Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Lure of the Spooky World

Just watched The Orphanage , the Spanish thriller / horror film. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

This set me thinking. I have always enjoyed films with themes of the supernatural. In fact, I like them better than the futuristic ones with robots and virtual world and high-tech stuff. Is it because I can relate better to the spooky world which appeals to the imagination than high tech stuff which taxes the brain? Or is it because robotics belong to the realm of possibilities (ugh!) whereas the other lies outside the domain of human control?

And I know for sure I am not the only one. A well taken movie thematizing the supernatural is always a runaway hit. On the small screen, they don’t even have to be well executed. Judging from the number of yekshi serials in Malayalam which have even IT youngsters glued to the TV, one can vouch for the huge fascination the supernatural holds for the highly literate Keralites.

Why so? Do the stories of ghosts, reincarnation or after death existence captivate us ‘cos they cross the rational frontiers into regions unknown, unfamiliar and inaccessible to the much celebrated rational faculty of human mind?

A time was when man believed in the extra terrestrial and their influence on/intervention in human life. But with the onslaught of enlightenment and the invasion of scientific knowledge with rationalism in tow, the supernatural became regions to which the human mind went on luxury expeditions only. But why do we need to do it? Can’t we be satisfied with the unlimited world certified as true by science, and waiting out there to be explored? Why do we have this craving to take these flights of fantasy to a world where no traveler has ventured into or from whose shores no traveler has ever returned?

Why do I love watching Manichitrathazhu ? Why did Boris Kurloff Tales of Mystery comics lure me as a child with their chilling stories? I could never leave The Dracula alone. The book and the various Dracula movies - if executed convincingly – oh, they hold me spell bound. The End of time films are my favourite too.

That I am the rule rather than the exception sometimes puzzles me. This yearning for narratives which lie beyond the reach of science and scientific testing must be a basic human instinct. Why else was The Sixth Sense an unforgettable experience for all film goers. It just missed the Oscars.

Basic human instinct – isn’t that something we can trust, or rather, we'd be foolish to get dismissive about? Hasn’t someone said that the instinctual man, who constantly honed his instincts, was closer to Truth that the rational man?

This basic human tendency to reach out to that which lies outside the purview of the rational mind – is it the outcome of a gut feeling that truth is beyond our reasoning – or rather, there are truths that lie outside the grasp of the rational mind?

Wordsdworth’s words about what happens when we put our corporeal frame( the physical human body to which belongs the cerebral faculties) to temporary rest, comes to my mind:

the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul;
And…….We see into the life of things.

We see into the life of things – the ultimate truth! The ultimate truth is what humans reach out to – and his instincts tell him that in order to get it within his grasp, he must break free of the shackles of reason, intellect and cognition.

I think our fascination for the supernatural is a small part of this liberation project and a manifestation of that felt need to believe that there is more to life than what is defined by the limited range of the cereberal human.


  1. I have heard someone say that watching or indulging in horror conversations etc releases a certain kind of chemical in the body which is similar to the chemical released when we are in love... this may have something to do with it...:)

  2. mukundetta..sumitra vilikunnu..(from Mohanlal movie)

  3. I aver, one can make a similar case out of "whodunit" movies. It is simply a fascination with something beyond our control, finding out more, doing something about it, etc..


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