IT'S WEDNESDAY! You all know what that means! Today, I drop ze knowledge.
And today, we cover something that I've mentioned many, many times before.
The Woods and why you should never go there.
A man and a young boy take a walk into the woods. The boy looks up at the man and says "I'm scared!" The man looks down at the boy and says "YOU'RE scared? I'm the one who has to walk back alone!"
Much like darkness, the woods are a location trope that should really be common sense. They're full of hazards living, non-living and otherwise. The woods are alive. They hate you and horror fiction LOVES to make sure you know it.
We can't even really pinpoint an origin for this trope because for eons it was just a rule of thumb. In wide-open spaces, you can see predators coming and you can see where you're putting your foot. In forests, not so much. There are more places to hide and the forest floor can hold any manner of trips and traps. It's because of this that our mothers teach us to stay away from the woods behind the house.
There are 150,000 ways to die in this picture alone.
ARMIES aren't even safe from this trope. Roman General Quinctilius Varus was directly told that Arminius was planning an ambush in the Teutoberg Forest. Varus led his troops in there anyway and they were decimated.
Like I said, the woods themselves are not generally what we're afraid of. It's the things IN the woods that scare us. Lions and tigers and bears and so forth.
And the path in the woods often leads to something much, much worse.
Welcome to scenic Dontgonearthe Castle.
Long before we get into horror movies, we're exposed to this trope via fairy tales and other literature. Hansel and Gretel get lost in the woods. Little Red Riding Hood strays from the path. Snow White is driven there by the evil queen. J.R.R. Tolkien obviously hates the woods right back, otherwise he wouldn't have given us Mirkwood, Old Forest or Fangorn Forest.
And once we're old enough to enjoy horror for what it is, the woods are all over the place. From stinkers like Yellow Brick Road to Friday the 13th to The Evil Dead to Cabin in the Woods, film makers have been using the woods to scare us shitless FOREVER because you know why?
IT'S SO DAMN EASY! Have you not been reading? We hate the woods. We don't want to get eaten in the woods. We don't want to get stabbed in the woods. We don't want to get toasted like marshmallows or strangled with tent ropes. We don't want to sleep on the ground with the bugs and snakes and we don't want to get poison ivy in places our mothers haven't seen since we were children. We don't want to risk being stuck there with no food, water or shelter and we don't even like to walk all that much so we don't want to have to find a way back to civilization. Madness, disease, infection, injury and death lives in the woods.
Better not to go there.