I read the short story first, as a Kindle download. A man gets up and has breakfast when he’s interrupted by his elderly neighbour. Starting off like any other day, with a minor annoyance, things get weirder and worse, and possibly apocalyptic. Horror arrives when realisation hits. Rather than using gore and violence and vampires, Peekers exploits a much worse sort of terror – that of the inexplicable and the unseen. Suddenly the everyday has become deeply unsettling. It gets worse.
The short film based on this captures the mood of the story perfectly. The first time I watched this I had no sound due to speaker issues. Oddly, this only increased how utterly spooky the whole idea is.
Although the music at the very start might be off-putting to some, I think the banality effectively ensures that the horror of it – of someone watching, peeking and you have no way to understand why – is a truly frightening experience. The best scares never quite show you everything.
SPOILERY THOUGHTS ON THIS FILM AND STORY
Obviously the title suggests the game of ‘Peekabo’ which you may have played with your parents, and other adults as an infant. Giddy childish glee at being terrified morphs into real fear of hidden faces as an adult. Like the best horror films it makes us feel vulnerable, powerless, returning us to being kids again. This seems to be similar to the reason why the Alien in ‘Alien’ (1979) is scary – we are reminded of adults leaning over our cots as we lie there helpless. That and something with big teeth, and then more big teeth, is always going to be pretty frickin’ awful to run into down a dark alley. But I’ve been reading about this, Pareidolia, which is apparently why people see the Virgin Mary on tortillas, and presumably the reason for websites and articles about houses that look like Hitler. It also taps into this, the Caprgras Delusion, which is a Bodysnatchers-mindset or ‘Imposter Syndrom’. And, well, what DO those creepy half-faces actually want from us? And is the other half of the face even more terrifying?
On the other hand, we could just man up, go over there and kick the half-faced freaks’ butts. If they have butts and aren’t just floating there in mid-air, all half-faced and giggling.
For more terrifying faces, TV Tropes to the rescue!