At a panel on horror writing yesterday, Joyce Carol Oates said that all of her horror stories feature a character who makes a bad decision at some point. They turn toward disaster, whereas the reader can take comfort in knowing that she’d make a better decision, and thus be spared the character’s fate.
This seems like one key form of horror — terrestrial horror, in which the drama comes from morality and the complexities of decision-making — as opposed to the more celestial horror of Lovecraft, Kafka, and Ligotti, which is less about decision-making and more about forces operating on people that are way, way beyond our comprehension … the drama here is religious rather than moral, in the sense that it’s about accepting our absolute smallness and insignificance in the scope of the universe, rather than accepting the consequences of our actions (which, in such a universe, have basically no consequences at all).
Is the distinction thus Active vs. Passive Horror?