05 September 2011
Post 422: Bedbugs
Much like Amityville Horror and Rosemary's Baby, this book focuses on a family moving, although since the Wendts are New Yorkers they are moving into a new apartment. Yet, those are not the only two examples in the horror genre that involve relocating. Even when relocation is not an issue, you sometimes get stories like Poltergeist in which the house becomes a sinister place where strange phenomena occur.
It is no real surprise that this is a common theme, really. What is more terrifying than knowing the place you have set up for yourself as the safest place for you, is just the opposite? What's more, having a malevolent and unexplainable force makes it more difficult to address the problem rationally. We all become Susan Wendts under this condition, prone to irrationality and emotional outbursts, sleeplessness, constant worry, and second guessing whether the move/dramatic change was a good thing or not.
That we move into homes usually occupied and/or built by other people adds an extra layer of complication over the concern and worry of moving into a new home. Moving, especially to bigger and better quarters, is supposed to be a joyous occasion, but there is something difficult about leaving the old place behind as well. We leave the familiar, a place which we know has problems: it is too small, the basement floods, the neighbors are dickwards. But there are countless unknown problems with moving into a new place; wouldn't it just figure you got stuck with demonic bedbugs or neighboring Satanists who get you knocked up by the devil?
Although most of the fears that go along with moving are generally unfounded, and we adapt quickly enough to our surroundings, it makes sense for it to hold sway over us nonetheless. Seeking shelter is one of our primary needs, second only to food and water. In a world where we have very little control over our circumstances, the idea of having the one corner of it we set up where we are supposed to have control, but don't is distressing and therefore hits us at a very primal level. Having lived in a place where I felt unsafe, I can assure you that it is one of the worst possible situations to be in. I imagine this is why the haunted house is such a common theme in horror stories.
My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Review copy provided by publisher.