Reason’s Wager


There is evil in this house. But not this way.

You knew it, you said, as soon as we stepped past

The flaking threshold. You knew, as true as touch,

That something waited in a further room;

These walls were damp with it, as though old lives

Could saturate the clay. The stillness we heard

Spread down the hallway, lingered on the stair;

Stirred the dust in a sunbeam, secretly.

You touched my arm, and begged that we move on…

But I tell you: evil, true menace, needs no home

In bricks and mortar. There is no firm prison

To lock it in. There is no haunted house:

But people, I said, are haunted things, my love.

Such fragile thoughts as ghosts need hearts, fresh minds,

Soft dreams for beds. This is where evil dwells:

Death knows no walls. See at the cemetery,

Under bright trees, the visitors lay wreaths

For peaceful friends, but find no peace for it;

It is the living, love, that haunt the dead.



There comes a time in almost every horror film when the man – not necessarily the hero, not always the “Dad”, but always a man – says to the woman, “But there’s no such thing!” 

The woman and the audience know better. Reason, or at least realism, is overpowered by a frustrating dramatic irony in the context of the film. Outside of the horror canon, whether one believes in such things or not I find the notion that true evil haunts not places, but people, a very strong motif. 




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