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Folk Horror

A personal view

Folklore, Folk Art and Fatalism

Folklore is not about fairy tales. Folktales were never nice and comfortable. Their stories and themes are dark and cruel, for they come from times of hardship, adversity, and fear. They try explain, or attempt to give reason for the difficulties in life, but offer little in the way of help or reassurance. They simply remind us of how bad things can get.

This world we live in is not benign - at best it is ambivalent towards us, it has little interest in whether we thrive or fail.

At times these these difficulties become personified in the form dangerous creatures, animal or humanoid. But these creatures are not those of the everyday world, they are gross deformations of reality, with longer teeth, burning eyes, and longer claws.

Cottages of comfort and calm

As we sit by the fireside, with our curtains drawn, outside it is there in the darkness, filled with danger, and monsters.

Cosy and calm, orderly, chaos and wild.

The great wild outside is at war with our small orderly cottages.

We close our curtains to stop the outside looking in, but also to prevent ourselves catching a glimpse of those ever watching eyes. A sudden face at the window is a common device in horror films for good reason.

Doors, windows, and thresholds are barriers that keep the darkness out. We all know that Vampires do not enter without invitation, but some pick away at the window lead with their overlong finger nails.

But when the fire fails, and the embers cool, the chimney can let in other things in. Sometimes benign like Father Christmas, but usually less so. Grasping hands.

Our soft bodies are ill-suited to the hard sharp heavy world. The stones that brush our feet, the brambles that scratch our skin, the branches that tangle and rip out our hair, or hold us against our will.

The earth does everything it can to trip us up. 

Nature is a balance between chaos and order, so naturally any order we try to impose on our world is countered, occasionally with terrifying ferocity.

This Ominous Earth

There is a sense that the earth begrudgingly feeds and sustains us, while longing for the day when it will finally consume us. 

Over millennia man has walked all over the earth face of the earth, changing it in many ways. Destroying nature, destroying himself.

At times killing or being killed. Innocent fields have witnessed merciless slaughter and countless atrocities. Who can imagine what has happened in the land around us, and in the very place we stand. There is blood beneath our feet. 

The earth is not happy with our behaviour and meddling. How could it be? This is not a matter for faith, superstition, or belief in hollow gods. It is a common understanding. Enter the correct mindset and it is plain for all to see.

The earth has no consciousness, it is not rational, and cannot be reasoned with. It does not plan our downfall. It behaves like a feral opportunist, lurking in hedgerows, in pools and rivers, waiting for a chance to take advantage of our of our foolishness, our lack of foresight, or simple bad luck.

It populates dark places with even darker creatures who wait for the unweary. In every quiet pool, remote river, silent shadow, there is a silent hand, sharp claw, or hungry mouth biding its time.

Strong walls, a sturdy door, thick curtains and a warm hearth, all play their part in warding off the fear, keeping us safe, but safety is an illusion shatered as our brave walls are pulled downward, and our mighty towers crumble. The only lasting place for the works of man is in memory.

Some places are renowned for being dens of goblins, deep caves, dark woods, ancient burial places, the night beneath thunderous skies.

Over time the landscape has become riddled with the threat of danger, and if looked for, it can be felt in any field, on any moor, anywhere you care to walk.

Folk Horror has always been here, just waiting for someone to come along and point it out.

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