I know the traditional concept of horror involves blood, guts, and a madman on the loose… but I believe horror is subjective. Although monsters, ghosts, and serial killers can be scary, to me, true horror is often based on real life situations that most of us hope would never happen. Suicide, teen suicide specifically, is one of those tragic incidents that falls under a true horror story for me. It’s such a horrifying thought, yet happens all the time, and in the Netflix Original Series 13 Reasons Why, the story dives into this dark subject plus more.
“Thirteen Reasons Why, based on the best-selling books by Jay Asher, follows teenager Clay Jensen (Dylan Minnette) as he returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers a group of cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) – his classmate and crush-who tragically committed suicide two weeks earlier. On tape, Hannah unfolds an emotional audio diary, detailing the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives.”
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to read the book first, but I have started reading it now – just a few weeks after binging the entire show within 24 hours. The book and show both follow the same story, but are different in many ways with one huge thing in common… they are desperately addicting and devastatingly heart-wrenching.
What makes 13 Reasons Why an unconventional horror story?
For many of us, high school was the equivalent of hell and some of us didn’t think we’d make it out alive. 13 Reasons Why highlights that and dives deep into what adolescents go through. Every action has a reaction and consequence, and although it doesn’t always lead to some big thing, sometimes it can.
Let’s be honest, Hannah Baker was a bit of a drama queen at times and probably could have avoided some of the horrible things that happened if she didn’t have a desperate need to be loved and accepted, but the fact is, this is a common desire, especially for young girls. Plus, despite her dramatic tendencies, people were awful to her for no good reason, and the truth is, things like this do happen. People humiliate and cause harm to others on a daily basis, some never knowing they are doing so… and that’s the scary part. The fact that some people are so self-absorbed that they don’t even realize what is really going on around them.
The way the story is told in 13 Reasons Why is what makes this darker than the average teen drama story so amazing. It slowly unfolds each reason she took her life and the steps she took to try to be happy, but every time failed to do so. As a viewer, you get to experience the feeling of complete and utter loneliness and depression that consumes her up until her last moments of life. You want to reach through the screen and be like, “Don’t do it, Hannah, this is just high school and things will get better!” But alas, this is not possible and, just as in real life, we are often too late to save the ones we love. I’ve also found myself wondering, if just one thing had been different, minor or major, would she still be alive?
Beyond Hannah’s story, it was the tales of her fellow classmates that were equally horrifying. Friends covering up rapes for each other, destroying other people’s lives to hide secrets, and ruining reputations for popularity are just a few things 13 Reasons Why touches upon. Essentially, each character’s story is about what they do and why they do it in hopes of surviving high school. Plus the character development is amazing. We see these people going from blissfully unaware of how bad life can be to fully engaged head first into a world of misery and horror.
What was the most horrifying part of 13 Reasons Why?
The whole thing had me glued to the screen, but in those final moments of Hannah’s life… I could barely breathe. I knew what was going happen as did every viewer watching it, but the way it was executed will haunt me for awhile. You can really feel the pain of the people who wish they could have saved her because you feel the exact same way. You become invested in this story and her life.
Some may say that killing oneself and then documenting the reasons why you did so and blaming it on others is a selfish thing to do. While I agree to a certain extent, I also see it in a different way. I see it as Hannah Baker telling her own horror story in the only way she knew how. I think it brings to light that people need to be more aware of their actions and try harder not to be assholes because you never know what someone else is going through. On top of it being a story about suicide, the show gives the message that despite what one may be feeling, there are people out there who love you and want you around – so don’t give up.
Overall, I’m perfectly aware that this isn’t your average “horror story,” but I think the subject material is truly horrifying and something that everyone should check out (if you’re in the right mindset). 13 Reasons Why is one of the most talked about/tweeted about series in a long time and that, to me, is a fantastic thing. It means people can relate to these characters in some aspect. Maybe it will change the way people act and react to certain situations. Although nothing has been confirmed, I’m positive there will be a 2nd season, and I hope there is because the end left me feeling incomplete. What did you guys think about this unnerving Netflix original series? Let us know in the comments!