TO LOOK (OR NOT TO LOOK)
In a darkened room I lie awake, watching the digital numerals of the bedside clock taunt me as they flip past 12:00, a new day announcing its presence far too early. Unable to sleep, I turn to what has now become for many a habitual reaction to insomnia: staring into the digital abyss of an iPhone.
Bored with social media, I load up the application called CamViewer, a remote viewing program that is connected to my home security cameras. I scroll through each of the exterior views. In the neon green glow of the night vision, the tree branches tremble softly in the night air. I switch to the interior view: our front door, and the alcove where the dogs sleep at night. The two golden retrievers are in their beds, mocking me with their blissful slumber. Using the buttons on the screen, I turn the camera 360 degrees. The sleeping dogs remain still, unaware of the electronic eye watching them.
The silence is abruptly broken by a noise coming from outside my bedroom: a heavy thud. One of the dogs is still sleeping. The other is not. He's now standing at attention, rigid, looking into the guest bedroom adjacent to the entrance. His tail is raised, signalling focused attention, if not danger. I can see only the doorway to this bedroom, but no further. Whatever has caught his attention is unknown, unseen. Out-of-frame.
I strain to hear, my body taut like a piano string, the slightest new sensation promising a discordant reaction. Was that a shifting of weight? The creak of the floor boards? An ineffable sense tells me someone – something – is in that room. But why isn't Bentley barking? Why is he so still?
In the glow of the electronic screen, I watch the empty doorway, and hold my breath.
TECHNOLOGIES OF PERCEPTION IN HORROR FILM
The small tale that prefaces this chapter highlights some of the elements that have drawn me to explore the field of new forms of cinematic horror: the pervasive presence of cameras, our need to watch and/or record, and the capacity of the actual (or even virtual) image to produce affective bodily responses.