Saturday, December 15, 2007

I've Got a New Complaint

My complaint is this: Horror is just not that scary.
I love horror movies, and I love horror stories and novels even more, but the last few years I seem to walk away from them maybe a little grossed out, but that's about it. Even the recent ones that I've really liked, Gary Braunbeck's The Keepers for instance, have entertained me, but not scared me.
So imagine my surprise when I got up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom about a week ago, took one look at the dark expanse I was going to have to cross to get there, and decided I could hold it 'til morning. I was afraid. I kept imagining there were people in my darkened living room. People with scribbled out eyes. And it was all Joe Hill's fault.
Now maybe you are the type of person who thinks this would be a bad experience. Maybe you wonder why on earth someone would want to scare themselves. That's a different discussion all together, but if you are like me, if you like the thrill of imagined terror, allow me to introduce you to Heart-Shaped Box.
I'm not going to give too much of the story away. Just the setup, and it's a good one. Jude is an aging rock star who lives with his much-younger girlfriend, the latest in a series, and his two dogs, Bon and Angus. He also collects odd and rare items like a used hangman's noose and a signed confession from the Salem witch trials. One day, Jude's assistant mentions an unusual auction on the internet. A woman is selling her stepfather's ghost. And, of course, Jude can't resist bidding.
A thriller, a ghost story, a touching tale about the healing power of music, Heart-Shaped Box is all these. If you like a good scare and a great story, head down to the local book shop and get yourself an early Christmas present. Just don't go after dark.

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