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The Outsider and the Power of Cultural Myths


If you’re anything like me, you can’t get enough of HBO’s mini-series the Outsider. A faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s 2018 novel of the same name, the Outsider is a slow burn horror mystery that gets under your skin and dares you to look away. What I find most interesting about the story is the intersection between the supernatural imagined horrors and how King connects them to real cultural myths.


[SPOILERS AHEAD]


Without giving TOO much away, the antagonist of the story revolves around certain myths prevalent in many cultures - that of the doppelganger and the boogeyman. We all know the ultimate boogeyman is Mike Myers from Halloween, but before John Carpenter’s masterpiece, there lived a myth of soul-sucking beings that feed on the pain of others. Referred to as El Coco or the “Grief Eater”, the creature is told to eat children that misbehave, a concept King takes literally in the story.


I’ve always found pan-cultural myths to be extremely interesting. The fact that societies that have little or no contact with one another can arrive at the same myth or legend always sparks my inner Mulder. King has done this in other novels but never, from what I recall, so on the nose. The fact that the legends exist in the real world makes it that much more frightening than they aren’t contained to King’s imagination. If you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favor and check out the book or TV series, equally good.


From your friendly neighborhood Horror Enthusiast and Game Director,

- Matthew 😈

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