Haunted houses are the ultimate buyer beware scenario. For well over a century, we’ve seen more than our fair share of protagonists taken in by a deal they can’t refuse on a property that turns out to be a nightmare rather than the promised dream home. It happens in a number of ways. It’s a bastion of hope when they need a fresh start. A dead person leaves unsuspecting relatives an awesome home, which has likely fallen into their lap at just the right time. Perhaps there is a great deal on a house you can’t turn down. Don’t mind that pesky cemetery in spitting distance. I mean, what’s moving an entire cemetery around to build a new subdivision over it? And really, what does, “the land is spoiled” mean exactly? Are we talking spoiled surprise, or month old rotten milk spoiled? In most cases it’s a ghost filled version of the latter. In the world of horror, there is no House Flippers for the terminally haunted.
So what is it about the haunted house that spans media types? What is it about the concept that transfixes both audience in the land of imagination, and truth seekers in the science world? Why is this one of those subjects that bridges the gap between fact and fiction? And how do we define a haunted house, really? One might argue that the pesky property in question has to be brimming with unwanted spectral roommates. It could also be said that a house can be haunted by the lingering energies of tragedies and strong emotions. It’s been rather poetically said that some homes are haunted by memories. The buck does not stop with poltergeists. Can we define a root cause? Some say climbing ivy invites termites. The perfect combination of fungus and an abundance or lack of moisture can rot a home from the inside. So what does it on a spirit level?
Relatives. Always borrowing money, coming out of the woodworks at funerals, and of course those pesky distant ones popping up to leave you too good to be true homes. We think oh, a coat of paint and it’ll be fine. No, dear reader. Inevitably this gift is anything but. Take Edgar Cantero’s The Supernatural Enhancements, for example. A. is the poor sap who shares genetics with Axton House’s previous owner, a mysterious second cousin twice removed who just so happened to swan dive out a window at the exact same age as his father before him. He and his mute teenage companion move into the sprawling mansion in Point Bless, Virginia, but rather than a posh lifestyle they find themselves up to their ears in mystery. Between suicides, vanishing butlers, and hedge mazes what in the world is going on? Relatives, that’s what.
We scream at the pages and yell at the screen. “Why don’t you leave?!” I think we’ve seen here that’s simply not always possible. In some cases not even going in the first place isn’t an option. Haunted houses are these great looking beasts plaguing our nightmares, but how do they get us? They’re stationary. It’s not like they can chase us down like The Wolf Man, or charm us off our feet like Dracula. It’s need that drives our victims. Be it the need for answers, a home, an escape, the end results the same. Our poor protagonist will find themselves caught in a spiderweb of wood, nails, and very unfortunate outdated wallpaper. We would all love to say we wouldn’t walk through the front door, but if the need is great enough could you say no?