In Mick Garris’ ‘Chocolate’ a man, for no discerable reason, suddenly starts to share sensations with another person, someone he has never met. It is the kind of conceit commonly found in horror that, if not handled properly, can yank the viewer out of the story and make them wonder ‘So, why is this happening again?’
If I was to be overly general I would say that there are two schools of horror; deserved and undeserved victims. It’s a rather usually demarcation; is the antiquarian of M. R. James’ ‘Count Magnus’ deserving of his fate simply because he showed an academic curiousity in an old casket? Still, there is at least a question that any horror ‘author’ must answer; why is this thing happening to these people? Often this is blithely ignored, and sometimes for good reason. Why are the dead returning to life and terrorising these people? Because the horror of the situation comes from being in such an extreme and unexpected context. The victims of this horror are not unique; the terror is ocurring to everyone everywhere and the story comes from what these select individuals will do given their circumstances.
Yet when something utterly random and unique plagues a character; well, that takes rare skill to sell.
Perhaps it is my academic training that makes me question such things; it probably does disrupt the fiction. Yet perhaps not. Take ‘Ringu’ as an example. Sadako has invested her anger in a videotape. A reporter becomes involved; she (he, depending on which version of the story you are experiencing) seemingly has weird and random events occur to her (him)… Except that they aren’t. She is researching a killer video tape. People, that she knows of, have died because of it. So it is not random or unexpected, just different.
Unlike ‘Chocolate,’ which has no rhyme or reason behind it. It is a series of events with no explanation and no real consequence. Pity, really.