Dying is Easy, Endings are Hard: Outlast, Silent Hill, and the Pitfalls of Horror

Fashionable Tinfoil accessories

Very few things are so difficult as a satisfying conclusion – share too little and your audience feels as though their investment hasn’t paid off, but give them too much and you run the risk of strangling the agency of the imagination (the infamous “19 years later” epilogue). If you want to get really fancy, the ending should have a profound effect on your audience, causing them to mull on some larger idea or feeling that you want them to take away from the work. You should probably not just throw rocks and kill everyone, unless you’ve set up the cause and effect before hand.

That last sentence is a real problem for horror stories. Whatever else they want you to think about – mortality, the inexplicable, cultural fears of the time period – their main goal is to be frightening. Fear might be a tricky and subjective creature, but it…

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