The Heart of Horror
The upcoming zombie video game Dead Island released its trailer yesterday. And while it’s not the saddest commercial ever — that honor goes to Thai Life — it did reach into my heart and squeeze:
Nice job, guys. The backward narrative structure leads us resoundingly to the final frames, an extra little shudder for parents who sometimes reflect that the worse day of our lives might begin with a laugh at the breakfast table or an ordinary peck on the cheek before school. It’s a reminder that horror at its best will always be emotional, overlapping the reality of our human experience.
The truth is, we’re not really afraid of zombies or werewolves or the Blob — we’re afraid of losing people we love, or being alone, or being misunderstood, or being mortal. The Dead Island trailer employs zombies to grab our attention at the outset, but that last photograph leaves us closer than we ever want to be to the lurking horror of a swimming pool accident or a car crash.
Will the game itself live up to this emotion? The skeptic in me says “no” — last I heard, it was a first-person shooter, which ironically always distances me from the character — but I’m hopeful.
And in the meantime, thanks, Dead Island, for the horror lesson.