November 20, 2018

Do Horror and Crime Go Together?

In other cases, though, the genre crossover creates as many problems as it does opportunities. I’m thinking of horror and supernatural fiction, in particular. Having such a strong flavor and inflexible set of conventions of its own, horror isn’t known for playing well with other genres. The horror formula calls for last-act reversals, defeat snatched from the jaws of victory, where almost every other genre formula ends with the protagonists living some version of happily ever after. In fact, in horror, the very notion of a protagonist can become fluid, the baton passing from one character to another as their individual arcs are violently truncated.

And when horror is paired with mystery, it sometimes seems as though the two genre strands are pulling in precisely opposite directions.

For readers of mystery, a large part of the pleasure they derive from a story comes from the moment or moments when the mystery is explained and a solution presents itself. This means there’s an implicit bargain between writer and reader: the reader suspends disbelief and engages with the story, while the writer guarantees that an explanation will eventually be given, using information already made available and staying within the rules that have been established.