Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
At the outset of the COVID-19 crisis when lockdowns seemed like a European thing and the farthest thing from reality, Chris Lewis Carter was asked if he had any virus ideas.
A horror writer from New-Wes-Valley, Lewis Carter started picking away at some ideas he had, and there was some thought this could be the next it thing in horror.
That was before the pandemic. Before the isolation and the lockdowns.
Before people started wearing masks in rural Newfoundland and things felt ripped from the pages of a Stephen King novel.
“I think at first when this was only going to be a couple of weeks everyone thought this was going to be the latest craze or latest topical thing,” said Lewis Carter, whose Hollywood debut project was shut down before it was set to go into preproduction because of the pandemic. “As more and more of it has bled into the real world, the scope of the pandemic became more apparent.
“I think, my money is that you won’t see much stuff about viruses because that is the last thing anyone is going to want to pay money to experience.”
The horror genre, whether it be film or literature, is built on confronting fears and finding an escape.
That is how St. John’s podcaster and horror enthusiast Mike Hickey sees the genre, especially in present times.
“I’ve always thought of horror as an escape and it has always sort of been that for me,” Hickey said. “People ask why I like horror movies and it sort of always boils down to it is escapism. It is a way to kind of deflect your problems. I have to worry right now about this pandemic and I have to worry about this virus that is spreading.
“You have to be careful and you have to cover your face. ... It's really easy for me to turn off my brain and worry about werewolves. I want to be scared and worried, but not have it be actual problems that I have to be really scared and worried about.”
Hickey is one of the editors and contributors to an upcoming collection of Newfoundland-inspired horror stories called "Terror Nova." Lewis Carter will be one of 11 authors contributing a piece for the anthology.
Hickey sees this particular moment as an interesting place for horror. In its history as a genre, horror has always been at its best when it comes from times when a person’s reality is gripped in fear.
Lewis Carter believes the same thing.
“(The COVID-19 pandemic) has sparked a few ideas in different ways,” he said. “It really puts horror in perspective.”
Hickey points to the summer of 1816 and the Year Without Summer that forced Mary Shelly, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and John William Polidori to come up with Frankenstein and the Vampyre. They had challenged each other to see who could write the scariest stories.
“People are locked inside and working on their own imaginations ... it is a petri dish for horrible ideas,” said Hickey. “When things are messed up, you get some really good horror stories.”
Nicholas Mercer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who covers central Newfoundland for Saltwire Network.