I drive past a funeral home on my way home from JT’s. This morning as I caught sight of its sign, the two names conjoined to make the business name made me think of the sorts of individuals that would start or run a funeral home. I hope they’re not prone to fear of the dark or indulgence in ghost stories.
Then this thought occurred to me. The standard ghoulish tale one might imagine as the plot of a movie set in a funeral home would probably involve the bodies contained within coming to life somehow, right? Dead people reanimated in the form of zombies or ghosts in some kind of terrifying, suspenseful way. They probably wouldn’t be particularly good company, and would likely terrorize whatever unfortunate, innocent live characters protagonize the story in between any other obligatory plotlines like some side romance, existential question-asking, upcoming promotion, or deeply held desires the narrative might also explore.
However, this question crossed my mind: why is the classic un-dead story the terror our minds seem to most naturally conjure? It occurred to me that the more sobering; the more final; the more terrible experience one might have in a funeral home would not be the reanimation of the dead souls held within but instead the cold, cemented stillness of death in the flesh. Haunted creatures or characters can certainly be made scary, but I think they’re a convenient avoidance of the real monster under the bed – our mortality that carries us ever closer to our morbidity. Perhaps that plotline is simply too scary to cinematize.