My mother is not particularly fond of horror movies. Like a lot of people, they give her nightmares and confront her with past traumas. Clowns and religious symbolism creep her out something fierce, but nothing scares her more than the slashers.
If you were to ask her why, she’d tell you its because they are the most earthly threat, a plausible consequence of living in our reality. This got me thinking about the duality of slashers and serial killers outside of the cinema. People who wish to do us and the ones we love harm are out there. However, the most infamous of the slashers stray quite far from realism.
We are told Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, or Freddy Kreuger were all at one time regular men, but in their respective franchises, they are constantly breaking the limits of mortal constraints. These otherworldly qualities make them as inescapable as father time or death himself. They are everywhere and nowhere. They interrupt the quiet peace of their victims’ lives with the sudden ferocity of a coming storm. The greatest of the slashers are more than just men, they are mythic.
In many ways, the most infamous serial killers are regarded in the same way. Obviously, they are not supernatural beings, but the violence and the cruelty of their actions are so great they belie belief.
Our media sensationalizes their stories and their names leave an imprint on the public’s consciousness. TV deals are signed and books are written. Their deeds are immortalized as legend, to the point they cease to be human. Instead, they become real life boogie men, a tale of what once was and what could happen again.