5 The gross-out: what’s the worst possible outcome?
Here’s the touchiest (pun intended) subject matter of the horrific. I say touchiest not for the gut-churning qualities of the gross-out, but for the dangers of using the gross-out in the first place. Gross-outs take us straight to the bottom level of shocking. Our fears of blood, of pain, disfigurement and dehumanisation are brought right into our face when you roll out the entrails. The more we get to see, the faster the shock wears off. Without a good, solid context for the viewers to care about it, the gross-out becomes bowel theatre. Cabin Fever’s a good example, or the reboot of the Evil Dead. (That does suggest a whole subcategory of horror – the horror of being jaded to suffering – but there’s only so much we can discuss here.)