Ghost Stories in Science Fiction Literature and Movies

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

As a young kid, I have always enjoyed the thrill of hearing a ghost story. Whether it was from a movie, TV show, or comic, the suspense factor embedded in the stories always kept me wanting to find out more. Ghost stories don’t have to be filled with horror, blood, and gore, or jump scares for that matter to keep the reader guessing. They have to include a mix of realistic, and unrealistic aspects that keep the viewer wondering if certain occurrences during said movies are possible in real life. You can argue that all three ghost stories share the same ideas trying to relate to a conversation about humanity. The conversation in humanity about ghost stories is that the point of them is to leave the viewer shocked and confused as to what just happened, at the same time horrified to leave the lights turned off in their home ever again. Ghost stories and movies retain the attention of so many in our day in age, as a sense of relief is lifted from their shoulders after watching. I like to think of it as mentally preparing for anything relating to possible horror in our lives. When seeing the events happening on the screen, it makes us wonder what we could do to keep ourselves safe if we happened to be the character in the movie, or in reality during a terrifying position.

Discussing the definition of science fiction in class, we determined science fiction relates to understanding society and how it is moving forward in both a scientific and social aspect. In the conversation of ghost stories in general, the society within the movie or the book seems always in-advanced or unprepared for some haunted events to go on because you can never expect it. In the case of, “The Thing About Ghost Stories” by Naomi Kritzer, “Hide” from Doctor Who, and “Be Right Back” from Black Mirror, there are many unsuspected components that lead up towards the ghost stories. Therefore, the stories discussed in class, along with my chosen outside source tell us we can express humanity in ghost stories through the people we share an unbreakable bond with. When you hear ghosts, you automatically associate it with the word deceased or killed. This is because the simple definition from google of a ghost describes, “an apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living”(google). To emphasize, all ghosts stories have true memoirs deep down and not just horrific tragedies.

Science fiction is shown in ghost stories as the characters in the movies are in an imaginary state, like a dystopia, where they feel their society is fading away to become undesirable or frightening. An imaginary state is a good way to describe the viewer’s perspective as well, detailing on the eagerness of what’s about to happen next in a story or movie. A dystopia also describes the viewers mindset as a being imaginary because ghost stories can be confusing until the very end when you put all the pieces together.

The first reading we take a look at is “The Thing About Ghost Stories”. Leah is an aspiring researcher and writer, who is trying to collect ghost stories from random people at a coffee shop. Her late mother, whom she had lost to Alzheimer’s, plays a big role in this ghost story. Leah would meet interesting people that walked through the coffee shop she happened to be at, willing to tell her their story. The first lady that brought up her mother had Leah scared and wondering how inhumane it was to do a “cold reading”. We find humanity in this story while it seems like normal people are communicating at a standard coffee shop. What really turns it into a ghost story is deep into the conversation of the cold reading. The fact that this lady is saying so much about Leah’s mother without knowing of her is very odd. You can make an assumption and say she’s a stalker and knows about Leah already but since this is a ghost story, it’s more likely than not that what Leah is hearing is actually legit.

Science fiction allows us to find any visible parts of humanity in these different sources of ghost stories. While “The Thing About Ghost Stories” and “Hide” from Doctor Who are both different variations of a traditional ghost story in the end, they both share the same message of the ghosts not being bad people. A major belief in ghost stories is that the only job the ghost is trying to accomplish is harm. These two, as well as my outside source, prove a point of how a ghostly figure could just be in the presence to warn the characters away from harm. We see a majority of this in “Hide” while we later figure out the “ghost” all along was Hila trying to send a message for help from the realm she was stuck in. It was observed from the beginning that whatever spirit was in that house wanted them out, until they had a chance to communicate to understand what was going on.

In my opinion, out of the three sources, none of them showed or expressed anything too horrific. I ended up finding more hints about relationship building and the importance of them when comparing the three. The relationship factor played a big role in all three because it showed a lesson of who we can trust in times of terror. As Leah met people in the coffee shops she could trust with stories for her research in “The Thing About Ghost Stories”, The Doctor could trust Clara to stick by his side in “Hide”, and finally, Martha could count on Ash to love her just as much as she does to him in “Be Right Back”.

I see a big difference between scary and horrific in “Hide”, which had some scary aspects in the episode. It was a good mix of scary and calm, making it feel like a kid friendly episode. “Hide” from Doctor Who exhibits the things you want to see in a normal ghost story, a basic starting plot of what they are looking for, hints to finding the secret spirit, and eventually saving everyone from terror and the characters becoming trustworthy of each other. A factor I noticed while watching “Hide” that is shown in the other sources too is the love factor or the importance the relationship roles play in the actions of certain characters. I saw In “Hide’ a movie expressing the importance of close relationships more than them actually chasing after ghosts. An episode like this allows you to dig deeper into why such characters do what they do, instead of worrying about who the scary ghost in the movie is.

The last source I got a chance to look at and was my favorite by far was in the Black Mirror series on Netflix. Season 2 Episode 1, “Be Right Back”, showcases the true feelings that are expressed in a heavy relationship, and how far someone will try and go to communicate with their lover again. The “ghost” aspect of this movie came from Ash’s unknown death after leaving the house to drive out one afternoon. Unlike the other two in class sources, this episode was more of a science fiction type showing with a little bit of ghost story in it. He is brought back as a “clone” and Martha is shocked when she says, “You sound just like him” and “That’s just the sort of thing he would say”. The episode was labeled as science fiction but showed signs throughout the show of “ghost story” aspects. One being the clone version of Ash not needing main things we need to survive like water, sleep and food. This episode could also be perceived as normal love story with no ghost aspects embedded in it anywhere, making it just a coincidence that Ash disappeared that day. The episode never describes in detail how he disappeared either which makes viewers believe that’s where the ghost aspect comes from. The quote from the listing of the episode also gave me another reason to check it out, “The Sci Fi anthology series explores a twisted, high-tech, near-future, where humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide” (Black Mirror). The non-human characteristic was the sort of “clone” of Ash that Martha received in the mail from this company that promised to bring him back to life. It isn’t technically a “ghost” because it’s visible and you can touch it, but the ghost aspect portrayed was Ash’s deceased soul. The difference is since it’s visible, it can’t be as horrifying as a spirit because you can actually see who it is without having to question if there is more than one. This is important because it’s less of a terrifying experience for the character, thus making the movie still important without having to scare the pants off you. It raised a lot of questions in my head after watching like, “how does it know Ash’s voice and words he would say that haven’t been online” and “How can Martha just think everything is back to normal with this replacement”. Definitely a little confusing to understand at first watch but really kept my eyes glued to the screen.

With all kinds of ghost stories written, talked about, watched, or read, there’s always something in each one that separates them from the rest and keeps people spending more money to go view them. Although it is pure entertainment to be scared out of your seat watching a thriller horror movie, you can get the same kind of reaction when some freaky, unrealistic things happen in an entertaining ghost story. Horror movies nowadays can honestly have the most confusing plot, but still be a top seller because it made you jump from your seat in dismay. What kept these three ghost sources talking about humanity were the fact that you don’t need to scare someone away to provide quality information about ghosts. Also, the relationships torn apart because of a lost loved one show how regular humans outside of the film experience tragedy.


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