The Making of Delevan House #10

What are the ingredients of Folk-Horror?

Perhaps when targeting a specific genre, writers must consider the essential ingredients in the recipe to blend with a creative narrative. For many, the challenge often lies in designing something fresh and new while working within the walls of a specific theme.

We’ve all read a book or watched a movie and felt it’s drawn very closely from something else that preceded it. Sometimes it’s undeniably purposeful, perhaps in an homage to connect audiences to what has succeeded in the past. Other times, it can be entirely unintentional. I know I’ve had readers tell me when something of mine reminded them of another story or a character, but when this happens, strangely, it’s material without previous exposure. This phenomenon makes me wonder about the invisible interconnectivity of minds. In some form, we’re all telling each other the same stories, with minor changes in colour, genre, and accent.

Folk stories’ essence draws from historical lore, superstition, and mythology, going back to when we shared stories through early language forms, including chipping pictures into rock and wood. Voices alone pass along tales around the flaming hearth through relative isolation in our tribes, clans, and families. We sing songs and share what we have seen, heard, or read through lines and interconnected roots traveling the world, even before many of us realized we could.

 Our stories are tangible. We feel them in all their horror, romance, terror, and beauty, and we crave more. It’s how folk tales thrive and how we achieve a sort of immortality through sharing such stories. Like memories, they are what’s left when our bodies are but dust.

The term or genre Folk-Horror was first coined in recent history in 1970 by reviewer, Rod Cooper, reviewing the British supernatural movie, ‘The Blood on Satan’s Claw’ (originally titled ‘The Devil’s Touch’). Here, it was concerning cinema and not literary works. Though the folk genre could arguably be encompassing horror without the additional tag, this movie review in ‘Kine Weekly’ magazine was the first printing of the two terms compounded. The roots many stories draw from are ancient, but the term Folk-Horror is modern.

The elements typically presented are set in isolation and are often remote or rural, becoming a primary character within the piece. Often the location is most dominant. There’s inherent darkness in folk horror, both in the deceptively calm painting of a natural environment and in themes such as religion or beliefs leaning heavily on pre-Christian pagan ideas. Blood and roots are intrinsic to all folk arts, and these tales anchor in specific cultures or countries. Or we discover them in rituals of a minor, forgotten, and best-avoided village, such as the stage we’ve set for Delevan House.

Folklore lingers in the blood, inspiring terror and passion. It is visceral and dynamic and binds people to their lands in a marriage of blood and root systems. These stories transcend other genres because they are made of human fears and foundations, even when we do not realize them.

And we are unleashing our take with a brazen tenacity that will enthral and terrorise our readers in equal measure.

Ruthann took the above photo deep in the woods of the Appalachian Mountains.

One might draw suspicion from the rocks, worn smooth by the elements or perhaps by use in a ritual.

And is the essence of the strange tree nearby of a benign guardian nature or something more sinister?

Such are the roots of Folk-Horror.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: