What is Voro about? I’ve written about the book here, here, here and here. It’s a character driven horror story, so similar in style to something like Cujo, where the story follows a couple of main characters who must face a monster – though, there’s no rabid dog in Voro. 😉
A lot of great horror comes from fear. Sometimes it’s fear of the unknown, but oftentimes authors will delve into the more mundane fears — phobias. Spiders, heights and even birds have been used by horror greats to spin fearful tales. Most of those are covered by one man, Hitchcock. Hitchcock was a master of taking a phobia and turning it into a nightmare for everyone. Looking back at the movie Birds, we might giggle because the effects are silly, but the movie was terrifying for audiences of the day. Stephen King, who I’ve mentioned multiple times as I’m a big fan, uses phobias to great effect in his book IT. The creature in IT feeds on fear, and shows the protagonists in the film visions of the things they are most afraid of. The kids must face down their fears to overcome the creature. While some of their fears are born from real and harmful trauma, others fears that are used in the book are less rational. For instance, the very fact that the creature uses the guise of a clown is meant to be terrifying for some.
While I’m not afraid of clowns, I can certainly see where the fear stems from. Clown make-up is so disorienting, it can even screw up face identification software. It’s designed to give the impression of a permanent emotional state of the wearer – happiness, sadness, etc. Humans instinctually use facial cues to understand one another. Clown make-up takes away that vital visual communication. It’s a mask — another thing people have strong phobias about — and makes us uneasy. Besides not being able to tell how the person wearing the clown make-up feels when they’re speaking, it also takes away our ability to identify the individual. We can’t know who they are as easily. Clowns are in disguise, which is a kind of lie. For a lot of people, it’s a fun lie. For some, the lie makes them so uneasy they become fearful.
Fears help make us who we are. For instance, I’m low-key afraid of dogs — probably why I use Cujo as an example of monster horror as opposed to something like Friday the 13th. The fact that I’m afraid of dogs can tell you something about my past. When I was young, I watched Cujo and was terrified. It wasn’t that alone, however. When my brother was seven, he was bit in the face by a dog. He had a hundred stitches and a very large, prominent scar for many years. Even then, my fear of dogs hadn’t manifested. But it was starting. It wasn’t until I was a teenager riding my bike when the true fear set in. I was with my friends and we were riding bikes around the neighborhood after dark. Someone’s dog was loose, and when we rode by, it tore after us. I was in the back of the pack of riders, and I could hear that dog snarling just behind my tire for almost two blocks. I pedaled as fast as I could, my heart racing, terrified the dog would grab my ankle and bring me down. It was dark, and the only noise was the sound of our bikes and that snarl.
I had dogs all my life growing up. I loved them all. But in that moment, fear turned me into someone hesitant to even touch a dog. It stayed with me even as I grew up. Even with all the evidence from my childhood that dogs were lovely animals, that one instance kept me from getting one as a pet for many years.
About six years ago I finally decided I wanted to try to face this fear. It’s actually why I ended up with a pug. Someone once asked me why I picked a pug. I told them I wanted a dog as helpless as I was. That’s mostly true. I wanted a dog I wasn’t going to be afraid of. I’d read up on dogs for a long time before I picked. I wanted a chill dog that wouldn’t bark too much — barking is one of my triggers — and one that was known for being friendly. I also wanted a small dog. Not too small — I’d been snapped at by a Pekingese when I was a kid —but small enough it’s face wouldn’t scare me. That’s why I picked Posy.
Over the years, having her around has eased my phobia quite a lot. I even pet the pit bulls next door to me from time to time, a big deal for me since those kinds of dogs are known to be more aggressive. I’m re-learning that not all dogs are bad dogs, and biters and snarlers are rarer than waggers. Barking is still a pretty big dog thing, but the sound doesn’t scare me as much as it used to. I’m glad I decided to face my fears, because Posy is a delight and my life is richer for having her around.
I still don’t think I’ll ever read or watch Cujo, though. 🙂
Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll come back next week.