Forest Folk Horror: An Ancient Subsonic Rhythm

Paul A. Green said the subtext in Nigel Kneale’s “The Stone Tape” (A BBC Play) “is the insinuation that a dark force still pulses like an ancient sub-sonic rhythm in the mix of our everyday lives”(Mcourt).

This is a very good definition for some force which is there but can’t be known exactly as what it is, but can be experienced in a certain way.

Forest Dark 30.10

“The Stone Tape” is a mix of horror and sci-fi offering itself theories about the nature of the supernatural phenomenon demonstrated in the play . The apparition is seen as a recording in the first place. The (ghost)house is the recording medium. The house has a sinister history. People committed suicides and there had been failed exorcisms. The scientists in the movie see the “premedieval stonework of the room (where the moments of terror happen) itself as an organic recording medium” (Paul A. Green). The ghost-hunters then try to record the voice of the ghost but fail, however the recordings are played back directly to the brain.

This is an interesting theory and the play-writer Nigel Kneale took inspiration from real speculations and theories during that time (70s), which are still around (like from Konstantin Raudive, Breakthrough).

The legendary TV-Play does a very good job to pinpoint one mechanism and fundamental problem which lies at the core of visionary experiences: Scientists fail to record unexplainable phenomena still people have very serious experiences and make convincing claims about what happened to them.

We see that very often when so-called “proof” is presented. Neither photographs nor videos or audio tapes with recordings of “ghost voices” look convincing. These things happen on another level and the human brain works in an unknown way like a receiver or antenna.

In the end of “The Stone Tape” the main characters discovers an ancient (alien) demonic force as the source of the apparition when it’s too late.




Nevertheless it seems that the concept that the old building was charged with some kind of dark force and that these force can also perform phenomena which look more like videotape-loops is not ruled out.

Wouldn’t such a concept apply very well also for our haunted forests? Isn’t the ancient soil we are living on loaded with unfathomable energies? A form of (sometimes dark) force which can generate an endless variety of phenomena, a power which can make people do things at certain times in the forest?

This is something which lies perhaps at the bottom of all folk horror. In folk horror nature (or the forest) is “no longer content to be background. It has power, agency, in folk horror” as it was said in a brilliant article by Dawn Keetley about the “Resurgence Of Folk Horror” (horrorhomeroom.com).

“Things happen because of the landscape”. Jane Bennett put it this way: “fleshy, vegetal, mineral materials are encountered not as passive stuff awaiting animation by human or divine power, but as lively forces at work around and within us” (Jane Benett, System And Things).

Of course this is what my movie project and the Forest Dark is also about: Folk horror where things happen because of the landscape. Forest Dark is a folk horror project.

And I think folk horror is a great chance not so much for “some story based on true events” but for stories revealing a deeper truth in images. It’s a genre revealing to us something which is very real.

The idea of an “ancient subsonic rhythm” might come close to what it is. It might not actually some sort of sound but more kind of a radiation which we feel in certain landscapes. And there might be a rhythm, maybe a rhythm which encompasses different timespans as we would usually apply to a rhythm.

It would be an interesting question if we have series of events in haunted places like the freetown fall river forest happen like in Stephen King’s It where the monstrous events happen nearly every 30 years.

And “sub-sonic” is great as a description for something which is there but couldn’t be heard or seen directly most of the times. This is what’s “in between the trees” in the forest.

In the movies and in horror-stories we try to extract that “ancient sub-sonic rhythm in the mix of our everyday lives”. We attempt to make it visible, to let us see what we normally shouldn’t see and face that hidden force in our lives.