Redefining horror

This would’ve been the update for 30 October (had I not fallen ill). It would’ve been a lot more topical then, as these events had taken place only one day earlier. Never mind that, it’s still worth a post.

Horror is a frightening thing. Watching a horror movie generally means you’re seeing something happening to a main character that hopefully would never happen to you. Watching a horror movie has an advantage: when things get frightening, you can still close one or two eyes and whisper to yourself “It’s only a movie” (a phrase commonly associated with Wes Craven‘s Last House on the Left, although it was used eight years earlier by William Castle in Strait-Jacket). Real-life horror does not have this advantage. You can squint as much as you like, but it is not a movie.

Some say watching images from wars is real-life horror. It is, but much more than that is someone who’s forced into an extreme situation. Tennis player Caroline Wozniacki is the real-life equivalent of a horror heroine who’s entered the house of a madman. She’s suffering from an injury that has been plaguing her for a couple of weeks now. Her body is so tired it can no longer keep up with a long game of tennis. Last Thursday’s game was long: by the time the video starts we’re already two hours and 43 minutes into the game.

At the next point her body caves in. Wozniacki gets cramps so awful she falls to the floor. She asks if someone can help her up, but that is against the regulations: if she wants to continue the match, she’ll have to get up by herself. Somehow she finds the energy to get up on her feet and play on. Three minutes later she manages to win the match, thanks to an amazing display of will power (and a bit of sheer luck her opponent never thought of playing balls Wozniacki wouldn’t be able to get… not too difficult if your opponent can barely walk).
But look at that face the moment she’s won: there’s no happiness here, this is just pain. She can hardly walk back to her bench but somehow she managed to win this match.

It was as if I was watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.


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