor is half the battle. (Think of how lousy a film like The Orphanage could have been without Belén Rueda. And Catherine Keener actually kept me watching the otherwise poorly done An American Crime.) There are probably a lot of shitty horror movies that were quite compelling screenplays. Still, there are some things you can do.

Don't have your characters do stupid things. If they do risky things, it's best if they're rational, i.e. they're what your audience members would do too. (Oh, and don't assume your audience members would do stupid things. I think this is a presupposition of a lot of failed horror movies.) On the other hand, if what your characters do is irrational, make sure it's at a point where your typical audience member, put in the same situation, would probably also be irrational (e.g. the Blair Witch characters near the end). This was why I couldn't get into Cloverfield. It was all "boo" to me, because while I could accept that buddy-boy wanted to go find his girlfriend, I couldn't accept that his friends' loyalty would win out over a clear route to safety.

Also, don't try to buy depth of character on the cheap by simply stipulating that your character is deep (e.g. with some hoary flashback ). So if you're going to follow the "things are good and normal...and then they go to hell" model, don't be perfunctory with that first part. That's what matters.

Oh yeah, and another point: play with the prospect of escape. I tune out of a lot of horror movies when it seems like there's no realistic way out of the dire situation. At that point I start disengaging from a doomed character (who wants to back a loser?), or steeling myself for the absurd plot twist to come (Cillian Murphy going Rambo in 28 Days Later). Realistic hope, on the other hand, is one of your best weapons.

One interesting study is Funny Games, which violates the strong characters condition--Tim Roth is unrealistically docile, so you spend your time being disgusted with him instead of being scared. On the other hand, it does a pretty good job of keeping you hoping that Naomi Watts will get out of it somehow.
posted by Beardman at 11:03 AM on October 29, 2008

mr.gunn nailed a big part of it...when serious events (like deaths) occur at random, it keeps the audience off-balance. While it's more of a campy adventure flick than a horror film, Deep Blue Sea is a marvelous example: halfway through, one character gives the remaining band of survivors an impassioned speech about their need to keep going...and is literally dead within seconds.

On the other hand, I can't comprehend the positive reactions to The Orphanage: it was schmaltzy, nonsensical, and ultimately nothing dramatic happened. About as bad as The Haunting, a great American example of CGI over story that a great actress (Lili Taylor) couldn't salvage.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:06 PM on October 29, 2008

I find that "scary" is an overly broad category. If you're not going for the BOO! shock type surprises, then you'll need to embrace a bit of psychoanalysis. You need to bypass the ego, unleash the id, and awe the superego. You need to induce anxiety in the audience that you can never resolve. The horror movie should end with the audience muttering "But... but.... no..."

The best films merge the superego and the id - they show you that control is the monster. The example is the clam and methodical psychopath - Michael Myers, who never runs, never yells, never acts crazy. He's persistent and methodical. He is not ruthless (he doesn't kill haphazardly). He is an agent of control that is under control, and yet you fear him. Another example is Hannibal Lechter. The monster isn't feral. He kills because he wants to, because he's concluded that it's the logical thing to do. The audience should want to find fault with that logic but can't, and in this way you pit the viewer against himself.

The counterexamples - generic slasher movies that render the monster a beast.

I find the best horror films allow the audience to identify subconsciously with the mutating control while still maintaining your anxiety about it.

There are elements of suspense and tension, but those can be communicated as effectively through photography as through dialogue. A horror movie should never say too much because too much information allows the audience's minds to come to some conclusion.

But the psychology of the audience is important as well. The Exorcist doesn't work as well today because audiences today completely miss the significance of the profanity. Ask yourself if you understand what makes the average 18-24 male anxious. What would humiliate them what would crush them, what would dehumanize them. Do you know? What about the average 18-24 female? Is it the same as for the men?

Consider that in most "good" horror movies involving a female lead, even today, the setting is "the nest." The home or the children. When the lead is a male, the horror has to take place where he slays the dragon, preferably the horror is the world - and he typically forsakes the nest. But also whether both of these are from the male audience's standpoint. Do women see themselves in the context of the home and children, or do the men see the women that way? How much of anxiety is sex or morality the way it was in the 70's, or how much is more recently conceptualized ideas like body image, integrity, and isolation in a crowded world (as opposed to isolation in an empty one).

I think horror movies are very difficult to pull off well, maybe more difficult to pull off than any other kind of film, because you have to strip out reason and intellect and civilization and get to the stuff that we as adults have moved beyond or forgotten. You need to get the photography to work in concert with the plot and characters. Take advantage of the "uncanny valley" - of visual and auditory dissonance. Make it subtle.

Don't disgust the audience with gore, because then you the filmmaker become the attacker and the audience becomes the victim. To paraphrase Stephen King, take the audience by the hand and lead them gently around the corner into the Dark.

You say you are not scared at all by films. Did you not find "Lost Highway," "Mulholland Drive," or "Inland Empire" disturbing? What about the Ring? Or the Shining? How about books? Read Jack Ketchum's collection "Peaceable Kingdom." Read Joe Hill's "20th Century Ghosts."

When you get to the parts that are scary, ask yourself why you are scared by it. What about how the scenes are shot or the sentences written upset you? If you can understand why something scares you, rest assured that same thing will scare millions of other people for the same reason. We all have similar upbringings and are by and large part of the same culture.

I'd love to hear more about your project, and wish you the best of luck with it.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:34 PM on October 29, 2008

I'm drawn like moth to flame to the horror that is the kind-seeming you-can-trust-me character who should never ever be trusted with anything. And similarly to people who end up trusting.
posted by mcbeth at 11:24 PM on October 29, 2008

For more info on the psychology of horror, i highly recomment "Powers of Horror: An Essay On Abjection" by Julia Kristeva. If you look (not very hard) you can find the full text online.
posted by softlord at 2:27 AM on October 31, 2008

There looms, within abjection, one of those violent, dark revolts of being, directed against a threat that seems to emanate from an exorbitant outside or inside, ejected beyond the scope of the possible, the tolerable, the thinkable. It lies there, quite close, but it cannot be assimilated. It beseeches, worries, and fascinates desire, which, nevertheless, does not let itself be seduced. Apprehensive, desire turns aside; sickened, it rejects. (...)

When I am beset by abjection, the twisted braid of affects and thoughts I call by such a name does not have, properly speaking, a definable object. The abject is not an ob-ject facing me. Nor is it an ob-jest, an otherness fleeing ceaselessly fleeing in a systematic quest of desire. (...)
(from: Julia Kristeva, Powers of Horror)

I have to say that her writing does frighten me.

There looms, in it, a verbosity, a love of pompous words, a sickening volonté to contort, circumscribe, ob-scure (not: obs-cure) the shallower layers of meaning that are hidden beyond what she is saying, ceaselessly, infinitely.

If we translate this into language, I think she says something like: when we're afraid, we're afraid of something and we can't understand why. NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.
posted by NekulturnY at 4:33 AM on October 31, 2008 [1 favorite]

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