I often find myself wondering what the future holds, I do this for all thing’s life, work, friendships etc and I do it for writing. Horror stories have changed so much over the years that I find it almost impossible to try and guess where it will go in the future.
Horror has ancient origins in folklore, religion and cautionary tales. We’ve always wondered what will happen after we die and while some stories are of pleasant places, some are decidedly less pleasant. We’ve always been afraid of things and stories have allowed us to experience that fear in a safe environment better equipping us to handle the real situation should it ever arise.
European horror became properly established in ancient Rome and Greece respectively. With examples of Prometheus (later the inspiration for Frankenstein and more recently the Alien saga), Hippolytus – a story of raising the dead, Cimon – ghosts what murder people and many others.
Medieval Europe was full of stories of werewolves, particularly in France. But it was the crimes of the medieval era that proved influential for horror, such as Giles de Rais inspiring Bluebeard, Elizabeth Bathory inspiring the story of vampires and of course Vlad 3rd being the inspiration for Dracula.
Horror turned towards the goth side, later on, gothic novels starting in the 1700’salthough gothic horror not really picking up till the 1800s. Stories started incorporating supernatural elements which became immensely popular, Stories such as Vathek which combined the increasingly popular fascination of the oriental with the newly emerging goth style started the ball rolling. As time continued these goth stories were written more and more by women and the marketing aimed more towards the female audience. Think Mary Shelly and Frankenstein. Although it was not limited to female writers or readers, Poe turned up around this time, as did Victor Hugo and Thomas Peckett and Oscar Wilde.
As we moved into the 20th-century horror changed again, giving us Lovecraft with his cosmic horror and Tod Robbins with his psychological horrors. We still had elements of the past in the sense of ghost stories by M R James and we continued to indulge in realism, only before realism had inspired supernatural tales now it inspired tales of serial killers. Think Thomas Harris, writer of Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.
It was around this time that cinema started influencing horror, horror films started appearing and by the time the 1960s rolled around, we had a strong culture of slasher and splatter films.
More recently horror has changed again, with the introduction of video cameras we saw the emergence of found footage when the internet appeared horror twisted to fit the new medium with Creepy Pasta immerging as a new interpretation of urban legend style stories.
So, when I think what will the horror industry look like in ten years, I don’t really know, I expect that the genre will continue to be influenced by its media and distribution channels but I cannot really predict what direction it will take, will we see a return to old themes being reimagined? Or will we produce something entirely new?