On existential horror

Curious, Coquette! In the horror film 30 Days of Night, the heroine, confronted by a creature clearly bent on her eventual destruction, whimpers, “God! Please….” The creature pauses, stares at her, and says, “God?” It then scans the heavens calmly before pronouncing: “No God.” Is this chilling only to the believer? I don’t mean this to be any sort of “catch” question. I just want to know how this scene affects (or does not affect) those who do not believe in any god.

Horror movies scare you by tickling the reptilian part of your brain. They engage your fight-or-flight response and put you in a state of hyperarousal without putting you in any actual danger. That’s the whole point, really.

The reason the “No God” scene from 30 Days of Night freaked you out is because the director went through all the motions to amp you up into this state of hyperarousal, but then he paused. He held you there for an extra moment so he could drop an existential grenade.

Deep down in the dark sticky corners of every believer’s brain, right next to the rational acknowledgement of the inevitability of your own death, is the most horrifying question of all: “What if there really is no God?”

During that brief moment of pause in that heightened state of awareness, the director forced you to reflect on the very existence of god, and it scared the shit out of you to such a degree that you felt the need to write me a letter.

I get that you’re trying to reconcile how it made you feel by asking me how the scene affects non-believers, but I can’t help you with that. After all, it doesn’t matter whether you believe or not.

The horror is in realizing that there are no answers.


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