I don’t like horror.
Kowabon itself isn’t very frightening. The rotoscoping is ugly, the jump scares are predictable, and I’ve seen a hundred other horror movies and video games use video glitches more effectively. But there’s something about the three-minute episode that gets under my skin.
My mother lives alone in a small house in rural Korea. Every other week or so, she and I have a Skype video conference just to see each other’s face and engage in small talk. But she works during the day, so the only time we can talk is late at night. And every time my mother loads up her video camera, my heart jumps a beat or two, because she’s completely alone. There’s a light on in the kitchen behind her, and I can see her door.
The internet offers us a breadth of human interaction and solidarity that wouldn’t be possible without it. We can see loved ones with the click of a button, even if we’re separated from them by an entire ocean’s worth of distance. And these moments are comfortable—they pull us out of the drudgery of the every day and allow us to confirm, in concrete and almost tangible detail, that someone out there cares for us. A video call is a space we can occupy at 2 A.M. when we need a sympathetic voice or virtual shoulder to lean on. Connection gives us solace.
And I think—perhaps unintentionally—Kowabon rips into that space. It suggests that maybe we’re the only ones who are frightened. That maybe we’re not connecting.
Or maybe I’m overthinking it.