Check out this fantastic piece by author Kai Wai Cheah, readers!
Ingredients of Action Horror
Action horror. A fiction contradiction if there ever was one.
Action stories are about agency: the character’s ability to act on the environment, to overcome all odds, to destroy all foes in his path. Horror relies heavily on a lack of agency: the inability to directly confront the horror, and with it, the despair that comes from receiving the attentions of a creature far more powerful than yourself. Both genres are at odds with each other.
But only in postmodern fiction.
Robert E Howard deftly wrote stories of adventurers, monsters, and bloody battles between them. C. L. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry was a warrior and a sovereign whose adventures pitted her against the supernatural. Even H. P. Lovecraft wrote tales of mere men confronting cosmic horrors—and winning.
To understand the ingredients of a successful action horror story, we must reject modernity and embrace the weird tale.