That's a tall order, unfortunately. A lot of monster movies are action- and horror-formula killfests with precious little introspection. To make matters worse, I didn't want alien monsters or scientifically created monsters. I wanted magical ones. Cryptozoology, if you prefer. Which shortened the list even further.
I wanted something to prod me into thinking about how people react when confronted with something they've long believed was mythical. Aside from reaching for a weapon, that is.
Out of necessity, I started moving toward what might be more accurately called paranormal thrillers. They were more thoughtful and more focused on the characters. I also started to notice structural similarities.
- Gadgetry & denial: The main character arrives in a state of denial. Science is called in to explain the initial situation. Gadgets are deployed, tech-speak is thrown around, and surely science will save the day.
- Facile solution: Spooky things happen. A rational answer is found. The question seems to be resolved. We're done here, right?
- The hook: No, we're not done. Something inexplicable happens that touches on the character's tragic past. More on this later.
- Confrontation/Acceptance: Science and logic are abandoned. The main character starts reacting emotionally and/or intuitively, and the paranormal reveals itself. As a result, the character relives the past trauma and changes internally.
- Fallout: Objective reached, the paranormal withdraws or is conquered. The main character has to deal with the emotional and practical consequences.
|Best of the three, IMO|
Interesting that being touched by death seems to be a prerequisite for being able to properly confront the paranormal. Having to face our helplessness against death preps us, perhaps, to face something else that's outside our control and understanding: the paranormal. Something which science can only do so much to stop. So in a way, stories about the paranormal are be stories about helplessness... which can be terrifying.
Naturally, having seen a pattern in these stories, I want to mess with the pattern. My character has already faced the death of a loved one (this is a sequel story) so he already partly fits the mold. I had not thought about this story in terms of his grieving process, though.
So maybe I succeeded in prodding my brain despite the deck being stacked with awful B-movie fodder.
Seen any good paranormal thrillers recently?