Welcome to the age of ‘dark copers’ – where morbid curiosity is a means of survival | Emma Beddington

From haunted dolls to horror films, there is a big appetite right now for fear-as-fun. Are we all just practicing for what 2023 throws at us?

A friend gleefully informed me that you can buy haunted dolls – “vessels” for unquiet spirits – on eBay. Rebekkah Sexual Spirit (“her vessel is missing an arm … she says she does not care”) has been snapped up, but you can get Maggie (“NOT A TOY”; “a vast mass of dark energy”; “can make you feel very unwell” – all of which sounds like me on an average Tuesday) for £225. You know the kind: horror movie trope dolls with smooth porcelain faces and blank eyes – absolutely terrifying. The first one startled me so much I twitched, accidentally clicked “buy” and had to carefully navigate backwards to save myself. Then I went back and looked at more.

Why? They gave me that prickly, uncomfortable feeling: nasty but compelling. I’m not a thrill-seeker (except the thrill of racing the bin out as the lorry rounds the corner), but I’ve become quite enamoured of creepy recently. I spent a while freaking myself out studying the eerie images produced by the AI tool Midjourney when prompted to create photos of “people”. At a quick glance, nothing seems amiss; look closer and these preternaturally shiny wraiths smile with mouths crammed with perfect teeth, there are far too many long, tapered fingers everywhere and one digital changeling seems to have an extra collarbone. Argh!

Continue reading...