Ono Fuyumi Dialogue Part 2: “Why do people watch horror?”

This is the second part of “The Inerasable” Opening Commemoration Dialogue with Ono Fuyumi and Nakamura Yoshihiro. It was originally published on the Daily Shincho (February 4, 2016). Read the first part here. In this part they talk about why people watch horror.

Ono Fuyumi x Nakamura Yoshihiro:

“Why do people watch horror?”

The book cover of "Zange Sunde wa Ikenai Heya".
The book cover of “Zange Sunde wa Ikenai Heya”.

Nakamura: The lead actress Takeuchi Yuuko-san is a great coward. She repeatedly tried to read the script for several weeks, and failed. During the first screening of the movie she couldn’t look straight at the screen for about the last 15 minutes either. Later she stuck through it to the end, and cried when she completed watching the movie.

Ono: If it makes them that afraid, I always think of why people watch horror. Perhaps, the questions of “life and death” such as, ‘Why am I living?’ and ‘What will happen after I die?’ are the greatest fundamental mysteries to a human being. Horror feels like treading on the “gray zone” of life and death, then escaping; and walking in the steps of making an escape. When a cat finds something suspicious, it will slowly approach the thing, meddle with it, and then run away in a flash. It will then repeat that same process. I think humans are doing the same with horror.

“Horror feels like treading on the “gray zone” of life and death”

Nakamura: My children are aged 5 and 3 years old. They took an interest in a frightening package of a horror work at my work place, and told me: “Dad, what’s that?”. But when I pick it up and give it to them, they said “No, stop it!”.

Takeuchi Yuuko, who plays "I", is afraid of horror.
Takeuchi Yuuko, who plays “I”, is afraid of horror.

Ono: It’s not only horror. Why do people risk doing things such as going on a roller coaster or skydiving? In the humanities there is a viewpoint, which claims that by simulating fear, a human develops a resistance in case of emergencies. Biologically, they say that the difference between a hardened individual and an individual who is being moved by escape behavior, is the difference of frightening experiences they’ve had until then. What I mean is that you probably should read and watch a lot of horror to get an advantage in case of emergencies (lol).

Nakamura: Isn’t there also some kind of sense of security when you wake up after seeing a scary dream? It’s the sense of security, or catharsis of ‘it’s good that it didn’t happen while I was awake’.

“Nowadays, the youth of Japan also enjoy horror in the same way”

The Inerasable
From left to right: Sakaguchi Kentarou, Kuranosuke Sasaki, Takeuchi Yuuko and Hashimoto Ai.

Ono: Certainly, when I finish watching slashers, I might be confirming the safety and the normalcy of the world to which I belong to. When I say “If such a person existed, it would be scary”, it’s because I’m completely in a safety zone. In the West, many young people screen horror movies at a party, and get excited about it. But nowadays, the youth of Japan also enjoy horror in the same way, don’t they? Everyone says things like “Wow, how scary~!” and gets roused. Young people have such types of enjoying things in common. But the so-called J-Horror such as “Jaganrei” or Nakata Hideo’s “Joyuurei” differs in nature from Western horror like from Hollywood after all.

Judging from our point of view, there is a difference between “surprise” and “scary”. But Western horror strongly integrates the meanings of “surprise” = “scary”. In Japan they place more emphasis on “scary” rather than “surprise”. In “Joyuurei”, there is an incredibly creepy scene even though only a woman was laughing. How she laughed, the lighting, the way it felt, just about all of it is scary. It’s probably the peculiarity of J-Horror to be creepy even though it doesn’t have the scary elements of the Western model.

Nakamura: The cursed video which appears in the movie “Ring“, has turned quite differently from the original novel. But, even if it’s only a scene in which someone points at something, or someone is combing hair in front of a mirror, it still feels incredibly creepy


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