Winter Chills: The Christmas Ghost Story

’tis the season,” I cry, wolfing another mince pie.

Another mulled wine, Liam?

’tis the season!

What shall we watch now?

Ah. Well. Christmas really would be incomplete without a Christmas ghost story, wouldn’t it? ‘tis the season for a wintertime chiller: snuggling down in front of the television with a haunted house and a hot chocolate, ready for a scare or two. I think the Christmas ghost story has a seasonal charm as essential to the festive period as Christmas dinner. A ghost story is both a pleasant diversion from the happy festivities and an important complement to them. And when better to indulge in some spooky atmosphere than in the bleak midwinter?

Chills and thrills

A ghost story is distinguishable from a horror, and the two should be distinguished in as far as the Christmas ghost story is concerned. While horror films are, well, horrifying (just look at Black Christmas), ghost stories should be unsettling and creepy. Horror implies a level of graphic detail, of explicitly horrifying material. Ghosts work through implication, through effect. Stretched shadows, creepy creaks, pallid things half-glimpsed through windows…

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